Life in the Superdome: Tadia=s Story

19
908

There were rumors of babies= deaths in the dome.  They were true.  Babies died.  Women screamed during the night that their children were dead or dying.  You could just hear the pain in the voices of these women screaming because there was nothing they could do for their children. There was a shortage of formula, of baby care. The babies were out in the heat and they were out in the rain. Toddler,  newborns, some B  a month old. Some of them were older. There was nothing the mothers could do for their children, and they suffered.
I am Tadia Lynch.
… I arrived in New Orleans on Friday, August 19 in the late evening to move into Loyola University=s freshman dorm, Buddin Hall.  I was so caught up in setting up my room and putting up home and family pictures of my mom, my sister, graduation, the prom and, actually, a picture of New York ,  because this is my first college experience.  I wasn=t aware of the hurricane. There were no announcements in the school at that time.
I was actually in the dorm elevator when I overheard a parent talking to her son about classes being cancelled until the following Wednesday because of the hurricane.  The next day, the college posted flyers about what was going on. But it still didn=t appear to be  serious.  I actually spent the night in the dorm in New Orleans= Garden District, and my mother (Rose Lynch)  spent the night at the Quality Inn Hotel on O=Keefe Street in downtown New Orleans about a mile from the college.
I did not feel threatened at all. And then I woke up to a phone call saying that my mother was downstairs waiting for me and the warning that everyone had to evacuate, the hurricane was a Catagory  5 and it was going to be really bad with major flooding.
Students and residence assistants were actually thinking of staying through the storm but because they were told it was going to be so bad, administrators decided to evacuate everyone to Baton Rouge.  But I could not leave my mother.  I decided to sit it out with her at the hotel.  Even if we wanted to leave, there was no time and no means; there were no car rentals, the airports had closed, the airlines had cancelled their flights.
When my mother called up to the room,  my violin was the first thing that I picked up . I had to take it, there was no option. It would have been  like leaving a person behind if I did. I don=t think that I would have had the strength to make it if I didn=t know where it was or if it was safe.

On Monday, A Few Puddles, Here and There
So we roughed it and sat it out in the Quality Inn. I wasn=t  afraid when the hurricane hit, even though the building shook back and forth like a house of cards. We could hear windows shattering, but we felt safe and secure where we were.  I think that I felt okay because my mom was with me.   I have always had a strong belief that God would protect me through any storm I encountered, so we slept through it. We felt safe. When the storm ended late on Monday, we looked outside; there was debris, but  everything seemed fine.  We walked outside and saw that the windows on the whole corner side of the building were blown out and we realized that the glass breaking is the sound we heard throughout the night.
On Canal Street, the whole sides of buildings had caved in, bricks crumbled over cars and palm trees had fallen. We turned down Bourbon Street.  Surprisingly, and as old as it is,  it was untouched. The plants were still in the pots on the wrought-iron balconies. Everything seemed fine. People were sitting outside on Bourbon Street  and actually celebrating that they survived, there was laughter.
 There was drinking. The bars and cafes were open   I felt relief.  I felt everything would be okay.
 I took a few pictures of the debris and returned to the hotel.  A little later,  I looked out the window and saw a small stream of water moving down O=Keefe Avenue.  I recall asking my mother, AWhere is that water coming from?@ and she said it was there already.  I hadn=t noticed it, but I had seen a few little puddles here and there.

