Louis P. New Orleans
been here in Austin almost two weeks now. I got
here by car. The family drove. They was able to
get their cars out of the water, let them dry
out. Change the oil and all of that. They didn't
like driving, but we drove to Baton Rouge. Stayed
there about two days, then we drove up here about
four days after the storm. Yeah, about four days
after the flood. I actually was watching the storm.
I was moving cars and walking through the water,
watching, watching the trees. I even watch the
Dome peel, so you know what I's got to say. You
know, to me that was just another day, another
little rainstorm. I mean, we had to hustle for
food and water and all that, but that was better
than being in the Convention Center down there
in New Orleans. Yeah, it was way better than that.
We were given the option to go to the Dome or
the Convention Center, but instead we just stood
in the house and projects up high while the water
was rising. The army men were coming down, picking
up people in helicopters. About that time we had
decided to leave and that were like about three,
four days after the storm.
Really, nobody in New Orleans was actually prepared
for this. Because we been threatened by so many
storms and they always miss us, and so they didn't
think any different was coming. I mean we ain't
had a real storm since Betsy and I think Betsy
was '64, '65. So we went like two decades. And
everybody was looking at this storm like, well,
it ain't gonna hit us...so nobody left. And so because
of that fact a lot of lives was lost. So we feel
like we lucky. If it wasn't for God, we wouldn't
have made it neither, so we just stuck it out
and uh, He told us it was time for us to go. And
when He told us it was time for us to go, that
was when we left.
AIT: What was it that made you decide to leave
New Orleans after the 4th day?
Well, besides we feel like the Man Up Above told
us to leave --'cause we had food. We had water.
And you know the gas was still on, but we ain't
had no electricity and so the food was starting
to go bad, but we thought like the last storm
that just came through that blew: wind knocked
down a few trees, knocked the electricity off.
It didn't flood but two three days later: the
life of the city was back running like it was.
So we looked at it like that.
When the storm was happening they had a lot of
looting going on. The people was trapped. A lot
of people couldn't...didn't want to like, really,
walk through the water. A lot of elderly people
didn't want to leave their homes at all. A lot
of them life stuck it out, like on my mama's floor:
ain't none of them left. The whole floor was just
still there doing for each other: that's how
we was getting food and water. Then they had
them kind of ignorant dumb people that want to
break in jewelry stores and all, that but we wasn't
gonna be a part of that. Our neighbors just thought
they was getting food, everybody was getting food.
There was a lot of sharing of food and water on
the neighbors. They had to do what they had to
do to survive because Katrina just came through
there knocking everything out, destroyed the whole
A lot of people say they're going back because
we got to think about one thing. A lot of people
live in New Orleans can't leave New Orleans: not
because they can't afford to, but because they
don't want to. You know like, staying down here
in Austin I got my good friends in New Orleans.
You can walk anywhere. Out here in Austin everything
like miles away and a lot of people from the city
can't adjust to that. You don't really need a
car in New Orleans but other places you really
need a car, you know and a lot of people been
walking around so long. So you know -- it's not
that they couldn't leave, but that they didn't
want to leave. Then the ones that did leave in
the past they came right back a year or two later.
I don't know‹it's just something about New Orleans
that keep people there.
New Orleans is one big party. That's all New Orleans
is. I mean there's always. Always something to
do. You can get out your bed at 3 o'clock in the
morning and go anywhere in New Orleans and get
something to eat. Anytime of the year, all year
round. They've got parts that stay open 24 hours
and then there's like McDonalds and Burger King
and all them was staying open 24 hours. New Orleans
have a lot of tourists. They have Mardi Gras,
they have Jazz Fest, they have parades. It's just
all out -- there's always something to do in New
Orleans besides work. You know a lot of people
work in New Orleans but they can always always
find a place to go and relax, even though they
have violence in New Orleans. But a lot of New
Orleans looks over that, you know. People in New
Orleans just take living they life like day by
day. So you know when they go somewhere new, it's
hard for them to adjust. Here in the [Austin]
Convention Center that's all I hear. They can't
wait till New Orleans will get back together,
so they can go back home. And I'm one of them,
AIT: What is it about New Orleans?
