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August 31st, 2008
04:17 PM ET

Katrina took his wife, still won't leave for Gustav

Ismael Estrada
AC360 Producer

This morning while getting ready to head out and look for our story, CNN photojournalist Ric Blackburn stopped us to tell us of a guy he met passing out water and food to people in the French market.

His name is Russell Gore, and after hearing his story, we went to his home for an interview. Gore is not leaving his home when Hurricane Gustav hits New Orleans early tomorrow.

He lives in New Orleans east, what he calls the “bottom of the bowl” where flooding ravaged his neighborhood during Hurricane Katrina. It was here where his wife died in his arms 3 years ago yesterday after flooding from Hurricane Katrina forced Gore and his wife into their attic.

Gore says she died while waiting for helicopters to take them from their home.

He is struggling with the loss of his wife and can’t imagine leaving his home. He has rebuilt his home the way he says his wife would have wanted it. He tells us we could never understand how he feels and why he has decided to stay unless we walked a mile in his shoes.

Gary Tuchman will have his story tonight.

soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Anna

    i understand how you feel i used to felt the same way, i lost someone cose to my and it tore my life apart but i know she would have wanted e to live on my life, and i'm continuing living because that would have made her happy.

    September 1, 2008 at 12:17 pm |
  2. Michelle

    Russell, you are a beautiful, sensitive man. When the time is right for you, I hope you find love again. You deserve it. I will keep you and Cynthia in my good thoughts. Be safe.

    September 1, 2008 at 12:01 pm |
  3. Leisa

    I just saw this story and my heart is breaking for this man. I will be praying for him and for his extended family. Wishing that there was something humanly possible to alleviate his suffering and convince him to evacuate. Would have felt blessed to have him in stay in our home in Texas. God bless him.

    September 1, 2008 at 1:47 am |
  4. Harmon Brody

    Bravely spoken Tim, those of us that got out of the way of Katrina experienced losses as well. You dont know what you are talking about and havent been there. Perhaps it is you who is seeking attention by playing the macho mentality.

    Thousands of us who got out last time are going through horrible
    moments reliving this experience and the losses we suffered that casual observers like you make judgments about.

    August 31, 2008 at 11:52 pm |
  5. hazen d'oro

    i hate to say it, but people like this are, usually unintentionally, selfish. The resources , time, etc. that will be spent to evacuate this man under extreme circumstances ( should the need arise) take away from other things that need to be done. he may also be putting the lives of others at risk when they come to rescue him.
    As heartwrenching as it may be for this man ( and I am not unsympathetic to him at all) , he , and others who choose to stay behind should either be forced to leave, or, barring that ( and if they still won't go), told that they will not be getting any help until everything else is taken care of.
    How will this man feel if someone else who had to stay behiond because they were essential suffered or died while he was being rescued ?
    For all those pleading with god to help this man, while not being religiuos myself, there is a saying that god helps those who help themselves. it's too bad this man chose not to do that, and I see nothing heroic in his actions.

    August 31, 2008 at 11:48 pm |
  6. Sasha K. from NJ

    Wow. Being 13 yrs old and all I probably can't truly understand what he has gone throught. I believe he feels almost like he has something to prove. My God be with him and everyone else back there.

    August 31, 2008 at 11:34 pm |
  7. Heather,ca

    Major clinical depression resulting from losing the love of your life during a natural disaster can be literally physically paralyzing. He also may want to stay because he wants to go if you know what I mean. He misses his wife. He loves her. He is all alone. His house makes him feel safe and secure and he can be in control during a tramatic event. I know it sounds terrible but maybe he's hoping to go the same way she did so in his mind they can be together again.
    Many of us watched the TV in horror and shock he lived through it. I feel terrible for him. I have a little tear in my eye as I type this. He is in a lot of pain. He has been through so much. I hope the storm is not nearly as bad as it is supposed to be. I hope he wakes up to a new day and I hope he can meet people who have a heart as big as his and can give him the kindness and support he needs and look after him so he knows he matters to people and that he isn't alone.

