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Kevin L. Carrolton Area, New Orleans 09/11/05

Interviewer: Abe Louise Young

My name's Kevin. And I'm from the heart of New Orleans, I'm in the Carrolton area. I don't know where to start. I'm just going to start, you know. The bottom line is we stayed four days without...we had water, we had plumbing, we had gas up until the point the water started rising and the storm had already passed.

Well, like I said, you know, we stayed. We tried to fight the storm for four days. For four days, I brought my parents, my mother, my fiance, back and forth about five or six blocks through all that water to get them to safety. Got them to safety and the helicopters were flying around us, they'd see us, but they wouldn't pick anybody up. So that mean I had to bring them back home through all that water. This lasted four days. For four days I'd get them to shelter, get them to the high land where they could get some help, but my main thing was to get them safe.

There was three of us, three of us. The final day, the fifth day, they pulled her [Tyneisha] out. She left and went to Lafayette School where we got some help with Mom. At that point, we couldn't get her to Lafayette. She wasn't ready to go.

Yeah, they said they'd turned the pumps on and the pumps was pumping the water out, and it wasn't. The water wasn't going down. It was steady rising. So the final night the water got up to my waist, so I said, "We can't stay here. We've got to leave." I went back again in all that water bring her up to safety. On the way, a helicopter saw us, and they heliportered her out, and said they would come back for me.

Well, they told me they would take her, my mom, when they heliported her out, they heliported all the elders and the kids first. We had a guy in a wheelchair -- hey, Deke, if you're listening, I'm talking to you, baby. Bottom line is he's handicapped, can't walk. He's got diabetes and everything. I personally pulled six people from back there to get them help. One of the ladies was bedridden. She was on a medical bed and she stayed out there overnight at the shelter, days and days and days, until help came. Help never came. Finally, they took my mom, like I said, we were already in the water. They heliported her out, said they were bringing her to the airport. She didn't get to the airport. I swammed out. I swam a mile until I got to Mistletoe and Jefferson Highway. When I got to Jefferson Highway...Jefferson Highway, I walked from there three miles.

There was no water. There was a little water in Jefferson Parish, but it was flooded where we were. Now, my problem was they'd excavated all the people out of Jefferson before they got to Orleans Parish. By this time, three or four days, help came too late. The people were drowning in their homes. They couldn't get out of their houses. By that time, the water was at the roof and the attic, and they were trying to get on top of the roof. You can't get a seventy-year old woman on top of a roof. That's kind of hard. So a lot of people didn't make it because of late help, you know. I mean, I know I appreciate what they were doing for us, but it was a last minute resource. We were last-minute victims.

So now it's a situation where they said that the pumps weren't working, the levee had broke. We believe -- and I'm speaking for a lot of people I've spoken to that came out of New Orleans -- that that levee was blown. We looked at the levee on our way out.

Yes. The levee was blown intentionally and we don't know. We figure it had to be Jefferson's Parish because it was either save Jefferson's Parish and let Orleans drown, or all of us would have drown. The water would have built up in Jefferson's Parish as well as Orleans Parish, but the canal had only broke on the Orleans side of the levee. I saw this on my way out on the bus where the levee had broke and the water was going out. Jefferson's Parish, the water didn't even get past your ankles. Yes, we had water up to our waist, up to our neck. By the time I got out of there, it was up to my neck. I'm six feet even. My mom couldn't, it was already over her head.

Now, again, we did this here traveling through this water three, four, five times, back and forth, because we couldn't get help on the main highway where it was dry and the helicopters could evacuate people from there. As far as the water, as far as what was going on in Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish, a lot of political issues, we feel like people was left to drown. They didn't want us to make it. My heartache is all the people, good people, that I'm not going to see again. The worry, wondering if they made it out, or if they didn't make it out.

My biggest issue, when I found my mom, we chartered a boat. I hired a little flat boat to get us to where we had to get to, and I was supposed to go back and get some folks that were still waiting on me. If it wasn't for the neighbors that helped one another, a lot of other folks that was in my neighborhood wouldn't have made it out. And there's a lot of elders back there. These folks got us to Jefferson Parish and locked us out. We couldn't go back in. So what about the people I told I was coming back for?

Sleepless nights, aching body. My legs were swole up like you wouldn't believe. I've never had my ankles to swell, my legs to swell like they did. I'm a diabetic. Been sick since I got here. But the bottom line is, you know, my biggest worry right now is whether or not my friends and loved ones...we're still missing some folks. Like I tell you, I found her six days later, Tyneisha. They pulled her out. We were separated.

