Story Corps

Michelle Milton

Michelle Milton was a survivor long before Hurricane Katrina threatened her world. Michelle served her country in the U. S. Army. She lived in many parts of the world all while caring for two young sons. Once her Army service was completed, she came home to New Orleans where life would be simpler. It was, until Katrina.

Family has always been a priority to Michelle. She talked with her close family members almost every day, either in person or on the phone. Her mother and other relatives helped care for her two sons, so there was almost constant contact with her family. When Katrina threatened, Michelle’s family chose not to leave, but Michelle was persuaded to evacuate and take her two sons to a friend’s home in northern Louisiana. Michelle told her mother she’d call once she arrived at her evacuation destination. It should have been a two hour drive, but the trip took 15 hours and by the time she arrived, the phone lines in and out of New Orleans were not working. She couldn’t contact anyone back home. For several days, she heard horror stories about her home town being “totally underwater”. Michelle feared the worst for her family and wondered if surviving this storm without them was worth it. If not for the needs of her young sons, there’s no telling what might have happened. Michelle felt desperate and then a random moment of fate occurred. While watching television, desperately trying to find out the latest information about the flooding, she saw some familiar faces on the TV screen. She was looking at video of a rescue underway that included her mother, father, brother and sister. Only at that moment, did she know they were alive and that her worst fears would not be realized.

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