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Heroism in the face of Katrina's devastation

Katrina Heroism

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#1 Peridot


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Posted 01 September 2005 - 11:05 AM

I ran across this this morning, and given what we've all seen of the loss of life, and the disheartening images of rampant looting, I thought other people might like to read it as well.

According to a story in the Miami Herald, a young teenager helped his whole family survive the storm:


If you run across similar stories of courage, or kindness, or anything positive, please feel free to post them here to share.

We're all seeing a lot of negative things on the news, and we're going to continue to.  The situation is horrendous in multiple ways.  This story just reminded me that just as disaster brings out the worst in some folks, in brings out the best in others.


#2 Spectacles

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 11:07 AM

Wonderful idea, Peridot--and much needed. Thank you.
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#3 Peridot


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Posted 01 September 2005 - 11:22 AM

^ ^

You're welcome!  :)

It brightened my day, and I figured we all could use that right about now. :blink:


#4 Nonny


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Posted 01 September 2005 - 11:30 AM

It brightened mine too.  Thanks for posting.  I hope we get an update on this courageous young man, and hear that he got the medical care he needed too.  

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#5 Rhiannonjk



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Posted 01 September 2005 - 02:51 PM

Another happy story!  

police officers, a small family, and a bush.  


***Is easily distracted***

#6 sierraleone


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Posted 01 September 2005 - 07:56 PM

Couldn't read the first story, it required registration.

Thank you anyways, just the descriptions are warming my heart.
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Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
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Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#7 Peridot


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Posted 01 September 2005 - 10:24 PM

Thanks for letting me know, Sierraleone!  I'm not sure what happened---I could access the article this morning, but I couldn't get to it either just now.  :huh:

Anyway.....did a search and came up with another link for the same article.  Looks like it was picked up by another paper, maybe?  So here's a second link to try:


And in case that doesn't work.....this time I got smart. :rolleyes:


Teen saves his family, others from drowning in flooded house


Knight Ridder Newspapers

BILOXI, Miss. - (KRT) - In the long, harrowing moments before Katrina crashed into the east side of this coastal city, a dozen family members, friends and neighbors piled into the only bedroom of a wooden house.

Then they waited, and some drifted asleep. Suddenly, the water rushed in. It came fast, penetrating every wall and window. They retreated to a living room that yielded no protection from the five-foot tide inside the house.

The babies began screaming, the adults panicked and, in that moment, 13-year-old Phillip Bullard began saving lives. Four adults and nine children, including himself.

Phillip swam and cradled the youngest. He floated the oldest - all through the house, out a broken front window and into a boat floating down what was once Holley Street. He coaxed his twin sister to turn loose the side of the house, which she clung to in terror. And he took the hands of his mother and grandmother and guided them through the house, on a path made from sodden furniture. They were willing to die, unable to swim and too frightened to leave their home.

"I just didn't want to see my family drown," said Phillip, a seventh-grader who spent Wednesday in a shelter at the junior high school he normally attends. "I was scared if I didn't keep helping, somebody would die."

Phillip's story hopscotched across town. Folks quickly learned about the boy who rescued his family, a bright spot in an otherwise dreary day two in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"That little boy is a hero," said Kenneth Brinson, who helped set up an outdoor community center near Main Street Baptist Church in the neighborhood where Phillip lives. Most of the day, Brinson cooked red beans and rice and smoked sausage for the hungry.

Phillip, a typical teenager who runs and jumps and dances and dreams, lives with his mother and grandmother on the east side of town, in a collection of older A-frame homes in a mostly poor, mostly withered neighborhood. Almost from the very beginning, they knew the little house would fall to a storm with this kind of roar.

"I saw all the water and it was coming from everywhere. I swear it came through the floor," said Vanessa Posey, 44, Phillip's mother. "I started screaming and trying to get everybody up. I broke the window and tried to put the babies on top of the bar. My son did most everything else."

