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KATRINA DIGEST: Euthanasia alleged in New Orleans; city doesn’t need ‘rebuilding’; campus ministries to help victims

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Amid all the horrors associated with the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans rises yet another troubling accusation: euthanasia.

The Daily Mail newspaper in London reported Sept. 11 that doctors killed critically ill patients they believed would not survive an evacuation.

“Those who had no chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die,” William “Forest” McQueen, an emergency official, told The Mail.

The Mail chose to withhold the identities of the doctors and hospital involved. Euthanasia is illegal in Louisiana.

One New Orleans doctor told of how she ignored her oath of medical ethics and ended the lives of the patients she earlier had fought to save.

“I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing,” she said. “But I did not have time. I had to make snap decisions under the most appalling circumstances, and I did what I thought was right. I injected morphine into those patients who were dying and in agony. If the first dose was not enough, I gave a double dose. And at night I prayed to God to have mercy on my soul.”

In another case, two nursing home owners have been charged with 34 counts of negligent homicide after patients in their care drowned to death when they were not evacuated from the flooded city.

Mable and Salvador Mangano Sr. were in charge of patients at the St. Rita’s Nursing Home in St. Bernard Parish and now they face up to five years in prison for each count of homicide.

“”They did not die of natural causes; they drowned,” Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti Jr. said of the patients, according to CNN.com. “Thirty-four people drowned in a nursing home where they should have been evacuated.”

The Manganos claim they had not been aware of the mandatory evacuation and if they had tried to move some of the patients, they would have died anyway.

LIFEWAY STORES — Twelve LifeWay Christian Stores were closed, at least briefly, by Hurricane Katrina, according to LifeWay Christian Stores division Vice President Mark Scott.

While 10 have reopened, the stores in Gulfport, Miss., and on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary remain closed, Scott told LifeWay trustees during their Sept. 12-13 meeting.

The two stores sustained water and wind damage. Scott said LifeWay is continuing to pay the salaries of the 29 employees from the Gulfport and New Orleans stores.

FORGET ‘REBUILDING’ NEW ORLEANS — Joe McKeever, director of missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans, raised a unique point in comments posted on his website, www.joemckeever.com, Sept. 11.

“To me, the silliest question of the year is, ‘Should New Orleans be rebuilt?’ Anyone with the slightest knowledge of our city knows that the entire metro area is not under water,” he wrote. “When they say 80 percent of New Orleans is under water, what they mean is that portion of the city which is officially known on the map as New Orleans. But that’s less than half of the real city.

“Draw a circle, then draw a line down the center. That’s New Orleans, and the line is the border of Orleans and Jefferson parishes. Each parish has about an equal population, some 400,000 to 500,000,” McKeever added. “Yet, you cannot tell when you’re leaving one for the other.”

Jefferson Parish encompasses Metairie — with a population of more than 300,000, which makes it one of the largest unincorporated cities in America — and the outer slice of the parish is Kenner with another 70,000 or 80,000, McKeever explained.

“Along the bottom of Jefferson Parish, you could add in small cities like River Ridge, Harahan, Marrero, Westwego and so on,” he wrote. “None of these are New Orleans proper. And — very importantly — they’re all still there. None of them was washed away. So, forget about rebuilding New Orleans. It’s still there.”

CAMPUS MINISTRIES JOIN THE EFFORT — The nation’s college students are not allowing themselves to be counted out of the relief efforts in the Gulf Coast region. Many of them were among the first to jump on board to earnestly help those in need.

Steve Masters, the Baptist Collegiate Ministries director at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, reported that he and his family, along with several students, decided to seek refuge from Hurricane Katrina at the BCM center on the LSU campus.

“On Sunday night, one of our BCM students, Colorado Robertson, came by and said they needed some help setting up an evacuation center in the LSU Fieldhouse (where the track team practices),” Masters wrote in an e-mail. “Twelve or so of our students went over and helped for several hours.

“After the hurricane, a decision was made to set up the hospital. I helped those 12 students to round up 50 to 60 more BCM students and they set up the hospital on Monday night,” he added. “This was the beginning group of the 2,000-plus volunteers at LSU that helped for a week. We need more Colorados to see a need and act on it!”

And Campus Crusade for Christ International reports that it is mobilizing the largest and longest relief and recovery effort in its history in response to Hurricane Katrina.

“In the face of so much suffering, I’m thrilled by the generous, cooperative spirit of so many who want to help,” Jim Topmiller, national director of development for CCC’s U.S. Campus Ministry division, said in a news release. “Students are getting ready to go. We’re partnering with churches, denominations and Christian relief agencies. Corporate partners and thousands of individual donors are all asking, ‘How can we help?’”

NEW MEXICO CONTINGENT PROVES STRONG — An urgent plea was sent out on the website of the Baptist New Mexican, the newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, seeking volunteers who could travel to Slidell, La., to serve as chaplains in the midst of widespread relief efforts.

“Those going should plan on a two-week deployment. Prepare for primitive conditions. Take with you bedrolls, personal items, medicine, etc.,” the notice read.

Barely 36 hours later, two pastors and a layman were on their way to Louisiana in response to the call: Jerry Minor, pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Albuquerque; Ira Shelton, pastor of First Baptist Church in Quemado; and B.J. Bunney, a member of First Baptist Quemado, according to a report by the Baptist New Mexican.

Volunteers rushed to help in Albuquerque when the BCNM’s Cricket Pairett, an administrative assistant in the division of mission ministries, fielded a call Sept. 4 that the Red Cross was sending evacuees from New Orleans to the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Pairett quickly rounded up about a dozen workers from local churches and made her way to the convention center even before the news media knew to expect the arrival, the Baptist New Mexican said. The first buses, carrying 92 evacuees, pulled up two hours later, and New Mexico Baptists served them a pizza supper.

The Baptist volunteers then gathered up a variety of supplies for the evacuees and delivered them early the next morning. Baptists worked alongside convention center employees to serve meals to the displaced residents; the convention center was no longer needed to house evacuees by Sept. 10.

Even before Katrina hit, nine members of the New Mexico Baptist disaster relief team were making their way toward the Gulf Coast. They arrived in Magee, Miss., Sept. 2 but could not find the church where the North American Mission Board had assigned them to serve.

“We weren’t sure we were at the right place, so we stopped our convoy in the middle of the street,” Cathy Pennington told the Baptist New Mexican.

A woman saw the New Mexico Baptists and stopped to help.

“She pulled up beside us and rolled down her window,” Pennington said. “When I rolled down my window, the first thing she said was, ‘Thank you so much for coming to help us.’”

“Thank you. We’re happy to be here to help,” Pennington replied. “Can you tell me where First Baptist Church is?”

The woman explained that she was a member of First Baptist and the building was just around the corner, where people were preparing for the volunteers’ arrival.

Pennington said that when she found a place to park and opened her car door, the woman “was there and threw her arms around my neck and began crying and repeating over and over, ‘Thank you so much for coming to help us. Thank you, thank you, thank you.’”

“It was a very humbling and touching experience,” Pennington said.
With reporting by John Loudat, editor of the Baptist New

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  • Erin Curry