Katrina & Beyond

New Orleans Evacuee Says Family, Friends Remain

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Ashley Nelson lived in the Lafitte housing project of New Orleans' Sixth Ward. She says that her friends and relatives in New Orleans still can't get out.


Police in New Orleans are going house to house today, trying to coax the last people still there to leave. Eighteen-year-old Ashley Nelson knows one of the neighborhoods well: the LaFitte Public Housing Development, where she lives. She even wrote a book about it as part of a student project. When the hurricane struck, she was staying with her father in nearby Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.

Ms. ASHLEY NELSON: We were the looters that they were talking about on TV. We didn't steal clothes or DVD players, like they said. You know, we didn't do that. We took stuff that we needed to survive--getting water, cold drinks, junk food, anything to feed me and my family.

MONTAGNE: Ashley Nelson made it out of New Orleans after the storm and is now with some of her family in Houston. There she saw some familiar faces on television.

Ms. NELSON: When the news media started flashing their cameras over that project, like, I knew everybody standing on their balconies screaming for help. I knew everybody swimming in the waters, trying to get to the Superdome.

MONTAGNE: As she watched those images on TV, Ashley Nelson was thinking about the family she left behind.

Ms. NELSON: I was trying to find my family. I was trying to find my grandmother, my cousin, Anthony, who I didn't--I don't even know where he is.

MONTAGNE: Eighteen-year-old Ashley Nelson--she's since located her grandmother. She's still looking for other family and friends who stayed in New Orleans.

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