Phillip, a soft-spoken boy who said he knew he wanted to be a police officer or doctor before the storm, says he went under water to clear a path to the window and then got his older sister, Yoshico Posey, out. He picked her first because she was the only other person who could swim and help guide the rest out of the house. They formed a rescue team. He carried or floated each person out the window; she passed them to a neighbor who was helping, or put them in a boat they found drifting by.

Later, they used broomsticks to paddle down the street and took haven in the upstairs loft of a neighbor's home.

"It felt like Phillip was in there getting people for hours," said Vanessa Posey, sitting outside the shelter. "I just kept thanking the Lord for every person he got out."

By the time Phillip finally swam out the house, he found his twin sister clinging to the exterior wall of the house.

"She was scared. It took me awhile to convince her to let go and take my hand," he said softly. "But I had to keep trying because she would not have made it."

After every person was rescued, Phillip took the boat to Division Street, a main thoroughfare, to find help. It never came.

And so the story that began at noon Monday in the earliest moments of Katrina's brief stay ended with Phillip in a shelter, nursing a foot cut by tin that his mother fears will become infected. This time, help is on the way.

"I just thank God for Phillip," the mother said. "We would not be here but for the grace of God and the courage of my son."

Copyright 2005 - The Miami Herald


#8 Godeskian


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Posted 02 September 2005 - 04:58 AM

This kid saved a lot of people, and showed some admiral bravery under circumstances that have left thousands of grownups emotionally wrecked. I certainly hope someone remembers afterwards so that they can show him some appreciation. :)

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#9 D'Monix

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 05:09 AM

whether he becomes a doctor, or a cop, he has the level head for it.

#10 Peridot


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Posted 02 September 2005 - 10:40 PM

Thanks for posting that one, Rhiannon!  Besides the fact that it is a happy ending story, I also think it is a good reminder that although the news media is focusing most on New Orleans, parts of Mississippi got hit at least as hard...maybe harder.

It's also just interesting to reflect on the fact that the department was originally going to cut down that bush..... :oh:


#11 sierraleone


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Posted 02 September 2005 - 11:03 PM

Thank you Peridot :)
Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#12 Peridot


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Posted 02 September 2005 - 11:25 PM

^  ^
You're welcome! :)


#13 Anarch

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 12:56 PM

Ladies and gentlemen, Jabbor Gibson.  You can find innumerable references to this young man around the blogosphere, I just picked the first one handy.  I particularly like the pictures.

Also, let's hear it for the one spark of good news in this article: "The police had deputized looters."  And trust me, that really is good news.

#14 Peridot


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Posted 06 September 2005 - 09:04 PM

This one isn't exactly heroic in the usual sense, but it certainly is a positive story.  Not only heartwarming, but just kind of...well, cute.... ;)

Flying Diapers

...and then there's this one...

Pint-sized Hero


#15 Natolii

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 01:48 AM

It may not be heroism during the storm, But a $5 million donation for students displaced by Hurricane Katrina is no small chuck of change. Sidney Frank was once a needy student himself and he gave back to the University that helped him get where he is today.



Brown alumnus donates $5 million for Katrina relief efforts

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A Brown University alumnus is contributing millions of dollars for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

The $5 million gift from Sidney Frank will help support students whose colleges and universities were damaged by the hurricane.

Frank graduated from Brown in 1942. He is the chairman and CEO of Sidney Frank Importing Company Incorporated.

Last year, Frank donated more than $120 million to fund scholarships at Brown for needy students.

Brown President Ruth Simmons says the gift will allow the university to provide assistance with housing, meals and books for students.

Brown and other Rhode Island schools have already said they will offer a semester of free tuition to state residents enrolled at schools that were closed by the flood.

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#16 Natolii

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 06:49 PM

The Hero was the woman that help this couple.



Evacuee Couple Marries In San Antonio
Storm Blew Away Bayou Wedding Plans

POSTED: 9:52 am EDT September 9, 2005

SAN ANTONIO -- Everything borrowed, everything new, the old is just gone, but nobody's blue.

That's the rewrite of the old wedding rhyme for newly married Marvin and Janetel Martin.

Just a week ago, they were rescued from the roof of a flooded Louisiana hotel after four days with no food or water.

