Repost from the old site.
This post was written by Patricia Deamer, a Math professor at Skyline College in San Bruno, California, explaining why she was in Baton Rogue for five weeks after Hurricane Katrina. Check out this appalling tale about Patricia’s forlorn, heartbreaking and terrifying quest to find and identify the bodies of her father and aunt who were killed in Hurricane Katrina.
I am in Baton Rouge now. I have been here for five weeks. I have attached the reason why. I will be in Baton Rogue until I can finish the gruesome tasks ahead of me.
September 29, 2005
My news is not good. I am in Louisiana. There was a body found in the house where my father and aunt lived and we do not have confirmation on whether it is my father or my aunt. It took three and a half weeks to get this information and we have no official statements at this point. I did a DNA test today which will take some time for any type of confirmation.
After four weeks, my hopes have been reduced to a minuscule fraction of what it was a few weeks ago. I need closure. I need some type of confirmation. The “body is your father’s” is one unofficial statement we received but because of the time that the body has been in water, it has probably deteriorated terribly…a memorial service is what will more than likely occur…when I don’t know.
We did get a response from a lady that taught with my aunt and she said that my aunt was on the cell phone going to her attic…that was the last of any messages that were received from her. If someone saved her we do not know who or where she was taken.
All bodies are supposed to be in St. Gabriel. I will have to wait on a release if the body found is my father. I will be here for a month, maybe. I have my lap top with me, so let’s keep in touch. I am going crazy…officially.
October 1, 2005
I have completed the DNA test. It will take about three weeks to identify the body that was found in the house and we are 90% certain that it was my father. He was found laying in the bed. I hope he was in such a deep sleep that he never saw the water coming. I pray that he was simply at peace. Aunt Ella has not been located…she must have been air lifted from the house but we can’t find her anywhere.
New Orleans is dry now. OB took me into New Orleans on Friday and Saturday. Friday we went just to confirm that my Aunt Ella was not in the house somewhere where the search team had not looked. There were tracks all over the buckled wet floors and all around the heavy furniture that the water moved to the center of the rooms. That along convinced me that the team did do a thorough search and look.
The sad and frustrating part is that we can not find Aunt Ella in any shelter or hospital. She did make it up to the attic because there were some found wrappers and a jar of tea up there. I would not wish this waiting game on any enemy. My aunt’s house is destroyed. The family will have to totally gut the interior and start with fresh hope.
Pictures on the internet can not describe the smell of mold and decay. People are trying to get back to their homes and some have started clearing away the debris. There are numerous refrigerators and freezers lining the streets of the better neighborhoods…such as the St. Charles area.
St. Charles street looks like a tree pruning company has invaded the area and cut indiscriminately anywhere and everywhere they wanted to cut. There are limbs so high that you can not see some two story houses…this is in the better areas!
Furniture is piled high with antiques and other personal belongings that are no longer precious. This is not the New Orleans I grew up loving and wanting to leave as soon as I could. This is not a city of joy and family. But…all that love it says that they will be back!!!! Keep my family in your prayers and thoughts.
October 5, 2005
This is the worst day of my life. I had dreaded the fact that my father might not be with me because of the hurricane disaster. After doing a DNA test to identify the body that was found in the house where he and my Aunt Ella lived…the worst of any worst happened.
One of father’s sisters (Aunt Pearl), his brother (Uncle Joe), my cousin Chris (Uncle Joe’s grandson), and I went to New Orleans today to start clearing the debris from the house. We were there for more than two hours as we proceeded from room to room. My cousin Chris went into the guest bedroom for a second trip to remove small furniture and he found my father’s body stretched out in a prone position on his face.
Chris screamed a horrible sound that shocked both my Aunt Pearl and me.
Yes, after 25 days, the body that was found in the house…was never removed. This level of incompetence is unacceptable. To leave my father in all of the sooth, muck, and settlement is a “sin against God“. His siblings are so angry that I can’t describe it clearly.
I am at this time experiencing the most gruesome level of hate that I have ever encountered or imagined. The pain of being in the house and finding my father is indescribable. I need help . I need to get it together. I need not to hate. Today was the first official day for residents to enter New Orleans. The news said that all bodies had been recovered. Not!
Every bit of info about my father was researched and investigated by me and my family. Even the information about the gender of the found body was discovered by my cousin in Illinois. The DNA was for a body that they did not have in custody. All of the official work that was supposed to be completed has been a lie!
And on top of all of this…we still have not found my Aunt Ella…and it will still take three weeks to identify a body that we found…even with the matching description that we gave the removal team. I am so angry that I could bite through a nail. Whatever you hear on the news, forget it.
October 6, 2005
My Aunt Pearl and I did an interview with WBRZ and it aired today. The mistakes here in Louisiana are gargantuan. The newscast started with our story and showed a picture of Aunt Ella…she is still missing. I am tried of crying.
Thought I would bring you up to date.
October 16, 2005
Thank you to all of my friends and family members that wrote to say that they were praying for me and all of the other family members. Well, the wait is over. I thought that last week was the worst day of my life when we found my father’s body still in the house where he and my Aunt Ella lived. It wasn’t.
Today my Aunt Pearl, Uncle Joe, my cousin Chris, my cousin Wayne, OB and myself went back to the house to try to remove more debris. My cousin Wayne used to live with my father and aunt. They were like his second set of parents all through his high school and graduation days.
Wayne had been evacuated to Milwaukee but decided to return to New Orleans to live in his apartment in the French Quarter which was spared any flooding. Wayne, knowing the house better than any of us, search every nook and cranny. He kept smelling a bad odor from the attic. I refused to enter the house. I had them hand me articles through the window.
We tried to convince him that the Kenyon people, the body removal team, had searched the house ” thoroughly” and there was nothing to be found. They were wrong! From the attic we heard this horrific scream. He screamed, started running and bruised his legs trying to run down the fold down attic ladder. Wayne found Aunt Ella’s body in the attic far back in a corner.
She lay there as if she were asleep and at peace. It’s a shame that even after we asked the Kenyon group, whose official job it was to retrieve bodies, to double check the house when we found my father’s body…we had to find our loved ones ourselves. The wait is over for finding Aunt Ella…we found her.
Now to deal with the bureaucratic processes…we still have to wait until the bodies are released after official identification. Three individuals identified the body before it was removed. We had to show them where to look in the very front of the attic. But we still have to wait for the release from the state coroner. It will be at least four weeks before I return to my own home.
If we are lucky, the bodies will be released for a memorial service in three weeks. However, the news today had the state coroner saying that in some cases it may take up to six months to identify remains. This has been a tough time for all of us. It’s not just the lost of family but the sheer inhumane way the people of New Orleans have been treated. Remember the hurricane was in Mississippi when the levees broke.
We were told that the force of the water was strong and fast. Writing has been cathartic again…I am writing what I feel, disregarding the English language and trying not to curse. Wish me luck and keep including me and all of my family in your prayers.
October 28, 2005
We are still waiting for the state coroner to release the bodies. They are checking Aunt Ella’s dental records even though three people identified the body before it was removed from the house.