news from pawpaw

I have just spoken with my grandfather, at an area hospital in Ft. Worth, TX, USA. I provide you this first-hand account of the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the eastern New Orleans suburb of Chalmette, in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, USA:

It all started Saturday morning. They were supposed to evacuate me, and they never did. I had a…heart attack, so an ambulance finally came and took me to the hospital [ed: Chalmette Medical Center]…. I was on the second floor, in the emergency room.

And then the storm hit, and then there was rising water. So they decided to evacuate us from the hospital on Saturday. So they took [ed: pause to blow nose] me in a boat to the St. Bernard Jailhouse. And they kept me in there until they decided to evacuate me again. The jail was dry.

I stayed at the Jail for 1 day. There were 6 people in the room I was in.

And from there, on Monday they evacuated me with helicopter. They put me in a truck and transported me about a mile away, to where the helicopter was. There was no helipad, it was just where they could land it. There were 7 of us in the helicopter. They didn’t put my bag on the helicopter, so I lost my cell phone, identification, and other information. The helicopter took me to Clearview and I-10. They let us out of the helicopter, they were supposed to get an ambulance, but they couldn’t find one, so they left me on the stretcher there.

And after a while an ambulance picked me up, I was all by myself, bloated [ed: if my grandfather does not receive the correct treatment, he can bloat up] and I looked depressed, so the ambulance driver decided to give me a lift. There was the driver and his assistant, and a patient in the back. So he put me in the front seat, and I rode in the ambulance to the airport. So I stayed about 4 or 5 hours in the ambulance, until they finally let us into the airport.

So I stood in line, registered, gave my name, and my Social Security Number, and my home address. And then I waited, and waited, and waited, I guess about 5 hours. And then they finally decided to take me to the airport planning area, where I waited, and waited, and waited…

On Wednesday…. And then an army truck took me to the airstrip, and…. There was a big transport plane waiting for us [ed: seems it was a C-130] So I got in there, and they raised the gate, and the plane took off. There were about 24 people in the plane, sitting on the seats on the side because there’s nothing in the middle, and they put 2 patients on stretchers in the middle. [ed: He says that there was no place for others to sit, so they only took those who could fit in seats and on the stretchers.]

It took about an hour and a half to get to Fort Worth. It took about 8 or 9 or 10 hours to get me to the hospital I’m at now. I’ve been here since Thursday, but I couldn’t get a hold of you because I didn’t have my bag.

I then asked him about the condition of the area:

All I saw was a lake. Looking out the window all I saw was water. The hospital’s first floor was flooded, but it is only equipment and storage and stuff. Patients start on the second floor. The ones that wanted to volunteer went to the roof of the Chalmette Medical Center. The patients didn’t go up there. Most of the nurses went with us. We were never left alone, they came with us.

If you are an interested party I may consider releasing an edited audio stream.

4 thoughts on “news from pawpaw

  1. Wow, what an experience. Glad your pawpaw made it okay. How old is he anyway?

  2. My grandfather is in his 80s, I never remember his exact age. He’s has multiple heart attacks, but I’m impressed he weathered this so well.

  3. Hmm.. “pawpaw” sounds like chinese for maternal grandmother.

  4. What an ordeal for an older adult who just had a heart attack! Sounds like a tough paw-paw you’ve got there. Amazing. Glad he is in good hands.

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