Tales from Tulane Medical Center resonate decade after Hurricane Katrina


THANKS FOR THE YEARS ENJOY. IT DOESN’T SEEM LIKE IT WAS 10 YEARS AGO. IT IS STILL EMOTIONAL. PENNIE ESTEVES HELPED SAVE LIVES AT TULANE MEDICAL CENTER WHEN FLOOD WATERS SURROUNDED THE DOWNTOWN HOSPITAL, TRAPPING HUNDREDS. YA KNOW ALONG WITH HAVING TO DEAL WITH BEING A NURSE, WORRYING ABOUT YOUR FAMILY, WATCHING THIS WHOLE CITY GO UNDER. THE E-R NURSE RECALLS THE DAYS FOLLOWING KATRINA VIVIDLY HAVING TO TRIAGE PATIENTS IN THE , HOSPITAL’S PARKING GARAGE WITH NO POWER. STARTING LINES ON PEOPLE WITH FLASHLIGHTS, HANGING FLUIDS, DOING WHATEVER WE COULD TO KEEP THEM STABLE UNTIL WE COULD GET THEM OUT OF HERE. FOR SIX-DAYS SHE AND MANY OTHERS CARED FOR THE SICK, AND THEIR FAMILIES UNTIL THEY COULD BE TRANSPORTED TO THE AIRPORT BY HELICOPTER. IT WAS A SIGHT TO SEE, HELICOPTERS ON THE GROUND HERE, 15 AT LEAST IN THE AIR. JULIE DOCUMENTED HER EXPERIENCE THROUGH VIDEOS AND IMAGES. TO WITNESS ONE HUMAN BEING KEEPING ANOTHER HUMAN BEING ALIVE. REALLY MOVED ME AND TOUCHED ME IN A VERY PHENOMENAL WAY THAT I NEVER FORGOT. THE 8-GENERATION NEW ORLEANIAN TOOK SHELTER AT THE HOSPITAL WITH SEVERAL OF HER FAMILY MEMBERS BEFORE THERE TIME CAME TO GO. THERE WAS CELEBRATION AND RELIEF AS HELICOPTERS LIFTED PEOPLE TO SAFETY, BUT AS THEY FLEW OVER THE CITY THOSE FEELINGS TURNED TO HEARTACHE AND DISBELIEF, SEEING ENTIRE SECTIONS OF NEW ORLEANS UNDER WATER AND UNRECOGNIZABLE. THE MOMENT WE WERE UP IN THE AIR AND LOOKED OUT THE WINDOW, IT WAS ABSOLUTE SHOCK AND HORROR. BEFORE THAT, WILLOZ SAID THEY WERE ONLY HEARING OF THE DEVASTATION THROUGH AN A.M. RADIO. CREDITS EVEN BEGIN TO PROCESS IT, YOU LITERALLY JUST COULDN’T WRAP YOUR BRAIN AROUND WHAT YOU WERE LOOKING AT. ONCE THEY REACHED THE AIRPORT, HCA BUSSED WILLOZ AND THE OTHERS TO LAFAYETTE AND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DAYS THEY HAD CELL SERVICE. INCREDIBLE MOMENT TO TALK TO ONE OF MY SISTERS FOR THE FIST TIME, BECAUSE YOU JUST WANT TO REACH THROUGH THE PHONE AND HUG THEN. ON TOP OF THE STORM, WILLOZ LOST HER BELOVED GRANDFATHER 12-HOURS BEFORE KATRINA MADE LANDFALL. WE WERE IN SURVIVAL MODE. POST TRAUMATIC COPING MODE, I FELT FOR ME PERSONALLY, I WASN’T ABLE TO GRIEVE FOR MY

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