National report — As dislocated residents were emptying out of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, Dima Ali, M.D., felt "a calling" to help. Dr. Ali, an aesthetic medicine physician practicing at the Well Medica Anti-Aging and Wellness Center, Reston, Va., along with Jan Setnor, C.R.N.A., and Debbie Marinucci, R.N., of the Austin-Weston Center for Cosmetic Surgery, Reston, Va., headed south with all the supplies that would fit into their U-Haul.
Natural disasters really show how people can come together and show human support, she adds.The three went to give help, supplies and medical care to the many hurt, sick and homeless left in Katrina's wake, including Ms. Marinucci's own kin — numbering 10 families who all lived in Louisiana and Mississippi. They and their pets were living at a niece's home in Prairieville, La.
The friends and colleagues had intended to drive a pickup truck to Louisiana, but soon discovered that the outpouring of money, clothing and supplies from friends and patients required them to rent a U-Haul.
Ms. Setnor and Ms. Marinucci's employers, board-certified plastic surgeons George Weston, M.D., Rob Sigal, M.D., and Byron Poindexter, M.D., supported their employees' efforts.
"They sent down a generator with us. Whatever funds the office collected, the docs matched," Ms. Setnor says.
Journey an adventure
The journey from Virginia, through Alabama and into Louisiana was an adventure in itself, the women say, particularly because the axle broke on the U-Haul van in North Carolina. They rented two minivans and transferred the supplies.
Their first stop: Alabama. Ms. Marinucci's brother had left Mississippi with his wife, son, daughter and grandchild. All they had were the clothes they were wearing when they evacuated.
"Auburn and Georgia Tech were playing football that night, so it was really fun getting into town," Ms. Setnor says. "Then, (it was sad) to go there and see this family sitting in a dark RV park with just what they had. They were so appreciative of just getting some toilet paper and baby formula."