Bryant Moore hadn’t lived in New Orleans in 18 years. But when his family called, he made a dangerous trip to save them in the days after the storm.

It was dank, dark and desolate at the New Orleans Convention Center in the days after Hurricane Katrina. But that was where the women in Bryant Moore’s family ended up on Wednesday morning after hurricane and flooding, with little more than the clothes on their back, he says.

His niece had used a borrowed cell phone to call him at home in Baton Rouge, about 80 miles away. Moore literally drove through hell and high water to save his mother, sister, niece and 2-year-old great niece. He and a friend drove five hours, dodged roadblocks and downed power lines, hopped curbs and sweet-talked police officers.

He was horrified by what he saw. “They slept outside on the concrete because inside it was just too foul in there with urine and feces on the floor,” Moore says. But even in squalor, he said people pulled together. “Anything they ate or drank came from the so-called looters that were going out and getting stuff,” Moore says. “Some guys even got a rug for my mother to sleep on.”

“Somebody said you must have been thanking God when you got there, and I told them, ‘I don’t think God was at the Convention Center,’” he says.

Moore’s family now lives in Baton Rouge. Although they avoided a watery grave they still have burdens to bear.

“They lost all of their belongings, Moore says. The city is still partially under water,” he says. “I’m not at peace with it, but I feel better that my family’s safe.”

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