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Miranda B. Caterer, Eighth Ward 09/13/05

I was born and raised in New Orleans all my life. I’m 37; I’ll be 38 in November. I reside in the Eighth Ward. I got out of the city with the strength of God, with God willpower. I was on the bridge for seven days. They had people on the bridge for nine, ten days. That was totally preposterous. I mean, we’re seeing all these buses and helicopters, and we’re seeing whatever those boats is that be in the water with the Marines. I mean, come on now. That was totally ridiculous. I was on the bridge on Claiborne, North Claiborne Bridge. They say go to dry land and they was going to pick you up. You know, it kind of reminded me of Hitler mixed in with Sodom and Gomorrah.

When I write the book, I’m going to be a millionaire. When I finish with Bush and the rest of the people who wasn’t on their job and have high positions, ‘cause it’s not fair ‘cause they did not have to go through it. Nothing was more important than all those innocent people, babies, elderly folks, dying. I wasn’t really worrying about me because I lived. What about those elderly people and those kids? They didn’t deserve to go through that.

My daughter done witnessed all that. We had to put her in garbage cans. My cousin had to float them kids in garbage cans and put them on they heads. Man, that was crazy. You look at this type of stuff on TV, you wouldn’t really think that you’d be living through it. It’s worser than a horror sight. And then they would have the audacity … See, they’re leaving a lot of parts out. When I write the book, all the parts they left out, that’s gonna be all the parts I put in. They left out about how they had them people on that bridge and didn’t give them no water, they didn’t give them no food. They was pitching stuff off the helicopters like people was literally animals. No, Lord, the people wasn’t animals. They was human beings. How’d they like it if some brick quote-unquote army food in boxes and pitch them down to them? They wouldn’t like that. That was not right.

As long as you’re rich in heart, you don’t know how God is gonna bless you. And then they make a statement about, “They probably didn’t have much.” Those people don’t know what those people had. Who gave you the right to think you’re better than the next person and make that statement? You know why? ‘Cause they didn’t go through that. They weren’t down there. And so they making all these malicious little slanders in the paper – I mean, it’s totally preposterous. I never seen nothing like this before. I’m upset, I’m angry. Then they don’t have the audacity to get on national TV and correct their error, because we all are accountable for our actions. It’s called accountability. Apologize and find a way to fix the problem, but do you think they did that yet? No. They pointing fingers. It ain’t no time to point fingers; the damage is already done, baby. You got to correct that problem.

So, I mean, where the solution at? Where is all of the answers? But instead they’re running away from the press. Don’t run away from the press, you done ran away enough. And then they’re trying to say that hurricane did that. That hurricane did not do that. That hurricane could never have flooded out the whole Ninth Ward and made that place look the way it was. Now they need to tell what really happened. When was the last time they changed those pipes? When was the last time they rebuilt them walls? Probably it hasn’t been since Betsy. They supposed to have it all computerized. I want to see everything.

God said high, and he looks low. And he’s got his time of revealing everything. So it’s starting to unfold. So all y’all that stole that money, that didn’t care about human beings, I’m gonna see what you’re gonna do now. That’s not right.

I love New Orleans. New Orleans is known for a lot of great things. I love it. But they could rebuild it and make it look like Beverly Hills and I won’t ever go back there. I’m staying here. Tell Bush I’m staying in his country, in his capital, right here. He need to be out here talking to us. What he doing? He need to be everywhere where people has evacuated, and he could be a man and apologize. There’s nothing wrong with apology. Pride. He needs to tell people what he’s gonna do. He’s been on more vacations than his job. Why don’t he take us? We deserve it.

I been working since I was 17, baby. And I’ve always said I was gonna get a way to get out of New Orleans, but wouldn’t have never dreamed in a million years that be like this. I did banquets, catering, for fifteen years. I did different types of things. I love it. That’s what I’m gonna find in Austin. You have to be positive. Finding an apartment, that’s what I’m coming to check out now. I’m not accustomed to this. I come from a good upbringing. Nice neighborhoods. I never experienced this.

