|"I Love You, But We Are Going to Die"|
|Scott Gold (GoldTimes@telecom-digest.org)|
Tue, 30 Aug 2005 15:20:44 -0500
By Scott Gold, Times Staff Writer|
NEW ORLEANS - The phone call lasted just long enough to break Bridgette
Medley, her husband and her 3-year-old daughter had sought shelter
Her siblings and parents were not.
Like about 50,000 other residents of the city, they had ignored the
By 7 a.m. Monday, the water started rising. Medley's siblings and
"She was panicking," Medley said. "The water was up to their ankles in
"She said, 'I love you.' " Medley struggled to keep the tears from spilling
Then the line went dead.
Throughout the day, the two sisters maintained a frantic, frustrating
Hundreds of families found themselves in a similar situation, divided
People sought help from one of the only radio stations on the air:
"Please, sir. We don't know what else to do," said a woman who gave
"We'll see if we can't get some response over there," said the radio
Seconds later: "Let's go to Yvonne."
"My daughter is on the roof!" Yvonne said. "She was in the attic until
"Maybe we can help," Del Giorno said. "Hopefully."
Others waited by the phone. There was nothing else they could do.
Patricia Penny had begged her son, Billy, 34, to leave. But he was
Penny last heard his voice in an 8 a.m. phone call. He was blunt:
Penny said Monday night that she was sure her son had climbed onto the
She eventually reached someone with St. Bernard Parish who was working
"They are operating from on top of a building," she said. "They are
She was certain her son was alive, Penny said.
"I raised both my children myself," she said. "I know them so well
New Orleans is surrounded by water, and much of the city rests below
Even when the sun is shining, the city depends on a complex and often
The flooding was worse in the city's eastern districts. In the
Medley's family home is close to an industrial canal, and serious
"But never inside," Medley said. "Never, ever."
That's why Medley's parents and two of her siblings elected to
The last major hurricane to hit New Orleans directly was Hurricane
At 9 a.m., Medley was able to get through to her sister again. Now the
"That might work for my brother and sister," she said. "But I can't
By noon, the water was 3 feet from the first-floor ceiling and still
"No luck," Medley said. "Not yet. All we can do is pray. There's just
"I think . I mean, I think they're going to drown," she said. "I
At 3 p.m., she got through again.
"What is the water doing?" she asked. "Well, what do you see through
The water, her sister reported, appeared to have stabilized -- not dropping,
"OK," Medley said. "That's good."
At 6 p.m., another call.
Her sister told her that she had reached a person. "A real, human
The National Guard was sending a boat. They were saved.
"Praise the Lord!" Medley shouted. "Hallelujah!"
The family had already made a pact for the next hurricane -- no more
"Everybody is leaving next time," Medley said. "More importantly,
How to help
Federal officials said Monday that people wanting to help victims of
. American Red Cross, (800) HELP NOW [435-7669] English, (800) 257-7575
. Adventist Community Services, (800) 381-7171
. Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, (800) 848-5818
. Church World Service, (800) 297-1516
. Convoy of Hope, (417) 823-8998
. Mennonite Disaster Service, (717) 859-2210
. Salvation Army, (800) SAL-ARMY [725-2769]
. United Methodist Committee on Relief, (800) 554-8583
Source: Associated Press
Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times
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