Alive In Truth Oral History: Tyrone W.
Alive In Truth Oral History: Tyrone W.

Tyrone W., North Villere, Veteran

September 9, 2005

There's one thing I can't remember, and its my address, because I had an aneurysm and numbers doesn't mean anything to me. But my old address was ___ Canal on North Villere. I've been living there about two-and-a-half years; I've been living in New Orleans sixty one years, except for the times I went in the service, in the Army.

The storm happened - what month we in? - on August twenty-ninth. And I can remember one thing about the storm because the storm was named after my daughter Katrina. I was in the bedroom, and I stayed in a two-story house, and I stayed downstairs. I was in the bedroom and Katrina hit and went shaking and she shook the house. And I said, "Hey T, I'll call T." T is my daughter, because her name is Katrina. And I said, "Hey T, this is your daddy," and I said, "You got to lighten up on the house." And she let it go.

The house stood still for a little while and then she really cut loose. The house went to shaking, and I said to myself, I'm gonna get me and the dog outside. And me and the dog went to the porch upstairs. We went outside the house, we went upstairs on the porch. It was a porch that had a shade over it, but it was raining and we set up there. So we sit there for about two-and-a-half, three hours, and the rains slowly stop, and the storm was over. But they still had from my waist down is what, three feet? They had three feet of water outside, which means there was three feet of water in my apartment. And me and the dog went downstairs and we went inside and we seen the water that they had and and it kind of had me tied up. I can't say tied up, because I don't know how I really felt. I had lost everything in the storm prior to this one and then for me to lose everything in this one was really beyond my means. I'm ready to give up in New Orleans, which I have given up in New Orleans. I'm gonna live in Texas from here on in.

The storm was over and the lady across the street from me the next day, she told me, she said, "TV, they're saying something about we got to leave New Orleans." I said, "Leave New Orleans for what?" She said, "They gonna have more water." And I said, "Where's the water gonna come from?" I wasn't thinking about the canal and the river, and we only live approximately twelve blocks off the river and approximately twenty blocks from the canal. So we decided to go to Canal Street, and they said, "T, can you walk that far?" And I said, "Yeah, I can walk that far." I started walking, and I walked through the water and reached dry land on Elysian Fields and Saint Claude. After reaching dry land, we continued walking and someone, it was my landlord, passed in the car. The girl said, "T, I'm gonna ask her for a ride." And she asked her to give me a ride. I told the lady, "Don't ask her, don't ask her. I walk the distance." She said, "You can't walk all this distance. I'm gonna ask her for a ride for you." And she gave me a ride to Canal Street. Canal and Basin is where she took me. But I had to go four blocks further than that. But she had brought me as far as she said was necessary. But I managed to be on Canal and Basin and they had - what you call it, I can't think of what's the name of the name of the place where we was at - I think it was the Watergate. It was right off of Canal Street.

A truck passed and brought me to the Watergate and here's where it really took place. They had approximately five thousand people in there, and they had the old, young. And the young people had taken possession of the Watergate. They had take possession of everything in sight. They robbed, they stole, everything possible. I was sitting outside of the porch on the Watergate and the people there didn't have no food, nothing to drink, and they told me, "T, they giving away ice." And me, with one arm and one leg, I tried to get some. I went in and got about two handful of ice. I came back with it and we kept the two hands of ice. The lady took that and put her medicine in the ice because she had to have medicine that she put in the ice. But I had one, two little pieces of ice that I took and sucked it in my mouth. But they had a lady there, it was her, her daughter, and I think it was one or two kids, but she was a nice lady. She lived in the block with me. She told me, "Don't you worry about nothing, we can manage to eat, we can get something." She came up with a sandwich or something for us to eat one day. The next day, she didn't have nothing, but we managed to stay alive in there. Because the younger people stole, robbed, raped. I guess they kill a man in the Watergate because I seen them carry the body out and put in the back of the place. So I tried to keep my composure and stay away from these people because here I am, I got one leg, one arm, and I didn't want nothing to do with them.

To continue my story, I took and lied, told a little lie and got on a truck, a military truck and he brought me out of the dead, we'll call it the dead. He brought me to an area where I seen people I knew and I took and waved goodbye at them because I was going on the plane. I was among the first ten or twenty planes to leave or helicopters to leave up. All my friends and everything, I left behind because I was going and I was very happy about that. I was going to the airport, where I was only kept for about two hours and flown to - where are we at? - Austin.

And I been treated like a king here in Austin, because people here took and fed me, they gave me clothing, and I got a new scooter. Look, this scooter means a world to me because I walk so bad. And I went to VA here in Austin and told the lady I needed some transportation because they had just bought me a scooter in New Orleans and I didn't think I would get a new one so quick. And the lady told me, she looked at my feet and said that they was swollen. I can't walk up and down this building. It is too large of a building and I had to come from one end to the other end to eat twice a day. But the lady gave me a scooter. I was very happy when I got the scooter because the man told me, "Are the other scooters out there?" And I said, "Okay." And another fellow and said, "Oh yeah, the scooter came in today." And he said, "You go back there and look." He was talking to the director of the hospital. He gave me his card and told me, any problem I have to get in touch with him. The scooter is all I wanted, and I appreciate it. Thank you, Austin for the cooperation. And I can't think of how to say thank you for the things you gave me, and the scooter you gave me, today. Austin is one place I think I can be happy and I don't think I need much of nothing because I learned to live with nothing. And I have a stool, a refrigerator, a bed, and a television. That's all I need to get me along and get me through, because of my son. I figure my son will come and see me pretty soon. And he will take a look at Austin and decide to come to Austin. This is a beautiful place.