Oats From The Underground

Relief officials weren't looking for Sarita Kainen's help, but they didn't have a whole lot of choice in the matter

Roberts was left to camp his truck in a mall parking lot just north of Homestead City Hall, where he spent the afternoon handing out prepackaged military victuals to a line of bedraggled hurricane survivors.

Others simply defied orders. Carol Lustig, a free-lance writer from Aventura, joined a supply train organized by a radio station the weekend after the storm. "We asked the National Guardsmen what was going to happen to the food and they said that it would be stockpiled at Florida International University until they could distribute it. We said, `No way,' and basically headed south on our own. We practically had to get into a fistfight with the National Guard down there to force them to let us deliver the food we brought."

Now, more than three weeks after the storm, few would argue that the regimented relief campaign is neglecting anyone. But Lustig, who spent two days driving door-to-door with handouts, says the South Dade residents she encountered "were desperate. They treated our provisions like gold."

Lustig is careful to note that she did check with the Red Cross before setting off on her own path. "Of course we called," she says. "We called and called and called. The phone was busy every time.

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