Friday, November 11, 2005

"Everything was all right so long as the children didn't look over the roof at the bodies floating past."

From behind the paywall at Texas Monthly, the account of two New Orleanians, as told to John Spong in the Astrodome:

TEN ROWS OF COTS and two thousand or so people away, a couple in their fifties, Benjamin and Ermica Wilson, sat next to each other on a cot with a Bible. He was a big man, wearing a black T-shirt and a black New York Mets cap. She was much smaller, in bright purple sweatpants and a white T-shirt covered in little purple flowers.

Benjamin said they’d gone to their Ninth Ward church, St. Mary of the Angels, to weather Katrina. When the water rose too high in St. Mary’s, they’d climbed to the roof with their own family of 18, from Benjamin’s mother on down to his young nieces and nephews, plus about 75 other people. They were up there for two nights.

“We had a grill up there,” said Benjamin, “and I put a life jacket on and swam to my mother’s house to get meat from the freezer. We had pork chops, ribs, smoked sausage. My mother made a pot of gumbo for everybody, and my wife made a pot of chili. It seemed like we were stretching those five loaves and two fishes. Everything was all right so long as the children didn’t look over the roof at the bodies floating past.

“The worst part was at night. It was pitch-black. No street lights or lights in the buildings because there was no electricity. It was dead silent except the sound of people trapped in their attics screaming as the water rose..."

Update (11/12): People Get Ready has some photos of St Bernard's Parish.

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