Reflections About My Family's Experiences Then and Now With Hurricane Katrina As We Approach The 10th Anniversary.
Pic: Keith's pic of Advocate article by Dennis Persica, public domain graphic, August 11, 2015.
“Where's David, Mommy?”
“Have you heard anything from David or about where he may be?” I, with incognito frantic feelings inside and not wanting to upset my Mommy, asked my Mother a few times that afternoon on Tuesday, August 30, 2005 about my brother.
“No,” Mommy said; and went on to note “I'm sure he evacuated with some others from his apartment complex on Chef Menteur Highway in New Orleans East.”
Mom and Dad had come up to Red Stick on the previous Saturday with my Sister, Helen, and her children from the Lakeview area of New Orleans after a very arduous traffic jam of evacuees from the surrounding Crescent City area.
My Sister noted that on the almost 8 hour + ride from NO to BR, my frail and elderly Daddy couldn't understand why traffic was so slow, as he would constantly note, “Why isn't the car in front of us moving?”
We all had hunkered down the day before in our Red Stick home that infamous date of August 29,th, when Hurricane Katrina came bustling through Louisiana and ferociously dismantling levees in the New Orleans area and bursting into Mississippi.
Dale, my brother-in-law, came up to stay with us after the storm had cleared and thankfully before the levee breeches filled the entire Lakeview area, where he and Helen had lived, as well as most of the Greater New Orleans region.
So as time went on and we were all glued to the television and radio seeing the awful pics of many parts of our beloved hometown of N'Awlins covered deep in water - with some folks waiting desperately at the Superdome or atop their homes hoping for someone to rescue them – we still didn't know what was the status of David.
We certainly joined others from all churches and faith communities many times in praying for those who had died from the storm and who were dealing with untold miseries with the displacement caused by Katrina, and we made financial and in-kind donations whenever possible.
WWL 870 AM was a real great link to what was going on in The Big Easy, so I was constantly listening to the DJ's. At one point, concerned folks were able to call in to the radio shows, such as Bob Delgarno and Garland Robinette, where one could make a shout-out describing missing loved ones to see if anyone may know their where-a-bouts – so I did that a few times but didn't get any responses.
Cell phones were still not in full use by everyone including my brother, so that was not possible.
There were times that I just wanted to drive the 75 + miles from Red Stick to the Big Easy just to do some of my own searching for David and bring basic necessities for him and others that I may see along the way, but that was discouraged and actually noted as breaking the law.
Finally, I somehow got word per the Red Cross or some other agency that David was in Donaldsonville at the Shekinah Glory Church Shelter! It was so great to hear his voice on the phone late in September, 2005 and eventually to go and meet with him!
David had apparently not been able to catch the van ride from his apartment complex and stayed there till September 20 (his birthday!), when he was able to see National Guardsmen in the area, and they opened up the locked in building that he was in!
Thankfully, David had stocked up well on basic necessities, including water, peanut butter, etc. and braved all that time in the high rise building alone without running water or electricity – and in the heat of late August and early September!
What a joy it was when David could join us, especially Mommy and Daddy, in Red Stick with the whole family for a reunion.
I pray for all those who lost loved ones and who were forever displaced from the beloved New Orleans. I constantly meet co-workers, patients, etc. who may have lived in the Crescent City and now have settled elsewhere like Baton Rouge.
We lost both of our parents in 2006; Mommy in June and Daddy in October. While both parents certainly had health issues they had been dealing with, they, like many others, I believe, were very deeply traumatized and affected physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually by the storm.
The city and adjacent communities have certainly made an incredible resurrection from that terrible storm of 2005 as we now reflect on things 10 years later.
The vast VA “Project Legacy” Health System going up in the Mid-City Section of New Orleans and including many square blocks is another great sign of the ongoing recovery that has taken place over these past 10 years.
I also would like to thank the “Women of the Storm,” especially Anne Milling, whom I knew through some Zen classes at Loyola University. Anne and many untold others certainly helped to ADVOCATE for the rebuilding of our beloved 'Yatsville and helping all to deal with such a difficult “Human Condition.”
How neat that THE ADVOCATE is now the biggest selling printed publication in New Orleans! It was so cool how that The Advocate helped many New Orleans print and broadcast media and their staffing in need of help right after the storm!
Keith John Paul Horcasitas, LCSW, MHA, 1133 Knollhaven Drive, BRLA 70810, khorcasitas.yahoo.com, July 30, 2015.
Want to review or comment on this
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!
|Reviewed by Ronald Hull
|Thanks for sharing the story. I'm sure glad your whole family was restored after such a harrowing experience.
That is certainly was a traumatic time for you and your family and so many others. So many came to Houston and stayed in the Astrodome, and then were relocated to hotels and apartment complexes. During Hurricane Ike, I purposely avoided the evacuation panic that ensued, largely because of what had happened in Katrina, because I knew I couldn't stand the trauma of being stuck on the road in the heat for hours without adequate water.
Many of those people who came to Texas found work here and stayed. I just read an article that many of the poor areas of New Orleans have not recovered their population after 10 years.
Unfortunately, if the predictions are correct, New Orleans is probably doomed in this century from a rising Gulf of Mexico. And, if all of the ice on the planet melts, much of Florida and Houston will also go the way of New Orleans.
|Reviewed by Eva Pasco
|I know it is an understatement to say that you and your family will never forget what was wrought by Hurricane Katrina. I'm sorry for the subsequent loss of your parents, but glad your brother survived his ordeal.|