CJ Experience: Still in New Orleans
One man, holed up in his flooded house, describes the scene and storm
By Donald A. "Donny" Sauviac, Jr.
Updated: 11:40 a.m. ET Sept. 1, 2005
I am Donald A. Sauviac, Jr. a criminal defense attorney. As of Thursday Sept 1, 2005 at 7:49 a.m., I am holed up in a third generation family home located at Weiblen and Vicksburg Streets in the Lakeview area of New Orleans. My wife and four daughters left just before the storm and managed to make it to Memphis, Tenn. where they have three rooms with friends who left Metairie. I have two collie dogs and a bird here with me. The dogs are holding up on the second story flat roof with the generator. I am on the second story of the house a converted double. I have a 22 ft. pontoon boat tied up on the side street. I have plenty of food and water. I keep using the generator to charge up my phone and listen to the radio to figure out what is going on around me. I just moved into this house from a house in Metairie, which is known for flooding. As fate would have it the Metairie house that was up for sale is high and dry with no apparent damage.
The house I'm in had calf high water up to the second step of the inside stairwell. The water has subsided in the last day it only covers the first step. (the house is up on piers and from the sidewalk it comes up to my chest standing -- I guess the total depth was about 5 ft. Until yesterday I had clear running water in the upstairs sink, toilet and tub -- probably ok for washing off but not to drink. In a two block are there seems to be about a dozen people who are staying at this time. We check in on each other and talk by wading down and/or from windows or rooftops.
For the past few days I was charging on neighbors cell phone with the generator and used that phone occasionally to get a call out. At this time I have cell service in the very early a.m. and late p.m. I even have wireless Internet service which just started working. My wife and children are frantic they want me to leave but I won't. This was my maternal grandparents' house that I as a child evacuated to during hurricane Betsy when my parents home in Gentily went underwater and we were evacuated by boat.
This is a very strong house, I laid on a mattress on the second floor during this hurricane with a rosary in one hand and the other hand uplifted praying the Hail Mary over and over probably 10,000 plus times. I am Catholic but no ultra religious -- until now. I promised never to not evacuate in the future when told to do so if I just made it through this one. I kept hearing the 140 mph, wind hitting the house a nearly 100-year-old wood framed shot gun. I kept waiting for something to give. It never did. A tree fell on the back added on portion but seems to have done little damage and quite a bit of the seal tab roofing has blown off in certain places from what I can see.
As I stand now, I have 5 gallons of gas for the generator (So far I have used 5 gals since the storm) I have I have 16 gals of water (I have used 3 on me and 5 for my dogs) have two 101 qt ice chests that still have some ice (the 5 day story is probably true) and I have food for about a week I have been trying to eat the things that will probably spoil and my dogs have been eating better than normal -- they won't touch the dog food since they are getting the extra table food so to say.
My fan and radio batteries have held out very well. I call in a list of things to my brother in Baton Rouge and he is gonna try and get them to me if he can find a friend with a flat boat. I have a lot of furniture and clothing on the second, floor, which is fine. I have a lot of things downstairs, which are either ruined, or about to be ruined in the dark cold water that came inside. Everything in my two garages is probably ruined. My N.O. law office is a few blocks away on Canal Blvd.
Historically I never got water at Weiblen or at Canal Blvd. I went there by boat two days ago and have about 5 feet of water in the office, which is on a hill with a deep underpass. I parked a 1983 El Camino that I was restoring there and it is either completely under water or gone. I had a second small boat there, which has sunk. My daughter's car was in the shop and I would bet money it is under water. Also my car sunk when I tried to get in from my house two blocks down when I noticed the storm was over and the water was surprisingly starting to rise.
The water is from a breech in the 17th Street Canal levee which separates Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. I believe the extra water in N.O. is from the pumping efforts in Jefferson. Jefferson pumped into Lake Pontchartrain, which went into the 17th street canal which went into Lakeview.
I did assist in one rescue while surveying my office from a distance I was summoned to help get an old lady off the roof of her house. My boat a party (fishing) barge was too large to go in the back way and a small flat boat got to her first.
Again, my wife and kids want me to leave but I really can't risk that for the past few days I have had numerous offers from police, fire and volunteers in here in boats but there are too many things I am attempting to save by carrying out when the chaos settles for now I'm fine. My boat does not allow me to get over railroad tracks or under the flooded underpasses. If I left now I would have to abandon the boat and contents. I am searching for an alternate route, probably going to mid city, Gentilly or further then getting into Lake Pontchartrain and then going to the Bonnable Boat launch in Metairie.
Unfortunately I would be on ground level without all of the items I have here and would still be without car, electric, running water and probably few neighbors to assist. I might also be precluded from returning to my N.O. home. Right now I don't have the looting etc., which has made the news, I am sitting here with a 5 ft moat and armed to the hilt.If I get out I will be at the mercy of maybe being picked up after days of waiting without necessities and without any say so where I may be relocated -- probably in the opposite direction of my wife and kids and certainly away from the multiple properties I am trying to protect.
Therefore I am waiting and planning to survey, pack and remove what I can, so my family will have some clothes and items other than what they left town a few days ago with. I have to survey my new satellite office in Houma as a possible temporary office relocation site. I think the damage there is also bad but my wife thinks otherwise I have had no contact there to make that determination at this time.
I have no idea of how long I can hold out but know it won't be more than 1 1/2 - 2 weeks more. My family will be in desperate need of assistance, which I am trying to coordinate from here by passing on info through my wife and brother. I love this house and neighborhood. ... I would like to get some info out to my friends nationwide that I am alive and holding up well.
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I hope he is well armed.
I wonder if he's got an AR of some kind ??
Methinks that's the case!!!
I wonder if he will continue in the noble profession of criminal defense work after he get's out of this little warzone.
Hey now. Criminal defense attorneys are all that stands between you and jail. Even people who did commit the crime are entitled to defense and a fair trial.