NEW ORLEANS – Gayle Boudreaux , the Louisiana Credit Union League accountant who weathered Hurricane Katrina in her Jefferson Parish home and was not heard from for 10 days afterward, said wilderness camping experience helped her confront the abnormal living situations she faced. Gayle and her adult daughter lived on the second floor of her two-story house for 30 days without electricity. In the early days following the hurricane, they cooked food from her freezer on a camp stove. Portable radios and a battery-powered TV enabled them to track the events associated with the storm. “I had steaks that I didn’t want to go to waste without power,” she said. After the floodwaters receded, Gayle and her daughter walked to relief stations to get food and ice. “MREs are actually quite nice,” said Boudreaux. “I enjoyed talking to the relief crews, some of which came from as far away as Canada.” During the storm, the two watched the canal rising through cracks around the boarded up windows. “Water was coming through the roof. The winds were horizontal. It was kind of exciting watching tarpaper and tiles flying through the air,” Boudreaux said. But when water breached the levee, it began to flow “like a river” through the bottom floor of her home. The women waded through filthy water in the house but didn’t brave the waist-deep water outside after hearing that police had seen a shark nearby. Boudreaux didn’t mean for her MIA status to cause concern for co-workers and family. She was unsuccessful in reaching anyone by cell phone in the initial days following the hurricane, and once the phone’s battery died, she had no power to recharge it. It took 10 days to finally reach family members, who in turn contacted credit union officials. Boudreaux is back at work for LCUL and says she is better off emotionally because of it. She has moved in with relatives while her house is being repaired. “My furniture is ruined, but I have life and so much compared to what others lost,” she said. Would Gayle choose to evacuate next time, knowing what she does now? “I’ve survived a lot of other hurricanes. I didn’t want to go to a shelter. Yes, I’m probably crazy enough to do it again” [email protected]

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