My life before hurricane Katrina consisted of going to school, the gym, and my job as Sec. of State at UNO. I experienced all the events of hurricane Katrina, because I did not want to leave New Orleans and go through the hassle of evacuating. I\'ve been through a couple of brushes with hurricanes growing up in New Orleans, and my experience led me to believe that the media was blowing the ensuing catastrophe up because that\'s the nature of the news. Prior to Katrina, there was a false alert about a hurricane, and the State was put on the spot for an inadequate evacuation plan. People were in traffic for almost a day, and I did not want to be stuck in the car all that time with my family. When hurricane Katrina came around all these factors contributed in my decision to stay.\r\n\r\nFriday Aug 26\r\nThe Friday before the hurricane I attended a luau at UNO. It was there were I was talking with a friend who worked at the Walgreen\'s on Elysian Fields. He was telling me about the big hurricane coming, and how he and his dad were evacuating. The next day, I began to notice the attitude of the city really beginning to change. Yet I was not worried, I just thought that we were a superstitious city that always blew things out of proportion.\r\n\r\nSaturday Aug 27\r\n Saturday was the day my mother, step-dad, and sister decided to leave. I was glad they left because my step-dad is on an oxygen machine, and I did not want my mother and sister to have through any worse case scenario. They begged me to leave, but I was stubborn and I actually was glad that I wasn\'t about to go through the torture of traffic that they were about to experience. \r\n\r\nSunday Aug 28\r\n Sunday the city was like a ghost town. I decided that I should stock up on lots of tuna and pecans just in case power goes out. Ferraras was the only store open, and to my surprise there was quite a bit of people there. In the afternoon, I decided I would drive around my old neighborhoods, hang-out areas, schools, and pretty much all of Uptown and Downtown New Orleans. Around 3:00 P.M. I stopped in the area called the 7th Ward. One of my friends who remained behind hopped in the car, and we went driving around the city again. We returned back to the 7th Ward and stopped at my best-friends father\'s house. He was an elderly man, about in his eighties, and he, myself, and my friend sat in his living room and had a couple of drinks. We all laughed about how the news and our family were overreacting about Katrina coming our way. Being that he went through Camille and Betsy, he reassured us that our neighborhoods would never flood. He told us how the Ninth Ward flooded out only because the politicians of the time ordered that it be done, and this was during a racist era. Knowing this eased my nervous some. As the time for the curfew was coming around 6:00P.M., I decided to drop my friend off. The first signs of the hurricane began around this time. The winds picked up and there were scattered showers. After I helped my friend jack-up his father\'s car for flood protection, I decided to go home. His family asked me to stay, but I wanted to take care of my home. On my way home, I stopped at blockbuster to rent some movies. When I got home, my nerves got the best of me again, and I thought I should prepare for worst case scenario. I already had 2 plans of evacuation. The first was to climb to the top of St. Raphael church across the street from were I lived, and my second option was to try and get to a 3 story house around the corner. That night I stacked 20 cans of tuna, a bag of pecans, and had my military boots and pants ready just in case. \r\n\r\nMonday Aug 29\r\n\r\nI feel asleep watching the movies I rented, and I awoke to a powerless house. The wind was blowing and the rain was coming down, but I was still able to go outside and make markers for the height of the flood waters. I had a portable T.V. so I listened to Bob Breck try and help people in the storm. At this point I was nervous because the tree in my backyard had fallen, and my yard began to flood. In front the house, the flood waters remained in the street. The phones were disconnected, but my family reached my cell phone and kept me updated on the news. At 10:00A.M., my mother called and said the 17th Street Canal had broken. The flood waters were now on my front lawn, but it was still moving very slowly and I had hoped that this was where it would remain. At 11:00 A.M., my friends called and told me that a levee by the lake had broken. It was at this moment when I noticed a fast current going from east to west on my street. The water had reached my house. The air conditioner we had was located low on our wall near the floor, and the hole where the air conditioner was at started to pour in water. I had already put everything as high as they could go. The night before, I grabbed all the pictures that I thought were important, put them in a blanket, and stuffed them in garbage