This is beyond humanity. So what gives them the right? I mean, golly, a dog has feelings. If you mistreat an animal, you know what they’re going to do? They’re either gonna turn on you or they’re gonna find them a master that’s gonna treat them right. But hey, to each his own. Everyone want to convert themselves, quote, to be on this big high pedestal, but when we all bleed, we bleed the same. When we die, we gonna die the same. Oh, another thing, a racial issue. It’s not about race, it’s about human beings. Take the color out, look at the person, and then you won’t have nothing but a human being. It’s about treating people like human beings. This is the American dream, huh? I can’t tell. You know, they need to change a lot of stuff: the pledge of allegiance, they need to take some of the words out of there because they’re not standing up to what they put down there.

You know, I leave everything in God’s hands. I write poetry. And God had given me poetry before this happened. And one of the poems was “to forgive is divine,” so I forgive them. But once I get a chance to diminish some of my anger, ‘cause I’m very upset, ‘cause they’re not answering a lot of questions. I have so many questions written down to where I look like I’m losing it.

Why did it take you guys this long to take care of this problem? If you guys would have did all this in the beginning….If we was still in New Orleans, Austin would still be having their beautiful place. This is a warm place, believe that. These people not accustomed to us being out here like this. This is a business, baby. These people make money here. This is a convention center. And you know we’re taking up their money. But God is so good that they’re not worrying about it, they’re worrying about us. Because the president, the city, whatever they weren’t doing, it happened. And that’s why we’re here. We’re not here by choice. We’re here by force. Other questions? I can’t remember. I’m so tired. I’m exhausted.

My poetry is at the house. I’m hoping and praying that it didn’t get wet enough that I can rewrite it because I didn’t put it in the computer. But that’s okay; God gave me that and he’ll give me some more. Whenever he wake me up, whenever he have time for me to get me up I go to that pad right there because once he go to plant those words in my mind, I got to go to write them down.

My daughter’s in third grade, finally back in school. She loves it. My baby loves school. She’s a people’s person. I’m a people person too. My father said I should take up psychology. I think I should. I know I would be good at it.

So Bush, and everyone else, you guys stop pointing fingers, please. And won’t you find a solution to this problem. ‘Cause we got a lot of angry people. So won’t y’all just start doing your job, because your job is not done ‘cause if it was this wouldn’t be about. I’d be still working, and I’d still be in my house and more than sure so would a lot of these other people. Y’all have money. We don’t have no money; we trying to get jobs to get money. Let me see if he gonna donate some of that money to us. Let’s see if he take us on some of them private vacations on them private jets that they be going on. No, he won’t.

These people in Austin are lovely. Beautiful, this is a beautiful city. And I have never – I have met warm people, but these people are good, man. These people are beautiful. This city, period. Everywhere I go, I done met doctors, lawyers, I done met sous chefs, I mean all sorts of people. I met the homeless people, we be out there sitting down laughing and clowning. This just a beautiful place. It’s not as hot here--in New Orleans you would have burnt up. God is gonna bless these people. They just don’t know. They blessing gonna come so abundantly. These are some anointed people and just don’t know it. The people are beautiful. These people prepared everything, they had everything on time, we didn’t have to want for nothing. When our own government couldn’t even do it, with all that power.

I should run for president. I never seen a female president. I think that’s male chauvinism. I think that’s discrimination. I never seen one. I don’t think a female president would be doing the things that Bush is doing. She wouldn’t have time for that foolishness because she would want to get her priorities in order and have her business taken care. Then she know after that is done she can go play and go wherever she feel like.

