A New Perspective, The Convention Center In New Orleans After Katrina (Never Before Seen Photos)
HOW WE FELT THEN DOES NOT REFLECT WHAT WE FEEL NOW
I am trying to show the world how we felt at this time. We, meaning those who were there at the Convention Center immediately following Katrina. As you might imagine we were not always thinking as rationally as the rest of the world. Please do not judge as these were true and honest thoughts going through our heads. If you have never experienced such a thing then you may not understand.
This does not mean that we still feel the same way.
Calm Before the Storm
What I want to do here is give you the details of Katrina from a different perspective. Mine. Now that does not mean that others were wrong. It simply means that not everyone saw it the same.
Saturday, August 28, 2005, was just like any other day for me. I got up and did the same old thing I did every day since my new life after drugs had begun. I studied, cleaned up around my new apartment, prepared for work, and boarded the trolley to the French Quarter. That was where and when I found out that there was a huge hurricane headed our way.
"What are you going to do about the hurricane", a tourist asked me.
"What hurricane?" I asked in amazement.
"There is a huge hurricane called Katrina headed this way," he informed me.
"Really?" I replied. "I didn't know." "I guess I'll do what I always do which is nothing." "You see we don't worry too much about hurricanes around here." "They turn at the last minute and nothing much ever comes of them."
As I said this I thought I had better see what my friends had to say. I exited the trolley at Bourbon and canal as usual and headed down Bourbon to find someone I trusted who would know something about all this.
Most of the people I ran into were not any more concerned than I was so I blew the whole thing off as foolishness. My roommate decided to go to Covington that night with his friend and invited me to go along but I had company and declined their offer. I headed back to the Quarter with little regard to anything.
The next morning was Sunday and I decided that I simply must get to church. I attended a church out in Metairie which meant a trolley ride and then walking 2 blocks to catch the bus. I was standing on the corner of Tulane and Rampart waiting for the bus that was to carry me to carry me out Airline Hwy to church. I waited and waited and waited. My favorite trolley driver had said that as far as he knew the buses were running. I figured if I could get to church someone would bring me home.
There were several of us waiting on that corner and then we saw the most unique procession we had seen. Now we were not strangers to parades believe me, but this one was certainly no ordinary parade. Here came 5 Sheriff cars followed by a several buses with Sheriff cars on both sides plus a whole bunch more Sheriff cars pulling up the rear. We found out that this was a transport of prisoners from St. Bernard Parrish to Orleans Parrish Prison.
That did it. I decided to go home and wait out the storm but not before taking a walk down Bourbon after all that was my home away from home and all my friends were there. We all talked and I declined going to the Super-dome which had been opened the night before for women and children. After all I had a home now and I knew so many who did not that I just did not want to take up room when I did not need it.
That night I continued with my Bible studies and prayed. I lay down and slept through the storm. Yes you read correctly, I slept through Hurricane Katrina. God had given me peace through the storm and I was not afraid. Seriously. I woke up the next morning and on my immediate block there was very little destruction. It took 3 of us 15 minutes to clean up the whole block.
On the other side of the cross streets in either direction was a whole new story. There were trees down, roofs off, debris everywhere. It looked like a bomb had went off.
Tuesday I decided that it was time to go. I figured I would just walk to the interstate and hitchhike to my moms in Missouri. I knew she was worried and so I had to find a way to call her to alleviate her fears.
As I was walking to the interstate with friends I found a payphone that actually worked and phoned my mom. I was right, she was terribly worried and the news reports did not help her mind any. I told her of my plans and she was relieved, even though they included hitchhiking she felt that to be better than where I was. Looking back I now know she just wanted to see me one more time.
As we neared the interstate I knew I could not go. I had to do something to help. There were literally thousands of people curled up under the overpass in various states of shock. I asked an officer what I could do to help these people and he directed me to the Convention Center assuring me that the Red Cross was set up there and I could help them. I do not know if he knew that was a lie or if he truly believed it to be the truth.