In addition to nearly killing the couple, Hurricane Katrina blew away their Sept. 24 bayou wedding plans.

Enter Red Cross volunteer Patricia Fugitt in San Antonio. She spent hours lining up the donated limo, wedding clothes and everything else a wedding needs.

Tuesday, the Martins became the first evacuees married in Building 1536 at Kelly USA, a business park in the city.

"Don't ever give up hope. God will make it all work out," Marvin Martin said.

Edited by Natolii, 09 September 2005 - 06:50 PM.

"I have on this board written pages and pages pointing out the science, and I will be dammed if I am going to attempt to reach closed minds that don’t even know how to use a reference library." -emsparks (Fenton E. Magill, dec. 1/25/07 - Love you Dad)

#17 Peridot


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Posted 09 September 2005 - 11:31 PM

^  ^

Even though Sidney Frank and Patricia Fugitt weren't heroic in the usual sense of the word, I think one could safely call them heroes of kindness. :love:

Something we all need right now, I think---to see those instances of kindness that are out there, that are making a real difference in people's lives.  Thanks for posting those, Natolii.

Here's another one I found today....

Doctors Emerge as Heroes


And Dr. Rich Tabor, a 38-year-old Bethlehem, Pa., emergency medicine physician who got partners to cover his shifts and paid $520 out of his own pocket for a plane ticket to Louisiana, where he climbed into an airboat and went door-to-door with rescue workers.

And Barry Albertson Jr., 42, a paramedic from Easton, Pa., who missed his 7-year-old son's first peewee football game to join a caravan of ambulances making the 30-hour trip to New Orleans.

And Dr. Lee Garvey, 48, an emergency room doctor at Carolinas Medical Center who dropped everything to staff a state-of-the-art mobile hospital that provided the only trauma care for seven devastated counties in rural Mississippi.

"We're here because this is what we live to do," Garvey said, "trying to offer something to these people."


You ask anybody and everybody that's willing to pitch in, and they wanted to," Hamm said. "There were lots of very young physicians doing a lot of heroic things."

I think this is the mobile hospital mentioned; I found this one the other day.

Mobile Hospital


#18 Peridot


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Posted 11 September 2005 - 12:21 AM

And yet another story of everyday people going the extra mile...

Radio Lifeline

Posting the whole article because I think this newspaper might require registration; I got the link on Yahoo.


A Lifeline Sent by Airwave  by Ellen Barry Times Staff Writer - LATIMES

BATON ROUGE, La. — Deke "the Big Chief" Bellavia, a sportscaster on WWL-AM, is among the world's leading authorities on high school football in southeast Louisiana. He has a rolling, syrupy accent and an enormous girth, which he is not too shy to mention on the air.

He did not expect to find himself — as he did last week — instructing a dehydrated listener to punch a hole in a can of corn and suck out the liquid. Or soothing a woman who called from her cellphone while wading through water that had bodies in it. This was not what he was hired to do.

"You find a way to get through it because the people need you," Bellavia said.

After Hurricane Katrina, as modern forms of communications failed one by one in New Orleans, one technology functioned, and that was radio.

Working out of a fluorescent-lighted studio in Baton Rouge, a collection of personalities from New Orleans radio stations — sportscasters, rock jocks, Christian broadcasters, and soft rock and smooth-talk R&B talent — has served as the slender connection between stranded people and the outside world.

It was a talk-radio host, Garland Robinette, who, three days after Katrina, recorded the interview with New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin that sounded the city's distress like a foghorn. It was radio that recorded the locations of hundreds of people who used the fading batteries of their cellphones to call the station. These days, from morning to night, radio broadcasts survivors as they look for lost and separated family members.

"In a crisis, you fall back to what you know. You fall back to the very basics," said Kevin Duplantis, chief engineer for WWL, in normal times a conservative talk-radio station. "And radio is very simple. Turn it on, turn up the volume, and someone is talking to you. You're attached to that voice. You're looking to that voice as your guide out."

