Hurricane Victim Hitchhikes To East Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/31/05-Longview

Hurricane Victim Hitchhikes To East Texas

34-year-old New Orleans bartender Andrew James is just glad to be at his family's home in Gilmer after a lucky set of circumstances, and hitching a ride out of New Orleans Tuesday.

"Packed a bag with a couple of things, went to the lobby, and said, 'I'll swim if I have to, but I've got to get out of here.' A couple of people had room for one person in their vehicle," says James.

He was helping others at a French Quarter high rise when he got his way out and made it to Lufkn then Gilmer. On his way out, he saw first-hand the destruction of Katrina, and then the wide spread looting afterward.

"The natives were getting restless so to speak, it was very eerie.  You could feel a riot building, the looting had already begun," says James.

He left behind friends and co-workers, and as he watches the news reports, worries over what's going to happen to them.

"My biggest fear is for the people that are there and wanting to get out, the good people outweigh them, just in spirit and caring," he says.

But what haunts him most is his close friend who didn't want to leave, then changed his mind, but it was too late.

"I told him, 'I have a ride', and he looks at me and says, 'Can I go?', and I said they only have room for one person".

He hasn't spoken to his friend since. James hopes to return to help rebuild New Orleans.

Bob Hallmark, reporting. bhallmark@kltv.com

 

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