On Tuesday, Surrounded by Water
We woke up Tuesday morning to find the streets around the hotel engulfed in water, and we still did not know what was going on nor how bad it would get.  I had previously charged my MP3,  both of our cell phones and my laptop,  just in case.  We knew that sooner or later the power was going out.  My MP3 radio brought us the news that the water was rising quickly.  For a while, after the power went out I used my laptop for the news, until the connection was lost.  We didn=t know what to do. The hotel staff continued to take care of the guests. They fed us as long as they could.  They were mostly black, and they actually came door- to -door and took a record of everyone staying there, checked on us every now and then. But when they decided to leave they informed all of us that it was unsafe to stay, and they were leaving and that we should, as well. They did not just abandon us, they let us know that they could no longer stay at the hotel. 
We Took the Essentials: Violin, Laptop,Water
 We knew it was dangerous out there, and we didn=t want to be isolated from everybody in the event that it got any  worse. We took the essentials: water, cereal, one change of clothes,  my laptop B  just because I didn=t want to leave it there, and, of course, my life B  my violin. We walked to the lobby and the water was thigh-high; we got outside of the hotel and it was up to my waist, and at times as we walked to the super dome, it would creep above my waistline. We waded through those waters several blocks to the Dome and walked up the ramp.  Actually, sometimes, we were walking through gasoline and you could see a shimmering rainbow forming a line across my shirt – Gasoline!  And it was at that point, I was frightened. We could have drowned from the water or set aflame from a tossed match. I carried my violin above my shoulders through the water.  I had to close my eyes a few times and lie to myself, pretending I was in Connecticut walking through the waters of a lake B which is something my friends and I do on occasion in the summer.
It was very crowded on that ramp. We decided to wait until the line died down, but of course it never did.  When night fell,  it was a bit chaotic because no one knew where the line began nor where it ended.  There was pushing from every direction. Somehow, my mother and I made it in.   Two women MPs checked our bags.  They looked at us like, AWhat are you doing here with this stuff?@  One said, APlease tell me this is not a laptop!@ She wouldn=t even take it out of the bag, she next looked at my violin, like >…why is this here?=   Then she warned us: >Living inside the Dome is  like living on the streets – – there are dangerous sections, you can=t stay in dark areas,  there are some dangerous people in there.@   At that point, we didn=t want to go all the way in, but we were told that we had to go all the way  in. 
The halls were  crowded, so we kept moving into the arena and found a seat close to the field.  We had not sat down  in the stands for five minutes when gun shots erupted. Everyone jumped, of course. I could actually look over my shoulders and see the MP pointing the gun, and where he was pointing it. The crowds shouted to us to move over, probably because the MPs beneath us were telling us to move over.  I laid down for about two seconds and the child behind me became sick and began vomiting, almost on my face.  We got up  and moved again. At that point, I was exhausted.  I blacked out.
Prior to this, somehow my body didn=t demand food at all.  My mother even told me she was not hungry.  I had practiced fasting actually a lot in high school, and I wasn=t focused on food. I felt a bit nauseous at times but not enough to eat. If anything, I had a flake of cereal, from the cereal box that we took with us.  But when I awoke from the blackout, I was really hungry.  My mother decided to get food despite my pleas for her to stay.  She felt that I wasn=t going to make it without food, so she went and stood on the huge breakfast line.

Through Smoke and Rain,
Pushing Forward
The Dome suddenly  began to fill with smoke and visibility was limited. People were running by me saying that the Dome was on fire. You don=t yell fire in a crowded theater. I knew it wasn=t fire because it didn=t smell like fire at all, but the visibility was so bad. So I=m sitting there trying to figure out what to do. I had all of my belongings with me but  I did not have  the energy to carry them to find my mother who was on the field.  A man told me that they (the MPs) had placed gas bombs at the entrances of the Dome to scare the people out of the Dome because they felt it was the most efficient way of getting the people out of there. And he also told me that there would be buses waiting at Gate G, but not to tell everybody. So I put my violin and computer under a blanket, ran down to the field,  got my mother as quickly  as possible, pulled her off the food line and told her what was going on.
We went outside to find a huge crowd of terrified people who thought they were going to burn to death. We were outside for 20 minutes when it began to rain, a cold rain, but I didn=t want to move because there was no where to move and it was just so crowded. But babies could not be in a downpour like that so a lot of mothers had no choice but to move back into the Dome. So a lot of people moved and it was at that time that another man came and told us that they were loading buses at Gate A on the other side of the building. Since most of the people had moved back because of the driving rains, there was a clearing for us to walk along the perimeter of the building through the rain, closer to Gate A, and we did. It was still an immense crowd but we were closer to where we should be. We forced our way onto the Gate A entrance ramp, and that was where they were loading buses, just as the stranger had told us.  Yet the struggle after that was crazy because everyone knew it and everyone was pushing and everyone was hungry.
So as the day went on, people edged forward, so much so that they couldn=t open the gates to let the crush of people on the buses; it held up the process a lot because people just kept pushing. My mother kept on pushing forward, ahead of me, to get to the gate, thinking that if she got to the gate she could call me up as her family member because that is what they were doing to not separate the families.  She was holding my violin and my laptop.

