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Stranded in New Orleans: One Woman's Story

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Stranded in New Orleans: One Woman's Story

Katrina & Beyond

Stranded in New Orleans: One Woman's Story

Stranded in New Orleans: One Woman's Story

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Farai Chideya checks in with Joyce Morris, who is stranded in her New Orleans home with ailing relatives.

ED GORDON, host:

On yesterday's program, we shared the story of New Orleans resident Brenda Morris. Her mother needs dialysis and her brother, who is ill with cancer, needs oxygen. They and several other relatives stayed in their home through the hurricane. Today, we follow up with Brenda's sister, Joyce Morris. So far, the family hasn't gotten any outside help. NPR's Farai Chideya has more.

FARAI CHIDEYA reporting:

Joyce, how have things gone since yesterday?

Ms. JOYCE MORRIS (New Orleans Resident): Well, her feet are starting to swell now.

CHIDEYA: Your mother's feet?

Ms. MORRIS: Yeah. And we've been checking her pressure periodically to see if everything is OK.

CHIDEYA: So I heard a baby in the background. How many of your relatives are there with you?

Ms. MORRIS: Eighteen.

CHIDEYA: Why didn't you evacuate?

Ms. MORRIS: Because we didn't have the provisions to.

CHIDEYA: You thought it would be worse for you if you left than if you stayed?

Ms. MORRIS: Yes.

CHIDEYA: Have you seen any patrols near our house, any, you know...

Ms. MORRIS: No. I walked to the convention center and they going to start evacuating people out here, bringing them to Texas by bus.

CHIDEYA: So you walked to the convention center. How far is that for you?

Ms. MORRIS: If you look at it, it's about a good six, seven blocks.

CHIDEYA: So you're very close to it.

Ms. MORRIS: Yes.

CHIDEYA: And they didn't have any officials that could help you with the medical supplies there?

Ms. MORRIS: No. As far as my brother on oxygen, they should have, you know, at least--try to give him at least some oxygen.

CHIDEYA: How many hours of oxygen does he have left and what's going to happen if he runs out?

Ms. MORRIS: He has about three.

CHIDEYA: Three hours. And could he possibly die if he doesn't have the oxygen?

Ms. MORRIS: He probably can because he's a cancer patient.

CHIDEYA: Are you planning to evacuate to Houston?

Ms. MORRIS: Oh, yes. They say be prepared to stay at least as month or so.

CHIDEYA: You didn't evacuate because you didn't have provisions.

Ms. MORRIS: Exactly.

CHIDEYA: You still don't have provisions. How can you evacuate now if you get the chance? What will make the difference?

Ms. MORRIS: It's closer.

CHIDEYA: What's closer?

Ms. MORRIS: The convention center.

CHIDEYA: OK. So that it's not just the Superdome. The convention center has become a big place where people are gathering and that's closer to you.

Ms. MORRIS: Yes.

CHIDEYA: And they don't have any boats or anything to ferry you over there?

Ms. MORRIS: We don't have any water over here at all.

CHIDEYA: Ah, I see. What about vehicles then?

Ms. MORRIS: One car, but it's not--something is wrong with it.

CHIDEYA: Are there other people driving around in the neighborhood?

Ms. MORRIS: Yes.

CHIDEYA: Have you considered asking them for transportation for your family, especially the members who are sick?

Ms. MORRIS: Yes, you wouldn't believe it. They have some people--one of the houses had 22 people in it.

CHIDEYA: Twenty-two people?

Ms. MORRIS: Yes.

CHIDEYA: People who have vehicles aren't sharing them because they already feel overburdened. Or what's happening?

Ms. MORRIS: They're already overburdened and then they're trying to save on gas.

CHIDEYA: So if it turns out that tomorrow morning you wake up, no one has come to help you with your brother and your mother, what are you going to do?

Ms. MORRIS: Put them in wheelchairs and wheel them over.

CHIDEYA: Well, we certainly wish you much luck and success in getting some help.

Ms. MORRIS: OK.

CHIDEYA: Joyce Morris, New Orleans resident. Thank you so much.

Ms. MORRIS: And thank you.

CHIDEYA: Farai Chideya, NPR News.

GORDON: This is NPR News.

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