Swept Away

Connor Dickinson, Guest Writer

August 27, 2005: it was a rainy and gloomy monday morning in New Orleans. When I woke up, I immediately ran to the kitchen to grab the hot beignets waiting for me on the stove top. As I scarfed down the delicious pastries, I looked over to my brother, Jamal, and as I proceeded to make a face at him, my mother strictly stops me and says, “That’s enough Raquanda.” I rolled my eyes and hopped up out of my seat, grabbed my raggedy bag, motioned my brother to hurry, and ran out the door. As I was racing to the bus, I also was trying to avoid the inescapable rain. I made it onto the bus and immediately sat down next to Jamal. On our way to school, Jamal and I started getting worried, for the rain was only falling harder and it was not letting up.

The bus driver, Mr.Slanko, proclaimed to the bus, “Hold on kids, we need to pull over for a minute.” Now my heart started racing even faster, I looked over to my brother in fear. Mr. Slanko picked up his cell phone and answered a call, I recognized the principal of the schools voice on the other end say, “Go back and drop the kids off, the hurricane is coming.” I heard that and immediately panicked. The torrential rain splashed against the windows as we sped down the highway. Cars all around us crowded and honked loudly. Jamal gripped my arm and pointed out our side window. A huge tree bent in wind, almost being ripped from the ground.

“We’re not going to make it back home. There is no way.” His weak voice echoed in my ears. I felt the bus sway beneath us. Mr. Slanko turned in his chair.

“Kids! Get down on the floor. Shield yourselves.” We did as he said, covering our heads with our backpacks. Suddenly, I felt the bus skid and slide, slamming against something outside. Crash! I gritted my teeth as I flew through the bus. Bang! I felt my head slam into the ceiling of the bus…

“Wake up Raquanda, wake up quick!” Jamal yelled while frantically rushing to the door of the bus. The overturned bus was on the brink of demolition. As I turned my achy head, my cloudy vision spotted the door of the bus and I followed the crowd.

Emerging from the bus, I turned my head to see the immense flood waters rising. Everything was such a blur, looking around at the town I call home. I watched in disbelief as our 2005 Honda Civic floated by. I heard my brother scream as I whipped my head around, I saw my small mobile home, or what’s left of it, nearly submerged in the rushing water. I squinted in the direction of the tiny house, and there I saw my mom panicking on the roof. “Mom!” I shouted from the bus.

“I love you, Raquanda!” She cried back. As tears started to stream down my face, I watched the waters quickly rise and the woman who taught me how to walk, the woman who put food in front of me, and the woman who helped shape everything I am get swept away into the debris-filled water.

Sitting on top of the school bus, I squeezed my brother Jamal and we both cried with each other. In the distance, I heard a noise. Turning my head towards the sky, I spotted an airlift helicopter. I heard a voice scream “Quick!Grab ahold!”

Next thing I knew, I woke up in a cozy bed in the Louisiana Super Dome. When I sat up, I immediately locked eyes with Jamal. He ran over and hugged me, and whispered in relief,  “We’re safe.”







Miller, Debra A. Hurricane Katrina: Devastation on the Gulf Coast. Lucent books, 2006.