By nightfall,  I could not see my mother anymore. I had no idea where she was. I was standing actually pretty close to the gates, but I couldn=t see her. I couldn=t hear her and I was exhausted and I couldn=t stand there. So I forced my way back, all the way back,  a ways back, and sat down for a minute and didn=t know what to do because people were getting crushed up there worse than during the day because it was nighttime and no one could see. People were passing out because of dehydration and heat stroke B  left and right B like flies, just dropping like flies. I heard that there was one medic, but when I was actually passing through I saw no medic. The people who passed out were just lying by the side.   During the evening, the crowd was even more dense and what made it worst is they stopped giving out water.  To save myself, I actually looked in the coolers that people had left in the way.  And by luck, by chance, by the grace of God, I found  a bottle of juice that had not been opened and I drank that and kept that with me to keep me going.
There was a man sitting near me with his insulin but without a needle to take it and he walked to an ambulance asking them just for a needle, they couldn=t give it to him. They either didn=t have it or they just didn=t want to give it to him. There were a lot of diabetics in the crowd and a lot of mobility-challenged, elderly people in the crowd. There was  a woman who seemed to be having a seizure. She shook a lot and her eyes were rolling back, but she was sitting there for a good half an hour, right in front of us, before she received any help.

Dying Babies, Helpless Mothers
At daybreak, I was so tired, because through the night I had held the babies for mothers who were tired from holding their children.  They were exhausted. It was either someone hold them or the baby was on the ground. I held them because the ground was covered in urine; it smelled horrible and it was dirty; it was bad. They  couldn=t hold the children and they couldn=t let them sit on the floor.  They held their children for awhile until they couldn=t hold them anymore. Babies were getting crushed; it was so dense and so hot that babies were passing out. People were holding their children up in the air above the crowds because they couldn=t breathe and their children had passed out.  Sometimes I couldn=t even tell whose child I was holding, but I switched off a lot. Maybe like 10 different children. The oldest child I held was 3 years old and she was so tired she couldn=t open her eyes. There was no way this child could wake up.
 There were rumors of babies= deaths in the Dome.  They were true.  Babies died.  Women screamed during the night that their children were dead or dying.  You could just hear the pain in the voices of these women screaming because there was nothing they could do for their children. There was a shortage of formula, of baby care. The babies were out in the heat and they were out in the rain. Toddler,  newborns, some  a month old. Some, older. There was nothing the mothers could do for their children, and they suffered.
There was a man who either was drugged or had something mentally wrong with him.  He snuck into the women and children=s circle or what we called Athe circle@, and tried to steal one of the babies from a carriage. They scared him off. The MPs actually were always at the Dome but they weren=t inside the Dome. So inside the Dome, it was everybody for themselves and no one was in charge.
There was another man, the crowd beat him badly,  and rightfully so. There were these two old Caucasian people; they seemed  poor. We actually thought they were together.  They were having a dispute which everyone was having at the time because they were stressed. But they were not together and he took part of her parcel and threw it into the crowd. The mothers were mad because it could have hit their children and they were like it could have hit a child; then he took a bottle of alcohol and threw it, not aiming at anyone intentionally, but he threw the bottle and then he took scissors and threw it.  At that, the mothers lost it. The men who were going to attack him didn=t have a chance because when he ran through the crowd the mothers had beaten him so badly that the MPs had to drag him across the gate. The mothers were so infuriated that he would endanger their children anymore than they were endangered.
I  saw people passing out and people walking over people, too. I did not check the pulses of some of these people. But when you=re walking on someone and they=re not flinching,  they=re kind of gone.
 By daybreak, I had given them all that I could and I was just going to wait until I got to the gate. I wasn=t about to push through children or crush people to get to the front. I wasn=t going to do that but I suddenly  heard my mothers name announced and I was like, Okay.  She=s okay, and  I can wait now.  Because all I was anxious about…they said they were going to get us all out, I believed they were going to get us all out ….  I just didn=t want to be separated from my mother. I waited patiently and they kept on telling us to move back and every time we moved back anxious people pushed forward and  the situation was getting so much worse. People were getting angry and hungry and hot. And reasonably so.

AIf You Touch Me ..!@
So then I heard that the waiting families couldn=t wait any longer and that the buses would be going different places.  I could not afford to be separated from my mom, and she had all of my ID=s, my documents, everything.  So I actually forced my way to the front, safely, without crushing anyone.  Once I yelled out that I was separated from my mom, they understood. They pretty much cleared out of my way fast, although some of them were angry that I was walking in front of them, but they couldn=t have stopped me if they tried.   I made it to the front.  There was a man, a Caucasian man, on crutches.  He leaned on me because he was being crushed, a diabetic woman was pushed next to me, a woman with her child was crushed up against me because people kept on pushing. People who had passed out that they sent to the front, thinking that they would get help, they were just sent right back. The elderly, even the ones in wheelchairs and walkers, were sent back.  There was no medic.  People were even more enraged; we felt they were trying to kill us.  What they did was not efficient at all.  A lot of the men were violent. In the beginning they had tried to separate the women from the men. Some wouldn=t leave their wives or their daughters or their children, but some other men who did go to the other side were very angry, violent and hostile. By word of mouth, I heard that at least 12 women were raped in the bathrooms. At night, some  men were touching the women. I did see that firsthand with my own eyes. I threatened them as my own defense. It was really dark and they could not see me. It was at night and I was separated from my mom. I yelled, AIf you touch me, you have a death wish!@ and it worked and I got through.

