Hurricane Katrina Surivior Warren Brown surivives tornado in closet with wife in Abilene, TX: “I watched the thing eat up my house.”

Hurricane Katrina survivor Warren Brown and his wife Kenyetta Woodard have survived yet another natural disaster. A confirmed tornado tore through parts of Abilene, Texas early Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service. 

Residents had described seeing the tornado around 6 a.m. Saturday. Several homes were destroyed, and many were left without roofs.

No fatalities or major injuries reported.

“I watched it through the window. It started as just a little bitty thing then it just started spinning faster,” said Warren Brown, whose home was ripped apart by the strong winds.

Moments prior, it was a whistling sound that awakened Warren, and he went to open the door to figure out what it was. That’s when he saw basketballs swirling in the air, followed by trees and even the basketball goal. “Dee, I don’t know why I was looking for so long. I guess I couldn’t believe it.”

He said he looked up and saw a little white funnel cloud with things swirling inside of it coming down over the house. “Call the police; call somebody!” Warren shouted to his wife as she screamed for him from the bedroom closet; she knew it was a tornado. “I cried for Warren come to get in the closet, but he wasn’t hearing me until I said, “Warren, it’s a tornado!” and he finally came, ” said Kenyetta. Typical Warren I thought to myself, relieved that it finally clicked that he was in danger.

Warren mentioned the tornado was worse than Hurricane Katrina, describing the flooding opposed to the wind blowing over 100 miles and throwing stuff around. I could hear the anxiety in his voice as if he was having a flashback. Like thousands of others, Warren suffers from PTSD and depression the results of Hurricane Katrina. “Dee, I never have seen it before. I watched the thing eat up my house from the closet.”

Warren was all smiles and googly eyes when he received his wife’s quick and reassuring actions. “If my wife weren’t there, I would be dead.” “Plus, I was hollering like a lil girl, and don’t you know she told me to shut the hell up.” Vendetta chimed in and said, ” Yes, girl I had to snap on him. He was telling me to call 911; let’s go check on the neighbors and just screaming, well he had a panic attack.” We were able to laugh now because they were safe, but they were in a life and death situation, and her quick thinking and knowledge saved their lives.

I can not imagine what is going on within their minds, Hurricane Katrina was too much for anyone to handle, and now this. Before Warren hung up, he said, “This thing wasn’t like Hurricane Katrina, it came for you. It swooped down, sucked up, destroyed everything in its path, and spit it out.”

Warren’s side of the family lived in the Iberville Projects before Hurricane Katrina; it was the only home they knew. I learned the in’s and out’s of Canal St., the French Quarter, Bourbon St, basically the entire downtown area, because of the Brown’s.

Warren, whose nickname is Mr. Nola, was the embodiment of all things New Orleans, and he was very popular, known for his great sense of humor and style. Back in the day if Warren wasn’t in the courtyard, you knew where to find him, at the Game Room on Canal or at the foot of Bourbon St. He was a Nola your guide before it was thought of and he did it for free, just to show the tourists a great time. He would bring tourist to the St.Louis Cemetery, there was no cost to visit the graveyard back then and the night usually ended with good cheap eats at Dejavu in the Quarters.

New Orleans was all he knew and loved; it was his city plus he was Mr.Nola! Enduring Hurricane Katrina, seeing the aftermath and the treatment of the people wore hard on his heart. His testimony of the all that went on at the days after the levee broke to being shipped to a little country town named Abilene will have the strongest breaking down.

The uprooting of Hurricane Katrina broke his heart and wounded his soul. There were many days when we worried about Warren’s emotional and mental health, but he always pulled through. Usually, a road trip home helped with feeling depressed, but also heartbreaking. Coming home isn’t the same; everyone is gone, and can not afford to go back. The Iberville Project has been replaced with luxury condos leaving those who called it home before Katrina with no choice but to live in the cities they were shipped to. One would think since Katrina effected predominately poor communities that the city’s focus would have been to rebuild so these families could come home, but no. Rebuilding, renovation is for new nonNew Orleanians to move to the city..

Now, Warren and Kenyetta are back at the place where they first met, survivors of natural disaster, hearts, and minds full of uncertainty and fear Kenyatta wasn’t here when the storm hit, but over the years she has lovingly stood by Warren’s side Through sickness and in health. They were able to find each other in the muddy waters of Katrina, and together, they must find the strength to rebuild again. Life in Abilene wasn’t bad at all; they married, are homeowners, own Warren’s dream truck, Kenyetta is a nurse, and Warren is self-employed. Warren would call me on Facetime showing me his massive backyard and how clear the sky was a night, so clear I could see the stars from the phone.

He spoke of missing his family and friends, but admitted that Katrina did get him to travel and get a piece of the All American dream. But New Orleans was apart of him and not having the option to move back home hurt, how they treated the our families way before Katrina hurt. “It’s like they just want us out the way, but there is no New Orleans without and one day we will move back. I’m Mr. Nola for life; ya heard me.”

Warren is a poster child for New Orleanian’s who suffer from emotional and mental health issues because of Hurricane Katrina. His life is proof that New Orleans lives in one’s heart and soul, and living away feels like the death of a loved one.

I know the feeling, ooh to well. It’s Heartbreaking when we are ripped from her bosom, torn from her loving embrace and uprooted from her nurturing soil; it has devastating effects on us. New Orleans is a part of us; the city lives within us and those of us who remain due it with great sacrifice.

Warren took pictures after the tornado hit.

Abilene News video link below


Warren and Kenyetta’s house moments before the tornado it. He thinks that whiteness was the tornado.

A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: