Lloyd - City Water Board Worker, New Orleans
September 13, 2005
Well, like I said, I worked for the City Water Board in New Orleans, and I know I'm going to have to go back to New Orleans. I'll probably be one of the first groups of people that they let come back into New Orleans, probably before they even let the homeowners come back in because we have a whole lot of work to do. There's a lot of broken sewer lines, water lines. There are broken pumps, the main pumps, both of the stations on the east side and west bank of New Orleans are both broken. Right now, the Corps of Engineers, they're using their pumps to pump the water out, but they're going to need help from the people that worked for the Water Board to show them where other things are at and show them where breaks are at, and show the City Water Board got all the equipment to fix this stuff. Even though it's not something that's going to happen overnight. It's going to take a long, long time.
To get the City just up and running, you know, with water and sewer--it might take several months, maybe six, seven months, maybe longer. And they still have, they're still searching for dead bodies and carcasses of animals. They have to-after they find all of those, they've got to flush the City out, and that means letting more water in to flush all that stagnant water, with whatever is in it, out. They've got to flush it out into the Mississippi River and then into Lake Pontchartrain. There's no telling exactly how long that process is going to take, because after they flush it out, they've still got to let it run out and pump it back out also. It's going to be a long, drawn-out process. It's not going to happen overnight. Plus, all the equipment that the City Water Board had in the main yard is underwater.
Completely underwater, so that equipment is not going-not going to be able to use that equipment. All that equipment is going to have to be replaced, you know, so I'm sure that once they decide to bring us back in, they're all going to have made some sort of arrangement to have other equipment come in from different places. But right now, all the equipment that the City Water Board needs, has to make repairs that they need to make, is all underwater.
Well, I've got ten years before I can retire. I'm going back. I could have got a job here in Austin because I used to work for Whole Foods in New Orleans back in the '80s. And a friend of mine, she's over in the Accounting Department for Whole Foods here. She came over here looking for some other people, and I saw her and she took me to see Whole Foods here in Austin, and she told me, you know, if I need a job, just let her know. I could have been working right now, you know, for them. But I know that I'm going to have to go back and I said that I have an aunt down in Florida, she's ninety years old, she lives by herself. I was going to go down there for awhile and stay with her and help take care of her until the City Water Board calls me to come back to work, but they've been keep telling me they've been seeing bits and pieces on the news about saying they want City Water Board people to come back now. But until I find out for sure as to where we're going to be housed at and everything, I'd rather stay here for another week or two. If I don't hear anything definite by then, I'll probably go down to Florida by my aunt's house and stay there until they contact me down there to come back to work.
No, I can't go to New Orleans with nowhere to stay, in fact, until City Water Board make it known to the National Guard that they need their people to come back in and that we're going to be coming back in, I couldn't even get into the city without getting arrested.
I feel very good. I feel good about the whole situation because now we had Hurricane Cindy about a month before Hurricane Katrina. Well, now, our City, State and Federal Governments, including FEMA, did not classify Cindy as a Hurricane, but the wind speed at the buoys out in the Gulf of Mexico proved that Cindy was a Category 1, going on Category 2, hurricane. And they did not pay anyone for all of the damage that Cindy had did. Cindy put over 450,000 people electricity out for almost three weeks. It knocked down maybe a third of the trees in the whole city. They were still cleaning up from Cindy when Katrina hit. I called Cindy my wake-up call. I call Katrina a final call. Like New Orleans-if you're familiar with the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah, you know, New Orleans is a city and the things that are going on in New Orleans is just like what was going on in Sodom and Gomorrah before God destroyed it. It's a nice city, but there's just so much corruption going on there.
I would hope that it would, but only the Good Lord knows for sure, because see, like the government in the City of New Orleans was set up by the French and the Spanish, and it's a system of government that has never been changed. Any business that would try to come into New Orleans, before this business would be allowed to come in and start digging, to lay a foundation or something, your crooked politicians, they want some money from the people.
This is something that has stopped a lot of politicians from, a lot of businesses from coming into the New Orleans area, you know, over the years.
