Matt Howerton is a personable young man who lives near the levee in Kenner, Louisiana, about a mile and a half from Lake Ponchartrain. Fortunately for Matt, he was in Nashville this week visiting his sister. Matt’s sister, Julie Riggar, had a baby five weeks ago, and Matt was already in Nashville to spend some quality time with his new niece when Katrina tore through Louisiana.
While all of us have been following Katrina’s devastation with avid interest, Matt has more at stake than most of us. A salesman from Lynchburg, Virginia, Matt had moved to the New Orleans area a few months ago to cover his new territory — the area hardest hit by Katrina. Tonight he was in Hechts purchasing clothes to replace the clothes he fears may have disappeared in the wake of the hurricane.
Matt has heard his area was one of the better off in terms of damage and that the WalMart behind his apartment building was commandeered by the Red Cross as a place locals could find much-needed supplies. He informed me an alligator had been spotted in the mall parking lot in the same area, however, a harbinger of some things those left in the city may face in the near future.
“The problem is the water has been rising,” Matt told me. “As of the storm, our area was going to make it. Now it could be under 8 feet of water, or it could be 2 feet. There is no telling with the levee. Metaric is near the levee and it is under 8 feet of water.”
Matt has been in touch with friends from the area via cell phone, and they are all planning to go back to Jefferson Parish on Monday when they will be allowed to enter their area for one day only. “They are kicking everyone out for at least a month after that,” Matt said. Matt noted one friend said he was bringing a gun, probably in consideration of roaming gators and a nastier hazard… roaming looters.
A member at St. Charles Presbyterian in mid-city New Orleans, Matt explained that while the area the church sits in is flooded, the building was quite sturdy. He believed the church building would withstand the flooding.
“Pray for all the people in the Superdome,” Matt encouraged Christian Activities readers. “There were 25,000 people in the Superdome last night and they need to be evacuated.”
As he started to walk off, Matt stopped and said, “I am just hoping they figure out a way to get the water out.”
Read my Katrina blog at Hurrican Katrina Hits Close to Home
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