Kimberley M. Junior High School Student, New Orleans
We're here at the Austin Convention Center with
Kimberley Martin. The date is September the 20th,
2005. Hi, Kimberley.
KIMBERLEY: How you doing?
AIT: Good. How are you doing?
AIT: I'm just going to play this back now and
make sure that it recorded and picked up our voices.
Kimberley, how has it been for you since you got
here in Austin?
KIMBERLEY: It's been all right.
AIT: How is the food in the Convention Center?
KIMBERLEY: It's all right, but I don't really
like cafeteria food.
AIT: I understand. So, when were you born?
KIMBERLEY: I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana
AIT: Excellent. Do you have brothers and sisters?
KIMBERLEY: Three brothers, three sisters.
AIT: Seven kids.
AIT: Where do you fall in all those?
KIMBERLEY: I fall, like, the middle. I'm the middle
AIT: Fabulous. Where did you live in New Orleans?
KIMBERLEY: On the West side.
AIT: In Algiers?
AIT: Okay. What did you do for fun?
KIMBERLEY: Play volleyball, talk on the phone,
read. I just be talking to my Mama. Or go outside
in the park. That's what I did.
AIT: Sounds good. And your Mom's here with you.
AIT: How's she doing?
KIMBERLEY: She all right.
AIT: Is her health okay?
AIT: What does your Momâ€¹where did she work?
AIT: Outside the home, I mean.
KIMBERLEY: She was working at Avondale --
AIT: Avondale Shipyards?
KIMBERLEY: Yes, but her daughter got sick, something
happened to my sister, so when she went to the
hospital, they had to cut her loose. But they
let her back on, she got back on the job, and
she had quit because she had to take care of my
sister because she was sick. So then it was hard
to find work.
AIT: Do you have a daddy around?
KIMBERLEY: I have a daddy but he not around.
AIT: Your mom took care of you?
KIMBERLEY: Yeah. But my big brother, he like my
daddy, he take care of me. He raised us. He's
twenty-three now. He bought all our clothes and
all that. He's like a daddy.
AIT: That's wonderful. What did he do?
KIMBERLEY: He worked at a shipyard, too. He'd
be going off-shore, on the boats and stuff.
AIT: Have you decided what you want to do when
it's your time to work?
KIMBERLEY: I'm taking this class because I go
to Kealing Middle School. I was taking this class,
Medical Tech, and I was taking this class as Medical
Aide. They helped me, when I get to high school
so I can become a pediatrician.
AIT: Fabulous. You want to be a pediatrician?
AIT: You like kids?
AIT: You have some little brothers and sisters.
KIMBERLEY: Yes. Not young-young, but I have some
older than me, but they're twins. Two younger
than me, they're twins.
AIT: And you're fourteen?
AIT: Are you in eighth grade?
AIT: Do you think your family might stay here
in Austin? Do you know what your plans are?
KIMBERLEY: Well, I know we're going to be here
for awhile, but I know my Momma plan on going
back to New Orleans.
AIT: I hear that Algiers is pretty all right.
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, but if there is another storm
AIT: That's true. Wee don't know what's going to
AIT: So have you made new friends here in Austin?
KIMBERLEY: I made new friends at school, but I've
just been there, trying to take it all in, remember
all their names and stuff.
AIT: That must be kind of hard, to have everybody
AIT: How is it different from your other school
that you went to in Algiers?
KIMBERLEY: Well, we wore uniforms. We took the
LEAP. They don't take the LEAP.
AIT: That's a standardized test?
AIT: I think you might have to take something
called the TAKS a little later in the year.
KIMBERLEY: We marched in a parade. We had a lot
of dances. We had half-a-days. They don't have
no half-a-days. That's the difference.
AIT: That makes sense. Do you like your teachers
at your new school?
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, they're nice.
AIT: What's your favorite subject?
KIMBERLEY: Well, language arts.
AIT: Oh, okay. You like reading?
AIT: So, do you feel like talking about how you
got here to Austin?
AIT: When did you guys first hear and think that
something might be happening?
KIMBERLEY: When everybody was leaving, but my
Momma said, since it didn't come last year, she
thought it wasn't going to come this year, so
we didn't go nowhere. So it stormed, it was raining
and all that. Our doors were blowing open, windows
was breaking, so she said it was time to go. So
the next day, everybody was like stealing school
buses, just taking their families.
AIT: Stealing school buses?
KIMBERLEY: Yeah. School buses.
AIT: How did they get them, do you know?
KIMBERLEY: They were going in the yard, going
in the school bus yard and just taking all the
AIT: So were they like popping out the window
and hot-wiring the bus?
