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Hurricane Evacuees Debate New Orleans Return
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Hurricane Evacuees Debate New Orleans Return

Katrina & Beyond

Hurricane Evacuees Debate New Orleans Return

Hurricane Evacuees Debate New Orleans Return
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Elzy Lindsay and Keeley Carlisle are in Houston with their family. Lindsay's mother died a few days before the storm, and he can't get in touch with the funeral home that has her remains. The couple is soul-searching about whether to return to New Orleans and help the city recover or whether to start fresh in a new town.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

As we follow the effects of Hurricane Katrina, we're following stories of people left in its wake. Last week, we heard from Elzy Lindsey and Keeley Carlisle(ph) of New Orleans. They evacuated hours before the hurricane with their daughters, who are two and 12 years old, and Elzy's elderly father. They're now in Houston. Katrina was the second storm to rock the family. A few days before the hurricane, Elzy Lindsey's mother lost a yearlong battle with cancer.

Mr. ELZY LINDSEY: I've been trying to contact the funeral home that has my mom's remains and have had no success there. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that my mom would have been one of the people who was speaking interesting reason, you know, in a time when the world kind of turned upside down. My mom was the kind of person that would be, you know, `Don't make a fuss over me. I'm in a better place, kind of.'

MONTAGNE: Elzy Lindsey and Keeley Carlisle believe their home in New Orleans' uptown neighborhood is mostly intact. Still, Carlisle says they are considering making a permanent home in the mountains of North Carolina.

Dr. KEELEY CARLISLE: Yeah. I don't know. It's hard and I'm torn because I feel some sense of responsibility to go back to New Orleans and help to, you know, get it all together, but at the same time, you know, we've got two kiddoes that I don't really want their quality of life horribly disrupted. And while I love New Orleans, it's a great place, the pay for what I was doing was not as good as in other places, and so I always thought it was a, you know, possibility to go somewhere else, and this may be our opportunity to do that.

Mr. LINDSEY: You know, both of us work in service professions. My wife is a pediatrician and I'm a teacher. Right now I'm of two minds. One, go back and re-create your world in "Six Million Dollar Man": better, stronger, faster. You know what I'm saying? But I wonder how navigating the politics of what's gonna be that situation--aside from being the largest natural disaster in dollars anyway, it's happening in New Orleans, which is really politically an interesting situation. So you almost wonder, you know, do you have the fortitude to stick out some kind of situation like that, or are you just a human being? Are you a mere mortal, you know, who recognizes this in yourself and says, `You know what? Maybe I don't have that.'

MONTAGNE: Both say before the hurricane, they wouldn't have given much thought to leaving the city for good.

Dr. CARLISLE: Most people who are from New Orleans, they never leave. When you see a person on the street in New Orleans, they ask you what school you went to, they're not talking about college. They're talking about high school. That's just the way New Orleans is. People stick there.

Mr. LINDSEY: New Orleaneans--and like myself, I come from the Irish Channel, which is a really thick, multigenerational, tough, inner-city neighborhood. You know, I'm kind of less of a yat than my dad and my mom. Yat, Y-A-T. It's like where--you say, `Where you at?' It means, like, `How are you? What's going on?' So no matter where I go, I'm gonna be a fish out of water because in New Orleans, I'm recognizable as whatever fish I am.

MONTAGNE: That's Elzy Lindsey and Keeley Carlisle, evacuees from New Orleans who are staying, for now, in Houston.

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