Saturday, March 29, 2014

Grandfather bringing Sabbath Peridot's beloved dog from New Orleans.

Sabbath got her dog from her mother. She was very happy with her dog, and was taking care of her pet friend: walking and playing with Sweetie in the park, feeding her. While dramatically evacuating from New Orleans just before the deadly onset of Hurricane Katrina, Sweetie was aboard all the way to Maine. Sabbath's mother saved her daughter's life! Their house was quickly submerged in water, and was totally destroyed, as well, as all the belongings, including Sabbath's mother's artwork. Sweetie was not the only animal, Sabbath's mother saved.
After the tragic death of Sabbath's mother in New Orleans, her Grandfather, Michal Flisiuk had gone to New Orleans to bring Sabbath her dog to Maine.  Sabbath was not allowed to keep her Sweetie. Carmen Bilodeau was only after the death benefits. 

Following are the photos and video of Sabbath Peridot's Grandfather and her dog, Sweetie in New Orleans, and excerpts from Mother's and Daughter's account of Hurricane Katrina, written before they had gone back to New Orleans. 

Michal Flisiuk with Sweetie in New Orleans 

How Mama and Me Survived the Hurricane
By Blanka and Sabbath Peridot.

Me and my Mom walk our dog down the long dirt road in front of our house. Our dog Sweetie loves it when we take her for walks. She likes to run into the woods chasing woodchucks and squirrels. She gets all wet splashing in the water in the ditches.
While Sweetie runs me and my Mom skip and talk. Sometimes we see little animals such as caterpillars trying to cross the road. We pick them up and carry them to the other side so they won't get squished. Sometimes we complain about how cold it is up here in Maine and how much we don't like it. Then we remember how warm it was back home in New Orleans.
We moved up here from Louisiana this year. We really didn't want to move back here but we had to because of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 storm. That means that it's the strongest Hurricane ever. My Mom kept on listening to the news trying to make up her mind if we were going to evacuate or not. She was worried about me, our pets, and if our car would make it. But when my Mom heard Sunday morning that the hurricane turned from a Category 4 to a Category 5 overnight she started moving fast.
We were both scared and nervous and we were running around the house trying to get some stuff together. People were calling us on the telephone and that made my mother even more nervous. We packed up some food, water and clothes in the car. My Mom wasn't sure what was going to happen, so she grabbed some of my baby albums too. We left a lot of stuff behind, though. My Mom said we would be back home soon after the hurricane passed. The last thing we packed into our small car was our big dog Sweetie, our cat Peeps and her five tiny kittens. We all squeezed in. We waved to some of our neighbours that were packing their cars too as we drove away.
It took us a couple of hours just to get across town because we were barely moving. It was really hot inside the car because it was already 90 degrees outside and my Mom said we could only roll the windows down a little bit so the cat couldn't jump out. The kittens were crawling all over the place, getting in the way of my Mom's driving and meowing as loud as they could. Meanwhile in the back the mother cat and the dog were fighting. All the animals were scared and hot, but they were too nervous to drink any water.
My Mom decided to get off the highway and try another route up North, Highway 61. It was moving a little faster but still very slow and bumper to bumper. We would creep up little by little then just stop for a while. Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse our car started overheating. Smoke was coming out from the engine and we had to stop the car. My Mom popped the hood and added water to it and waited for it to cool down. After that my Mom said we had to put the heater on in the car because it would help the engine to not overheat. That made it even hotter and more miserable inside the car. We still had to stop every once in a while to add water and let the car cool down. That was the slowest ride ever.
            My Mom told me that one of the reasons the car was overheating so bad was us driving so slow, and the stop and start traffic. She decided to drive in the shoulder around the other cars to get us out of there quicker. The people in the other cars must have been mad at my Mom for doing that because they were yelling at her. Maybe they were mad because she was skipping them and they didn't think that was fair. But my Mom told me not to worry about them, that they didn't know what was going on with our car. She said that it was her main job to save me from the hurricane, not theirs, and that she would do anything to do that. So on we went, getting farther and farther away from the hurricane.
After a few more hours we had a new problem. We were running out of gas. My Mom didn't have any money. Her friends and family sent her money through Western Union but she couldn't get it because all the places were shut down. She couldn't even beg people for gas money because all the gas stations were out of gas. And the line on the gas gauge was getting closer and closer to "E" for empty!
