Tuesday, September 20, 2005

New Orleans Kids' Quotes

Here are quotes from two ten-year-old evacuees I spoke with (interviewed, technically) at the shelter when I was there as a journalist, not as a volunteer. This was very early on, with the levees had just broken and people were watching in awestruck horror at the devastation that was occuring. These kids were from New Orleans, and, while there was still some hope at the time, it is assumed now that both of their families lost everything.
Ten-year-old Alexis sat among the crowd holding a small doll. “Her name is Jaden,” she said to me. “I got her for free over here at the shelter.”
I asked her what brought her here to Austin. “My momma and my daddy heard about the hurricane, and we had to come through Texas to be safe. We thought that the hurricane was just going to last two or three days, but it didn’t so we have to stay here.”
She said, “We might have to stay with our auntie or uncle – all our family over there (pointing at about 10 people.) It’s a lot of people so I don’t know. It really doesn’t matter as long as I’m safe with my family. We might have to stay here months, weeks - we don’t know, but we’re not going home until we are safe enough for my family and I.”
She said every night she is saying her prayers. “I say, I hope to God that my home is okay, and I say that I hope that the big tree in front of my house did not fall down, and I hope that everything is good and I hope that the water is not that high. I hope my house is safe, and I hope it’s not destroyed. I hope all my stuff and my baby dolls and all my clothes are back at home.”
Ten-year-old Ahmad sat quietly and tried to make sense of his situation. “We came here to my auntie’s house because of the hurricane in New Orleans,” he said. “I’m worried about some of my game CDs, my brother’s computer, and I’m worried about my friends and family. Some of my toys and my brother’s bike - I think they’ll be floating around everywhere.”
He said, “Some people say that the flood killed all them people, that all of them are going to be floating around, but I don’t think they are going to be floating around. I just think it’s the people from the cemeteries that will be floating around – the dead bodies.”

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