Katrina Evacuee Shares Story Of Losing Wife, Son In Hurricane - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/21/05-Tyler

Katrina Evacuee Shares Story Of Losing Wife, Son In Hurricane

Ray Johnson met and married his wife, Cindy, 4 1/2 years ago, in what is described as a whirlwind romance. "She would come by three times a day and kiss me on my cheek and just walk off. I said this lady is in love with me for some reason," says Ray smiling. Together they had a baby boy, Ray Jr. But soon the senior Ray would battle the toughest demon of his life...her name was Katrina.

"I didn't ever think I was going to lose my son and wife, no, never," says Ray shaking his head. The storm bowled over Ray's home in Jefferson Parish, but it was the breached levees that caused the waters to go from six inches deep to chest high. Ray describes how he tried to get his family to the attic to safety with his three-year-old son on his shoulders. "

A gush of water hit me in my chest and I lost my balance for about three seconds and when I did my son went over the back of my neck and over my wife's head and into the water. I turned around and I saw my wife go under. When I got to her I went under and I picked her feet up to hurl her up and she fell over. She was floating so I knew she was dead," Ray recalls. He had to pull his wife and son's lifeless bodies to the attic, where he covered them up with sheets. Ray got the courage to swim through contaminated waters to higher ground. A trucker graciously bought him dry clothes and drove him to East Texas. Not only did he find shelter at First Christian Church in Tyler, but he also found comfort that only a higher being can provide. "How am i holding up? With God. For the first two weeks, I broke down everyday, three, four, five, ten times a day. I got my strength from God," says Ray. It's with that strength Ray will start a new life in East Texas, as soon as he closes the most difficult chapter in his life in New Orleans.

Ray's wife and son will be flown to Tyler where they will be laid to rest next Tuesday. He says he will never forget the friends he's made in Tyler who helped him through this difficult time.

Christine Nelson, reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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