            Lucky for us pretty soon we hit a little town with a couple of gas stations. My Mom still couldn't get her money, but she asked a man by the gas pumps for a couple of bucks for gas and he filled our tank up! He even bought me a nice big cold soda! It was Gatorade, and we sure needed it. My Mom was so thankful to God and that nice man for helping us get away from Hurricane Katrina. So was I! After that it seemed like the ride went even faster and we relaxed a little bit for the first time that day. We felt like everything was going to be okay. Until we got to Prairieville.
The biggest mistake we made in Prairieville, Louisiana was letting the heat finally get to us. We rolled our windows down just a teeny bit more to get a little more breeze inside. And out our cat jumped! My Mom shot her hand out the window to grab her, but couldn't. She jumped out of the car and left the car right there to chase her. At least Peeps didn't dart into the heavy traffic. Instead she dove into some thick bushes on the side of the road.
            I was crying when my Mom came back to pull the car over to the side. She told me she could only search a little while longer because I was her biggest priority. Even though I wanted to help, she wouldn't let me go into the thorny bushes to look for Peeps. My Mom's legs were already bleeding from crawling in there to try to coax her out. The bushes were so long and thick it was easy for a frightened cat to get lost in them. We tried and tried calling her but she never came out.
            We met and talked to Mr. Reulet, a sweet old Cajun man who owned the house and land the bushes were on. He helped us look for Peeps, but we never found her. Mr. Reulet gave us his phone number so we could call him to find out if he saw our cat. We were really worried and sad about her, but we had to keep moving! The hurricane was still behind us!
It was late afternoon that day when we reached Baton Rouge, the capitol of Louisiana. My Mom was a little concerned because she thought we would have driven a lot farther in all that time. We had left at eight o'clock that morning, and now it was six, so that means it took us ten hours to make a one hour trip! We weren't sure how far North the hurricane could travel, but we were tired, so we decided to stay there for the night.
     The problem was even when we got some money in our pocket, there were no motel rooms in the whole town! The people like us evacuating from the hurricane took every last room in the whole city! What were we going to do?
            My Mom didn't really want to take us to the shelter because she knew they wouldn't let all our animals in, but in the end we had to. We stopped at the Salvation Army, but their shelter was only for men. But they gave us a hot meal and said we could follow their van to a big church that would let us spend the night. It was a good thing they did because just then a heavy rain started. It was coming down in big sheets. We would have gotten lost getting there for sure!
            The people at the church were very good to us. They let me and my Mom bring our kittens in. We had to stay in a big warehouse where they kept food, furniture and clothes, but we didn't mind. My Mom parked the car next to the back door so we could keep an eye on our dog Sweetie.
            We had a lot to be thankful for that night. We were safe; we had hot food and a warm place to sleep. But we still weren't sure what was going to happen. What was the hurricane going to do? Would it come up here? Had we traveled far enough? We thought about these things that night while the rain and winds raged outside. The roof and walls of the building were shaking all night. The power was out, and we had no way to know what was going on. We thought of Sweetie in the car, of Peeps still out there, about ourselves.
            When we woke up in the morning we were relieved that we were still there, that the building was still standing up. We heard that the storm blew through Baton Rouge and caused a lot of damage, but we were safe. It seemed like New Orleans did better than everybody thought it would, but we still couldn't return. We stayed at the church for a couple of days but there was no kitchen or showers there, so we got transferred to a bigger church outside of town with a cafeteria and showers. It was there that we finally got to see the news on television and found out that New Orleans got totally flooded. We had no idea when we could go back home.
            We didn't know how long this new shelter would be our new home. There were a lot of people there! They wouldn't let us bring our pets, but we met a nice lady doctor who babysat our dog and kittens for us. She had three dogs of her own, and it was good for Sweetie to be able to play with them in her big yard. We didn't do a lot at the shelter but wait for some good news. We took walks, talked to people, watched the news. I played with kids. We took our kittens to a Wal-Mart nearby and gave them away to people in front of the store. My Mom said we had to, but we kept one, a little black one we called "Little Bear".
            We even saw famous people at the shelter like John Travolta and the President. I got an autograph and a hug from Kathleen Blanco, the governor of Louisiana. She told me I was tough. That was cool, but I just wanted to go home.
