Saturday, September 03, 2005

Where are Bobbi & Lois?

Raw Accounts from the Front Lines of Katrina:

"As we headed to the now-infamous levees for some final shots of the waters lapping against their banks, we passed through a poor black neighborhood. My eyes caught an image that seized my attention.

'We've got to stop and turn around,' I said to cameraman Dan Holdren, who was behind the wheel. Next to a bus stop a frail elderly black woman sat in a wheelchair with a suitcase beside her. She looked as alone in the world as anyone I've ever seen.

In a heavy Southern drawl, Bobbi Sanchez told me she was waiting for a bus to take her to a shelter. 'You're gonna die if you don't go,' she told me, her glassy eyes looking directly at me. 'It's true.'

Another elderly woman walked over to greet us. Bobbi was not there alone. Her sister, Lois Bass, was accompanying her on this exodus. They were heeding the mayor's call to evacuate New Orleans. But like so many of the city's black people they did not have the means to drive out of town or pay for a bus ticket or rent a hotel room on their fixed incomes. Bobbi lives on her disability benefit, Lois lives on Social Security. So they waited for the bus.

I have been thinking a lot about Bobbi and Lois these last few days. When I left them on Sunday I wished them safe passage and assumed they would be taken to the safety of the Superdome, New Orleans' shelter of last resort for those who simply couldn't afford to leave town. "