Friday, September 30, 2005


Years ago, one of my older brothers was living out in Macclenny, a rural little town west of Jacksonville. At one point we had some very heavy rains while he was out of town and his place flooded. In his backyard, he had some rabbits in individual cages that were built up about three feet off the ground. It wasn't high enough, apparently, and the rabbits all drowned inside their cages.

I remember thinking at the time how horrid a way to die that was with the dread building slowly as the water rose and there was no means of escape. I wouldn't wish that kind of death on anything or anyone.


According to inmates interviewed by Human Rights Watch, they had no food or water from the inmates' last meal over the weekend of August 27-28 until they were evacuated on Thursday, September 1. By Monday, August 29, the generators had died, leaving them without lights and sealed in without air circulation. The toilets backed up, creating an unbearable stench.

"They left us to die there," Dan Bright, an Orleans Parish Prison inmate told Human Rights Watch at rabbits Parish Prison, where he was sent after the evacuation.

As the water began rising on the first floor, prisoners became anxious and then desperate. Some of the inmates were able to force open their cell doors, helped by inmates held in the common area. All of them, however, remained trapped in the locked facility.

"The water started rising, it was getting to here," said Earrand Kelly, an inmate from Templeman III, as he pointed at his neck. "We was calling down to the guys in the cells under us, talking to them every couple of minutes. They were crying, they were scared. The one that I was cool with, he was saying 'I'm scared. I feel like I'm about to drown.' He was crying."

Some inmates from Templeman III have said they saw bodies floating in the floodwaters as they were evacuated from the prison.

Thanks to This Modern World for relaying this little-known Katrina story.

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