Mr. G tells me that they hung onto each other "like man and wife, so the winds wouldn't take us apart." They clung close and tried to swim "as the winds were @140 miles an hour and water was up around their necks." They were trying to swim across the street to the Catholic School which had been opened as a temporary shelter for the neighborhood if needed. There were no supplies, there was only this building which was the tallest building in the area.
"People were screaming and hollering before they drowned."
"There was a man holding on to the chain link fence that used to be across the street around that house, he was trying to hold on in the water and the wind took him away."
Mr. G and Leonard made it to the Catholic School. Leonard went back out into the flood waters and tried to save other people. On the roof of the school, they watched as their neighbors on the side street got into their car with their children - "they drowned, children and all. When they tried to get the doors of the car open it was too late, the pressure of the water wouldn't let them open the doors."
Everyone on the roof watched in horror as an elderly couple got into their car - "everyone on that roof watched them die."
Leonard, Mr. G's son tells me, "the people in the neighborhood and area had driven the cars and parked them on the grass in front of the school, all those cars were turned over and floated away."
The water Leonard tells me "went up to the second white awning on the school building. "We would walk in the halls and see the ocean outside of the windows. Water was seeping in."
"Father Bart, the parish Catholic priest, was on top of the roof with me and my son and the neighbors," says Mr. G. Leonard tells me he guesses their were about 60 - 100 people who made it to the school.
They spent a week in the Catholic school building waiting to be rescued.
This Catholic school building was not a "shelter". There were no food provisions, no Red Cross volunteers, and the only water was surrounding them.
"There was no food to feed the people for about a week." "Father Bart," Leonard tells me, "was reluctant to let anyone go to the first floor where the school lunch room was located and underwater." As I was listening to Leonard speak, I could tell of what I know of Father Bart, that it was most likely that he was worried about the safety of his parishioners.
(A note from your Planetary Sister: Put yourself in Father Bart's shoes: who would ever ever thought that in an American city where everyone in the nation, as well as the world, were well aware of the devastation and suffering, that it would take a week to rescue them? Who would have ever thought that in a modern American city that even if the National Guard couldn't get to the people, helicopters would be dropping down MRE's? I think we all need to think very seriously about this, as we are only one disaster away from it happening again.)
People began dying. They went down to the lower levels and got some food provisions and were able to eat a meal. On another day, Leonard told me of swimming to a neighbors house and getting some food out of a refrigerator.
A week after the storm - "a whole bunch of helicopters came 1 at a time and took us away, 5 at a time. Mr. G and his son went with some neighbors. one came back for Father Bart."
THE SUFFERING OF THE Mr and Mrs. G WAS NOT OVER ONCE THEY WERE RESCUED.
Mrs. G who had been very ill, needed to be airlifted, separately without her husband, to a hospital (I believe in South Carolina - I will fact check this and get back to you).
Mr. and Mrs. G's daughter, son-in-law, grandson's and granddaughter were all victims of a police shooting on the Danziger Bridge.
I would like to tell it from Mr. G first and then will give you sources to verify the story.
From Mr. G -
"They (his daughter's family) and their friends were trying to get out. They were brought there by a boat - they were put by the bridge. A truck or a boat was supposed to pick them up. The people on the bridge were told that the supermarket had given them permission to have anything they wanted. The supermarket told them to take what they wanted."
"A policeman came out of nowhere and started shooting. My daugther had one of her arm's shot off. She has a metal rod in her leg from her foot to her hip. My son-in-law was shot in the head. He still has that bullet in his head, they shot him in the hands and foot. My grandson, was shot in the mouth 5 times (he is 17). then the officer came down to stand over him and shot him 2 times in the stomach. He wasn't supposed to do that - he was supposed to cuff him. Now he has to wear a bag for urine and one for waste. The bags cost a hundred dollars a piece. My other grandson tried to run away, they tried to shoot him. They made him pull off his shoes and told him to start running. They killed 2 friends who was with his daughter."
"The police" he says, "will be tried for murder."
The most recent article on this case:
2 dead, 4 wounded
The shootings by seven police officers left two men dead and four people wounded. Former officer Robert Faulcon was indicted with the first-degree murder of Ronald Madison.
Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Sgt. Robert Gisevius, officer Anthony Villavaso and former officer Faulcon were indicted with first-degree murder in the shooting of 19-year old James Brissette. The teenager had been walking on the bridge with a friend's family, en route to a Winn-Dixie supermarket on Chef Menteur Highway to get supplies.
Brissette's friend, Jose Holmes, described the shooting in a federal lawsuit as a police ambush against unarmed citizens. The police officers have disputed this, saying they were called to the scene because of a radio report of officers in trouble. After they arrived, the police did not shoot until first taking fire, they have said.
Though the civilians traveling along the bridge jumped behind a concrete pedestrian barrier, Holmes was hit by bullets that wounded his hands, elbows, neck and stomach. His aunt, Susan Bartholomew, had her right arm partly blasted off. His uncle, Leonard Bartholomew III, was shot in the head, back and left heel, while their daughter, teenager Lesha Bartholomew, was shot four times. The Bartholomews' teenage son, Leonard Bartholomew IV, was able to escape unharmed.
The four officers charged with first-degree murder also face a number of attempted-murder charges in the wounding of the Bartholomew and Holmes group, as well as shooting at Leonard Bartholomew IV, Ronald Madison and Lance Madison. Three other officers have been indicted on attempted-murder charges: Officer Michael Hunter was charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, while officer Ignatius Hills was indicted on one count of attempted second-degree murder. Officer Robert Barrios faces four counts of attempted first-degree murder.
(Note: I was in Massachusetts when this all occurred. I remember hearing this story on NPR and seeing some sketchy news reports when I was near a T.V. set - it seems the story kept changing. I didn't really read about what happened until tonight after I wrote this story, researching a link for this posting to verify the story Mr. G told me.)
Mr. Gs suffering does not even end here.
His brother, who lived in the Lower 9th Ward a the time on La Manche Street "had water coming over his roof."
"He had to bust through the ceiling to get out of his house. Then he had to bust through the roof. He got to the roof and the water swept him away. He was lucky and a helicopter spotted him. He was evacuated to a hospital in Ohio. The ordeal of busting through the ceiling and then the roof - he was 72 - it was too much for him. He was in Ohio when he died, he just dropped dead one day. I lost him."
"I only have 2 brothers left. Mother is gone, daddy's gone, grandmother is gone."
A note to Mr. and Mrs. G if you read this narrative someday:
Mr. and Mrs. G,
Your faith and endurance is awesome to behold. I am humbled by your life. I am humbled by your examples of living faith and your ongoing deep an abiding trust in God in the midst of unendurable sufferings. In answer to your question yesterday, as I was saying goodbye, no worries, I am coming back.
I love you too.
Prayers... for their sufferings.