bags. I placed these pictures at the top of the closet. At noon, I then put on my boots and fatigues, grabbed the food I had collected along with a can opener and a fork, and made my way for the roof. I called my mother one last time, and told her I was going on top of the roof. I was lucky to find a space on top of my house that shielded me from the winds and shingles flying from other houses. I also used the cans of tuna as a sort of helmet. I called three different people to get an update as to where the hurricane was. Before I left Bob Breck said the eye was going to pass at 10:00A.M. My friends said the eye was going to pass at noon, while another friend said that is wasn\'t going to pass until 2:00P.M. As I waited for the hurricane to pass, I yelled to see if anyone else in my neighborhood was around. No one responded. The only living animals around it seemed was me and a yellow Labrador. As I sat on my roof, I looked at this dog swim from car to car as the water got higher, until finally he was out of my sight, and all heard was yelping from him. At this point I had watched my car go under water, and since I did not know how high the water was going to get, I thought I should make my move to safety. My first plan of climbing to the top of St. Raphael was canceled because I did not know how strong the current was going across the street. I had to enact my second plan of getting to the house around the corner. At his point the water was about 6 feet high. As I began to jump from house to house to reach my destination, I had to first throw the cans of tuna that I had, for I would not make the jump with that weighing me down. I also was fearful that the cans would miss the house or that they would slide off. Anyway, since I thought the worst of the hurricane had passed I began to go from house to house. I successfully jumped about 4 houses, until the houses around the corner began to become a little more spaced out. Also, between these houses were spiked fences, so I was worried if I jumped and missed I would get stabbed in my legs. This was the point in which I had to wait until the water got even with the roof and swim across. As I waited on top of this one house the wind and rain picked up even harder. Because of the way the house was situated I had no protection, and this was probably one of the worst moments of the hurricane. My cell phone began to vibrate for about a minute, and it finally went out around 3:00P.M. as a result of getting wet. When the water finally reached the top of the house, I was able to swim from house to house. Finally, I reached the last house before the 3 story house I was aiming for. This was the most difficult of all the houses, because the 3 story house was not aligned with the other houses, and then there was the difficult part of pulling myself up out of the water. Prior to this house I was able to grab on to my neighbors gutters and push off, with my legs, the side of the house. The 3 story house had a porch, and I had nothing underneath to push my legs off to get leverage. Anyway, I was lucky to get the cans of tuna on the porch, especially at the difficult angle. I then swam for the porch on the second story of the house. When I got there, it was very difficult to pull myself out of the water, and I thought about swimming back to the house I came from. By the grace of God was able to pull myself on to the porch. Now I was faced with the task of ripping the wood that was put up to protect the windows of the house. Again I was blessed, because as I pulled the wood it was not difficult to tear it down. I then proceeded to take off my boots, break the glass, and hop into the house. I am not a thief, but I did admire what was in this brand new mystery house. There was a miniature wine cellar, big screen t.v., and other things that were perfect for a bachelor pad. I took off all my clothes to let it dry out. At about 4:00P.M., the hurricane was completely gone, and the sun came out. What I saw next, I don\'t think I can describe accurately to give a sense of the destruction. If your ever driving on the Bonnet spillway, and you notice the cypress trees sticking out of the water, if you can picture the tips of roofs sticking up next to them then you probably have some sort of idea. There were some people in the neighborhoods who owned boats, and they began sailing them up Elysian Fields to rescue people. The Coast Guard helicopters began flying around, and I thought I was going to be rescued and brought to the Superdome where I would immediately then be transported out of the city. It wasn\'t until I started hearing news about the Superdome that I decided that I didn\'t want to go there. As I waived with in vain at the helicopters, my neighbors were finally able to come and get me. After borrowing some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the house I was located at, I hopped in the boat. We went just one block, and I was dropped off at St. Raphael