I think that my New York instinct gave me an edge. They actually all knew that I was not from there. I was asked a thousand times, AAre you from here? You=re obviously not from here!@. When I said I was from New York people looked at me like..actually,  when I got to the gate  one man said, AYou guys from New York  are rude.  I blew up. I said how dare you call people from my city rude after what I=ve seen B people in here losing all humanity. We are not like this. We are not this bad.@  I was very angry.
The MP actually announced in the morning — because I guess women had told him, that he was very Adisappointed@ with the men in the crowd and that they really should stop and that they had to stop. There wasn=t much that he could do because he wasn=t allowed to come into the crowd.
 A..and there were good men
and a Godsend!@
There was a puppy. … a beautiful black lab puppy I had seen  running around the day before, the morning before. These people had everything they owned with them, and a woman had a cart and she rolled it less than a centimeter from going over the dog=s tail.. When I saw this I screamed and then I realized they had been walking over the dog all night and I lost my mind. I screamed Amove your cart you=re crushing the dog@. She didn=t move.  She just stared at me. So I was like, AYou better move it@.  There=s now like a small clearing around this puppy. There was a man next to me. I said pass me the dog. I kept saying Apass the dog to me@,  and he ignored me. So I pushed him out of the way  and  picked up the dog. My hands were bloodied.
Despite all of this, there were good people who tried to organize the crowd inside the Dome without the MPs. There were good men who defended the women and calmed down a lot of people.And so many, many people, started to preach, started to pray, started to sing spirituals, as they held each other=s children.
Later that morning, when I was actually up at the gate when I finally got there with the man on the crutches leaning on me for support, I could see my mother and it just made me feel so much better, but she couldn=t see me.
I wanted her to know that I was okay.  I screamed her name, but the crowd was so loud that she couldn=t hear me.  One of the MPs told her to get up and move along. And as she walked, I waved to her so that she could see that I was okay.  She sprang forth and yelled, >There=s my daughter!@  and the MP took it like nothing and actually put his hands on his gun ready to fire. The MPs were pretty universal, there were a few black ones, a few white ones. I saw a lot of women which was surprising because it=s just not something you are used to. They changed shifts a lot; the MP that was in charge the night before was Caucasian and the one who was in charge in the morning was African-American. They were pretty scattered, it wasn=t like all white or all black or anything like that, but we did have to duck for fear of firearms because we heard shots in the Dome. So it was no question in my mind that they would shoot, because they did put their hands on their guns and they did cause the people to go into chaos and crush each other. I guess it was stressful for the MPs to follow orders. Some of them were a bit power crazy. Race didn=t seem to matter; they were all stressed out and fed up with the people who were cursing at them. Even the African-American ones. There was this one incident outside of the Dome when we were waiting to get in. I don=t know if he was a MP but he was certainly in had authority.  He was African-American, and he was a bit power crazy.  When  one of the men called him a Amonk nigger,@ he came back and kicked him out of the Dome and into the waters of New Orleans, and he said, AYou are not welcomed here!@ So they were all stressed, the African-American  MP=s and the Caucasian  MP@s.
So after I saw my mom and saw that she had gotten through,  I waited for about three more gates to open before my gate opened. Because I was by myself and I wasn=t waiting for anyone as soon as they opened the gate, I ran through. I ran to a female MP and I told her my mother was in there and if I didn=t get  to her they would  put her on another bus.  The MP believed me and  actually ran me all the way through the building to the front to the waiting area for people who were separated from their families.  I wouldn=t have taken the chance of questioning the MPs seeing as how they are so quick to reach for their arms.  But this MP was different, she was helping people. I wouldn=t consider her an angel exactly, but she was definitely a Godsend. My mother was standing right there and when I got to the door she rushed to me and we got on a bus to go to Texas. I would say that my most traumatizing experience was that morning when I was waiting to see if I could reconnect with my mom.
 Music, Faith, Home Kept Me Sane
There was a lot of confusion as to where we were going. Even the MPs were confused; one MP said they=re all going to Houston, another said I heard they=re going to Dallas. They were pretty confused. It was very disorganized.  On the bus driving out of New Orleans, I saw so many people sitting on the sides of the roads, helpless, not knowing what to do, some in the water; they just didn=t know what to do. Because the MPs were so violent and forceful with their orders,  no one wanted to go into the Dome.  I don=t know how they saved all of those people, and  I don=t think they saved all of those people. Actually, I know that they didn=t save some people.
But we made it through, and music kept me sane, knowing that my violin was with me and that I=d be playing it again. Music pieces were running through my head. I was actually angry. I was like, AOh my God, I should be practicing. What am I doing here?@ A lot of that kept me sane, knowing that it was not an option for it to end there, not an option to die in there or to pass out in there. It wasn=t a choice. I had to get through, I was going to get through.  And knowing that my mother was going to be there, too, and I had a home to go to, and I had a family and people who loved me, people who were praying for me every day, every night. I have a father at home who wants me back. It wasn=t a question of AAre we coming home?@ It was when are we coming home B and we are here.
We made it to Texas and we got off at a quote Arefugee@ stop and I was like we are not doing this anymore. We have faith; we have ID; we have money; we have a home. We are getting out of here.