On Aug. 29, when the storm made landfall, satellite dishes welded to the rooftops in New Orleans broke loose and crashed into one another, cracking into pieces. The only media outlet still broadcasting live from the city was WWL, and in its offices, programming and operations manager Diane Newman, 48, heard the studio windows — which had been boarded up — explode one by one.

She had Robinette on the air at that moment, and walked him down the hallway holding a microphone in front of him, as if he were a hospital patient attached to an IV. Robinette, 62, had broken into broadcast journalism while working as a janitor at a small radio station; he shook off his Cajun accent and, with his wedge of dark hair, became an icon in New Orleans.

By 6 the next morning, a levee had broken, and Newman had orders to evacuate to Baton Rouge, 80 miles away. Those employees who could still drive out left at dawn, and the last few who remained were evacuated by helicopter. The helicopter had been chartered by WWL's fiercest competitor, Clear Channel Communications Inc., to pick up several of its own employees.

It was the beginning of an unusual partnership. That same day, Clear Channel and WWL's parent company, Entercom Communications Corp., temporarily combined their operations; 18 stations would broadcast as one. Clear Channel would benefit from WWL's formidable news operation, and Entercom would have access to Clear Channel's studios.

The new venture — the United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans — went on the air at dawn Aug. 31, two days after the hurricane.

It seemed like an easy decision to Dick Lewis, Clear Channel's regional vice president. Lewis, 54, can identify the precise moment when he decided to get into radio. He was 17, in the car with his parents, driving through a terrible storm near Broken Bow, Okla.

It was the middle of the night. As the wind and hail grew stronger, Lewis recalls, his mother told the kids to get down between the car's seats. Then the tornado touched down on them and the car started "bouncing like a basketball."

What Lewis remembers is that the radio in the car, tuned to WKY-AM in Oklahoma City, kept working. For 20 minutes — a period that felt like a lifetime — "it was the radio that gave us our sense of calmness, our touch with the outside world," he said.

He got into radio for that reason, although most of his time is spent, he says, on "routine stuff."

"We provide entertainment to fill up the time," he said. "All we're doing is filling up the time, to be here until something of significant magnitude happens."

In the beige-carpeted offices of Clear Channel Communications in Baton Rouge, posters declare a corporate mantra: "Clear Channel Communications. Make Budget. Beat Market." Last week, after WWL relocated there, someone crossed out the last two sentences, and wrote this in with a red marker: "Help Humanity."

Hold lights blinked on the studio phone for three days as listeners called in to tell the world about the terrible things that were happening to them.

Their minds fogged with fear, they asked radio hosts how they should get to their roofs. The answer: Climb out on the windowsill. Hand the children up. DJs gave instructions on how to take a wooden door off its hinges so it could be used as a raft.

Red-eyed at the end of a five-hour shift, Gerry Vaillancourt, a Charlotte Hornets analyst on WODT-AM, recalled the stream of calls: "I can't find my baby! My sister lost her baby! I saw a dead man! I've never seen a dead man! I can't find my 4-year-old son! … I can't find my husband!"

From behind the microphone in the studio, he said, New Orleans sounded "like a city being nuked."

Vaillancourt is a warm, pugnacious man, originally from the Bronx. He was struck, he said, by the power of talk radio — its intimacy, its burden.

"There's a family with 15 people in a house with no power, but they can listen," he said. "You're on the next shift, and you're keeping them company, and it's frightening."

Vaillancourt got through it with gentle, goofy humor.

He remembers a woman who called, miserable and stranded, and told him she was getting ready to eat. Vaillancourt suggested that she make veal Parmesan, and maybe he would come by with a bottle of Merlot. She said, forlornly, that she didn't have any of the ingredients.

Then she asked, "What if I just make us a lasagna?"

Then she laughed and laughed.

Mayor Nagin called the station Sept. 1 when Robinette was on the air. Robinette had broadcast every day since the storm hit; he was tired, he said, and "not concentrating the way I should."

