My partner and I lived in a house at 735 Dumaine at the corner of Durbon Street (next door to the Clover Grill, for y\'all that know that area). We were bi-city guys and also had a place in San Francisco. I had left late Saturday night on August 27th from San Francisco. Believe it or not, I didn\'t know anything about the hurricane. I was focused on getting to Southern Decadence! When I walked through the Security Thing, the ladies there, most of them knew me from seeing me so many times, looked at me and said, \"man, don\'t you know there\'s a hurricane fittin to happen?\" I said, \"naw, didn\'t know.\" There were almost no cabs and no people. Of course I found a cab and he told me there were contra indications on the free way. I told him, I know all the back roads...so off we went. I got into the Quarter about 5:30AM on Sunday, August 28th. There was NO BODY any where. So, I went in the house and turned on the TV. My partner called to tell me that his plane was not being allowed into New Orleans and to turn on the TV to this one channel. That\'s when I first saw a picture of the storm and my heart froze and my hair stood up on my arms. I went outside and the wind wasn\'t even blowing. My partner, Tom, was trying to convince me to go check into a hotel where I\'d be safer. I told him that I needed to board up the house and get anything loose off the balconies and secure stuff in the court yard out back. That process took me most of Sunday. During that day, at one point I was putting louann board on one of the guitine windows and there was this high pitch scream that came out of the sky. All the folks around looked up and an old man yelled up at me, \"It\'s comin\'\" I was done boarding the house up and sitting around drinking everything alcoholic in the house around midnight Sunday/Monday morning. I talked to Tom every 30 minutes on the phone. The last phone call was around 3:30AM. I had run out of smokes so I went outside to see if I could bum one. It was lightly raining and the wind was blowing a little bit. This couple who was making out under the street light gave me a smoke and the dude said to come over to there place if the water starts to get high. They lived on the third floor. I had no idea what water getting high meant. By 4AM or so Monday morning. August 29th, the gates of hell opened on New Orleans. The sound was like 1000 steam trains and 100,000 people screaming. I could hear metal scraping and swear to god, I heard an explosion at one point. I was so scared that my knees were knocking together. The entire house would move when the giant gusts would hit it. I thought for sure I was going to die. Then I got pissed off and said out loud, I\'d be goddamned if I was going to die there like this. I swear to god, the house picked itself up and dug it claws into the blessed ground of New Orleans where it had been standing for 125 years and held on. This crazy damn storm kept blowing and screaming for hours. I looked out a window at one point and saw a VW being blown down Dumaine Street. I passed out at some point and woke up on the floor, fully dressed, with my boots on holding an empty bottle of Sky Vodka. I could hear birds singing and I looked out the window and could see some blue skies. I went down stairs and stepped into some water, and thought, Oh shit, but all it was was the frigerator had defrosted. I opened my front door and walked out into what was left. there was bricks and odds and ends of stuff all over the place. the car in front of my house looked like a bolder had been dropped on it. The strret sign, the street sign that was riveted onto the pole was on the ground. The wind had blown it loose. The balconies were gone from John-T\'s place...all the stories worth of them. The house next to me was missing all the shingles and the tin roof had been peeled back like a giant can opener had tried to open it. The chimney on the house directly across from my place had fallen in and put a hole in the roof. They was nobody in there so I knew nobody was hurt. Nothing happened to my house at all. Nothing. I had 15\" drapes laid out on a sewing table that Tom had made. They were even ruffled. Nothing. It was a miracle, some folks say. Nothing happened to my house. I was hung over, but none the worse for the storm. I went over to Winn Dixie with a bunch of people and liberated some food. I mostly caucasian so fuck all that about how it was only black people who were \"looting\". The best thing I saw was some brothers who had gotten 3 big flat screen TV\'s. I asked them what they gonna do with them? Aint no electricity. We all laughed and kept going. That easy feeling started to go away by Wednesday. It was hot as fuck and there was no sign of help. None of us knew what was going on. I could hear gun shots at night and watched the helicopters with they infra red beams flying in figure eights over my city. I\'m not sure if they were looking for surviviors or for people to shoot.\r\n\r\nFriday evening John T came pounding on my door and screaming that MSNBC had just called him on a fucking rotary dial princess phone tha he had. It was the only thing, that I know of, that was working. They had told him the levees had broke and the entire town was flooding. I got my Ford Explorer out of the gated thing it was in. John-T brought his 14\" boa constrictor, a baby python, a monitor lizard and iguana and 4 birds. A young woman named Kristy took the shot gun seat and we headed out of the Quarter. Ther police told us that we couldn\'t get out. All the bridges and freeways were broken in half. We just kept driving. I went up Royal Street and drove through the water. It came upto just below the bottom of the windows. We eventually found the Mississippi Riven bridge and got across it. That\'s when I told them that we were still between Lake Ponchitraine and the River...and that we only had an 8th of a tank of gas. I just kept driving and we found the biggest gas station I have ever seen in my life and they had gas. !!! Kristy got out to get something to drink. When she got back in she said she had met some people who could lead us to the road to Baton Rouge. I said, yeah right, they gonna kill us and take the car. She say, no, they have crosses on. So I follw them in the pitch dark down this road. We get to the parish line and there\'s a barricade. All Black cops who say we can\'t go any further. The lady who had lead us there, said, let me talke to them. I don\'t know what she said, but they pulled the barricade aside and we kept going. We made it to Baton Ruoge....\r\n\r\nThere\'s more to this story, but, that pretty much gets it. We survived hurricane Katrina, the levee breaking, the stupid fucking Bush administrations lack of help and lived to tell. I will NEVER forget.

Citation

Gambill Caldwell, “[Untitled],” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed June 17, 2019, http://hurricanearchive.org/items/show/37063.