A lot of people kept their faith, although it appeared that all humanity was lost and that thinking was lost. They did not question God, they just asked him for health and for strength. A lot of people were calling for God, calling for Jesus, they kept their faith, and they were strong.  This experience brought out the good, the bad and the ugly. God will give you strength when you need it, if you ask for it. 
I can=t save everyone by myself.  I can=t do it.  If  I could I would, but I can=t.  So all I can do is tell the truth. All I can do is tell what happened out there and what went on.

I AM ROSE LYNCH ….
When I heard and assessed the hurricane reports, I went back to Buddin dorm and called to Tadia=s room.  I=m sitting, waiting and waiting, and thinking what could possibly be taking her so long. When she walked through the door, I saw the violin dragging behind her.  I then understood that she had refused, once again, to leave her baby, her friend.  So with the violin B and her computer — in tow we went over to the hotel, in a cab, and prepared ourselves to weather the storm because the situation was, we were stuck.

Sweet Music in the Dark
One thing she did not tell you that was the sweetest thing: at the Quality Inn Hotel, the electricity did go out and we were in total darkness.  True, we did sleep, but then through it all my daughter unzips her violin case and proceeds to play in the dark. She plays for approximately a half an hour and then she rests. She then plays an entire repertoire, everything she knew  and then she added some tunes. 
AMaybe I should be composing,@ she said. A Maybe I should play with the storm or tune out the storm. Could I offer you {storm} some solace to leave us alone?  If I play with you { storm}, will we be safe?@ I had no idea what was running through her mind but she played in the dark in the hotel room.  So after she played and she felt comfortable enough, we slept. As she said, we woke up to what appeared to be chaos;  however, we did walk out into the city and things did seem fine. Monday evening, we went to sleep at the hotel, after making plans for the next day.

Strategic Engineering and Southern Hospitality
Tuesday, we awoke to a not-so-very-pretty Venice.  As we walked through the streets, we encountered a gentleman who said a repairman at the Aquarium off of Bourbon Street, said, Athey dynamited the levee below in an effort to flood a section of the city to save another part of the city (that was considered more important).@  Hearsay, I said, but then someone else said you know they did that once before; they  made what they considered to be a strategic engineering choice Ato dam a part of the levee so that  the floodwaters would release into one part of the city and then the major levy would hold.@ Unfortunately, it did not work this time because the major levee  broke. Consequently, you had two bodies of water rushing into the city. I=m not an engineer. I do not understand these things, but it seemed logical after seeing water up to the top half of a parking meter.
The hotel staff continued to serve us in the best of Southern hospitality. They tried to assure us and make us as comfortable as possible. Second day out, they still served us breakfast and then we could see that people were evacuating the hotel. I told my daughter we had to bite the bullet. Tadia, being the way she was, she was like >ugh! dirty water= but we quickly formed a strategy. We would go to the Superdome. We had heard that there wasn=t much food or water there, so we packed two bags of  supplies of  water and food; one change of clothes to come out of; everything else could be discarded  except her violin and laptop. So we then ventured off to the Dome where we felt we would be safer than to be  two women isolated in the hotel.
I tried to convince my daughter, while looking for the good in everything, that the water was warm. It was nice and warm, it wasn=t cold…we could do this. She kept saying this is disgusting. She was extremely worried because we were going through gasoline and people were smoking. She was afraid that someone was going to throw in a cigarette butt. She said, AWhat is our choice here, burn or drown?@  Finally, we got to the Superdome. As we entered, my daughter was holding the violin over her head.  A photographer stepped up to her and said to her very politely, Amay I take your picture?@ In which turn my daughter turned around and said very politely AI would prefer for you not to@. He honored that and we marched in.

