« Welcome to the World Klaus Porter Ring! | Main | Zoey Look-Alike »

Interview with New Orleans Evacuee Dallas Ray

[Note: normally Mark Lindquist's Working Blue column appears as a separate part of this site. But seeing as that is down, too, and seeing as this interview is pretty choice, I decided to post it here. Thanks, Mark.]

Interview with New Orleans Evacuee Dallas Ray
by Mark Lindquist

My friend Dallas Ray, 29, moved to the Garden District of New Orleans four years ago. During that time, he found employment as a night manager of The Hustler Club on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. I was not only happy to see him safe and well upon his return to Duluth, but was also lucky enough to talk to him about Hurricane Katrina that he escaped.

ML: I've been to New Orleans twice and know that it is a crazy party in the French Quarter that never stops. Did the party stop during the evacuation and hurricane or did the party people keep it going?

DR: It was actually "Decadent Week" in the Quarter that week. They just kept going. They still had the parade wading down Bourbon St. I know a guy that owned a bar and he stayed open all through it serving drinks with no ice. He had a shotgun to keep away the looters. Also, the traffic was so slow leaving the city that people would just get out of their cars and have barbecues on the side of the road.

ML:When did you start to think that you had to get out of there?

DR:Sunday morning at 10:30. We found out Friday that things could be bad. Saturday, I went to a lot of gas stations before I could fill up. I had a bag packed, saw the news on Sunday and we left. It took over ten hours to get thirty miles out of town. There was a strange breeze on Sunday. Like a light warm breeze that was always constant. Just a constant breeze and you could see far off that something looked really gloomy.

ML:Your thoughts on the looting and people firing guns?

DR:There's such a transient element to New Orleans. People just sort of end up there and become part of the community. The news only shows the bad stuff. You know, CNN never gives a story about a cool music jam that just started on a corner of any street in the Quarter. That happens everyday at anytime. But the looters. Most of them are poverty stricken and I think I even heard one of them say that looting is how he was getting back at society. It's stupid though. One thing about New Orleans that isn't true of other cities, stupidity is against the law.

ML:And you had to leave your cat behind when you left?

DR:You know, all the material bullshit that keeps you dumbed down like television, computers, stereos, couches, you don't even think about it. You just leave it with hardly a second thought. But the pet thing bothers me. I left food and water for my cat for a week because I thought I'd be back. Luckily my place wasn't destroyed and my landlord is in touch with me, so I don't know yet what happened. I feel lucky. A lot of the Garden District and French Quarter was spared. It's the suburbs and towns that got the most of it.

ML:I'm not sure what can be done to stop a hurricane, but do you think anything could have been done better?

DR:The levee was torn out from the bottom. It was made to hold back 13 feet of water. The storm brought like 20 to 22 feet. Nothing could be really done there except the pump generators were mostly located in basements. Probably a bad place during a flood for the pump generators is in the basement. But the biggest thing is that the State and FEMA let us down. The mayor was begging that how many papers did he need to sign before the help came. There is a new bureaucracy being invented with this.

ML:One last thing, anything you'd like to say to my neighbor's kids who came home drunk and pissed on the boxes of clothes I left out for the Salvation Army?

DR:A simple act of stupidity can really affect other people. I want to say that now I can see how the smallest help can go a long way. So I sincerely thank everyone who gave anything.

Post a comment

Seriously: If you click "post" more than once, you're going to end up looking really stupid.

If you don't see your comment after it's published, try refreshing your browser.