Either way, it was not the truth as I soon found out. I had really wanted it to be true so I rushed to find them. I ended up trying to do whatever I could. Someone had hot-wired an ice-cream truck and was passing out the goodies to whoever wanted them. I grabbed as much as I could carry and started giving it to the elderly who could not get their own then I went back and got more to repeat the process. More trucks arrived (also hot-wired) with milk and other frozen goodies. These too were passed out. the drivers of these trucks were emptying them out to load up their families and carry them out of the city. I do not know if they made it.
We heard reports about the Super-dome on battery powered radios and felt that we were in the best place. Boys who were drug dealers a couple of days ago now broke into freezers and brought food to everyone. There was a generator inside the center and so there was some electricity. we foraged and found microwaves and hotplates for cooking the food and then we passed it out. some people outside found bar-b-que grills and cooked for everyone that way. The food was good and we ate well.
The Most Expensive Camera Ever Purchased
OK, so maybe not. Don't laugh or judge me but I just had to have a camera. As one of the go-getter's was wheeling his cart down the street I noticed that he had a lot of disposable brand new cameras. I asked if I could get one please. He gave a story how he needed them all. I offered to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek for one and that is how I purchased the most expensive disposable camera in the world. Well he was kinda cute which did not hurt any. LOL
Below is what I did with this camera. I took the most priceless photos ever taken. I have displayed them here for the very first ime ever for your viewing pleasure and enlightenment. Please do not use any of these photos without my permission. They really do all belong solely to me. Thank you for understanding.
Map Of New Orleans Including All The Areas I Talk About Here
You can open this map and see where all of these places are. this is one of the best maps of this area I have ever seen.
One Small Section of the Convention Center
This photo shows one very small section out front of the Convention Center. There are 20 such sections plus the inside was fuller than the outside. Every one gathered in front of the Center and on the midle ground as well as across the street all up and down the street. There were 1000's more people inside. As the police rescued people they would bring them to the Center and dump them off and go back to get more people. The numbers grew daily.
How We All Felt
This boy's expression pretty muched summed up the whole place. We were just there waiting and wondering and really did not know if anyone knew about us or not. some had cell phones which they charged up and called whoever would listen to try to get us some help.
An Overall Feeling Of Sadness
Most could not do anything but sit and wait. I'm not even sure what they were waiting for. . We believed what we were told daily. We were told that help was on the way.
The Young And The Old Alike
Young, old, or somewhere in the middle, we all felt the same. Hurry up and wait.
The Rich And The Poor
Status in society did not make one bit of difference. this was one of the richest families in New Orleans and they could do nothing but wait with the rest of us. No, I will not tell you who they are for their own protection.
Heartache And Play
There were a few signs here and there that these people were not going down easy. These children played quietly but my point is they played.
Keeping It Clean
I believe she was just trying to maintain some sort of order in an otherwise topsy turvy world. She kept her area very clean which helped maintain sanity.
No Broom Then Improvise
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. This woman's ability to adapt to her surroundings is evident as she cleans her carpet section with a dry mop when no broom could be found.
"The Man" and His Family
"The Man" is my personal affectionate nickname for this guy. He was not going to let circumstances change his outlook on life. He seemed to have things all together including his family. Here he proudly displays to me his new "living room".
No selfrespecting gentleman would fail to offer a little "Southern Hospitality" to their guest. "The Man" certainly proved that when he offered me a drink form his "Bar". I was invited to join them but this lady just had to politley decline.
I could not help fall in love with these two. The momma was so sweet even though I'm not sure she completely understood just exactly what was going on. the daughter took very good care of her. They were fortunate to have each other as so many others were separated from their families at this time. Many had no clue what was going on with their family and that was probably the most heartbreaking part of the whole situation in these days immediately following the levee breech.
Sleeping was done in shifts to insure the protection of all. My group of self proclaimed "protectors" would not allow me a turn at the nightly vigilance. More about them later.
