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Entire Gymnasium Full of People Drown during Katrina Hurricane

Tragedy in high school gymnasium.
When I took my son to his guitar lesson, I met one of the guitar instructors who is from New Orleans. The instructor said his niece survived the hurricane in one the parishes in Louisiana. He talked to her on the phone recently. This is the niece's account:

A whole community of people assembled in the high school gymnasium to ride out the hurricane. The bleachers were full of people. The one hundred plus MPH winds knocked out all the windows. The water entered the gymnasium foot by foot. People on the lower bleachers tried to climb higher, but the upper bleachers were already full. As the storm surge rose to fourteen feet, people started to drown en mass. When the water was high enough, the niece was able to swim out the gymnasium window into the one hundred MPH winds. She said she saw a one-year old baby float past her face down.

The Rumor Mill Is Alive and Well 08.Sep.2005 06:34

Roland

This third hand account of a tragedy in New Orleans would carry more weight if the names of the guitar instructor, his niece, the parish and the high school were included in the story. There are enough other apparently real horror stories to focus on - like the nursing home deaths in Chalmette, reported by Republican State Representative Nita Hutter - without having to dwell on dubious ones.

possibly more info here 08.Sep.2005 14:30

Mr DNA

article here:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/katrina/story/0,16441,1563532,00.html

"One French journalist from the daily newspaper Libération was given precise information that 1,200 people had drowned at Marion Abramson school on 5552 Read Boulevard. Nobody at the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the New Orleans police force has been able to verify that."

Plausible, mostly 09.Sep.2005 10:25

Bison Boy

According to  http://www.nola.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news-4/1125213007249320.xml?nola that school (Marion Abramson Senior High School) was a place to meet the busses bringing people to the Superdome.

Google maps shows the location here:
 http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=5552+Read+Blvd,+New+Orleans,+LA

An August 31 satellite photo shows that area flooded, apparently quite deeply:
 ftp://ftp.digitalglobe.com/incoming/dropoff/hurricane_katrina/post_hurricane_images/new_orleans_aug31_2005_dg_sm.jpg (Warning: 16MB download.)

So, it's plausible that many people could have gathered at the school and been stranded there for lack of transport. As the waters rose, they could have been trapped. I've never seen a high school gymnasium where 14 feet of water would be sufficient to drown everyone inside. If a couple thousand people were in it, though, there wouldn't be room in the bleachers to keep everyone above water without swimming. All that could be true.

However, the flooding apparently did not start in earnest until well after the hurricane had passed. Swimming out of the gym into 100-MPH winds sounds unlikely to have happened in this event.

This story sounds like BS... but it might actually have a frighteningly large amount of truth to it. Time will tell.

Confirmation of the tragedy but not its scope 10.Sep.2005 05:06

Anonymous

ESPN has a write up on an Auburn athlete who lost two brothers at the high school.

 link to sports.espn.go.com

Marion Abramson 25.Jan.2006 07:36

Captain Mitchell Marion Abramson JROTC class of 96

to u who don't have a single clue about my school, my friends, my loved ones in that building, and you don't know the history of the school and walked those treached hall ways before the storm, so how the hell would u know what the hell ur talking about. abramson was death trap before katrina, soo it was already a tomb when i attended there. it always flooded easily with a regular storm, so imagine a hurricaine with such winds and forces. u forgot god, and whom he chooses to save, so thinking like a simple minded human being, u forgot that god knows who he will save and those who will parish. when i attended abe there were always chains on the doors everywhere who is to say that possibly other exits weren't blocked. water always came into our school. so instead of complaining about your issues, please say a prayer for those who parished. this for u guys who died and those im still looking for the "commodores". god bless all of ur souls.

Abramson would have flooded immensely. 21.Mar.2019 21:34

SM

I lived in the area for a smaller hurricane and the water rose appox 15 ft. I went to Abramson. It would have been a death trap. No way out. The school was demolished immediately. Sounds like a cover-up. I've read about unmarked mass graves that were dug by a contracted company to bury the dead. We will never find out the truth from the government and never will know how many lost their lives. Also there were sounds of what some people thought were explosives blowing up the levee in order to protect other areas from rising water. We will never know the truth but I did hear first hand about all the deaths at Abramson about 3 days after storm. I believe it's true and was covered up.