CORRECTED COPY: The Brazil Times has learned Randy's last name is Weaver, not Wheeler. The Brazil Times apologizes for the error.
By FRANK PHILLIPS
Randy Wheeler, 53, is a music teacher in a Roman Catholic Elementary School in New Orleans.
For the past 18 years he has lived in New Orleans and has dodged six or seven hurricanes during that time.
Is he ever afraid?
"Yes, that's why I leave," he said Thursday afternoon. "I left last year before Ivan arrived."
When Randy heard that Katrina was developing into a Cateogry 4 hurricane, he packed a few belongings and his dog, Priscilla, into his car and headed north. He is staying with his cousins, Ernie and Marge Pflueger, in Brazil.
"I brought a good bit of my clothes, credentials for teaching, my birth certificate and Social Security card and some pictures," he said.
Randy keeps his traveling items in a special place so he can grab them quickly when it is time to evacuate New Orleans.
On Thursday, he was substitute teaching at Northview High School to give him something to think about besides his uprooted life.
Although he is sure some of his acquaintances didn't make it out before the hurricane made landfall, his friends are all safe and accounted for.
The last friend he heard from is a mounted police officer, originally from Terre Haute. She was evacuated with other police officers to a farm north of New Orleans.
A neighbor stayed behind until Sunday. He said the apartment house Randy lives in on the second floor of a building in the French Quarter sustained little damage. Some plaster blew off but it appeared to be otherwise structurally sound.
"But we don't know about the inside," Randy added.
Randy feels very fortunate. His neighborhood, the French Quarter is flooded, but water isn't up to the roofs. Most of the damage was done to the newer neighborhoods on the east side of the city, he believes.
Now, he finds it difficult to watch the TV reports about the city for more than a few minutes at a time.
He hopes the beautiful old buildings for which New Orleans is known can be restored.
In fact, that is one of the things he loves about New Orleans. The city's musical heritage is first followed by the culture, the cuisine and the European feel of the city.
Randy appreciates his family's hospitality but hopes his school will soon re-open.
"Our school fared pretty well," he said. "There was some cosmetic damage and two air conditioning units blew off the roof."
School officials have projected it will re-open in January, but Randy hopes it will be before then.
"I think the city will definitely rebuild and be a better place for it," he said. "Life will go on."