            Even though we knew our city got flooded, we weren't sure if our home was. Not until my Mom met a neighbour from across the street who told her that the water had gone up all the way to the roof of our house. We knew then that we lost everything in there. People weren't allowed to go back to New Orleans yet, and even if they let us, we had no home to go back to.
            A week later there was a big meeting. I didn't get to go to it because all the kids got to play games while the grownups had the big talk. After I asked my Mom what it was about, she told me that the Pastors at the church were trying to get people out of the shelter. They asked everybody if they had friends or family anywhere in the state or the country they could go to. It seemed like going back to New Orleans wasn't a choice anymore.
            My Mom told the Pastors that maybe we could go back to Maine for a while, since we had friends and family there. They said they would try to arrange it for us. We couldn't drive there because our car was totally broken down now. We couldn't take the bus because we didn't want to leave our animals. So maybe we would take a plane there?
            We were down the street from the church talking to one of our friends in Maine on the pay phone when one of the volunteers found us and told us we had to hurry because a jet was waiting for us. She joked with my Mom saying the only way she spotted us was by my Mom's bright orange skirt. We hurried back to get our stuff and got the kitties and Sweetie from our car.
            There was a little delay at the airport but we finally got on the jet. It was so tiny, just enough room for me, my Mom, Little Bear, Sweetie, and another lady with her dog. The pilot told us Hilary Swank had used it to fly into Louisiana and let us use it to fly out. My Mom told me she was a famous actress, and that it was very nice of her.
            We thought we were going to Maine that night, but instead we flew to Virginia and stayed at a hotel overnight. They said the next day we would fly to our final destination. We were just happy to be in a private room with our own bathroom.
            We were ready to leave bright and early in the morning but the plane wasn't ready yet. There were a lot of phone calls back and forth. Checkout time came and passed, and still no plane. Well it all turned out fine, the hotel manager told us we could stay over as long as it took, and pretty soon a nice lady came to pick us up to go to another airport. The sky was clear and sunny, we were happy, and ready for the last leg of our trip. But we were in for a big surprise when we saw the plane.
            We thought the jet we just rode on was tiny, but this was the smallest airplane we ever even saw. The pilot called it a two-seater or a four-seater. We had to step on the wing to get in. First my Mom, Sweetie and Little Bear crawled into the back. That was a tight squeeze. I got to sit up front with the pilot. The plane was even smaller inside than our car back in Louisiana. We had to wear headphones on our ears so the noise wouldn't hurt our ears, and we could talk to each other through the microphones. It was a long ride, almost four hours, and our poor kitten Little Bear meowed for the whole trip! We could even hear her through the earphones. I think she made the pilot and my Mom really nervous. But I wasn't nervous. I got to help the pilot fly the plane, until I touched the steering control and the plane dipped a little and my Mom told me hands off! She told the pilot to please not let me help anymore.
            We thought the pilot would land us in Bangor, which is a big city in northern Maine. But the plane was so small he was able to land in the small airport in Old Town, right where our friend who we would be staying with lives. We were so happy to see them, and they were so happy to see us too.

            Slowly me and my Mom settled back into Maine. We saw old friends and I got to visit my grandparents again. I went back to school while my Mom tried to get us back on our feet. She bought another car and searched for an apartment for us that would let us have a big dog. Things were getting back to normal. In time we did find a new place to live, a little place out in the country. I changed schools and my Mom looked for work. It was a lot different than New Orleans, but in a good way. Instead of hundreds of people, traffic and noise, we had the peace and quiet of nature all around us. There were farms down our street, woods and fields everywhere we could see. The air even smelled good in our new home.

Now me and my Mom walk our dog down the long dirt road in front of our new home. Sweetie loves it here, and since she is part Akita and has thick fur, she likes the cold weather in Maine better than the humid weather down South. She loves running ahead of me and my Mom as we walk naming the trees around us and saving caterpillars from the road. Sometimes we complain how cold it's been getting lately in Maine. But I don't mind because that means the snow is coming soon and I get to play in it. I could never do that in New Orleans. And besides, when we walked Sweetie down in New Orleans, we used to complain how hot and humid it was down there! [...]