KIMBERLEY: They was leaving the keys, the keys
was already on the bus. The drivers leave the
keys on the bus when they finish with their shift,
so everybody was going in the yards and just taking
buses. They were taking their families and leaving.
But it was not just a family thing because they
had so many people leaving where we stayed. They
were taking like families at a time.
AIT: Were you staying in an apartment building
or a house?
KIMBERLEY: Apartment building.
AIT: Okay. So a whole lot of people were going.
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, they were stealing cars, like
school buses. People were stealing ships, everything...
KIMBERLEY: Because the water was so high. Because
my sister, she was at the Lafitte--
AIT: Lafitte Parish?
KIMBERLEY: Yes, and the water was high, and she
had to take her children and put them in a bucket.
AIT: Her children, she had to put them in a bucket?
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, she had to put them in a big,
you know the kind of bucket you move in? She put
them in there and they swim to the bridge, and
the 18-wheeler gave them a ride on the bridge.
From there, it took them thirteen more hours.
AIT: So this is your sister and her kids, your
nieces and nephews.
KIMBERLEY: They're in Mississippi now.
AIT: Okay. Is your family all in different directions
or most of you in the same town?
KIMBERLEY: The only person that's not with us
is her. All of us are here.
AIT: So how did you and your people find the school
bus to get on? And do you know how long you had
spent waiting in Algiers before you decided to
hop on a school bus?
KIMBERLEY: We waited awhile, we waited until they
came. Like the day the storm really, really came,
that's the day we left. We left like that evening.
Everybody had, a lot of people wanted to take
a lot of school buses, but everybody went on the
school buses, everybody, because they had no gas
stations open, so they had to try to make it to
where they was going in order for them to get
gas. All the buses were going to stick together...
KIMBERLEY: But instead, some people were just
taking their families and leaving. So my brother
and his friends, they went and got the bus. One
of the buses, they got into a police chase.
AIT: Oh, no. The police were trying to stop them
from taking the bus?
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, so they tried to stop them, so
he jumped out and got away. I don't know whether
the police are just saying, 'We're okay, it don't
matter.' Everybody was like it don't matter, just
take the bus and just leave, just get out. So
everybody just take their bus, everybody left.
All the buses were sticking together. All the
buses had already left first, because we were
waiting on so many people, we didn't want to leave
nobody. They had people from off the bridge, walking
to where was walking, walking to the project,
because they was walking off the bridge. They'd
been walking for like three days.
KIMBERLEY: All them on the bus...
AIT: It was Crescent City Connection?
KIMBERLEY: Yes. We were letting all them on the
bus with us. So all them got on the bus we were
riding. We were running out of gas, but we were
still riding. There were two of us, because all
the rest of the buses had left first, so there
was only two buses that stuck together. So we
were riding, and the bus, it was running out of
AIT: Were you riding on the highway?
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, but we had made it to like Baton
Rouge before running out of gas. We was running
out of gas, but my brother didn't want to stop.
AIT: Was he driving?
KIMBERLEY: No, his friend was driving.
AIT: How did you feel for his friend?
KIMBERLEY: Waitâ€¹before we made it to Baton Rouge
and all that, the bus was running out of gas,
so everybody had to pile up on one bus. There
was a lot a people on the bus. So this one man,
he from Crescent City Connection, he walked, he
didn't want to leave. He didn't want to leave
off the bus, and the bus was still in New Orleans.
He didn't want to leave, he stayed on the bus.
He said, 'No, I want to stay.' So we left him
on the bus, and everybody leave--
AIT: And left the bus in New Orleans?
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, and with the man still on there.
We was in the middle of nowhere. He said he didn't
want to go, so we left him on the bus.
AIT: How did you feel?
KIMBERLEY: I felt sorry for him. I wanted him
to come. So everybody got on the other bus and
everybody was riding on the two buses, we made
it to Baton Rouge. The bus was like rocking, but
we still didn't see no gas stations.
AIT: It was rocking, how?
AIT: Because of having no gas?
KIMBERLEY: No, it was rocking because the tire
AIT: Oh, no!
KIMBERLEY: The tire had already gone out when
we were putting it on, but it was already gone,
we were just riding on a flat tire. So the tire
had came off while we was on the highway.
KIMBERLEY: But my brother was determined not to
stop until we make it to where we was. And we
had fifty-two people on the bus and they were
shaking. So, we were still riding. He was like,
'Well, why don't you all just pray?' We were still
riding on the bus and he refused to stop. So another
tire came off.
AIT: Oh, my goodness.