Well, because I know the truth and God is with me. I know the point in time that we're living in. We're living in the Book of Revelations, which is the last book of the Bible, and all the wicked things that are happening in this world, nothing that happens anymore surprises me. Even Katrina coming through New Orleans, hitting it the way it did, it didn't surprise me at all. When they showed how it just skipped across Florida and came into the Gulf of Mexico and just started growing like it did, from that point on, I didn't have any doubt in my mind that it was going to hit New Orleans, I really didn't.
Oh, yeah. I had faith, you know, throughout the whole thing, that no matter what happened, the Good Lord was going to take care of me. I'm a Seventh Day Adventist. I go to New Life Seventh Day Adventist Church in New Orleans on Elysian Fields Avenue, right across from Brother Martin's School. My faith is very strong, you know, in the Lord, that I don't have to worry about anything, because I put my faith and trust in Him, and He's taken care of me all this time, and I believe that He's going to continue to take care of me.
My wife is deceased. She's been deceased since 1982. She died of cancer in 1982.
Like I say, the people here in Austin have been a godsend. They've been pouring out nothing but love to us since we got here, and I thank God that he sent us here. We were in just about in the pits of hell in New Orleans and coming here is just like being lifted up on a cloud. Like I said, everybody that I've come in contact with from Austin has been very, very nice, very helpful, and anything that we needed, food, clothing, whatever they could do to make you more comfortable, they would do it for us. They still are doing it for us. They come by, they talk to you, to see how your spirits are. If you're down, they help to bring you up, just help you in any way they possibly can.
They check on the people all throughout the day, not only ministers but you have volunteers from every walk of life in the City of Austin have been coming through here, helping the people. They donated clothes, all the things that we need. Clothes for adults, clothes for children, women, babies, diapers and stuff, all types of luggage, any and everything that we have needed since we have been here, the people of Austin and the Red Cross and FEMA have done their best to give it to us. Well, I just thank God that He sent us to Austin.
Houston, from what I heard, things are not going very well in Houston or any of the other shelters, as far as I've heard. In fact, I've heard that as soon as they finish working with the people here and getting everybody who wants to stay here, soon as they finish getting the people settled and the people who want to get housing or apartments here and get the majority of the people out on their own, re-established here in Austin, they're going to start bringing people from other shelters-through here, from Alabama, from Mississippi, and from Houston, also.
Oh, yeah. All of the processing that we are doing here through the Red Cross and through FEMA and all of the housing assistance, placing assistance, job assistance, and everything, all of that that is happening here is not happening in those other places. So, since they've got the system already set up here, I have heard just recently they are going to bring, get the people out from New Orleans settled, the ones who want to stay here or the ones that want to go out to their relatives in those places, after they do that, they're going to start bringing in people from other shelters.
The younger people from the lower Ninth Ward, they were very unruly. Wednesday morning, they started looting the stores on the Riverwalk, they started looting the stores on Canal Street and down in the French Quarter also. They broke into gun shops, some were down, I think, on Royal Street, and at that point, the Federal Law Enforcement Agencies in the City kind of stopped concentrating on rescuing those people who were out there, you know, probably stranded on rooftops and stuff, and started concentrating on getting those guns off the street.
During this time, you know, they were constantly running in and out of the Convention Center, you know, bring stuff in there that they had stolen. That evening, around, maybe around five thirty, six o'clock, they had about fourteen buses come to the Convention Center that were supposed to be loading up with elderly, the sick and the elderly, and their families, starting to move them out. Well, the young people, they overran the elderly people. They got on the first five buses and I think the buses behind them, they might have had a few people on them, but they weren't nowhere near full, and they all closed their doors and pulled off, because they saw what was going on. I think some of these people went to Houston and I think some of them might have went to Fort Polk, I'm not really sure.
But after this, we had Federal Law Enforcement Agencies come through the Convention Center. They arrested at least about eight people on, you know, different occasions, who were involved or who had guns in their possession. Now, the water went out, went off that Wednesday morning. All the water in the City went off that Wednesday morning. So, we couldn't flush the commodes or anything. The people, they just went wild. They were defecating, you know, not only in the bathrooms, but just anywhere, all over the place. The men's restroom, you know, the urinals and everything were just overflowing. It almost had the smell of industrial strength ammonia. It was a horrific situation because like during this time, we didn't have no water, we didn't have no food. We didn't have no air in the Convention Center, and the atmosphere was so tense in there, people couldn't sleep like talking about it.