                Extreme Conditions
 The first thing I observed at the Dome was the amount of young infants in the arms of their mothers. Babies that were approximately a day to a week old. Volumes of them all over the place. And I shuddered thinking personally if this was me, I would be dead. Both of my children were born under extreme conditions, emergency C-sections. My heart went out to them, and many of the women were pregnant.

So we go up and we sit. We try to find a comfortable spot. And then our nightmare B  every time we thought we were to the end of the worst of any part of the nightmare, it truly began. We got online to go inside the Super Dome and when we finally got in, it is true, one MP…two of the MPs that were examining our bags looked at us with pity in her face and  said APlease don=t tell me that you have a violin in this case.@  The other one said AWhat is this, a laptop? AWe=re not even going to open this Miss but we would advise you to stay in the light and stay away from dark areas.@ And we went in. We were required to go in, it was not a choice. The MPs said you must move. So we moved in and as Tadia said, we went in and we sat down, and as soon as we sat down there were shots fired and we moved.  Once again, being a slight slim person, she managed to go through all three of the seats and lie flat, only to have a child stand up and  throw up, almost in her face, which was understandable; the child was sick. We moved again. We did have water, we took a little, we took a flake and then as nature called, I said to her, AI=m going to the bathroom.@  A major error. She warned me. She said, AMom, don=t do it, mom, don=t move, mom I=m warning you don=t do it.@ AWhat are you talking about child? Let me get out of here.@ I proceeded to go to two rooms that I thought (by the sign) said MEN and WOMEN; that=s what the sign said. But on approaching those areas, I knew I had made a grave error. To this moment, I cannot tell you how I disciplined myself to go into that room and proceed to do what I had to do above what everyone was doing for the last five days with no flush and no way of cleaning the room. It was chaos. From Wednesday to Friday morning, there would be no more going to the bathroom for me or my daughter.
The Last Orange; the Last Bottle of Water
 One thing my daughter left out, there were two other girls there, frightened beyond belief,  practically out of their minds. They had convinced themselves from the get-go that they were just not going to make it. These two girls, one, believe it or not, was named Katrina, the other one was named Christina, unfortunately had taken their first vacation to, of all places, New Orleans. My daughter held their hands for hours, convincing them they were going to be all right as they fell apart in front of her eyes. They were screaming that they were going to die,  they were not going to make it. And Tadia kept on saying, AListen, first of all you can=t cry, your body needs the water. You can=t tax it that way because your focus is that gate down there. I don=t want to hear this nonsense that you=re going to die, that you=re not going to make it. This is unbelievable. Mom tell them we=re going to make it.= I turned around and said, AOf course, we=re going to make it. I don=t have a doubt in my mind.@ Because we joke with each other, she turned to me quietly and said AMom, we are going to make it?@ I said, AWell, honey, it looks like we=re collateral.@  She said, ALooks like it to me. Shut them up! We=re going to make it.@  I said, >Yes, this is nonsense, I don=t believe you=re crying like this. This is nonsense, you have to do better than this.@ Those girls were so hungry. They are white, by the way. From Maine. They were in really bad shape. They were so hungry that Tadia gave them the last orange that we had. There was a little boy that was so thirsty  I gave him our last bottle of water.
Well, as time went on, two things happened that she did not mention. MPs lined up behind us, MPs lined up in front of us; we were pinned in as a group and it literally looked like we were being herded for the slaughter. At which point, Tadia looked at me and said AHmm, what do you think? Are they going to gas us, then shoot us, and make us a statistic of the flood. It would be easier to move bodies than human beings?@ Then I said to her, ANo,  they cannot shoot us, they can gas us, but the bullet holes will show. So I do not think they will shoot us.@  So be that as it may, we continued to stand. Then I made a strategic decision. I decided that if I got down to the evacuation gate they would call my daughter out. So I began to really focus and push. As she stated before the crowd was dense, the crowd was hard to move, but inch by inch I decided I would get there. I heard her behind me calling occasionally, AMom are you all right, Mom are you ok.@  I said, I=m fine I=m doing all right, stay safe. What I didn=t know is in my focus to get down to that gate I was literally leaving my daughter in more harm=s way than I could have possibly imagined. I had no idea  some of  these people  had lost their humanity beyond belief. They were brought down pretty low while they were there. When your babies die in your arms, your mother who has diabetes, has died and you have no water. Even if they give you water, you have no means of putting the water out of your body. Consequently, we were swirling in debris that I can=t say at this point even would infect Third World countries. I will never again look at TV and look at rubble that I see people walking through and say my God, because I know what my God is.
AHold the Line!@
Two things, when I got down to the gate and I went straight to the gate, the MPs that were there, because they had no other choice, there was a line that was drawn in front of us. Their job was to hold the line, their job was to keep us in place. There was a sergeant who said to the crowd,  AYou are moving forward. That cannot be allowed. I=m going to give you fair warning. Children and babies will be crushed, people will be hurt.@ At that point he would say to his soldiers, AHold the line.@  They would step up to the gate and he would say six inches, they would push six inches. You would hear and I am pressed against this gate, the moaning and crying of children. And he would say ease up and stop. And then he would say six inches. They would approach in a very warlike battle, I mean I know how the Romans did it now, he would say another six inches and the crowd would literally move, with the density of it, six inches. The United States government must be proud of the way they trained these soldiers. Their eyes looked like fish eyes. They were taking commands and they looked like they could not see. I know this is not true because they would change very much. I know that they had hearts because the sergeant behind them would say, ANow you=re going to work here@. He must of seen something in them that made them resist the order that he gave. He said, AYou=re here to work, you heard me, you heard what I said, six inches!@. It was breaking their hearts, they had families, but they were sent here to do a job with nothing but guns and bullets. There were many times they clicked off their safety.
In the Line of Fire

