New Orleans police officer David Duplantier tells his wife, Melissa Eugene, about patrolling the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina.
DD: As the night progressed we started seeing a whole starting to form in the roof of the dome. And then the roof literally looked like an eggshell, it started to peel, and at that point everybody knew, okay, it’s here, it’s hitting us now. It wasn’t a place, really, where people could find refuge. I mean, as the days went on, the water continued to rise so you couldn’t go back out, and the people never stopped coming in. There was a point where we were trying to get evacuation going, and umm, the one image that haunts me to this day–there was a woman that broke threw the crowd and she had a little boy in her arms, and he was convulsing and she was screaming that he was sick, and I kept asking her, ”Do you need water?” and she was trying to tell me what was wrong with him and she kept looking at me to do something and she kept asking me, ”Where are the doctors?” and I told her they were gone.
ME: Do you know what happened to her?
DD: No. I don’t know what happened.
ME: What were you thinking all those days, being apart and not knowing?
DD: All I wanted to do was let you know that I wasn’t dead, I was alive. I never slept, in eight days I don’t know how many hours I may have gotten, and at night, that’s all I thought about was you. I just wanted to get back to you and go back to life again. The whole thing felt like a really bad dream. I remember, it was very early on a Sunday morning and they told us that we can go and check on our loved ones, and I remember just feeling like I just escaped. I just wanted to get away, and get to you. And I remember your smell when I first saw you. Man, I got drunk off your smell.
ME: That was the happiest day of my life.
DD: Me too.
ME: Are you glad that we decided to stay in New Orleans?
DD: Yeah, this is home. And until it completely falls apart, if that ever happens, then we’ll be here. Are you glad to be here?
ME: I’m very glad to be here. I can’t replace this place, it’s a part of who we are.
DD: Yeah. I’m sorry for not talking about this with you before. It’s weird, I find myself sitting down and I hear a song, or I watch something on TV and I feel myself becoming full. And I think, I’m just trying to put a lot of stuff in the back of my mind, and try and forget about it. So when you ask, I don’t mean to be vague it’s just hard.
ME: I know.