Story Circle Network

Catastrophe, Survival, and Recovery: Stories from the Storms

The Ones That Didn't Get Away!
Kendria and Warrren Jones, Spring TX, via New Orleans

There have been so many stories of the pain and perils of survival and death due to Katrina that many will go untold.

I am saddened by the drowning of friends and strangers alike yet New Orleanians still, some haughting, some moments of bravery, some the saga of my mother's neighbor in the lower ninth ward, the hardest hit and possibly the lowest income area in New Orleans. This dear woman, age about 60yrs, chose to stay in her home and "ride-it-out". Little did she know how true those words would be, for when the waters came her house was lifted off its pilings and carried nearly 4 city blocks, tossing and turning with her in it, and she survived to tell it! I am sure there are many other similar stories of miraculous survival amid the destruction, and yet my story is one of a lighter "miracle". It really doesn't compare to the one just mentioned, for in its lightheartedness there is a human element: my 8 year old son Brent.

About 6 months before Katrina I purchased for him a 20 gallon goldfish aquarium, complete with 2 large calico goldfish. Fast forward. Katrina's approaching. We evacuate to Houston. Katrina strikes. We're displaced for 2 months, "floating" from shelter to shelter (3 to be exact), then finally settling in Spring, TX. By now the water has subsided and we work up the strength to go back home for whatever we can salvage and get some kind of closure. The first weekend back was hard. The house a complete mess. The ride there was long. We didn't expect the exodus of "traffic". We got there about 4:30pm and the evening was beginning to have an eerie overcast. Whatever we had to do, do it fast with no electricity or lights. A blanket of blackness falls over the city like a ghost town. As we entered the house, flashlight in hand, the stench and deadness in the air told us this journey was pointless..nothing was salvagable...nothing. I spotted the aquarium overturned in the corner, empty. We went outside and started taking pictures and trying to console each other with words of comfort, although they seem shallow with the task in front of us, and a yet unanswered question of how do we rebound from this? We went back to Texas. Over the next 2 weekends we would go back to completely gut the house. It was on the second trip something unbelievable occurs, just prior to going back. It was hard explaining to my son what happened to his pet fish so I brought him a used aquarium at a swap meet here in Texas and set it up, complete with everything except the fish. When we arrived in New Orleans I went into the back room where the aquarium was and started the last of the work to finish gutting the house. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flutter in the corner of the room where the overturned aquarium was. I walked toward the area for a closer look and thought I was hallucinating. Fluttering in about 3 inches of water created in an uneven section of the floor that had been exposed by the winds and waters of Katrina were my son's golfish! Both of them...still alive after all this time! ALIVE! Amazing but true! To make a long story short I alerted my wife with a scream, bolted to the car, headed to neighboring Jefferson parish, and found a Home Depot store open. I purchased a 10 gallon bottle of Kentwood water and, after a few modifications to it (as well as treating the water), I recovered or as my son said "rescued" the fish. If they were strong enough to survive all this time I was not about to let them die. As amazing as it sounds those two goldfish survived and are stilling swimming strong in our "adopted" home here in Spring Texas. And, oh yes, my son renamed them Rita and Katrina: the fishes who stared two storms in the face and lived to swim about it!

Last updated: 12/11/05