You had, if you slept, you had to sleep with one eye open, or sleep sitting up against the wall somewhere. Okay, Thursday we had gotten a little food, some of the people that were working in the Convention Center, that was in there where they had water and some snack food, you know, stored. They went in there and they were giving food to the people who were in the Convention Center that didn't have any water or food. Then Friday morning, before twelve o'clock, the lights went out in the Convention Center, so we didn't have no electricity, no water. Late Friday, the National Guard came and they brought some MREs, the military food packets and some water also. They tried to restore a little order, but we didn't really have any law enforcement presence in the Convention Center since Wednesday morning when we saw the Convention Center Security people. And other than the Federal people coming in making arrests of people who had guns in there, there was no law enforcement presence in the Convention Center at all.
That's ridiculous, you know. But Friday night, there was police officers in a hotel across the street from the Convention Center, an abandoned hotel. They were using that as a place to sleep, but they didn't come into the Convention Center. They didn't patrol around it or anything like that. The few rowdy people that were still left in there, they were still just about doing what they wanted to do. During that time period, there were almost, well, just about eighteen people killed in the Convention Center.
On the young, three young people dead, you know. All of them had guns. They evidently was part of that crew that had been doing some looting and must have gotten into an argument or something about something that they stole or some money or whatever, and they all shot and killed each other up there. You had a seven-year-old girl who was raped and killed-they cut her throat. They had a thirteen-year-old girl who was raped-they cut her throat. They found her between two buildings, across from the Convention Center. There was two babies. I don't think the babies were two years old, you know. They created a disturbance in there one night, started a stampede and when they found the babies, both of their throats were cut also.
You had about eight elderly people, you know, who died in there also, I guess from the stress of the whole situation, but it was a very, very intense situation. In fact, okay, Saturday, the Federal Marshals and the National Guard, they were out in full force. They were parked across the street from the Convention Center and, you know, walking up and down the streets. They gave us some more food and some more water. That Saturday, that night, they didn't let anyone-they had people sleeping on the neutral ground, and they had people sleeping on the sidewalks and people in the Convention Center, but as far as, you know, not letting anyone just walk around after it got dark, they made everybody stay in one place.
About maybe two something that morning, you heard a blood-curdling scream, almost like something out of a horror movie. Another elderly lady who was in, she was there but she wasn't inside, she was outside, sort of like under the awning, just like this, in a crowd of people. And that was the person who was taking care of her. She died that night, and they caught another lady trying to break into a store that had already been looted. She was screaming, you know, to the top of her lungs like somebody was trying to kill her or something, but that was just her trying to make the police let her go. They had restrained her when they caught her in the store. But I tell you, that next morning, when we woke up, all of the Federal Marshals were gone. There was nobody left but the National Guard and they had-they gave us-(break in the interview).
They gave us buses in certain areas, taking people to the airport. Most of the people walked up to Tchoupitoulas and the rest us, we walked all the way down to the end of the Convention Center and there were helicopters down there that brought us to the airport.
This was Saturday night, Saturday night. Saturday afternoon, because we got to the airport, it must have been about between two-thirty, three o'clock Saturday afternoon and we got into Austin late Saturday night. Oh, yeah, we didn't get out of the airport until-it had to be pretty close to eleven, between eleven, eleven thirty that night, after being out there since about two o'clock.
Once we got into the airport, the processing went pretty fast, but the lines were so long, you know, and it was so hot out there, and people were very unruly, not wanting to stay in lines and everything. And it was really hard to get the people to get to the window to be processed because they were being so unruly. Everybody, I guess, everybody's temperature, temper was bad, and their nerves were bad. They were stressed out and just in a hurry to try and get somewhere where they could take a bath, get some clean clothes, get some hot food. Well, you know, we finally did get in the airport and go through our processing, we were there for maybe about half an hour before we were on a plane on our way here to Austin.
But after we got here, by the time we got off the plane, until now, everybody showed us nothing but love, you know, everything that we needed or even thought that we needed, they provided for us.
Oh yes, they've taken very good care of us. In fact, coming from the Convention Center in New Orleans is like leaving hell and going to heaven.
And that's how bad the conditions were over there. That's what they are here.