I was in my
house when everything first started. When the hurricane came, it
blew all the left side of my house off, and the water was coming
in my house in torrents.
I had my neighbor,
an elderly man, and myself, in the house with our dogs and cats,
and we were trying to stay out of the water. But the water was coming
in too fast. So we ended up having to leave the house. We
left the house and we went up on the roof of a school. I took a
crowbar and I burst the door on the roof of the school to help people
on the roof.
Later on we
found a flat boat, and we went around the neighborhood in a flat
boat getting people out of their houses and bringing them to the
found all the food that we could and we cooked and we fed people.
But then, things started getting really bad.
By the second
day, the people that were there, that we were feeding and everything,
we had no more food and no water. We had nothing, and other people
were coming in our neighborhood. We were watching the helicopters
going across the bridge and airlift other people out, but they would
hover over us and tell us "Hi!" and that would be all. They wouldn't
drop us any food or any water, or nothing.
were eating people.
They had all kinds of stuff
in the water. They had babies
floating in the water."
were eating people. They had all kinds of stuff in the water. They
had babies floating in the water.
We had to walk
over hundreds of bodies of dead people. People that we tried to
save from the hospices, from the hospitals and from the old-folks
homes. I tried to get the police to help us, but I realized they
were in the same straits we were. We rescued a lot of police officers
in the flat boat from the 5th district police station. The guy who
was in the boat, he rescued a lot of them and brought them to different
places so they could be saved.
that the police couldn't help us, but we couldn't understand why
the National Guard and them couldn't help us, because we kept seeing
them but they never would stop and help us.
got to be too much, I just took all of the people that I could.
I had two old women in wheelchairs with no legs, that I rowed them
from down there in that nightmare to the French Quarters, and I
went back and got more people.
they gave the evacuation order,
if we could've left,
we would have left."
groups of us, there were about 24 of us, and we kept going back
and forth and rescuing whoever we could get and bringing them to
the French Quarter because we heard that there were phones in the
French Quarter, and that there wasn't any water. And they were right,
there were phones, but we couldn't get through to anyone.
I found some
police officers. I told them that a lot of us women had been raped
down there by guys, not from the neighborhood where we were, they
were helping us to save people. But other men, and they came and
they started raping women and they started killing, and I don't
know who these people were. I'm not gonna tell you I know, because
But what I
want people to understand is that, if we hadn't been left down there
like the animals that they were treating us like, all of those
things wouldn't have happened. People are trying to say that we
stayed in that city because we wanted to be rioting and we wanted
to do this and, we didn't have resources to get out, we had no way
they gave the evacuation order, if we could've left, we would have
I want people to realize that
we did not stay in the city
so we could steal and loot and
commit crimes. A lot of those
young men lost their minds because
the helicopters would fly over us
and they wouldn't stop."
There are still
thousands and thousands of people trapped in their homes in the
downtown area. When we finally did get into the 9th ward, and not
just in my neighborhood, but in other neighborhoods in the 9th ward,
there were a lot of people still trapped down there... old people,
young people, babies, pregnant women. I mean, nobody's
I want people to realize that we did not stay in the city so we
could steal and loot and commit crimes. A lot of those young men
lost their minds because the helicopters would fly over us and they
wouldn't stop. We would make SOS on the flashlights, we'd do everything,
and it really did come to a point, where these young men were so
frustrated that they did start shooting. They weren't trying to
hit the helicopters, they figured maybe they weren't seeing. Maybe
if they hear this gunfire they will stop then. But that didn't help
us. Nothing like that helped us.
got to Canal St. with all of my people I had saved from back there.
I don't want
them arresting nobody else. I broke the window in an RTA bus. I
never learned how to drive a bus in my life. I got in that bus.
I loaded all of those people in wheelchairs and in everything else
into that bus, and we drove and we drove and we drove and millions
of people was trying to get me to help them to get on the bus, too.
Charmaine Neville is a member of the third generation of
New Orleans's legendary Neville musical family. She fronts the
Charmaine Neville Band. The Neville Brothers are a famous
band from New Orleans This appeared on Counterpunch.