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Down, But Never Out in New Orleans

Down, But Never Out

Written by Glenda Plunkett , Special to

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 — HOUSTON – Curtis Brown is a person who knows all about tenacity. He is a long-time native of New Orleans, who ignored the warnings to evacuate because it meant leaving his beloved Dobermans and his businesses behind.

Back before the hurricane Brown owned a successful cabinetry business and a martial arts training school. He raised Dobermans, which he considered his family. Unfortunately, he lost the dogs when the hurricane hit. The wind frightened them, and they sought shelter under the house. He worked to drag them out but couldn’t, and they drowned when the floodwaters rose.

Brown prepared for disaster; he had stockpiled provisions and a three-month supply of water. What he was not prepared for worse than a hurricane – floodwaters. Water came into his home forcing him to take shelter in his upstairs loft. Then the water became contaminated with debris and disease. A motorboat came to his rescue, and he left his home. While evacuating he slipped and injured his ankle.

The next shelter was in New Orleans at the Trade Center, where he witnessed looting and carjacking. Shots were heard night and day and when the buses arrived to transfer evacuees to Houston, Brown again evacuated. He shared that he thought the city had a poor plan and a lot of misinformation but they had sent the buses.

"They brought us to a safe place," Brown said.

As he lay on a cot with his foot splinted, he described his accommodations at the Red Cross shelter as comfortable and the people, friendly. He found the volunteers to be supportive.

"One girl named Tiffany ran rings around herself to help me," Brown said. "You can’t beat people like that."

When asked what his future plans were, he said that he would be back on top. He is an ex-cop, ex-DEA, and an ex-martial Arts instructor.

"I am old-school. I believe in values like hard work and honesty," he said. "I have made an art form out of how to survive. I may be down, but I am never out."

Glenda Plunkett is with the Mid-Illinois Chapter of the American Red Cross. She is a member of the Red Cross Rapid Response Team currently deployed to Houston.

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