I don’t know what he’s showing. I think it might be pride. I don’t know what it is. Only him and God. I mean, the thing is, this is my philosophy about it. How can you correct it if you don’t address it? And if you keep justifying it and then looking at people like it’s, “Okay, what could I do?” You could have done a lot. Blanco could have done a lot. You know the one I really have to really say thank you to is the Mayor. That man didn’t sleep, shave or bathe while they were talking about negotiating, going to meetings. That was totally irrelevant at that point in time. Money. If some people just put money aside… Right now to this day, the Book of Job – I love Job. If they was to get stripped like Job, they probably commit suicide ‘cause they wouldn’t know how to deal with it. You understand what I’m saying? So I don’t know. But I know one thing: I still love them. I got no other choice but to love them. But I don’t think it was fair. And I don’t appreciate them putting these funny names out here because we humans, baby. Okay, what were we? We were refugees, right? No, I don’t look like no refugee. They should have rephrased that. It was a refugee camp; it was worser than a refugee camp. So how could you have the audacity to tell human beings that done been through so much what they done been through, and call them a refugee. That’s degrading. Me, no, I’m not going to let no one degrade me. Or be belittled. Keep going?

There are so many words that you can really describe. I mean, only thing they had to say was “the survivors.” That would have been more appropriate, but I mean, come on now, these are people in high positions who are writing these papers and making these slanders. I mean, how do they sleep? ‘Cause you know what? I haven’t slept properly, period, since this.

I named my daughter Alicia Beverly. ‘Cause that’s where we’re going to be living, in Beverly Hills. Oh yeah. They say, ‘you claim it and it’s yours,’ right? I’m staying in Austin, but once my children graduated….

It’s going to take about 30 years for this class action suit. Yeah, I’m suing. I’m suing the city; I’m suing the government. I don’t know about the rest of these people but I know what I’m doing. And I’m doing it for all the people that suffered. It’s not even about the money. The money is irrelevant. It’s about the principles. And these people, they was like, they literally treated us like we was dog-gone animals. I’m not lying – I wish there could have been a way I could have got all them down there and all us would have been up there and then they would have seen how I felt. How can you leave people stranded like that? Man, them people left us to die.

They have a word called preparation. They have a world called advance. I mean, come on now, how y’all gonna have all these loopholes on stuff like that? ‘Cause they ain’t worried about nothing but money. Only thing the politicians do is quote-unquote make us happy for a moment. It’s like getting your hopes up, then drop them back down while they live the life of Riley while we work hard and get degraded. Now, do you think that’s fair? Hell no, it’s not fair. I want to see them in person. So yes, I’m suing, and I don’t care what happens. The only one I fear is God. That’s the only one got me out of this situation. If it wouldn’t have been for him, I think we still would have been there.

I know the flood wasn’t natural from the hurricane. That wasn’t natural. People are in denial. Listen to the meteorologists, right? How many days we had rain? How many days, like two, three? Now how in the hell three days of rain gonna flood people’s house? That’s totally ridiculous. Some of the flood gates wasn’t opened, some of them was bust because they probably hadn’t been fixed in 30, 40 years. I really want to know how long it took, when the last time they did it. They probably ain’t did that stuff since Betsy. The only thing them people did was basically touched up little minor things. That’s what they did. You feel? My uncle’s a carpenter and there’s ways that you can camouflage stuff. You feel me? And make all that money. That’s all they did, went and touched up, said okay, come on, taxpayers saying okay, come on, we gotta do it now ‘cause we don’t want to hear an argument.

I know why Metairie, I know why Jefferson Parish did it. Because Jefferson Parish is totally different from Orleans Parish, believe that. Harry Lee was not gonna have his people flooded out, sorry. That man has been the longest Chief of Police – no one has ever been Chief of Police but him. How many Chief of Police we had in New Orleans? Metairie is totally different; Jefferson Parish is totally different. That’s why I loved living out there. He opened them gates up. All right, common sense. God gave us five senses, right? He’s not gonna operate them for us. We have to operate them for ourselves. If we sit back and we analyze this whole thing… I’m looking at the rain coming. Okay, cool, no problem. I’m looking at the wind. Here comes some more rain. There goes some more wind. There goes some more rain. No way in the world that rain did that and flooded that whole city out like that. No, that hurricane didn’t do that. That wasn’t Mother Nature. That was carelessness, reckless behavior, not doing their job correctly, but collecting all of this money. Where all that money at? We don’t even have a school board Superintendent. Where all the money went? No way in the world you supposed to be buying tissue paper for your dog-gone kids to go to school. They supposed to have that.

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