When somebody started fighting in the crowd, they could not pass the line of fire, they were not allowed to come into the crowd. So they figured out the only way they could help us was to tell the crowd to duck. So, of course, whoever was left up they can=t move off that line but they certainly can aim. So they are trying to give you a chance to get it together. There is classism in this country, the likes of which you would never believe. There is prejudice in this country that I have experienced firsthand. Two things happened after I came out of the gate, as Tadia said, when I finally did get through and they did call for Tadia Lynch, and she did finally make it down to me. I could see her and she=s calling to me and I=m calling to her. And she=s saying mom and I=m saying there=s my daughter. There=s an MP there and he=s saying Amove it@. And I=m saying there=s my daughter, and there=s the child waving like crazy. My response from this MP was the removal of his safety from his automatic weapon. My child saw this and panicked because she had seen chaos through the whole night. She had held women and children. She had done all she could. When she saw that she said AMa move, just move!@, which I did. But I knew I was in trouble because I knew I was not leaving without my child. Finally, we did meet up together. Finally they did usher us into a bus, and finally we were in Texas.
We got off the bus and at that point Tadia said this is it mom I can=t go another step. I asked the bus driver if there was any way to catch a cab out of here to get to a major airport. The bus driver looked at me very strangely, but he didn=t question me. He just got an officer. The officer came back and said I understand that you two want a cab for the airport. And then he said to me Ado you have money@? And Tadia says yes we have money. And do you have ID? And Tadia says yes we have our passports.  He said okay and he took us to another area were there was a group of people waiting to get to the airport. And guess what counterpart of complexion they were? They were all going to the airport. At that point, he had made a decision that these two are different, even though their skin tone is the same as — but  apparently they are a little different than the Aother group@. He said maybe you can share a cab with these people who are going to the airport, and then he left and said, AGet home safe@.  At that point one of the people who was waiting came over and asked us ADo you have money ?@ I said AYes, we have money@. He says I have twenties, at which point I did not respond. He walked away and I said, AI have hundreds, but that=s okay.@  We finally got to the airport and the airport was closed. It=s not 24 hours like New York. It was like 2 o=clock and we had to wait till 4 o=clock.
 Guardian Angels
We have many guardian angels and I want to talk about a guardian angels. When we stepped up to the gate and we said our names because my daughter Ally had made reservations but could not buy the reservation on her end. We told the lady who we were and she punched it up in the computer and she looked up as I=m handing her my plastic and she says $700 each.  Tadia says $700 is a little steep. She says, well, that=s because it is same day reservations            Tadia says, AI don=t care if it=s $1,000, I want to go home.@ And when Tadia said it, she took a second look at us like what exactly is going on here and with that I just looked at her and she said, AOh my God, sit down. I know we can do better than this, I know we can. You just wait until my supervisor comes in and we=re going to give you a better price.@ And she did. The tickets were $270. She gave us two freshen-up kits and  tried to make us  comfortable within her powers. I have a new respect for people who wash up in the bathroom, because we washed up and our first set of clothes went in the garbage. When we came home our second set went in the garbage. Through the grace of God, we came home, we came home with many lessons. I came home with a profound embarrassment for this country. Anybody knows that when soldiers touch down within 15 minutes there=s a triage set up. There was nothing for these children or babies. There was one medic with a bottle of water looking at it thinking it=s holy water. ADo they really expect me to move a miracle here?@  He said.  He tried, he=s a professional, he did not give up, as many other people did. 
 But in  ending this story, the modesty of my child is the fact that the two girls= father called Tadia and thanked her for saving the lives of his daughters. They had told him that without her they would not have made it.  I think she saved a lot of peoples= lives. She stood up, as I understood it, because I wasn=t there and I=m wondering why they didn=t beat her down, and she told them how ashamed she was of them. She said AHow dare you do this to your own!@  She=s just a minute tall, and you can look at my daughter and see she=s all walking mouth, but she was just not having it. And when she said AYou must have a death wish,@ and another  time she said, AAnyone who touches me must have a death wish, because I may be going down but your genitals are going with me!@ She later said AMom, I used vocabulary that I had never used before in my life.@ She did everything  she could to survive and keep hope in the lives of people around her. She was a rallying force. She is polite, she is calm, she is laid back. She is not a person that wants the limelight. She is not a person who likes to take the podium. She is a very low-key person, but at this point she said I have to tell this story. People have to know what happened. Even though I do not like to publically speak, I will tell it, too.
  … The Violin
When I was being crushed next to the gate, the violin was in front of me. Because I knew that my daughter would kill me if anything happened to her heartbeat, I took a chance and I said to the MPs on the other side of the line, ALook, I really don=t want this to be destroyed.@ At that point, the MP looked down and said, AWhat…a violin?@ He then took that violin and placed it right under the safety light and that violin was safer than anybody else in that whole entire crowd, which may go one way or the other. But it shows something about people understanding music and instruments, because that violin at that point was safer than I was. The MPs put it behind them and their safety guns and automatics.
Everything had to go beneath the bus because the driver was not letting passengers on the bus. Tadia came on with her violin at which point the bus driver said you can=t bring that in here. Tadia said, AThis is my life, I will not be separated from  it.@ So at that point, he did allow the violin to come in.

