Wayne G., 9th Ward, Singer, with comments from mother Marian G.
Wayne: My name is Wayne. I come from a beautiful family from New Orleans. I was born and raised there. I stayed in the projects for 42 years.
Marian G: 45, 45.
Wayne G: 45 years, Mama, okay. I was raised by a mother that taught us to love and care for people. We never had, but we just made our ends meet. What else I can tell you about New Orleans ... let em know about Wayne G. My mother raised five men - we didn't have no sisters. And she taught us, we all graduated from high school ...I graduated from Carver, Carver Junior High and Senior High. So we was off welfare. Okay, she raised us -- she was a woman she knew how to budget money.
And we never cried for nothin, she always had. But she always told us, if I'm goin to getcha something, and I'm not gonna never promise to you, but I'm gonna get it if I can. Okay.
That's wisdom. And she taught us, finish school, and we did that. We finished school. I went to college. Finished college, okay, I did 18 years in the military,
In the meantime, she taught us that - she told us, now son, if you're going to get you a trade, always get two or three. Now, as far as the military, that was later on life, in my life. When I was 18 years old, I did that. I got a two years degree in food technology, culinary arts. I got a two years degree in EMT, as an emergency technician, okay, and I did that.
I found everything useful, because I worked in that field. So, I did some time at the nurses homes taking care of the elderly. I loveded that. Yeah, I loveded that. So that's some of the part of my life. And after that, that's when I went to the military, and I learned another trade. Okay?
That trade was dealing with warehouse work, like you know like doing forklift operating, stuff like that, issuing out supplies, you know, using different type of system doing the computers, I learned that there, too. Come back home, I put that trade into effect. I started working for United State Gypsum. Making sheetrock. You know, I did all kind of jobs.
But my goal is - now, I been singing. Me and my brothers, Royhiggin, Billy, and myself, we sing for a living. Okay? We do all the casinos ... Name of the group is BRW. We sing the sixties through the seventies music - the Temptations, the Fulltimes, stuff like that.
Marion G: Tell em what the names meant.
Wayne: Yeah, BRW: Billy, Royhiggin, and Wayne. And, uh, our primary job is casino work. We do two weeks at a time there, on on the dry land casinos. On the Gulf Coast, Charleston, Mississippi, Austin - we used to gig right here, right in the Convention Center. Right over here at the hotel there. We been here about five times.
As for my state of mind, God is holding that. Yeah. God is holding that. But it's like, reconstruction. You gotta build yourself back up, but with the faith in God. I believe in him a lot. Everything gonna be alright. I got a strong mother still there, thank God she's still living, so from here we're going to up to Houston, and regroup with the singing group...So there might be a blessing for us, you see what I'm saying? So if you ever hear of a group say BRW ...
That experience there, see, with the flood - me and my mother, this is our second flood we went through. But it was the worst flood that we went through. And since you got the mike on now, I'ma tell you about what went down. Um, the flood came in when, Mama?
MG: Monday - Monday was the storm.
WG: Monday was the storm. Tuesday morning, we woke up, we had a lake in front of our house. Okay, that quick. Monday, didn't have no lake. But Tuesday morning, had a lake. Okay? Then the water started rising. I said, Well, Mama, we gotta go, baby, it's comin' in the house. So, uh, I told my mother to get on my back. I don't know how I did it, water was up to my chin. Okay, up to my chin. And I don't know how ... how I did it, but she got on my back. I don't know how I got up to the interstate. Okay? God was there, the angels was around me, they givin me that. I don't know how I did it cuz I smoke cigarettes, so I knew with her on my back ... (Laughter)
So, after that deal, I went back to the house, just went and got some food for us to eat. Put it in a plastic container that floated, so I just pulled it on the water. So I met her back onto the interstate
As far as clothing, I just had a pair of short pants on and a shirt. Okay, what I had on. Left everything else. Got on the interstate, and uh, we sitted there, on the interstate, and I seen a friend of mine with a truck. So he stopped. He brought us to the Convention Center.
What all y'all heard on the Convention Center, it's true. What CNN said, it was true. But I'm gonna tell ya, I'm the one who's seen it all.
We got there the first day. On a Wednesday. Okay, we had security guards on Wednesday, there. They had electricity, in the Convention Center. They had air conditioning, in the Convention Center. Okay? See, that next morning? We was by ourselves. We were by ourselves.
No security guards. They turned the lights off. They turned the air conditioning off.
No representatives, no state representatives, no government agents. Nobody came to us to see what was happening with us, okay. Alright, here go the feces and the urine! Okay, now, you got 5,000 people--that's in one section of the Convention Center! The Convention Center goes to the A, B, C, D, and E. It's about the same size as yourn, on the inside, okay. Bathroom a mess. Feces, urine. Peeing on the floor. All that, and shittin' on the floor. Okay, all that there. So then they had to find another place to shit and piss. Alright? They went, they found a big ole room. They made that out a sewage room.
