Katrina…the RescueAugust 27, 2010 - 3:44 PM | by: Adam Housley
As the reflections of Katrina come from all who endured such a tragedy, five years later it has got me to think about my time in New Orleans and I have included some of the pictures and video I took at the time. It began for me on the anchor desk in New York. Fox News had gone to 24 hour coverage and my two hours from 3am-5am came with my colleague Amy Kellogg. I can remember being on the phone live on the air with one of my best friends, as he and his family evacuated. Katrina was making landfall at that early hour and as we handed off coverage to Fox & Friends, I was back at my hotel packing for a trip that would be like nothing we had ever seen….and remember…while the 9th Ward was devastated, many other areas were also severely damaged. From Expensive homes, to poorer areas, the water knew no boundaries.
I return to New Orleans several times a year and have done so even before Katrina ever hit. While I am not anything close to a native, I do know the area rather well and even ride in Endymion every Mardi Gras season. I still remember 2005 and our ride down Canal Street and then to be in a daze just two days after Katrina, riding down the exact same route in a boat, not on a float…looking into the same windows….but in such a horribly different way. Here is some of my video from the time:
My friends from the area would call and I even checked-in on some of their homes and businesses during the weeks afterwards. Our crew lived on a bus on the bridge above the New Orleans Convention Center and we would shower every three days, after a treacherous drive to Houma and a less than desirable motel. Here are some of the memories from my blogs for foxnews.com at the time. I have not edited the punctuation since I feel it gives a sense of what I was sending via my blackberry while on a boat in the neighborhoods of New Orleans:
SEPTEMBER 2, 2005: She refused to leave, while her neighbor insisted he had enough food to hold out. For some reason, these able bodied men and women refuse to succumb to the 6-feet of polluted water that stagnated inside the first-floor of their Iberville Street homes. In frustration and volunteer desperation, Tom, a volunteer rescuer from the West Bank just across the Mississippi River yelled, “Do you have any children inside?” The woman replied “just one.” That’s when Tom erupted. “Ma’m, you can’t stay here, you can’t keep your child here. These waters are gross, there’s dead bodies, raw sewage, oil….they’ll make your child sick!”
With that, the woman finally gave in. Her 3 year-old son had run out of diapers and food was running low. I asked
her why she stayed, along with 6 other people on her block. She replied “I thought the waters would go
down, they had gone down before.” Tom wasn’t comforted by this response, even though his boat now had a couple of more passengers. He told me “it is frustrating! We are trying to help these people; they just can’t live like this….it is unsafe!” He continues, “You think they’d want to leave, but we have to plead with them to get
into the boat.”
SEPTEMBER 3, 2005:
He just wouldn’t leave. Joe Green seemed adamant about getting back into his row boat and maneuvering back
down Elysian Fields Avenue to his home filled with 6-feet of stale, polluted, murky flood water.
As we stood on an off ramp of the 610 freeway, which was being used for a boat launch, Joe told me “I can’t
leave my neighbor. He’s 73 and won’t come out.”
As a gust of stench filled my nose I asked him how he could live in such horrific conditions. The water in
his home, his neighborhood was a cesspool of garbage and junk and bodies and sewer. Joe replied,” It’s not so bad.” I knew his response wasn’t heartfelt; there was a reason why Joe wouldn’t leave. He asked for me cell phone and somehow our phone got through. On the other end, his wife Sadie. She was alive and well, living in a shelter in Houston. With the call and voice from his wife, Joe changed. His eyes welled up and he seemed
satisfied. I asked him if knowing his wife wouldn’t come home to an empty house, and knowing she was alive
and well made his decision different. He then let out a deep breath of relief and replied “yes.”
Joe had changed his mind and made the right decision. With that he got back into his canoe, told me thanks
and goodbye and headed down the street intent on convincing his neighbor to leave.
SEPTEMBER 4, 2005
The constant hum of helicopters echoes through flooded neighborhoods, as they drop down to inspect homes that might still house people too stubborn, or too weak to escape. As they hover themselves into position, spray from polluted waters peppers rescuers and their boats, volunteers who have come from all over to help. We have met some from Phoenix, California, Arkansas and Texas.
Throughout the day, we watch and traverse through waters ripe with the stench of sewer and obstacles of every type. At this off ramp where we report today, water remains 5-6 feet deep. Floating and submerged in it I
see tires, garbage, oil, toys, diapers and in some cases bodies. I am told by one rescuer they don’t have
time to recover the dead right now, so those that are found floating are tied to the tops of street signs,
only six inches or so above flood levels. I have seen dogs swim to their deaths, people refuse
to leave their two-story homes, the lower lever filled with this cesspool called the flood.
At night we drive with our guards and crew to each new live location and throughout this city I knew once
well, there is darkness and an eeriness I have never felt here in my homeland. People lurk in blackened
streets, soldiers march with M-16’s drawn, fires are the only lights that glow in the blackness, homes
creak from the weight of the floodwater and somewhere in the distance a dog howls. This cannot be real, this
cannot continue for long, but much to the disappointment of so many, we are now into another