Ok, we finally heard from my aunt and uncle from New Orleans. Here is an excerpt from my dad's email:
"On Wednesday John towed a boat into western New Orleans and volunteered to help save people. The authorities turned him away and told him to leave. Instead, he sneaked through back roads into their neighborhood, which is several miles south of the river, and drove to his home. Yes, he was armed. Their vicinity was not flooded at all and will not be. They have wind damage: the fence is gone, some siding, and part of the roof over one upstairs bedroom. That room is pretty well trashed, but the rest of the house not bad, considering. Their main problem now is the open roof hole, which probably cannot be fixed for some time. They had taken with them important documents, photos, and such. Had not been looted as of Wednesday.
No telling when John can get back to work; the tire business is flooded and probably looted, north of the river. [Cousin1] has a job in Thibodeax (sp?) and is already back to work. Paula's Wal-Mart is flooded and looted. On Monday, she will go back to work at a Wal-Mart in Morgan City, which is short of employees. Don't know [Cousin2's] status; I think she was in school & working. They are just thankful to be safe and not in the mess."
So that's a relief -- they were VERY fortunate. I am a little shocked that my uncle was turned away when he offered to help, but I imagine there were safety issues, etc. Just like my family to go ahead and sneak in anyway, and armed, at that...
I also heard from my friend Ann yesterday. She and her husband, two sons, and infant daughter had been pretty much stranded in their home in Chickasaw, AL (right outside Mobile) since Sunday, for various reasons, but the good news was they still HAD a home, with minimal damage, and they were finally on their way to her mother-in-law's home in Kentucky. Ann did say they'd been miserable and scared and had even run out of gas waiting in an insanely long line at a gas station -- just like what they're saying on the news.
Unbelievable. Just... unbelievable. But Thank God they're all safe.