For me, personally, before Katrina I had already
started myself, started a new life. I was workin'
two jobs. I had my own house. I was taking care
of my daughter. I was wantin to be married by
April but Katrina came in and tore that but that's
a dream I'm not giving up even though I won't
be married by April. Well, I think I won't be
married by April, but the way it seems it look
like I won't. But when I go back, when I go back...because
I'm not going to let Katrina stop what I had started
and what I pray for. All I'm going to do is pray
that when I go back, or before I go back everything
comes back to me like it started. That's all I
can ask for.
I don't think it going to be the same. A lot of
people not looking to go back home to the same
thing. Like they going to be...when they go back
they're gonna be a lot of jobs opening. There
gonna be better housing, you know. New Orleans
will never be the same, and everybody know that
but and most people who are going home are not
looking for it to be the same: they're looking
for something to be way different. Now we know
when they do go back they gonna be a lot stricter
there. But when we do go back, not having nothing
against Austin, Texas or nowhere else...it's just
that New Orleans is just New Orleans and I don't
think Louisiana can do without another New Orleans.
So the quicker they everybody puts so much money
in it to rebuild it. And I don't think it gonna
be long. Like, next month we'll be able to go
home, go to New Orleans and get our belongings
that didn't get destroyed. You know, my house
really, my house was like really destroyed. Things
in my house got messed up. But my house wasn't
destroyed. But I'm not gonna go back...I don't want
to go back to that house. I want to go because
I was already planning on moving out that house.
So you know they just, they made a reason to really
leave, leave the house. I wasn't planning on moving
out of New Orleans but I wasn't planning on going
back to that same house neither.
AIT: Do you still have family members back
in New Orleans?
No. All of them here. So most of them here and
then all the rest of them in Houston and then
they got some in San Antonio.
AIT: Have you been able to contact or talk
Oh yeah I've been able to contact. I talk to them
a lot. Well me, I call them on my cell phone,
but they got phones at the [Austin] Convention
Center. I mean, the Convention Center really been
helping us. They ain't like turned their backs
on us. And most of the people out here in Austin
really been helping us. Like, the first day I
was here I was walking the street and the lady
must of thought I had no money on me, so she offered.
She didn't offer me, she just put it in my hand,
and when I was trying to give it back she didn't
want to take it back.
So you know, they were like, she realized she
saw what happened to us, you know. But everybody
didn't take it like that, you know. If you take
ten people out New Orleans two of them won't have
escaped. And that's what I can say about Katrina
that New Orleans had survived so many hurricanes
nobody was prepared for it. And I guess that's
life. The city was corrupt anyway, so God just
cleaned it out. So. When we go back it can't be
worse. It can only be better, and a lot of Texans
I was talking to today traveled to New Orleans
during these events, and they was wishing that
New Orleans hurry up and be rebuilt too. But then
they got a lot of them that don't want us here
but we ain't doing nothing. Whatever goes on with
the government, that's the government. The people
didn't do nothing.
AIT: You've been here for what, two weeks now?
Almost two weeks.
AIT: How's the atmosphere inside?
Crowded. Disgusting. But I'm about to move into
my own apartment. Me and my daughter, in Austin.
I figure I stay here a year or try to stay here
AIT: Why did you choose Austin?
Because Baton Rouge really wasn't doing nothing
for the people. They was helping them with FEMA
and all that, but they wasn't giving' them houses.
Out here they like, felt what the people need.
They know they can't be in this Convention Center
for a year, so the city of Texas and the Convention
Center they got so many programs in here helping
us to start out, you know. They're not pushing
us out, they're not telling us we have to leave,
but with the help they giving us you can't help
but to start a new life. I aim to start a new
life, but I just can't wait to get back home.
(That's my cousin Teo right here. Hold up, I'm
We were just guided here. We could have went to
Houston or any one of them but for some reason
we wound up in Austin and it been good. It been
nice. So I hope I been able to help you and by
the way my name is Louis. I'm not going to tell
you my last name because I don't want to be published.
I got to say is, Thank you Austin, may God bless
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