School across the street from my house. When I arrived at the school, the residents of my neighborhood were using an overhead concrete cover above a walkway as an unloading dock when the boats came with new people. I was part of the original fifteen, but as the days went on over 50 people resided in the school before we all evacuated Wednesday, Aug 31. When I first arrived, there was this woman who seemed to be the de facto leader of our new community. She was a nurse who escaped with her mother, brother, nephews, and husband as the flood waters forced her out of her home. She was a nice lady, but because I think she had some kind of disorder that made her extremely hyper, by the second day she started to get on some peoples nerves. Monday night at St. Raphael consisted of the men mainly pulling people on top of the makeshift unloading dock. This was sometimes difficult because a ladder had to be used to get from the boat to the dock, and the movement of the water presented itself also as an obstacle. The most difficult people to help on the dock were the handicap, mentally ill, and obese people. One lady was so large she that she was not capable of standing up, and she had to sleep in the boat all night because no one could pull her on the dock. The next morning though, we all tied our shirts together, and pulled her up top. I can\'t explain how I felt that night. I wasn\'t having a panic attack, nor was I stressed out; I was just worn out from the entire day of being on top of my house during the hurricane for 4 hours, jumping from house to house, and then helping people get in the school all day. We were all forced to stay on the second floor because the first floor was flooded out. I found a classroom with about three people residing in it, so I grabbed a couple of table desks and a bunch of paper towels for a pillow and went to sleep. \r\n\r\nTuesday Aug 30\r\n\r\nI awoke around 5 in the morning to the sound of someone urinating in the classroom. Now being that I\'ve served time in the military, and I know the common courtesies of living with people in catastrophic situations, rule number one is you don\'t use the bathroom were you sleep. As I got up to straighten out whoever was urinating in the classroom, I looked around the dark room and saw that it was just a mangy dog. Still I felt the owner needed to take responsibility, so I started to ask who owned the dog. To my surprise it was my neighbor who stayed a couple of houses down. He and I were happy to see each other, and we exchanged stories about our ordeal. He told me how he did not leave out his garage until the water got up to his head, and that he had to get out by breaking the windows and sliding out. I was just glad to see somebody that I spoke to everyday. That morning I saw that my neighbor was hungry so I gave him some of my cans of tuna. Later that day I met this family of four who I befriended. They had their own class room that they slept in, and I was comfortable with them because they seemed similar to my family. Later my neighbor came into the room with his dog. Some how he mentioned to them that I gave him some cans of tuna. Now I don\'t mind sharing, but from my observation the people residing at St. Raphael with me, did not know how to ration their food for a possibly long stay. If everyone knew I had food then I would run out in a day. I\'d like to mention though, that if I saw someone starving I would have gladly shared whatever I had. Anyway, once the family found out I had cans of tuna they, just like I feared, began to ask me for some. I couldn\'t turn them down so I gave them a couple of cans, and in return they gave me some bread and water. I felt a little guilty for trying to conserve my food, but after this transaction we all stuck together for the rest of this ordeal. As we watched the news on their portable TV, I heard news that the Superdome and Convention Center was in turmoil, and that if it was possible the residents of New Orleans should try and make their way to Gonzales. Again, based on my military experience and my optimistic view of my capabilities, I thought if I could get to the I-10, and I could walk to Gonzales in a day and a half. The family I was with could not conceive of someone doing that, so they spent the day trying to convince me that it was prudent to do that. The mother said she went through Betsy, and that the water would go down in 3 days. To make sure, we all used the bricks on a house across the street as markers indicating how much the water went down. We were there 3 days and the people living at St. Raphael convinced themselves that the water had resided. I was not going to lie to myself, and even if the water went down and inch, after 3 days that was not any kind of progress. \r\n\r\nWednesday Aug 31\r\n\r\n By the third day people started to get restless. I guess the effects of everything finally hit, and some people became real emotional. Some of the mentally ill and