You got no air conditioning, right? So all the heat ... You can smell it, going all through your throat. You're smelling urine, you're sleeping with urine. So here go the people dying on you, okay? Disease, disease setting in, okay? And then, uh ... shit. (Crying.)
Okay. Me and my mother. Like I said, we are Christian people. We always believed in God, we have faith in God, we know that he did it for a reason. It's something when you get around--when you're, when you're, when you're sleeping with dead people right by you, you know. It's, uh ... and, uh .... When you see, uh, elderly people dying around you and you can't do nothin', because uh nobody there to give you no water.
I starved three days and I fed my mother, just so she can eat. But she was worrying about me, but I told her I was strong. Told her I was strong, Mama, you go ahead on, eat this. Okay? And, uh, then here come the rapes.
Raping little--gangs raping little females, cuttin their throat. This is at -- this is -- I seen it all. Little babies dying. (Crying.) They were stompin little babies. (Crying.) They started killin' little children for nothing. They had nobody to protect us, at all.
But, uh, me and my mom was at peace for somehow, we was at peace. You know. We wasn't scared, but just seein' this stuff around us, oh Lord.... But then that Thursday morning, that's when the National Guard started coming in. They had so many people out there. I'd say more than forth-seven thousand, more than that. 'Cuz you had the whole Convention Center was full and then the outside was full of other people. And then they started throwing food down from the helicopters, but you couldn't get to it because they had too many people. The best I could is try to feed my mama, like I said. Then I had a friend of mines where--I was helping a lot of elderly people, getting em water and stuff like that--but they were dying...
A friend of mind came to me, said Wayne, he said, Bro, I been seeing you around here helping the elderly but come to me, my mama just died in her wheelchair. And it was about 110 degrees outside. And she, uh - she died.
So, uh, so we went to the National Guard they got down there. Went to the National Guard to tell them look, the man's mama in a wheelchair, dead. Knocked on the door. The National Guard came to the door. A door, he was inside, on the backside of the Convention Center, right? Where they was cool, with air conditioners. Alright? I said, Sir, uh, we just c--
Okay. And we knocked on the door and said, man, we just came to tell you that you need to come get this lady cuz she's dead. And he told me, one of the National Guards, told me that they got a bunch of people round here dead.
"If you don't get away from this door, we gonna shoot you." Just like that. I just looked at him, because .... we had to back up, because they had declared martial law, so they could do what they want. He coulda shot me. Okay? That's the terror we had to experience. For them five days that I stayed there, I seen everything. I mean, what I'm telling you now on this tape is true, because I'm a true witness.
And all the stuff that you're seeing on CNN, it's the truth. And they got that story from a person like me, and almost all the stories are similar, so ---
Let em know, they'll know. So that's what it is. That was my experience. And for me and my mother to get away ...What I did, I said, Mama, fake like you're sick. Okay? Cuz they was taking all the elderly that was sick. Okay? I said, well, fake like you sick. And that's what she did.
What happened was, we got on an armored truck and they brought us to the helicopter. That was the only way we had to get there. That was Saturday. Saturday evening.
We got to New Orleans airport, helicopter brought us to New Orleans airport, then we had to catch a plane from there to come here. And we stood there for about six hours in a line trying to get here. Millions of people trying to get through the airport. Okay, that's how that went down. And, uh, on that story there, that was about it. An experience that I will never, never forget. And I told some of the young children, never forget this as long as you live. You know? But uh, on a note -I feel in my heart - I was born and raised in New Orleans all my life, and I will go back.
I'm not gonna stay in no c-- I will go back. And I know it gonna take a while before it get better, but I'm going back. I think -- I think a lot of things I could tell you. I think that my Father in Heaven got tired of New Orleans. New Orleans used to be a Catholic city that prayed a lot. And what happened, the young generation has turned it around. As far as, I'm talkin about six and seven killins a day. Okay, this is the reason I say God got tired. Six and seven killins a day in the city of New Orleans.
But my point is, I'm sayin that I figure God givin us another chance. But my point I'm about to say is that they had six and seven killings a day. You couldn't tell a man from a woman. You couldn't tell a female from a man. People start forgettin' about gettin on their knees and tellin' God Thank you for wakin' me up this morning, thank you for giving me these limbs. And they had just stopped all that there. They didn't have no love in New Orleans.
And then everybody who had money was tryin to get more money, schemin', and tryin' to find all kinda ways to get it from a person. And this another, this is the fifth thing. People used to get on their knees and say, God please help me and I'm not gonna do it again, and go right back and do it again. So God said, well, hold up, now you're playin' with me. This is the way I'm looking at it. Nature is God. People say, well man, that's just Nature. No, Nature is God. He created all things. So what God did, he said well look, I'm going to wipe you out in one day. What's that name of that city in the Bible?
