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September 3, 2005
WITH TASK FORCE ONE
No escaping the stench of devastation
By Tom Spalding
Star reporter Tom Spalding is inMississippi along with a crew fromWTHR (Channel 13), The Star'snewsgathering partner, following emergency crews from Indiana as theyrespond to Hurricane Katrina.
BILOXI, Miss. -- While the sight of damaged houses, downed power linesand broken glass is overwhelming, I'velearned it's the odor left from Hurricane Katrina that's inescapable."You've got a mixture of garbage, decay from animal carcasses, sewagethrown up from the gulf and silt," said Scott McCarty, an Indianapolisfirefighter and a member of Task Force One, the Indiana-based search andrescue team."It's hard to describe," he said during a break in the task force's search for survivors. "We're here. We smell it. But these people have got to live in it."To some degree, you can separate the destruction that's everywhere herefrom the people who live in this city. The rubble is only wood and stone,after all.But the odor is a constant reminder of the suffering.In general, there's no running water. There's no electricity. Add thescorching heat -- temperatures have been reaching the 90s -- and dead fishand you have the makings of a stench that just won't quit.There's no air conditioning to speak of, so people can't just shut their doorsand leave the odor behind. It's there when they go to bed, and it's therewhen they wake up in the morning.In a few cases, the odor signifies something else -- something people don't
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