elderly needed their medication. Wednesday was finally the day when we began to see a lot of boats, both civilians and police. The family I was with decided that it was time to try and leave. I agreed that I would go with them, and when a boat became available we got in it. The boats were taking people to either the Lakefront Arena or the Superdome. We heard that rioting was going on at both places, so we asked the people who owned the boat to bring us to the I-10 and will decide from there. As we sailed up Elysian Fields heading towards the I-10, the boat could not go any further than Gentilly Blvd because the land sat high at that point. So we had to back track, and go up Franklin Ave where the water was high enough to bring us all the way to the I-10. Once we got on the bridge, we had to contend with over a thousand people trying to get on 1 helicopter. I asked every police officer what was the plan, what should we be doing, should we walk to Gonzales, but no one knew what to do. It was over 100 degrees with no shade, and as I looked at all the water stocked up by the buses on the bridge, I proceeded to ask if the people in charge could spare some. I was told they could not give out any, and that the water was for the people that were working. While I was waiting in the shade at the bottom of bridge, I saw the police bring up a naked man with no legs. I was glad that he had gotten rescued, but later in the day I saw one of the emergency workers crying; the man had died and was placed on the side of the bridge, covered by a blanket. On the other side of the I-10, I saw looters who had stolen mail trucks, Kentwood trucks, brand new off the floor Ford vehicles. People were bringing water that they had gotten out of the mall, and were giving it away for the people on the bridge. The police that seemed to have the most composure and everything under control were the Texas police agencies. They stopped the people who were stealing the trucks, confiscated the vehicles, and let the perpetrators go. As the day turned to night, some kind of word finally came. The orders were to walk down the 6-10, where the I-10 met on Franklin, all the way to Elysian Fields exit. When we got to the Elysian Fields exit we were told to walk to the Paris Ave exit, and this was where the Greyhound buses were to pick us up. There were over 5,000 people waiting in line on the bridge for a Greyhound bus. It had to be around 8:00P.M. when 4 buses finally arrived. At Midnight 4 more buses came. One bus can only hold about 50 people, at the rate we were going I finally began to lose my nerves. I got upset with police officers telling me how hard they had it, yet when they got tired they could get in their air conditioned cars and go to sleep. That night, me and the rest of the evacuees slept on the 6-10. \r\n\r\nThursday Sept 1\r\n\r\n Thursday was the beginning of the end of this ordeal. Out of the entire week, I actually slept best on the 6-10 bridge. When I had awoke that morning, I was glad to see Greyhound buses coming in one after the other. Not that many people knew that the buses were starting on the 6-10, and as we headed towards the I-10, I saw what looked like millions of people lined up on the I-10. I did not realize how far ahead of the line I was until we drove past all these people. I saw my friend, who I had left in the 7th ward, and I wished I could have told him how far down the line he was, and that he should walk down. I found out that we were going to Houston, and I thought to myself what a coincidence since that\'s where my family evacuated to. We got to the Reliant Stadium in Houston around 8:00P.M. When we arrived, there were about 100 buses in front of us, and we were told we had to wait in line so that a doctor could see us before we could be checked into the stadium. I had made it out of New Orleans, and I was done. When they let people out to stretch, I grabbed my bags and looked for the nearest hotel. I thank God that he allowed me to remember to bring my wallet with cash and credit cards. I was turned away from a couple of hotels because they were full, before I found a La Quinta Inn. \r\nWrapping things up quickly, I got in contact with a friend who reached my parents in Houston. My entire family stayed in a hotel for a couple of weeks, and eventually Red Cross began to pay the tab. I found out the deadlines to enroll in LSU, and I rented a car to go register. My mother\'s job relocated to Lafayette, were they provided us with a temporary home. I now commute on Tuesday\'s and Thursday\'s from Lafayette to Baton Rouge. I enrolled into UNO this Spring, and am currently looking for an apartment. Because of time, I must apologize for leaving out many things, but I hope this provides who ever reads this with some kind of visual of the past catastrophe.\r\n\r\n

Citation

“[Untitled],” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed June 16, 2024, https://hurricanearchive.org/items/show/13875.