Lining up for rescue, with their lives in their hands

New Orleans

Portraits Of A Catastrophe

September 04, 2005|By John Makely

The lines of people never stopped.

They were everywhere -- outside the Superdome, inside the Superdome. There were lines of people heading to dry land, lines of people heading to the freeways.

There was even a line on one man's roof -- about 20 residents, awaiting rescue.

Having the only two-story house on the block, his roof served as a perch of last resort for his family and more than a dozen neighbors.

That included a woman in a wheelchair they had hoisted up from a second-floor window.

Rescue workers from an ExxonMobil volunteer fire department in Baton Rouge drove a boat to the rooftop and plucked them all to safety.

But even as the pontoon boat headed back to dry land, more cries could be heard -- those of residents who, to avoid the rising water, went to their attics, only to end up trapped and trying to kick holes in their roofs to escape.

Those who did climbed to their roofs with their family members, pets, documents -- all the things they held dearest.

As he climbed into the boat, the man with the two-story house handed rescue workers a container: Be careful with that box. That box is who we are. It has everything in it.

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