I'm still trying to locate my dad. We don't know where he's at. Last time we heard, he was at Baton Rouge General and we phoned Baton Rouge General and there's no admit papers whether or not he's there, so we don't know hospital they may have taken him to. However, when they found him, the water was up to his neck inside. Inside the house. My dad's not as tall as I am, but still, you wonder, you worry, wondering if he's safe. I did find my sister, she's safe. She's in Irving, Texas. My fiance, she's back here with us now. All the family's together.

I think the anger comes from...not just me, but a lot of the people that's here gathered today. They're gathered and they're still angry because the help came late and they still want to know about this dang-gum canal that broke. Canals not just going to give way like that. Katrina did her damage but Katrina didn't hurt us. Katrina didn't take our lives. There may be some lives lost from Katrina when it first came in, but when Katrina came in, we had water up to our ankles, maybe up to the mid-part of my leg, but it didn't get worse until the levee broke. And that's the question that people are asking and they feel like it was a conspiracy to the fact that the people was left to die. And then, again, the help came late and when it first started, these helicopters would just fly over, look. We could see them, turn around and come back, fly over and look. Then days and days past, and nobody came to help us. Finally some folks started coming on the boat. That's how she got to Lafayette. She got to Lafayette on a boat, up the Mississippi.

There were volunteers from Lafayette, all over. That's how the people got to safety. They stayed in that school days and days at a time. I mean everybody had their share of problems at that time, but still what about those folks that didn't make it. What about my friends that was left wondering if I'm ever going to see them again. I think that's the biggest heart problem we're dealing with, trying to regroup and organize. And again, you know, you're not sure who you're going to see. Who you're going to see, it's just a matter of time now. They say time heals all wounds, so we just hope for the best.

It didn't hit me until after I got here. I don't know, the Lord just gave me strength, just wanting to live. But a lot of prayers, a lot of faith and trust in God because, like I said, the military‹man, we had so many problems with the military. Going back to when I found my mom underneath the Causeway Overpass, I was told by the first person that came off the helicopter that they would transfer my mom, and I trusted this guy to do what he said, and he didn't do it. I lost trust in our military, I lost trust in our government officials, the leaders that said they were doing such and such. It wasn't being done, and a lot of people got separated because of that. My mom, she's safe now, but she left a lot of personal belongings, and I have to hear this every day. I have to watch her cry.

It's hard for my mom, and the same folks went through the same problems right there. So I'm not going to make it long, but I just want to let everybody know that we're still pulling together, we're still one big family. New Orleans is a family-oriented place, and we're going to stay together. We're going to stay strong. We have to be strong for one another. We thank Austin for all the help they've given us. We thank all the supporters that volunteered and donated. We thank all of them.

Well, it was the people, I can assure you of that. I've seen a lot of people pull together to get folks out of those houses, even if we had to carry them. I'm one of the last of the Mohicans that was left there, the last Mohican. We took pictures together, some of the fellows who were around the neighborhood. I have some pictures, but I don't have them with me.

We were leaving out, we were excavated to the Causeway overpass. We were all underneath the Causeway overpass by the Interstate where they bused us out. I saw a guy ask for a drink of water. He asked for two waters. They would only‹he asked, I guess, a volunteer. He asked the volunteer and I watched. He did just what the volunteer told him to do. He said, "Well, I can only give you one water to get back in line." He told her, "Well, my mother in the medic unit and she needed water." So he asked for two waters. The guy brought one water over to his people in the medical unit, came right back in line. Our military, the MP, told this guy to get the f--- out of the line because he had already been in line. And he explained the situation.

I personally, when I got there, was looking for my mom. They put their hands on me, the military police and Jefferson Parish police, because I was walking through, I guess, what might have been a restricted area, but we didn't know that and the people that I was with, we were separated right there because they stopped me and put their hands on me. When I asked why we couldn't leave to go help the people that were still left behind, they told me we couldn't leave. They, the officer, at that time when I approached him, told me to stand back and drew his weapon. And I don't have a weapon. All I had was my mom who I found who came running out of the crowd with tears in her eyes. At that point, the Lord moved, and they stopped him because they were ready to put me in handcuffs, and I didn't do anything. All I did was tell them I was looking for my parents.

And, like I said, we're still missing my father. But I have my mom and I have fiance with me, and since we got here to Austin, I found my three step-kids. I found a lot of my in-laws that's here, and through the help of the Red Cross and the computers they have, we were able to locate them and now we're together. We're still missing some folks and until that happens, we're not going to make a move until the families together. Then we can move.

Note: Kevin and his family have relocated to Boise, Idaho. You are invited to visit his website at www.justmysites.com/Layton.


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