(Tadia) When I finally arrived home.  I placed a pillow in the drawer, put the violin inside a pillow case and put it in the drawer on the pillow.

POST SCRIPT … The Other Side

(Tadia) I really thought we were collateral. I thought that we were expendable and we were gone. What angered me the most was being on the other side of the fence. When I got on the plane and the first thing I saw when I got on the plane was the front of The New York Times. I looked at The New York Times and said to myself, it didn=t look like that. I was like AWait a minute!@ I think I freaked out.  I was like ACan I see that paper,@ I saw no pictures of what was truly going on. It angered me and I began to cry on the plane, and the man next to me was like what=s wrong with her. The fact that…I had to come back and get some clothes because I had no clothes, and just walking about the mall and seeing that everybody just goes along their day. I realize that I do the same thing when I=m at home and I see something on TV. Like what=s going on in Africa, I=m like, oh man, that=s bad but I keep on switching the channel and I never realized how it is when you are on the other side. I can=t blame it on them, it=s not their fault, I do the same thing, I flip the channel like that=s not me, I just keep on going. I don=t think I=ll be able to do that again, ever. I=ve never been on the other side.@
(Rose) The sin of it all is our government let us down (even before the hurricane).  Look at the systematic way in which the government kept these people in check, by poor education, by the fact that they could not economically own a car to evacuate when they were suppose to. These were the people they need as bellhops and maids. They did not want these people escaping. You could not have these people with a good educational base. You couldn=t have these people other than with the little salary that=s going to sustain their household. And at the end of the month, everybody knows what happens at the end of the month, you just don=t have enough cash. So when you say AThey didn=t listen and oh, I bet you they=ll evacuate the next time, understand exactly what you are saying.@
(Rose) When Tadia heard on the radio that the Dome had been completely evacuated, they were lying. They even showed pictures of it empty, but later on CNN, said that they reported it was empty, but there were still 20,000 people inside.
(Tadia) I had the radio to my ears and they said that we were gone, but I=m like AWhy are we all still here?@ When the media  say=s something like that, it scares you.  You begin to think, AAre they planning to get rid of us in another way? When the Dome actually started filling with smoke, I didn=t know what if it was gas. I took the scarf I had and put it on my face, and  ran to find my mom. If they didn=t think I was there, then where was I?
(Plans are underway for a benefit concert to raise scholarship funds for Tadia Lynch.   Miss Lynch and friends will perform. If anyone knows of a free concert site, or would like to assist in the production of the benefit, please contact Patricia Robinson 718.754.6825 or  bgreen2075@aol.com.)

Comments are closed.