Katrina & Beyond

A Return Visit with Hurricane Evacuee Randy Adams

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Scott Simon checks back in with Louisiana native Randy Adams. Adams was first heard on Weekend Edition Saturday a few days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.


Just after the storm in early September, we met Randy Adams(ph). He's a Louisiana native who made a break for Memphis just before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. When we last checked in with Mr. Adams, he and his wife were living in a Red Roof Inn in downtown Memphis. His daughter and son-in-law had decided to stay in Tennessee, while he and his wife are still trying to decide what to do next. Randy Adams has returned to New Orleans, and he joins us now from the River Road Recorders studio there.

Randy, thanks for being back with us.

Mr. RANDY ADAMS (Louisiana Native): My pleasure.

SIMON: You know, I still remember and many of our listeners remember you saying that one of the things you missed was red beans and rice. So have you been able to get some?

Mr. ADAMS: Yes, sir. I cooked a pot Monday in fact. And we had read beans and rice. And slowly and surely each day we return back to normal life. Very slowly, though.

SIMON: I certainly remember you were--you wanted to go back to New Orleans. Not everybody in the family did. Why did you decide to return?

Mr. ADAMS: New Orleans is my home, and I must stay true to who I am and to my feelings and my heart. And my heart tells me I am a New Orleanian and I will be forever.

SIMON: What's your house, your old house, your home, like now?

Mr. ADAMS: The entire inside of my house is totally destroyed. I'm in constant negotiation with my insurance company trying to get contractors, material. It's a very slow, grinding process and it is not just me, it is our entire region.

SIMON: May I ask where you're staying?

Mr. ADAMS: I am staying in my father's home, the home I grew up in as a child.

SIMON: Did the whole family come back?

Mr. ADAMS: No, sir, they did not. My wife returned with me. We returned the week of Thanksgiving. She was here about 10 days. Things were not normal. Things had not been normal for several weeks or a month. And I found out she was seeing someone else that she had met in Tennessee and was having an ongoing affair, and I had to give her an ultimatum. We both had to decide. You know, she had to be here with me full time or somewhere else full time. And she chose to go to him.

SIMON: Now, Randy, if any of my questions, you know, are none of my business, you tell me, OK?

Mr. ADAMS: No, sir. I have nothing to hide from no one.

SIMON: Well...

Mr. ADAMS: You ask whatever we need to know. You ask.

SIMON: You're a careful and deliberate man who saw the storm coming, who undertook to keep your family safe and provide for them by going to Memphis, and yet I think maybe we could still stand to appreciate how hard it must be to have a whole family cooped up in a hotel room and your future uncertain week after week.

Mr. ADAMS: Yes, sir. It's very difficult. Every day is difficult. Every night is difficult. My entire family came to what they considered to be my aid, my emotional rescue, if you will. And we have bonded much closer. And we have to do what we have to do to survive and come through this as a family, as a united, bonded family absent of one.

SIMON: Are you working?

Mr. ADAMS: I am. My job has come back on, and I am working more now than I was before because of all the rebuilding efforts.

SIMON: You were in computers, right?

Mr. ADAMS: I am in communications, yes, sir. Telephone and computer wiring installation and management.

SIMON: Anyone back in your neighborhood?

Mr. ADAMS: Yes, sir. My neighbors live in--now that FEMA provided a trailer, his wife's employer provided them with a Winnebago. My neighbor on the other side still has no facilities and unable to live in his. FEMA has contacted all of us and has contacted me to come out and measure and put my trailer up so I can live on my property to oversee the construction. But again, being self-employed and working, I don't know, maybe 15, 16 hours a day, I probably will have little to oversee.

SIMON: You going to be together with family for Christmas Eve?

Mr. ADAMS: I'm going to a friend's house and share a little Christmas Eve with them. Then they're coming with me to my brother's and share a little Christmas Eve with me. And then I'm going back to Tennessee for New Year's to be with Christen(ph) and Johnson(ph), my daughter and son-in-law, and spend New Year's with them and my grandchildren and just go forward.

SIMON: They have a lot to be grateful for with you in their lives this holiday.

Mr. ADAMS: And I have a lot to be grateful for them. And I would like to share one other insight my father shared with me. This time of year, look out at the vastness. Do not look at what you do not have, but look at what you do have. Do not miss what is not there; be thankful for what is. And I do it every year and I will continue to do so.

SIMON: Merry Christmas, my friend.

Mr. ADAMS: Merry Christmas. And hopefully when I speak to you again, I'll be able to tell you how pretty my new house looks.

SIMON: Randy Adams, speaking from New Orleans.

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