KIMBERLEY: He's still riding. So there was this
lady, she was like flagging our bus down, saying,
'Stop, stop stop!', but my brother, he was like,
'Man, go ahead, get from the bus, we aren't going
nowhere.' So she's still riding on the side of
the bus, saying like 'Stop.' So we went to turn,
and she curved in front of us so we had to stop.
So we stopped, and she was like, 'Do you all need
any help?' Both our tires were gone, we had no
food, no water. We had newborn babies on the bus,
and we had like no clothes with us and like that.
The lady had called, she got us a lot of help.
The people there brought clothes. They brought
food, water, stuff for us to drink, stuff for
KIMBERLEY: And the lady was crying and she had
got a lot of people out there to help us. She
took us to our first shelter. She was about to
take us out to eat, but my brother said, 'We don't
have no time to eat because we have to get to
where we was going.' So he had let us go out to
eat. She said, 'At least let me take you out to
a shelter for tonight, just for tonight.'
AIT: Where were you about, do you know?
KIMBERLEY: In New Iberia. So they was quiet because
they didn't want us leave. They had given us food
and water and all that.
AIT: How did that feel to find those people?
KIMBERLEY: It was a lifesaver, because I don't
know what would have happened to us, we would
have been riding without those tires. They fixed
our tires, gave us fifty dollars worth of gas,
took us to our first shelter. So then we stayed
in that shelter for that night. And then we left.
AIT: In the morning?
KIMBERLEY: That evening.
AIT: So you stayed in the shelter for the night?
KIMBERLEY: New Iberia, yes.
AIT: And then in the morning, you woke up and
KIMBERLEY: We ate. Everybody was just gathering
all their stuff. We ate. In the morning, we had
doughnuts...they was really nice in New Iberia,
but it was cold. They had gas. They had the park
outside for the children, you could play cards,
you could play pool, ping pong, anything you wanted.
They had it nice up in there for us. There was
a lot of people in there, so they had to move
some of the people out, because some of the people
was going to another shelter. So like that evening,
my brother said, 'Pack up all your stuff. It's
time for us to go.' So we packed up all our stuff,
loaded it on the bus, and people had took us to
another shelter in New Iberia -- I don't know the
name of it -- and we slept there. It was real nasty
up in there. They had no food, we had to buy all
the food, because the people had gave us money.
We brought our own food or whatever, and we kept
our blankets and all that. We left there in the
morning and we made it to Texas. We stopped at
a gas station and this lady had helped us. First,
the bus they won't start, and the man came helped
us, he started the bus up and this lady helped
us. She was like, 'I have a shelter.' I don't
know the name of it, though, it was like, 'I have
a shelter.' My brother was like, 'You could take
AIT: This was in Texas, right over the border?
KIMBERLEY: So she took us there, we ate. But we
didn't sleep there because it wasn't like a sleeping
shelter, it was just to help you. We ate, gave
us clothes, shoes, and all that.
AIT: Are these the clothes you're wearing?
KIMBERLEY: No, these are clothes I'm bringing.
So they took us to eat at the shelter...they had
Popeye's, Sara Lee, Chan's, all kinds of stuff.
They were giving us a lot of stuff. We left that
shelter, and we was riding and riding and riding.
So we had made it to the Reliance Center, but
we didn't know exactly where it was. We were just
looking for the Reliance Center, so we had to
stop and we had to ask somebody where the Reliance
Center was. They told us, so our bus driver, my
brother's friend, he was leaving. He had to leave
because some people were going to pick him up.
So he left.
AIT: Did somebody take over driving the bus?
KIMBERLEY: Yes. This lady named Cookie.
AIT: Had she ever driven a bus before?
KIMBERLEY: Unh-uh. But nobody else wanted to get
behind the wheel. Nobody else there liked it.
She didn't either. She was the oldest so they
let her drive. So the police saw this New Orleans
Parish school bus and they was like, they saw
it, and they had ____(unintelligible) stopped.
And they was talking to everybody else. They followed
us, they took us to a place by the Reliance Center.
It wasn't the Reliance Center. They took us in
a big parking lot and the people searched the
AIT: The police did?
KIMBERLEY: Yeah. It was like the Army. They searched
the bus, went through everybody's bags, everybody's
clothes. Then they give us cool water, medical
help and all that.
AIT: Did you feel like they were kind and respectful
KIMBERLEY: Giving us medical help and all that.
They gave us food and they was shipping us to
another shelter. So this was going to be like
our fourth shelter in one week. They took our
AIT: Oh, no.
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, they took the bus.
