Blog: After the Storm, Part 2

ABC News' Eddie Pinder was on the ground in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, one of the most destructive hurricanes to hit American soil. Here is the second part of his account of life in the storm's wake through the eyes of the Parker and Gasper Families.

Day 8: Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday Afternoon, 4:30 p.m.

The family can hardly be described as hunkering down. Today is like Tuesday. Everyone is taking it easy. Not much to think about other than Rita. They don't seem worried at all. Terrence said that if they survived Katrina they can survive anything.

While they may be surviving, their homes are not. Their spirits were flattened when they learned from news reports that a levee was breached in New Orleans and their homes in the 8th Ward may get flooded again.

To remind her of home, Grandma Gasper is making a New Orleans staple -- red beans and rice. She's not sure when they will see a home-cooked meal again. She wants the entire family to have a stick-to-their-ribs meal before we find out the truth about Rita's allegedly dangerous knockout punch.

Terrence, James and Vanessa went to Snappy's Kwik Stop around the corner to get some ice, a colander for Grandma Gasper's kitchen and other last minute provisions. When they arrived, they were turned away by Houston police. Someone had already looted the store before Rita even had a chance to shut the power off.

It's not expected to make landfall for hours if it hits at all.

Later they found what they needed at the mini mart, one of the last remaining stores to stay open. They were letting customers in three at a time to avoid any pre-looting.

Right now, the adults are resting and the kids are listening to music, watching DVD's and playing video games.

I spent the day and last night with the Gaspers and Parkers and no Clarence Flemming. More on that later.

The headline is that there is no headline. Their little neighborhood in Houston was spared -- no loss of electricity, no wind damage, no flooding. I'm sure other parts of the country are suffering, but not this family. They did their tour of destruction duty weeks ago.

They spent most of the Friday meandering around, as the TV blasted news of Hurricane Rita's projected path. As it tracked north and east, a weight was lifted. People seemed less concerned about damage and more concerned about dinner. There was never any sense of urgency, fear or panic.

They were so nonchalant about the storm, they did a couple of loads of laundry at Washateria across the street late in the afternoon. Grandma Gasper was making her red beans and rice. James was cooking a shrimp and butter sauce dish. His son, Tre, was engrossed in an NCAA football video game. People were listening to music.

There was a storm inside the home though. Clarence decided to leave the Gaspers and Parkers and go out on his own. This decision seemed overdue. When I first met him, he was introduced as a friend of the family. I later learned that he was primarily Vanessa's friend, and they became friends during the period that Vanessa and James Parker were having troubles in their marriage. But then James, who had been staying with his mother, re-appeared during hurricane Katrina to save his family. He has never left. Since then, there has been an apparent uneasiness about this marriage of inconvenience, and yesterday it came to an explosion.

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