Sep 20, 2008

Voices of Ike - Full recovery is just around the corner

3:12, pm, Friday, Sept. 19, 2008 Galveston pediatrician, Ben Raimer, MD

Good day mates, We are drying out great and moving into our recovery mode. We have been blessed by NO RAIN and cool weather (low 70s) for the past five days. Otherwise, the heat and humidity would have been unbearable. We have power generators or REAL electricity from the grid to ALL of our campus buildings at this point, so we can really start moving on clean up faster. Water (not for drinking) is on at a low pressure. There are Port-a-Toilets, hand washing stations, military-style showers for staff, a dining hall on the parking garage top by Waverley Smith, and a good attitude. Dr. Callender is an absolute FANTASTIC LEADER. That guy goes from before sunrise to long after sunset. He must have a photographic memory. He knows every single detail of the whole operation, and in addition can call the names of almost everyone on campus. It really makes for a committed team of people to see him in charge. And countless others in the trenches are assuring that the campus returns to stability and moves us into the best possible position for the future. Photo 1 (above): OLD RED got a basement (ground level) full of water, but should be back on line. Dr. Lurlee Thomas is busy at home writing dean's letters, telling students to "STUDY now; it isn't over!" Dr. Lieberman has found placements for all the 3rd and 4th year students, and the 1st and 2nd year students should be back on line in a week. No, this will NOT interfere with your graduate or match dates. The only thing that might be an undesirable outcome would be for students to see this as a holiday and get distracted from their studies. Access your study guides and HIT THE BOOKS. Medicine is life-long learning; get used to it. Residents are successfully being placed and should immediately find out from Dr. Backwell their new assignments. Many clinical services will be conducted through St .Joseph Hospital in Houston, as well as through mainland area hospitals. The hospitals that have returned to operation in the area have enthusiastically welcomed UTMB physicians and patients into their facilities. Three community-based clinics opened yesterday and will also see patients on Saturday; more will open Monday morning. Information systems are becoming more stable and the patient systems (Envision and Signature) should be on line tomorrow, followed quickly by the student information systems. Updates are more timely now on the site, so please long on and check it our. Remember to register with FEMA, look for updates regarding payroll services and the like, and if you need to check in with EAP, do so. Phone and computer alerts will continue for employees and students. Photo 2: A crane setting a generator in place for the west end sewage treatment facility. If you were here (which you should be glad you are not) then you would really be happy about that crane and the forthcoming ability to FLUSH! I think it is VERY important for people to get back into a regular routine as soon as possible even if you are not in your home or on campus. Continue to study your normal time each day. Use the time to write a paper or prepare a lecture. Volunteer where you are to help others. Please do not just sit around and feel sorry for yourself. That is unproductive. We can never change the past; that is behind us. We can focus on our future and be sure that we put as much attention as we can into doing something about the things that we do control. Write, read, exercise, visit with friends, play some games with your kids. TURN OFF the TV coverage of the storm. Memorize the Red Cross Survival Guide for returning home (it's on their Web site - really). What will it be like when I return? Prepare yourself for some changes. Much of the debris that blocked I-45 has been removed, or at least shoved to the side. But you MAY still see some boats sitting on the side of the road. Along with jet skis, roofs, cars, houses, and just about anything that you can imagine. Buildings have a lot of structural damage along Broadway, the East End, and the like. There was a lot of water (and mud) damage on Harborview, and in areas west of 53rd Street. Rather than broken windows, you will likely see MUD on the floor and water lines. Cars are immobilized around the neighborhoods. Lots of downed trees all over town. Lots of burned out houses around Harve Lafitte! Looks like a battle ground. URBAN MYTHS

  • Were there really a lion and tiger loose on the west end? Yes there was! Police had to shoot one; I hear the other one is pretty hungry!
  • Were there cows on the heli-pad? Yes there were! Three! Dead from the storm.
  • Was there great loss of life on the island due to the storm? No, thank the Lord! There were a couple of tragedies and the dead of a couple of folks in hospice care.
  • How about Boliver? Don't know! Still awaiting some information.
  • Is there widespread looting and shootin'? Definitely NOT. Good coverage by the militia and local police. This is Texas! Guns galore. City officials are working night and day still!
Is it safe to return? I would not suggest that you come on the island with the idea of staying here very long -- if at all. Sanitation is not good; mosquitos have returned. Electricity is not dependable. If you have small children or fraile older parents, it would be a really bad idea to subject them to the climate and conditions. If I come down, what should I expect? Watch where you drive (nails). STOP at intersections and look all around. Bring some bleach to kill the mold if you got water. Bring your own drinking water, a flash light or lamp to look around inside. Bring mosquito repellant. If you want to tear out carpet, bring gloves (thick ones) and boots. Have you had a tetanus shot lately? If not, get one. Bring your own food. Bring trash bags. Bring any meds you are taking. Have a good day and a good weekend. Full recovery is just around the corner. Remember, UTMB stops for no storm. Ben

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