The mayor was tired too. The situation in New Orleans had deteriorated sharply. Thousands of people were milling at the Superdome and the convention center, sick, dehydrated and desperate to get out of the city. Rescue crews, alarmed about reports of rioting, were afraid to pull off the interstate.

Robinette was expecting a report from the mayor, but what he got was a half-hour roar of anger and despair. It was the sound of a man who no longer cared about his political future.

"You know," Nagin said, "God is looking down on all this, and if [state and federal authorities] are not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price. Because every day that we delay, people are dying and they're dying by the hundreds, I'm willing to bet you.

"We're getting reports and calls that are breaking my heart, from people saying: 'I've been in my attic. I can't take it anymore. The water is up to my neck. I don't think I can hold out.' And that's happening as we speak."

Nagin went on and on, until both men fell silent. On the air, Robinette could be heard crying. The station cut to a commercial.

That interview, Robinette said, was "the off-the-cliff moment and the flying moment."

Mike Kaplan, operations manager at Entercom's adult contemporary station, was listening at the master control. His first thought was that the mayor's profanity-laced outburst might have violated     Federal Communications Commission standards. His second thought was about history. He asked: Is someone taping this? He pressed a record button.

"He said, 'Di, I want to get that out to everyone in the country,' " Newman said.

The tape was driven across town to the local CBS affiliate. By the next day, Nagin's interview was airing on all three networks.

Within 24 hours,     President Bush visited New Orleans.

"When they write the history of Katrina, it will be written on the turn of Ray Nagin," Robinette said. "That was a guy pulling babies out of the water. That was the power of it. It was one man furious."

Many WWL employees are still living in RVs beside the parking lot of the Clear Channel building, sleeping in four-hour shifts.

Suitcases sat in cubicles, and over the PA system, a receptionist announced that grief counselors were on hand for anyone who needed them. No one showed up, though, probably because they were too busy.

Lewis found that he could no longer perform simple arithmetic. Sales manager Mark Boudreaux was reminding people to remind him of things. Newman, fuzzy-headed with exhaustion, accidentally placed her new cellphone in a cup of coffee. She didn't care, she said: "What matters is what comes out of that box."

A note of calm entered the calls this week. Listeners now wanted contact numbers for the Red Cross, they wanted to know if they should boil their water, they wanted to reunite with family members.

Bellavia, 34, who was diagnosed last year with Hodgkin's lymphoma, feels the way he felt when he found out his tumor was gone: guilty that he has walked away when so many others died.

Leaving the station every night, for the hourlong drive to his home in Amite, 50 miles northeast of Baton Rouge, he "began to feel like a machine," he said.

"I'll put it like this: I haven't broken down, but I wonder when I will," Bellavia said. "I wonder when I will, how you say, shut down and reboot."

Robinette, who was awarded two purple hearts in Vietnam, said the week of the flood was "all adrenaline. I used to say, overseas, that nobody's afraid during a firefight. When it's over, it's very scary."

These days, Robinette takes calls from people who want to thank him or the station and say how grateful they are. Something about that sickens him. Radio, he said, has not done anything for the people of New Orleans.

"It's what the people of New Orleans have done for radio. You want to say, 'You're the ones dying,' " he said. Then he hung his head and sobbed.

As for Duplantis, whose house was probably engulfed in the 25-foot surge that hit St. Bernard Parish, he doesn't spend much time cataloging his losses.

"I don't even think about it. What am I going to think about?" Duplantis, 42, said. "I just work."

And so the broadcasts continue. They are not archived, so there is no record of the hundreds of ordinary people who called the station at the strangest, most terrifying moments of their lives.

In the early hours of Sept. 2, several million radio listeners east of the Rocky Mountains could hear the voice of a man on his roof in New Orleans describing what the stars looked like over a city in darkness.

The man's voice sounded serene and mellow. At that moment, he was in total isolation — speaking from his rooftop in a city filling up with reeking water, SWAT teams and crowds of angry, hungry, frightened people.

No one could have gotten to him that night, and it is impossible to know whether he survived. But his voice was carried on the 50,000-watt signal of WWL-AM. He sounded close enough to touch.


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