He tried to escape the conventional way, but the pressure from winds howling at well over 100 mph prevented him from opening the door. He busted a window and climbed out, only to get pinned against the wall of his house by the rapidly rising waters. Finally, he went under, sure he was going to die. He held his breath and remembered what his grandmother told him, to always pray to God to forgive his sins.
“Suddenly, something shot me away from that house,” Weaver said, convinced beyond any doubt that he’s still alive today only because of a higher power.
A neighbor pulled him to safety using a strand of Christmas lights. After 21/2 days on a rooftop, they were finally rescued. Weaver still has a nasty scar of his right leg from a cut he got while being tossed about in the turbulent waters.
Despite the unthinkable carnage in the Lower Ninth Ward, Weaver never had any doubt he would return and rebuild, even if it’s now clear that so many of his former neighbors and fellow survivors won’t be following his lead.
“I was born and raised right here,” he said. “If Katrina comes back again, I’m still not leaving.”
Miller estimates there are more than 10,000 – and maybe as many as 15,000 – abandoned structures in the New Orleans metro area. Many of them have been commandeered by the city’s large homeless population, who slip away in the light of day but leave behind evidence of their existence – dirty clothes scattered about, a bedroll where they slept, empty cans and plastic foam containers from what passed for a meal.
As he drives around the areas that won’t be found in any tourism brochures, another member of his team, New Orleans native Clarence White, rattles off what used to be here, what used to be there.
“That was a popular bar room over there,” White said, turning to his left. “There used to be a drug store over there,” he said, shifting his gaze to the right.
The NFL, as it now does in all Super Bowl cities, had set aside Saturday as a day of service, in which volunteers took part in the renovation of five local playgrounds and their surrounding communities.
That gesture will surely be more poignant in New Orleans than any other place where the championship game is held.
But Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, a native of nearby St. Rose, is keenly aware that it will take far more than a few hours to get this city – this entire city – back on its feet.<< previous 1 2 3 4 next >>
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