    August 31, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  8. Eliz Nowen

    The reporting of Hurricane Gustav borders on a shark feeding frenzy before the storm has even hit US waters.. It is particularly disturbing to view continual references to the impact on the oil rigs and the constant speculation on how it going to esculate the price of gas, etc. A story before it becomes a story. This is exactly what speculators count on.....the shortage before there even is a shortage. The public complains about the price of gas, but look what we do in just televison broadcasting to encourage the process.

    August 31, 2008 at 11:05 pm |
  9. Carol

    My Heart really goes out to the people of N.O., I Ask GOD To Put his Minghty Wonderful Hands, around N.O. . that he will keep the people safe that stay behind and protect there belongings.... and that this is all these people have to call home Lord. I ask the Lord GOD to protect our Oil Rigs out in the Gulf that there will be no harm to them also. Lord you know that we all can't keep having these increases just keep going up. it is so hard now for everyone to make ends meet now.

    "Lord" I know you said if my people would come and humble them selfs before me I would hear your prayers and heal your land.

    God Bless and I am praying every waking minute, for N.O.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  10. Carol, PA

    I think someone should have told him that it is alright to go and that his wife wouldn't want him to stay in this potentially dangerous situation. He may feel guilty that he has survived or maybe even that he should have gotten his wife and himself out before Katrina struck and therefore, blames himself. He is undoubtedly lonely and possibly depressed and may want to be with her. All we can do is say a prayer for this gentleman and hope he survives.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:25 pm |
  11. Tim

    Haron, get your attention somewhere else. No such thing as survivor guilt when your sitting in Florida watching people you don't know perish. Did you feel bad, sure. Guilty for being alive though, gimme a break. Get real and quit blaming a storm for your own problems. Your not a victim in this so quit pretending to be.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  12. shelly

    This man can come to my house and stay I have a extra room... poor thing my heart breaks for him...He will be my special prayer for tonight..

    and to the man that hits the political agenda on behalf of Obama, shame on you!

    August 31, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  13. Vivian Ware

    I wish I could send the Arizona weather to everyone in the path of Gustav and make it go away... My heart and prayers to this poor man (and all the others that are effected by this terrible hurricane) who will not go... I hope and pray you make it sir....

    August 31, 2008 at 10:10 pm |
  14. Tiffany

    Russell – I hope you get a chance to see, read these messages to know how much you are cared about and loved. Please keep yourself safe. Know that you weren't responsible for what happened regarding Katrina and Gustav is not your punishment.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:08 pm |
  15. TLH in Orlando

    God be with you.

    I remember all too well the 2004 hurricane season when three hurricanes ran right over the top of Orlando.

    We're all praying for you.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:59 pm |
  16. gary

    I would be a fool to even think I could understand this man's loss. But he has to understand that his inactions amount to his giving up on life. His wife wouldn't agree with his decision to stay. She would want him to LIVE and be happy; because she loved him.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:57 pm |
  17. Carla Atlanta, GA

    I really for Mr. Gore and the lost of wife to Hurricane Katrina. I think that he should get out of there, and not let his emotions take over this decision he is making. I am sure that his wife would not agree with his decision to stay.

    Another thing, Senator McCain, is using this as a political gain and I don't really feel that he is doing this out the goodness of his heart.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:52 pm |
  18. Harmon Brody

    My wife and I were good friends of Russell and his wife Cynthia, who work with my wife at Harrahs Casino. We were devastated when we heard about it and last year we sought out Russell at the French Market. He told us what had happened. He seemed so lost...

    People don't really understand the devastating effect on people's lives from this kind of tragedy. I frequently cannot get to sleep at night 3 yrs later and my wife had to move back home to Chicago to isolate herself from the memories and losses of friends she experienced following our leaving New Orleans the day before. No we didnt go through Katrina and were safe in Florida when it hit, but like many survivors of the concentration camps during the holocaust, those that survived spent the rest of their livfes feeling guilty of having survived.
    We too are plagued by that question, why us ?

