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Relief is tinged with worry

Charles Andrew Williams, wearing a hat he received at Camp Williams, says he last saw his ailing mother at the Superdome.
Charles Andrew Williams, wearing a hat he received at Camp Williams, says he last saw his ailing mother at the Superdome.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

With water quickly overtaking his New Orleans home, Charles Andrew Williams kept his 84-year-old mother afloat for as long as possible. "We was just a floatin' in that house, and she said, 'Charles, we're going to die here.' I said, 'That's not what God said.' "

Williams and his mother, Mary, finally got out of the house and made their way to the Superdome, where tens of thousands of displaced residents congregated awaiting help. It was there that Williams last saw his ailing mother, whom he sent off with Red Cross workers for medical attention.

"I cry every day because I don't know where she at," says Williams, who hopes to soon see his mother's name — Mary P. Williams — on a list of people at other shelters. "If Mother ain't on it, it wasn't in God's will."

As for 63-year-old Williams, he's finding comfort in Utah. He showered three times on Monday ("That shower never had it so good," he says.) He's picked up three changes of clothes, including a natty zebra-print hat that he was particularly excited about, and plenty of food from the commissary. "If you go in there, you think it's Wal-Mart."

Williams is happy his mother didn't have to experience the dirtiness and violence in the Superdome like he and so many others did.

"It was all right until it started getting lousy and nasty," he says. "But the Superdome saved my life. It saved a lot of lives."