AIT: How did that feel?
KIMBERLEY: Well, we knew they were going to take
it anyway. I don't know. It really wasn't up to
me. They took our bus. I was with my brother because
my Momma wasn't with us. She said she didn't want
to come. If she was going to die, she was going
to die in New Orleans. But they had took our bus,
gave us food, water and all that. Everybody was
loading all their stuff up. There was fifty-two
people on the bus. Everybody had to load their
stuff on another bus. We went to loading our stuff.
They were saying that they weren't going to split
AIT: Fifty-two people. You were close?
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, we were family. Everybody was
family, but they split us up anyway. The buses
went different directions, like mothers were on
one bus and the children was on another bus. They
split them up. I don't know what was wrong with
the bus. So they had some people at the Center
and some people at the Reliance Center, and we
didn't want to go anywhere without our families,
so everybody was outside.
AIT: What town was this at?
KIMBERLEY: This was in Texas, at the Reliance
Center, but they're right along side each other.
So we won't go in, so my brother made me go in.
He was like, 'Come on, you all. They have beds
and all.' At the Center, I didn't like it. They
had too many people and then they said that they
had people getting raped in there, you know.
AIT: Oh, no. Was this in Houston?
KIMBERLEY: Yes. They said they had people getting
raped in there and everything. My brother was
like don't go nowhere without him. So we slept
there but my brother said we wasn't staying there
no more. So we left. Everybody met up, we left.
AIT: All you people met up?
KIMBERLEY: No. Some people left and we met up
with the closest, closest family. And everybody
left. Hey, Jeremy Johnson. So everybody left and
that's how they got together when we met up with
my Momma because the police had came, took my
Momma out the project and brought them here, because
they said it was mandatory that they leave. So
they brought them here. They said it was mandatory
because they couldn't stay well. They could have
stayed, they could have stayed, but if they wanted
to stay, they had to, they were going to take
them against their will. But everybody came, and
we met. The Red Cross had helped us find my Momma
and that's how we met up with them here.
AIT: What time did you finally got your Momma?
KIMBERLEY: Like a week, probably four days, a
AIT: You were with your brother?
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, I was with my big brother.
AIT: Is your brother here?
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, he here. But he at the hotel
AIT: Okay, so you guys got a hotel.
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, we got a hotel.
AIT: Do you know where you're going to be living
KIMBERLEY: I know we're moving into an apartment
but I just don't know what's the name or--
AIT: Can you describe it for me?
KIMBERLEY: It's got cliffs, it's got water. It's
around a lot of houses, a lot of houses. A big
cliff you go up. They got a pool for swimming.
The people was like giving them furniture and
everything to help furnish the house.
AIT: So how do you feel now? How is your heart
and your spirit?
KIMBERLEY: I feel good as long as I found my Momma.
KIMBERLEY: I'm all right.
AIT: Were you really worried when you didn't have
your Momma for the week?
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, everybody was crying. But we're
going to be all right.
AIT: How did you keep yourself positive?
KIMBERLEY: My brother. As long as I had him, I
knew he was going to find my Momma. Long as me
and my brother wasn't split up, because he wasn't
going nowhere without us and we wasn't going nowhere
without him. He was like the leader of the bus.
He was the leader.
AIT: That must have made you feel--
KIMBERLEY: He kept the whole group together.
AIT: How does that make you feel about him?
KIMBERLEY: It made me look up to him.
AIT: Sounds like a good brother.
KIMBERLEY: Yeah, he is.
AIT: What's his name?
KIMBERLEY: Dan Martin.
AIT: Dan Martin. Is there anything else you'd
like to tell to other kids your age, maybe, to
help them understand what kind of experiences
you went through?
KIMBERLEY: Oh, no. I never think nothing like
this would happen to me. This is something like
happen in a movie, but not to me. I never thought
of we would have to move, end up in Texas. I wanted
to travel, but not like this.
AIT: How can we make you feel welcome here in
KIMBERLEY: I already feel welcome.
KIMBERLEY: You've done enough.
AIT: Okay. Is there anything else you need?
KIMBERLEY: No. We've got everything we need and
AIT: That's wonderful. I want to thank you, Kimberley,
for giving me your story. It's a pretty amazing
story. I'm really glad you got on that school
bus and I'm glad that you had such a strong brother
to take you all the way here and keep it together.
I think you guys are a miracle. I'm happy you're
here. Anything else you want to say, or are you
KIMBERLEY: I think I'm just about finished.
Please explore our new digital archive of oral histories. We encourage you to read, reflect, and respond to these stories. Click here to open a separate window.