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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

He Held Their Lives in His Tiny Hands.


An amazing story of survival from the Los Angeles Times...

BATON ROUGE, La.In the chaos that was Causeway Boulevard, this group of refugees stood out: a 6-year-old boy walking down the road, holding a 5-month-old, surrounded by five toddlers who followed him around as if he were their leader.They were holding hands. Three of the children were about 2 years old, and one was wearing only diapers.

A 3-year-old girl, who wore colorful barrettes on the ends of her braids, had her 14-month-old brother in tow. The 6-year-old spoke for all of them, and he told rescuers his name was Deamonte Love.

Thousands of human stories have flown past relief workers in the last week, but few have touched them as much as the seven children who were found wandering together Thursday at an evacuation point in downtown New Orleans.

In the Baton Rouge headquarters of the rescue operation, paramedics tried to coax their names out of them; nurses who examined them stayed up that night, brooding.Transporting the children alone was "the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, knowing that their parents are either dead" or that they had been abandoned, said Pat Coveney, a Houston emergency medical technician who put them into the back of his ambulance and drove them out of New Orleans. "It goes back to the same thing," he said. "How did a 6-year-old end up being in charge of six babies?"

So far, parents displaced by flooding have reported 220 children missing, but that number is expected to rise, said Mike Kenner of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which will help reunite families. With crowds churning at evacuation points, many children were parted from their parents accidentally; one woman handed her baby up onto a bus, turned around to pick up her suitcase and turned back to find that the bus had left.

"When my kids were little I used to lose them in Target, so it's not hard for me to believe," said Nanette White, press secretary for Louisiana's Department of Social Services. "Sometimes little kids just wander off. They're there one second and you blink and they're gone."

At the rescue headquarters, a cool tile-floored building swarming with firefighters and paramedics, the children ate cafeteria food and fell into a deep sleep. Deamonte volunteered his vital statistics. He said his father was tall and his mother was short. He gave his address, his phone number and the name of his elementary school.

He said that the 5-month-old was his brother, Darynael, and that two others were his cousins, Tyreek and Zoria. The other three lived in his apartment building.

The children were clean and healthy — downright plump in the case of the infant, said Joyce Miller, a nurse who examined them. It was clear, she said, that "time had been taken with those kids." The baby was "fat and happy." Continue reading here...

Let's continue to offer up our prayers for the health and well being of the children and for all the people suffering in this devastating tradgedy, not only are our prayers needed but practical help as well, give until it hurts, I know I will!

GBYAY

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