Not Babylon, the one. Sodom and Garazz --- Sodom and Gomorrah. Okay, you see what kind of a city that was? They had all that, uh, gay, and all that, that there. And God destroyed it. That's what he did New Orleans. He said, Well, look. But he always promised us that he would never destroy it by water again. Okay? Okay? But he told, he said, I'm gonna wipe it out in one day. So now, black, white, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Vietnamese, rich, poor, middle class, we all on the same level now. Ain't no rich, ain't no middle class. We all on the same level now. So God put us all on the same level now. Now, that's chance. That's a blessing. That's the way I look at it. It's a blessing. To start a new life. Start a new life, but don't forget about that I'm God. Thank him every time you wake up in the morning. So that's the way I feel about why we're gone.
And that's about all I got to say. But I'm strong, strong in my faith. Thank God I still have my mother, she a strong woman.
Her name is Marian G. And like I said, we stayed in New Orleans all our life. Born and raised there. And I will go back. Soon as they say to come back. But I know it gonna be some time - at least a year, or two years, whatever.
Austin been nice. Since I been here - I been here a week now and I can't say nothin about it. Like my mother say, as soon as she get a chance, she gonna write the governor and thank him.
Because, I mean, y'all been open-handed. We coulda went somewhere that didn't take care of us. I got clothes now. I got three meals a day. I got shoes on. I got new underwear. (Laughter) And men don't usually buy new underwear that much! We wear it out, right? I got about twenty sets of underwear! You know what I'm sayin'? That's gonna last me ... Shower, three showers a day, whenever you wanna take a shower, come take a shower. People been nice, I can't say nothin, but say thank you, thank you, thank you. You know what I'm sayin?
And we love it, I mean, we love it. Good hospitality. Everybody just nice, you know. And that was the best thing, walking in that door, people coming around saying, Hey, how you doin? Y'all alright? I like that. They didn't have no - there wasn't no prejudice, I didn't see that. Okay, I didn't see that at all. One thing I gotta say, I'm gonna bring the Prez back into it because I just thought about it. President Bush came on the news and said New Orleans, whatever you want, you got. Why didn't they send ships? We had got cruise ships right there by us where we was. We coulda used them. Why? If they woulda sent ships, they coulda got most of them people away from that Convention Center just like that. (Snaps.) Cuz buses only could do so much. Now, buses was coming from way from Arkansas. You know how long we had to wait for them to get from Arkansas? That's a long way, right? I - that, that bothers me. Why you didn't get -- just send ships!
Mississippi River's right behind me. Okay, cuz the Convention Center's here, the Mississippi River is right there. You had two cruise ships parked, so why didn't you get 'em if you're under martial law? They gotta answer that question for me.
But right now, like I said, thank God I'm living, baby. Thank God that everybody got out alive - not everybody, but the people that God took, he took them for a reason. So I look at that that way. He took then for a reason. The person that he left, he wanted to let them know, it's time to straighten up, I'm gonna give you a new life, so use it wisely. The next time's gonna be worse. And the Bible's fulfilling itself. If you look at it, you have nothing but wars and wars and wars, that's in the Bible. Some hurricanes, you know, earthquakes, starving, all that right there. So the only thing we waitin' on right now is Jesus to come back! But they say he gonna come back from the East. But when he come back, he gonna come back what? Like a thief in the night. That's all I gotta say. Thank you.
Thing about it, you know what I'm saying, we shoulda put it on tape, but you got it back on now. I'm saying that people died for nothin! The elderly that died, I'm not gonna question God, but I know, they didn't have to die. Not like that. If they had somebody there to represent us, from being alone, with nobody, no police officers, no National Guard.... They died for nothin. Little babies died for nothin. A little girl got raped and they cut her throat. 15 years old -- died for nothing. I slept with about 10 to 20 people before I -- let me tell you this here. I got some brothers, you see the people were sleepin with dead people, sleeping with them. We broke into the kitchen, I said, look, put these people in the freezer, man. Cuz see it was already three days, four days your body supposed to starts breaking down. So we broke into the kitchen. And guess what? When we broke into the kitchen, that's when we found water and food.
So you know what we did? We took the water and food and went through all the area and gave the food and the water to the elderly and to the young and we fed em. That's how that went down. We broke in, yes, I'm one of em - my name is Wayne G, and yes I did.
I broke in it, we broke in it, I say we broke in it, and, and, and it had uh, uh, uh, food! I'm talkin' about food, down at the Convention Center, you know. So everybody ate.
We had water. Little pastries, 'cuz the Convention Center they gotta stock up for stuff they're gonna have, events they gonna have. They had meat, but you know you couldn't eat the meat because electricity was out. You know, they had cold drinks all in there. They had, what do you call em, those things, them little donuts that you put your little butter on it, croissants. Croissants and stuff, right? So we had something to eat. We had water, we had cold drinks, and all that jazz. But ... I had to do what I had to do. Because it was too many days without eating.
So that was the thing we did. We had to get the dead bodies out away from us! The feces was enough. Smelling every night. One big ole room, full of feces. Bathroom already messed up. And when I started hearing people coughing, I said, hold up, we gotta get outta here, man. So that's what happened to me.