The Attic Vent
Photos copyright Tim & Lori Seaborg 09/10/2005
We found the gentleman above, sitting on a lawn chair outside a newly parked trailer on his front lawn. Behind the trailer is his house, a one-story brick ranch-style home.
We had just passed this street, but turned around when I told Tim that I just saw a sign that said: "FEMA Stop Here." We had been looking for people who might need the items in our care packages (snacks, toiletries, etc.), and we thought that whoever posted the sign may be able to use a box.
Sure enough, the gentleman was waiting on FEMA, who had not yet arrived, and was happy to take a box of our goodies.
As we found throughout the rest of the day, our box of donations opened a door to conversation and our new friend told us this tale of storm survival:
His brother decided to ride out the storm in the house. Hurricane Camille had only flooded to the street a couple of houses away, after all, and no storm has ever been like Camille, the strongest hurricane in American history. He said the wind was quite loud, but all was going well, until the water came. It was a sudden rush of water (storm surge), and before he knew it, he was in the attic, hoping to save his life.
There was only 18" left to breathe in the attic, and the ceiling fell down due to the water, so he stood on the attic rafters and hoped that the water would no longer rise. He made his way to the end of the attic, on the North side, and found the attic vent. He started prying open the vent, to see out. He continued prying open the vent, hoping to get it open enough to be able to slip out of it and swim to safety.
Thankfully, the water did not continue to rise. It remained at that top height for 2 hours or so, then receded rapidly.
Our new friend is hoping that his house is condemned, so he can just start all over. He says it's too much to think about cleaning up a mess like that. In the driveway were 2 refrigerators and 1 freezer, all emptied and cleaned, but he said they weren't showing signs of starting up again.
( Read more about what we are doing at our new website, SurvivedKatrina.org )