My parents and I, their dog and my cat, came back to New Orleans on September 22, 2005 (my birthday, incidentally). We had traveled from Alabama only to be met at every checkpoint by National Guards who told us they weren\'t allowing people into the city because they were expecting Hurricane Rita to hit any day. We ended up sneaking into the city anyway, down a road that hadn\'t been guarded. We went to my apartment first in the Riverbend, which had been all but destroyed. I was able to save my guitar and one of my cat\'s favorite toys. \r\nAfter we left the riverbend we went to my parent\'s house uptown on magazine street. Everyone was so tense after we had seen what had been left of my apartment with all the wind damage, especially my mother who had had to leave her pet bird behind when we all evacuated. Like everyone else we thought we would be back in a couple of days which ending up turning into a month. We all knew the bird would be dead from starvation/dehydration if not from damage to their house. \r\nAmazingly when we showed up to their house we realized that my parents in their rush had forgotten to lock the front door. Not only that, but some benevolent stranger had gone into the house recently and had fed and watered the bird, who was still very much alive despite the insane heat. That damn bird was a big boost to morale.