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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 September 2005, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
'No power and supplies dwindling'
Man in wheelchair receives aid from soldier in New Orleans
Relief has been trickling through to some areas
While efforts in New Orleans to aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina continue, those still in the city are struggling to survive.

The BBC News website spoke to Donald Bennett, a retired state policeman in DeWitt, Michigan, whose son-in-law and daughter are stranded in a church in the devastated city.

My son-in-law is a pastor for the St Paul's Lutheran Church in New Orleans. He is based with my daughter in a neighbourhood about 12 blocks east of the city's French Quarter.

At present they have no power, little water and their food supplies are dwindling. Their telephone lines are no longer available so I cannot get through to them at the moment.

They had about 60 people in the church with them during the storm itself. Although some have since gone back to their homes, several homeless people have come in looking for help.

Fortunately, the property, although about 150 years old, is at a higher level than most buildings and so the flooding wasn't too bad.

I'm currently working with Lutheran World Relief in St Louis, Missouri to help them. They have a few contacts on the ground with rescue agencies in New Orleans and the authorities know where my son-in-law is so hopefully they will provide protection.

They haven't been looted as they have their own men around them. But in the night there is a lot of gunfire and now fires have begun to rage around the city.

'Pray to God'

And we have other worries.

People have been coming to the church because they know it is safe
My granddaughter is an ambulance medic and was called in last Sunday night to work. She has not been in contact since.

Her husband worked for the Charity Hospital and was evacuated out. They were taken to Baton Rouge but he has heard nothing from his wife.

One of my grandsons, Jacob, came back to New Orleans from Kuwait after military deployment only three weeks ago.

At some point, some people in the neighbourhood decided they would try to break out on their own.

They got some vehicles and my daughter made Jacob go with them, saying: "Pray to God and when you are safe, call your grandfather".

He called me Friday morning from Louisville in Kentucky and flew up to where I am in Michigan in the evening.

He is with us now but very upset.

'Time to act'

The people in the neighbourhood where my brother-in-law ministers are mostly non Lutheran or non Christian, but people have been coming to the church because they know it is safe.

Many were homeless; my daughter and brother-in-law provided them with what they could spare.

I know that in terms of medical help they need more supplies, which is something I am trying to assist with.

Despite all this I'm not one to be critical of the government. It's easy to point the finger of blame.

New Orleans as a city knew this would happen at any time and did nothing. The government is doing the best it can.

It's less a time to criticise and more a time to act.


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