Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Katrina - One Couple's Story

My friend's wife relocated from New Orleans to NY a couple of years ago. She received this as an e-mail from a friend / previous employer. They passed this on to me and gave me permission to post it to The Viscount’s, provided that I delete the personal references. I have done so.

“This is a fairly well-to-do guy, about 60ish - a fairly conservative, soft-spoken dude - VP with a very respectful business”

Monday - my wife and I survived, house survived hurricane, with just the fence blown down. Then, a levee broke and Lake Pontchartrain inundated our subdivision. Could not save much of anything, and rising water forced us into the attic Monday night.

Tuesday morning - found a boat at an adjoining house. Motor worked, but couldn't get it off the trailer.

Waited around for hours and a rescue boat from the fire department came to us. We swam out of the house with the clothes on our backs and a few mementos. They brought us to highway 90 at the south end of the subdivision. They told us the National Guard was picking up people along the highway that the fire department was plucking people out of the water.

At first it was great to be on dry land and out of that foul evil water, with alligators and water moccasins along with floating clumps of human waste vomited up by a hundred thousand overflowed toilets.

After a while the blazing hot sun was getting to us. No trucks. No food. No water.

We broke in to a Winn-Dixie and looted food and water, broke In to a clothing store for dry clothes to take the stink away. After no truck showed up, we broke into a Pentecostal church to get out of the hot sun.

Two days - no trucks. Running out of food and water. Everyone else who made it to high ground stripped out the store. We got desperate yesterday morning as the sun rose and we were running out of water.

The previous night several of us convinced one of the locals to hotwire the church sedan which we thought was full of gas so we could escape to Baton Rouge. Turns out he wanted $400 to drive us and an additional $175.00 for the hot wiring. We agreed, money not being an object. But then he overreached himself and couldn't hot wire the van and it only had gas vapors anyway.

3:00 am in the morning of day 3, my wife went ballistic. She commandeered a tractor and asked the driver to bring us to our French quarter offices because they were still above water and we thought that maybe the water pressure still worked. We paid him $1,000 to drive us there.

It turns out that the truck was stolen. Worse, we couldn't exit any ramps from the interstate because the water was too high. All the time, the driver constantly sipped from a pint bottle of whiskey. (Scenes of people in the dead of night reaching out for the truck as we drove along were truly frightening. Unable to leave the interstate, we had to go back, $1,000 blown (The movie "Escape from New York" pales in comparison. It was Dante's Inferno.

Ready to give up entirely, my wife wanted to go back into our house and at least stay in the attic, but the water was still rising.

We were really desperate yesterday morning, as the temperature increased and we ran out of water. Desperate, we found three tour buses that were not ruined in the water, but they only had a minimal amount of diesel. We joined up with others who were in the same predicament. We piled onto the buses, and we left with about 100 people, driving across the river where there was dry land.

Officials refused to give us any extra diesel, saying it was for rescue operations personnel.

Never saw hide or hair of FEMA. We probably left over 1,000 dead back in our neighborhood subdivision.

We drove via highway 90 on east bank of the river, up to Hale Boggs Bridge, then back over the river onto I-10 and to Baton Rouge. There, we found diesel, thank God. I saw Air Force 1 drop down to 1,700 feet to get a closer look (Bush didn't wave to me so I guess he didn't see me.}

Our buses arrived at WBRZ TV 2, where the crew turned this nightmare into a media event.

My wife and I called a taxi and went to Baton Rouge airport, but could find no flights out to Los Angeles where my wife has family. We rented car and headed out to northern Mississippi. Along the way, every convenience store/gas station was stripped of food --fuel rationed out in some cases by authorities. We had enough fuel to get to Memphis. Others weren't so lucky. Many cars on the shoulder of the road. All motels filled. Finally, after driving since 3:00 PM the previous evening and not having slept for 4 days, we found a room at an Economy Inn on the north side of Memphis intl. airport - checked in at 3:00 am this morning.

Now I'm trying to set up a satellite office in Memphis, but where to begin? I don't know who of our staff survived. Last I heard, my son was still in the ER of University hospital as an ER RN. I spoke to him at the height of the storm, but lost contact. I assume they will evacuate hospital personnel as generators have failed.

[Name witheld] (homeless and sunburned)


Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

Think of all the stories that can't be told because the people who'd tell them couldn't get out alive...

Thanks for sharing this.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

Wow. What a story. Nice of George to fly over so the guy could get a look at Air Force One as a reward for his ordeal.

3:03 PM  
Blogger cali said...

It's important to get these stories out. The RNC would like nothing more than to have us short attention span Americans move on to Ted Knnedy bashing (as you point out), Dean bashing, prayer in school ruminating and "God" in the pledge obsessing.

12:13 PM  
Blogger cali said...

Ted Kennedy bashing even.

9:09 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

>Ted Knnedy <

No worries. Hard to be as exact with the comments as we are with our posts. I've deleted entire comments because of one tiny tipo... ;^D

6:23 AM  

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