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A Coward Stays Put in New Orleans

October 7, 2005

I am one of those Brennan Manning appreciators, one who sees in him a man who has lived out what he believes on so many levels. I was not aware that he lives in New Orleans, since he rarely mentions the city in writings or speaking engagements.

But he stayed through the storm and the afters, and in an interview with CTI, gives this assessment of his neighbors after the flood:

I stayed through the hurricane because I have no wife, no children, no relatives here, and thought that maybe I could help the small number of people who remained. I sat here from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. watching the hurricane with awe and wonder at the mind-boggling power of the 95 mile an hour wind. The rain was relentlessly pounding. The following day it was calm. The day after that I walked outside, and I found a lovely neighbor who asked me, “Did you hear the news?” I said no. She said there was a mandatory evacuation of the city because the levees had broken. That gave me a clue to get out of here.
I did see an elderly black woman, somewhere in her 80s, standing on the street corner. I stopped and asked where I could take her. She said, “Please take me to my sister’s house.” I drove her out there and reassured her of how proud I was of her and what a gift it was to be her neighbor.
My neighborhood is about 90 percent black. What I saw was a whole different image of the African American community, which is usually identified with gangs, murders, and drug dealing. The black community was enormously kind, thoughtful, heroic, reaching out to their neighbors. I saw African American fathers with children, having an enormous concern about their welfare. We still have many children unconnected with their parents. They’re flashing on TV the pictures of the children and hoping that they can be identified. I recognized one of them and called the number on the screen to let them know that it’s a child from my apartment complex.
The whole issue of staying … I don’t mean it to sound heroic. Because I’m not, I’m basically a coward. But I thought maybe I could help somebody who stayed through the hurricane.

The rest of the interview is found here.

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