Saturday Sept. 10, 2005
We went through the whole thing. We were at the Canal Street Guesthouse during the hurricane and
watched from our balcony on Canal St. as the disaster unfolded, until Sept. 8. Yipes! We left Thursday
with the help of the National Guard. We were sure glad to see them in the city when they started going up
and down Canal street in boats, and passing overhead in helicopters by the dozens. God Bless them, it
was like being in a Fort and hearing the calvary's bugle call.
We had been at the Guesthouse from the day before the storm. We had guests and tenants from various
places including two from Japan who spoke little or no English, so we thought we were honor bound to stay
there until they were safe and cared for. (a Japanese person, prob. Japanese Embassy, came and picked
them up on Sunday afternoon). By then, the roads out of town were completely jammed and we heard
people were not able to get gas. Our building was built in the 1800's and has seen it's share of storms and
is still there so we thought we could weather it. The power went out about 5 AM. and the wind and
powerlines were screaming with an eerie whine. It blew harder and harder in waves, the building
swayed,and we listened to things falling on the building, including the terra cotta ridge tiles, roof shingles,
about 1/3 of the live oak tree limbs, and weatherboard siding.
We didn't have TV and could only get one station on our portable radio. The flood didn't reach us until late
in the afternoon, Monday. We went to bed thinking the water in the street, about one foot by then, would
be gone in the morning. We woke up in the middle of a lake, and watched while the water continued to
rise. It reached the middle of our main floor door. It was up to our armpits. Rumors were rampant that it
would rise 9 feet, 20 feet, etc. It was such a relief when it finally stopped inching up and we heard that the
water in the city had reached the level of Lake Pontchatrain ( we WERE the lake) and would no longer rise.
But, we were marooned! We still had plenty of food and water, and after hearing more horror stories about
the Superdome and the Convention Center we decided we were safer staying put. We "played" Survivor,
tending to minor and major crisis each day with no electricity, water or gas. We figured out ways to try and
keep cool enough to avoid heat prostration, avoid the millions of invading ants, mosquitos, and vermin-
both human and rodent. Two of our tenants that had no place to go stayed with us. James, mentally ill,
and Andre' huge and intimidating.
We helped our last two tenants into an army truck and they were evacuated last Wed. Sept 7. We stayed
one more night, closed up the Guesthouse as tight as we were able. Thursday morning we took a bath,
dressed up a little, so we could go out in style. Down a ladder into the back of an army truck full of New
Mexico and Puerto Rican National Guard troops with machine guns.
Kathey and I, along with Tiny, our little dog, were taken to a staging area and put on an
AIR-CONDITIONED bus to the airport. The airport was crawling with army, National Guard, ATF DEA ICE,
the 82nd AirBorne and Federal Marshals. They were so nice to everybody there. They led us to one of
the gates, C1, and we were told a plane was on the way. "Where?" we asked. "Nobody knows." was all the
soldiers would say. After about six hours, a plane pulled up to our gate, we were loaded up and when we
reached thirty thousand feet the pilot said, "we'll be landing in Milwaukee Wisconsin in four hours."
Whaaa? Most of the people had never been out of New Orleans or on a plane before and there was
plenty of muttering and questions. "...Do they have black people in Wisconsin?"
When we landed at an army base in Wisconsin and there was a reception committee waiting, the ex Mayor
of Milwaukee (a nice black man who hugged people and reassured the children and families) was there
along with a number of black preachers and social workers, and a greeter for each person. We waited
until everyone was off the plane and were greeted by a Milwaukee Councilman. "We are here to help you,"
he said shaking my hand.
"How about a ride to the regular Airport, so we can get a ride to a Holiday Inn?"
He led us around the crowd who were going to be taken to a shelter, talked to a State Trooper who said, "I
can do that right now."
Into the back of his patrol car, "Will the Sheraton Four Points across the street from Milwaukee
International be OK?"
We had joked earlier with the flight attendant about needing a martini during the flight. She answered, "so
do I". We put our things in the room and were heading to the bar when our flight crew arrived to check in.
'How did you get here before us? "
"Milwaukee hospitality," I answered. "Now, we are going to get that martini." I had two.
Sunday, Sept 11, we got a flight to Seattle and are now safe and sound. We are going to stay with my son
Sammy until we know when we can return.
Post script: We returned to New Orleans, with Tiny, Oct. 9, 2005
|Canal Street Guesthouse
A Nice Place for Nice People
1930 Canal Street
New Orleans, LA 70112 U.S.A.