Broderick Kelley, left, and brother Wilbere Kelley
Wilbere Kelley considered himself lucky that his home was still
"It was mostly the vehicles that was the wettest," the 20-year-old
forklift driver from New Orleans said. "The house is all right. Some of the windows are
broken and it's wet, too, but it's nothing too serious."
His brother Broderick Kelley, 25, a security
guard, said both of them were in Centerville, Miss., when Katrina hit Aug.
third brother, Scharjonn Kelley, 30, was at home in New Orleans. As the
hurricane subsided, they wanted to return to make sure Scharjonn was all right.
But public transportation no longer operated, and they had no way of
getting back, Broderick said. A radio station broadcasting from Baton Rouge offered a glimmer of hope. "The guy
was offering rides to New Orleans, so we called him and got on. But [the
down and we walked like, 12 miles, to get my brother."
Though he's grateful his family is still together, Wilbere recalled with
controlled anger that the police "were no
help in evacuating."
The brothers hopped a military tank to the New Orleans Convention Center and spent
the night there before boarding an 8:30 a.m. flight that brought them to
Wilbere Kelley describes their journey to the convention center and then Washington.
(13 seconds; Real Media file)
Though they didn't know before they got on the plane that they were headed this way,
Broderick said they do have an aunt and other family in Silver Spring, Md. On Tuesday
they were eagerly trying to get in touch.
Three days later, they still hadn't reached them. But the
brothers didn't seem fazed, returning from downtown Washington with shopping
bags filled with brand-name shoes and clothes.
"This is our home now," Broderick said of the Armory.
They were doing their best to make the $2,000 debit cards they were
issued by the federal government last. And they are consulting with job
placement officials and housing advisors inside the Armory about finding a
place in the Washington area, Broderick said.
Wilbere doesn't want to go back to New Orleans. "There's no jobs
there," he said. "No money. There's nothing there."
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Photos and text by April Chan
Published Sept. 16, 2005
Banner graphic by
April Chan, incorporating photo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration; Newsline Web content edited by Chris Harvey; Capital News
Service stories edited by Adrianne Flynn and Tony Barbieri.
2005 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of
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