Charmaine Neville is a member of the well-known Neville musical family from New Orleans. She is an accomplished singer and songwriter and is well-known in musical circles.
Her first-hand account of surviving the hurricane and her desperate attempts to save others and herself afterward provide one of the most gripping first person accounts of the disaster yet heard.
Here is the link to her five minute account of what she did and how she did it:
But, most importantly, she repeats time and time again that many New Orleans residents did not have the resources to get out of town.
While this is not news to folks here, it provides a sharp counterpoint to the Republican spin machine that the people who didn't get out were lazy, idiots, or looking to loot.
Her story is truly heartbreaking and powerful.
Please distribute this far and wide.
And next time some thug says that the people who stayed behind deserved what they got, show the idiot this.
Then slug the heartless bastard in the mouth (figuratively, of course).
Update [2005-9-8 0:31:30 by Bob Johnson]:
Courtesy of True Blue Texan who transcribed this from the video.
We left the house and we went up on the roof of a school. I took a crowbar and I burst the door open on the roof of the school to help people to get them up onto the roof of the school. Later on we found a flat boat and we went around in the neighborhood in the flat boat getting people out of their houses and bringing them to the school. We 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, no water. We had nothing, and other people were coming into our neighborhood. We were watching the helicopters go 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, any water, nothing.
Alligators were eating people. They had all kind 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 we rescued a lot of police officers in the flat boat from the district police station. The boat, the guy who was driving the boat, he rescued a lot of them and brought them to get to places where they could be saved. We understood 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.
Finally, it 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 rolled them from down there at Ninth Ward to the French Quarters, and I went back and I got more people. There were groups of us, you know, there was about 24 of us, and we kept going back and forth and rescuing whoever we could get and bringing them to the French Quarters since we heard that there was phones in the French Quarters and that there wasn't any water. And they were right. There was phones but we couldn't get through. I found some police officers. I told them that a lot of us women had been raped down there by guys who had come [inaudible] the neighborhood where we were that were helping us to save people, but other men, and they came and they started raping women and [inaudible], and they started killing them. And I don't know who these people were. I'm not going to tell you I know who they were because I don't, but what I want people to understand is that if we had not 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 the city because we wanted to be rioting and we wanted to do this. We didn't have resources to get out. We had NO WAY TO LEAVE. When they gave the evacuation order, if we could have left, we would have left. There are still thousands and thousands of people trapped in the homes down in the down, in the downtown area. When we finally did get to --
Priest: Downtown or the Ninth Ward?
Charmaine: The Ninth Ward. In the Ninth Ward, and not just in my neighborhood but in other neighborhoods in the Ninth Ward, there are a lot of people who are still trapped down there. Old people, young people, babies, pregnant women, I mean, nobody's helping them. And I want people to realize that we did not stay in the city so that we could steal and loot and, 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'd do SOS on the flashlights. We took everything. And it came to a point, 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 would stop then, but that didn't help us. Nothing like that helped us.
Finally I got to Canal Street with all of my people that I had saved from back there. There was a whole group of us. I -- I don't want them arresting nobody else -- I broke the window in an RTA bus. I've never learned how to drive a bus in my life. I got in that bus. I loaded all of those people in wheelchairs and then everything else into that bus [rising hysteria, sobs] 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 with them.
Charmaine: All I did was what He gave me about the willpower to do.
[END OF INTERVIEW]