Hurricane Katrina came through South Florida where I lived at the time as a strong Category Two, killed four people and filled both of my trailers with water. I was at a Red Cross shelter helping with ham radio at the time it came through. I knew that it would likely create problems for others once it got into the Gulf, but had no clue to what extent until later ... \r\n\r\nOnce the winds had died down and I got back home to Homestead, Florida where it had done a pretty good job of depositing unwanted water in some of the lower lying areas and in my trailer, I began following it\'s progress on TV as it headed out into the Gulf. I\'m trained as a Ham Radio operator in emergency communications, and also through my rescue scuba diver class, in water rescue. I kept a watch on Katrina as it grew bigger and bigger and finally into an impressive Category Five. It took aim at the Gulf Coast, and finally the New Orleans area. Once it hit, it seemed New Orleans was okay ... and then the levees broke. The failure of the Government to upgrade, maintain and otherwise protest it\'s citizens was tragically obvious. News reports began to come out, sparsely at first and then more as the media got into town and set up their satellite live remote trucks and were able to give reports. Dead bodies, some for days, began to appear on the news. People on rooftops. The desperate. The Superdome, Convention Center and Arena.. \r\n\r\nIt was time to DO something with whatever skills I could find within me. ONE dead body was too many .. but this was unreal. People camped out everywhere displaced from their native New Orleans. And what was worst ... the majority of the displaced were the very poor and those of color. The inequity was painfully obvious! So, I sold just about everything I owned or pawned it for gas and food for the trip North to New Orleans not knowing what I\'d find here.\r\n\r\nWhen I got here, I had only intended to stay a couple of months or so, but it ended up becoming much longer than that. More on that later. I tried to enter the city unsuccessfully on several occasions getting turned back by police who were carding everyone and turning back anyone not a registered First Responder of some sort. At the time, I had no formal training in as any kind of first responder but did have my ham background and the water rescue skills to share ... so I told them. I guess some news reporters overheard the conversation and the next time I ran into those particular people, they included me in their caravan and I got in. I haven\'t left permanently since. \r\n\r\nThe first thing I did was to try to get to one of the flooded areas and help with rescues, but couldn\'t. They were only using professional first responders and I wasn\'t one yet. Ham radio wasn\'t good enough for them either. Think they were trying to keep the looters under control. I found out later something about that too .. alot of the \"looting\" was hungry people trying to get food. Not all, but a good share was. After trying a number of times to \"plug in\" to the rescue effort, I finally gave up and got involved with some of the local grass roots groups trying to help, but most of my efforts were solitary. I did a great deal of relief work aimed at pets left behind for the storm. Feeding stray cats and dogs and giving them water, and providing human survivers with ice and water as I could get ahold of it. So I guess I did something ... but now with the EMT Basic training I\'ve recieved (yet to be licensed), I\'ll be able to help if something like that ever happens again. That was one of the reasons I went after the training ...\r\n\r\nA month or so after Katrina, while I was here and staying in the neighborhood of a friend in the Treme area, Rita menaced the area. The woman I was staying near contemplated rowing through the streets and rescuing people again as she had during Katrina. I tried to help out as best I could. She was quite good at coming up with food for everyone to eat that didn\'t require power or utilities to deal with, including using Soy Milk for cold cereal. She was a real genious, and even had some medical skills from some of her grass roots work and Native American ancestory. She knew some of the traditional healing methods of the Indians, and shared that knowledge by helping others with it during this worst of disasters. But Rita veered away sparing New Orleans it\'s worst. The city had been evacuated again .. but the two of us with our skills and a number of other first responders and activists had stayed behind to help the less fortunate if it had been needed. Fortunately, all Rita did was rain on everyone and the Lower 9th Ward flooded again as Rita\'s storm surge again breached the sandbagged levee. Other than that, there were few problems. And the Lower 9 was no longer occupied.\r\n\r\nShortly after I got into the area, after spending a couple of days helping the EOS in Biloxi, Missippii with ham radio net control operations, I was talking to a city worker on the radio who it turned out was also a jazz musician. Trumpet I believe. Somehow during the conversation, the subject of music came up. This guy told me I\'d likely never leave. At the time, I laughed at him thinking it was some peculiar joke. But here I am, four years after Katrina, still in New Orleans. And I\'m getting paid for playing music at times! The trumpeter was right and I personally think that the unique culture that\'s here is one of the reasons that the city actually came back. I think any other town would have given up after something like Katrina. But not New Orleans! \r\n\r\nAnyhow, that\'s my story. I\'ve been here pursuing my music and will soon be going back to college. Next week, I\'ll be taking a videography class and I\'ve already been involved in the film industry as a crew member and acting on several occasion. I love this town ... and I really think my heart would break if it were ever to flood like Katrina again. I pray to God that the Corp. of Engineers does or did their job RIGHT this time, for everyone\'s sake ...\r\n\r\nLynn Magnuson WB7PTR\r\nP.O. Box 3393\r\nNew Orleans, LA. 70117

Citation

Lynn Magnuson, “[Untitled],” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed June 23, 2017, http://hurricanearchive.org/items/show/41304.