Saturday, August 22, 2015

Remember When They Called It - KA-TRiNAAAAA


by Bernice Alexander Bennett

“Did you say that you are picking up everyone and will leave New Orleans at 2 pm? Yes, 2 pm and everybody better be ready!” “We are leaving in one car. Only pack enough for two days, bring your checkbook and wait for me to honk my horn! Alvin, if you are going to put your car on higher grounds, do it between 9am and 1pm. I mean it, be ready! Janice, don’t think about staying home…I won’t hear it…you are going with me and that’s that. Mama, I know that you will be ready, you always have your disaster plan in check”.

My sister Cynthia Alexander Green relayed this conversation to me on the eve of Hurricane Katrina seven years ago. I knew that Cynthia had her act together and would be the savior of the family. The party planner, actress, legal expert and Ms. Boss Lady is our SHERO!

I spent hours in front of the TV tracking the storm and wondering if this time the rain and the wind would catch up with my family, my community and my friends.

Hurricane warnings were a part of the growing up in New Orleans, and we all had the haunting memories and horror stories from the damages caused by Hurricane Betsy of 1965 lurking in our thoughts. Cynthia was only 11 years old in 1965, and it is ironic that her daughter Jamie was also 11 years old during Hurricane Katrina.

Just as Cynthia planned, they left New Orleans on Saturday before the arrival of the strong winds and heavy rains. The family found a safe place near Shreveport, Louisiana. Relief, relief, they were safe! At least we thought so!

Over the following days we were ALL consumed with watching the news and listening for the Hurricane to blow through so that everyone could head back home.

“Oh no, what’s going on? The Levee’s did what? What?“

Water, lots of water rolling through the city! The NINTH WARD flooding…this cannot be true. Water everywhere! What, I don’t believe it! Was the storm that bad? What happened the people? “The Superdome”. What? Can this be true? People stranded, no food, no water, it’s hot as hell and nobody is coming to evacuate them!

Is this America? How can this be?

"What? people dying, suffering, patients from Charity Hospital are where"?

Email messages and phone calls from friends all over the world. How is your family? Are they safe? Questions, so many questions!

Trying to get the family out of Louisiana. Can the Red Cross help? No money. Need new bank accounts to wire money to the family. No clothes. They only have a few things to change in. They need plane tickets now! Phone us, we need to get out of hear!

France offering assistance!

The entire world is watching! Dis - be- lief!

President Bush said what? "You are doing a great job"? "Who is doing a great job"?

Mayor Nagin - mad - telling folks off, asking for the National Guards. Folks are being evacuated and dropped off on the bridges. What? What is going on?

Brother- in- law Dwight - heading to Shreveport from Little Rock to pick up the family. Cynthia our SHERO, cannot leave Louisiana because she needs to stay connected to her roots.

Oh no, what about the family pictures and heirlooms, the family house! Gone! Gone!Gone!

Sadness, Confusion, Anger, Fear, Disbelief, Shock, Tears!

American citizens are being called RE-FU-GEES?

People dying, making excuses, hungry, tired, scared!

Friends helping, job helping, AKA sorority sisters helping, donations coming from churches- my Church Asbury praying for us! Nieces on the radio, telling the truth…

Sympathy, anger, love, caring, sadness, prayers!

Is this AMERICA?

Did You say, this is America?

Let’s never forget.


Bernice Bennett resides in Maryland and is a native of New Orleans. Her family members evacuated before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. They loss everything and some relocated family members lived with Bernice and her husband until they either rebuilt or settled in other States.

Never Forget! Hurricane Katrina 2005 Remembering the friends and family from New Orleans.

Where are they today - 2015?

Mother passed away in 2010. Jamie is a senior in college. Cynthia is a grandmother of 3 children. Janice is a retired teacher in Memphis and a grandmother of 5 and great grandmother of 2 children, and Alvin lives in New York.