In the Daylight
A closer look at these same sleeping quarters in the daylight reveals the true nature of our surroundings.
This just goes to show how adaptive we truly are as humans. She needed a wheelchair and her grandsons provided in the form of a transport dolly. She seemed quite impressed with her new mode of transportation.
Strenght In Adversity
This lady was quite inspiring to me as well as her grandchildren. She took the opportunity to tell them all about Jesus and to teach them to pray. She truly demonstrated what it means to "Keep the Faith" and I will be eternally grateful to her.
The only Way Out
There it is looming in the background. Our only means to escape lie up there on that bridge. We watched it daily for signs of the buses they kept promising us would come. We saw plenty of buses crossing both ways but they were all bound for the Super-dome. We were lost to the world, the forgotten masses.
Seeking Information Seemed Dangerous
Some guys just wanted to get some information. They carefully approached the officers only to find out that the officers were as in the dark as we were. It was well known to all that we should not just walk up to the police without demonstrating first our absence of a weapon by approaching with our arms up and hands open. This issue had been reinforced a couple of times and we respected it well.
Wonder Who They Were Really Protecting
I thought they were there to protect us but I really wonder who they were protecting. Us or themselves.
Soldiers Have Mixed Emotions
Friday finally brought some relief in the form of soldiers. Well, National Guard to be exact. This photo truly demonstrates the wide range of emotions that were on display throughout the newly formed community. I say community because we had learned in just a short while how to look after and rely on each other for basic needs. The Guards men informed us that they were not even aware of our existence until the day before. I told you we were forgotten.
You laugh at the caption all you want but that is truly how it felt. I have said many times that we ate better before they brought the food. The truth is that as they were arriving with the food our generator went out and we could no longer cook for ourselves. God has a way of providing doesn't He?
Our Wonderful Driver
I think of "the midnight ride of Paul Revere" when I look back and here that phrase again and again in my mind. We heard "the buses are coming" so often that when they arrived we did not believe it. I joked at the time about putting the phrase on the front of a T-shirt and on the back it would say NOT!!!
This was the driver/owner of our bus. He was a wonderful man who had brought 2 of his 4, $500,000 buses down from the East coast to rescue us. He informed us that he had been forced to wait in Jefferson Parish until they had decided that it was safe enough to come get us. I promise you that I have never in my whole entire life seen a more orderly crowd. I was absolutely shocked by how polite and orderly everyone was under the circumstances. Come to think of it any circumstances.
Finally On A Bus
This is us and a whole bunch of others on the bus to carry us away. As promised more about my self-proclaimed protectors. that is them up there on the left sticking their head up over everyone else. Well, 2 of the 3 anyway. Our fourth member had left for the day to go scavengering. We had all agreed from th beginning on a majority rules policy. # was a majority and so we 3 boarded the bus as we prayed for our friend. No one wanted to take the gamble that there would be more buses later. The 3 men had stayed up all night Friday night watching over me as I slept. We had moved from the safety of the building to the outside when the generator went outbecause it was just tooo dark inside to remain safe. There were not many problems and most were mild as pretty much policed ourselves. My friends were just concerned for my safety. I never told them that I was safer than they were. Don't you tell them either. LOL
This is a sight I bet you never thought you would see in America. To me this looks like a photo from some war ravaged nation over seas. This was the last photo I took as I boarded the bus. I do not want to offend anyone from anywhere. I am simply saying that this is not what we are used to seeing in America. Just as in NYC a few years earlier we were in shock. The date on this photo was just 7 days short of the 4th anniversary of the Twin Towers. I just thought you should see it.
Do You Miss New Orleans?
I have attempted to show you another side of things as I took courage from the way people banded together to establish a community spirit while maintaining their individual spaces. If anyone recognizes anyone in these photos I would sure love to hear from you. God will truly work all things to our good as He has shown us from this tragedy. I know I have a whole new life as I'm sure most of these do too.
New Orleans I just want you to know you are still in my heart and prayers and I will come back someday.