Our Client's Katrina Story

I would like to tell you our story of survival during Hurricane  Katrina. I have a 7 year old daughter that I am so proud of and want to share our story with you. We lived in Arabi La., St. Bernard Parish. We did not evacuate for several reasons. On Monday morning we lost power about 6:30. We were watching a portable tv when we heard 3 explosions off in the distance.  We saw water seeping into the living room. We decided to get dressed and was able to get on all but our shoes. My 7 year old was screaming and crying on the bed,  "Mommy please don’t let me die.  I don’t want to die like this." I told her as long as she listened to Mommy & Daddy she would be ok.  We would not let her die. My husband, (Bernard), put her in the attic, this was one with no stairs, then he pulled himself up into the attic.

The front door had blown in due to the water pressure and water was rising rapidly. I could not pull up into the attic. Bernard said we needed to get out of the house right away,  He jumped down and I had Sara jump down to me. We put Sara on the front door and floated her out along the side of the house ,under the overhang with a small blanket thrown over her to ward off debris. We kept repeating the LORD`s prayer. When the water got as high as the roof we all climbed onto the roof.  Sara actually fell asleep in the middle of all the wind and rain.  We had her wrapped around the pipe on the roof. Bernard and I could hear tornados in the distance. 

After about 2 hours, I asked God for guidance.   Bernard decided to make a hole in the roof so we can get in the attic from the roof. We got in the attic where Bernard had put our bird cage with 2 cockatiels and a love bird, but the love bird got out. We also had 2 of our 3 cats there - the other one didn’t make it out. I asked God for food for Sara because she was hungry and a box of fruit loops passed by still sealed so Sara and I ate a couple of handfuls . The water started rising again so we went back on the roof. We saw a couple of men in the 2nd story of the house across the street and there was a capsized boat. They couldn’t help us but motioned for us to come over. We looked for something to float on because the current would take us right to the house across the street. We found a large board, we put Sara in the middle and the bird cage with the cats on also. When we pushed off the roof, the board started to sink. The bird cage went under and the cats swam away, then the board started to sink again, Bernard grabbed Sara and they both went under.  I swam for the tree in the front yard and grabbed a branch. Bernard said God must have handed him a power line because the next thing he knew he was pulling up on it.  I got them into the tree and told Sara to hug it tight while I went across the street to see if I could get help. The boat could not be turned over. A tire floated by so I grabbed it. The men said that the police knew where we were but had to wait for the wind to die down.  I held onto a magnolia tree across the street and held onto the tire.  I kept telling Bernard and Sara to hold on.

After 2 hours the wind was still blowing hard at times and the tree they were in was almost bent in half.  I asked God again for help. I noticed on the other side of the magnolia tree there were wires I could hold on to.  I went against the current by pulling myself by the magnolia branches.  I grabbed the wire and pulled myself far enough so I could float into our tree.  I put Sara on the tire first and reminded her of her Red Cross swimming lessons and to kick as hard as she could.  I got her to the 2nd story and the men pulled her inside and I went back for Bernard, the same way.  The men put them on a mattress that was floating but was dry on top and covered them with blankets because they were blue.  The sheriff’s office came by that evening but only had room for Sara and Bernard. I stayed with Al, Big AL, and Kevin in the 2nd story all night. We could hear people calling for help all night. That morning the fire department came with a boat and took us to the Sugar Refinery.  Bernard and Sara were taken elsewhere. I did not see Bernard and Sara again until Wednesday at the Port of St. Bernard. The relief was overwhelming.  A family had "adopted" them and gave Bernard a pair of shoes. We spent the night in the port and Thursday were shipped by barge to the Gretna Ferry landing.  Sara and I still didn’t have shoes so Bernard carried Sara on his back over the metal grate then sent me his shoes by a member of the Coast Guard so I could walk over. Someone gave Sara a pair of slippers. We were shipped by Army truck to I-10 and Causeway. Someone on I-10 gave me a pair of shoes. We stuck with people from our area for safety. FEMA sent cots but Bernard and I couldn’t sleep because helicopters were flying in and out every 5-10 minutes.  Bernard held Sara’s ears while I kept her face covered. We were told the next day to move down further if we wanted to get on a bus to get out of there. The conditions were horrible.  The combination of trash and human waste was disgusting. The heat was unbearable.  Bernard kept pouring water on me and Sara in the attempt to keep us cool.  Finally about 4am Saturday we had to push and scream to get on a bus that took us to the Houston Convention center where we were met with the most wonderful people I have ever met. We received health care and clothes.  Sara was loaded with toys and books.  We all took a much needed shower and received a hot meal.  The people of Houston were so wonderful.  Sunday I finally got through to an Uncle in Mississippi who contacted my Dad, in Baton Rouge. Within a couple of hours my cousin, was there to pick us up and took us to her house until my Dad arrived. We got out with no money, no id, no credit cards. We lost everything and my poor daughter lost so much, but we have each other and can testify to the awesome power of God.