    August 31, 2008 at 9:43 pm |
  19. Pat (Houston)

    The story 'touched my heart'...Gary is dealing with love, loss and life. Emotions are so strong and all that he loved was lost three years ago. My wishes for him are for safe journey through this terrible storm.
    My compliments are to Anderson Cooper...you have always done a tremendous 'job' with terrible, raging storms. Stay safe and see another one through tonight.
    To the individual who utilized this blog to HIT ON POLITICS...go and find your on place to leave your personal, political hostilities. You're in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:42 pm |
  20. Brian

    What an incredibly sad story... I agree that he suffers depression over the loss. In regards to how his home flooded during Katrina, and what Gustav may bring, is even more saddening. I can't believe he is staying. I know it is a difficult situation, but he should leave - I feel that the CNN crew should (and may have tried) convince him to evacuate. This story is heartbreaking, but understandable. I'd certainly like an update on this gentleman's progress through, and after the hurricane.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:38 pm |
  21. Lois Chubb

    I feel this mans hurt and understand his views ,but he needs to try and save himself .Someone should try and talk him into leaving. Life is to short to put yourself through the same thing he went through three years ago. I will be praying for him and all of the gulf coast.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:37 pm |
  22. ann

    I reconize that person . I met him at the sachmo fest. He is a cool artist and warm and engaging person. He did miss his wife he is a very deep spirit. Hewas very dedicated to his family and community.He told me he has over come many life obsticle.I guess to the lay person we could never understand how hard this is for him. I am in nyc and I saw him again couple of weeks ago. When you speak to him again tell him the world needs him to stay . He needs to know people need to be taught some thing he knew only too well... true love

    August 31, 2008 at 9:36 pm |
  23. Leslie, Boston, MA

    God bless you Russell. I totally understand. I wouldn't go either.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
  24. lauren stephens

    i understand exactly how he feels... you just dont understand unless you have lost the love of your life....

    August 31, 2008 at 9:33 pm |
  25. Debbie - Arkansas

    What a story, it really tugs at your heartstrings...I can't imagine what a horrible feeling it must have been, to see your love, die in your loving arms...my prayers go out to you, and to all those, whose stories we'll never know. Maybe these 'comfortng words' can comfort you, and others: "God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, nor sun without rain, But he did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way." AND "Life isn't about waiting for the storms to pass, It's about learning to dance in the rain." God speed and God Bless "Our" America!

    August 31, 2008 at 9:31 pm |
  26. Jan G

    Such a shame that the people of New Orleans have to go through this again ... wish our government would get off their tushes and take care of our people and our country before sending OUR money over seas.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:27 pm |
  27. bridget burke

    I woud like to say my heart is going out the people of my home town. all I want right now is to be there like I wasn't for Katrina. I pray that this not the end of NOLA. I maybe here in the Carolinas but my heart will alway be in NOLA. I know how this man feels I wouldnt have left either. I pray that I will not have to see another Katrina. I would have rather Gustav came and visited here then go to NOLA. People in Louisiana are resilant,brave and have the heart of gold. My heart and soul are with you all now.

    Bridget Burke, Jacksonville, NC

    August 31, 2008 at 9:25 pm |
  28. Elizabeth kramer

    Am anxious to get answer from Anderson here or on tv,( No need to post ). Have people who choose to stay home during huricane been advised to paint the top of their houses or some system to allow us to check them 1st after storm. Have heard nothing from officials besides "of course, if they choose to remain in their homes, we don't Know" !!!!! that ,I think from Chertoff.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  29. George

    Maybe if there really was a supreme being New Orleans wouldn't have had to suffer through Katrina, never mind that Gustav is now coming to finish off the city for good.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:31 pm |
  30. Conrad Anderson Jr, Natchez MS

    My heart goes out to this individual. However, I cannot understand the decision to stay. I don't think that is what his wife would want and it is not worth his life. He might need to get his head examined. I cannot feel sorry for someone so irresponsible.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:16 pm |
  31. M Deare

    This is so sad. My heart really goes out to this man. Will you all please do a follow-up on him after the storm has passed?

    August 31, 2008 at 8:07 pm |
  32. Casey2

    While I certainly understand the widower's plight, and I also understand the concept of never giving up, this time I don't want to hear the weeping and the wailing and the damning of America if this hurricane hits the way Katrina did. There are many many poor and indigent citizens of NOLA who are leaving having learned their lessons with Katrina. There will be shelters for those who cannot afford to stay in hotels. Money is not an issue here. Neither is the caring and maintenance of pets. The people in the sheltering cities will open their hearts to these pets and the refugees from the Gulf Coast. That should not be an excuse to stay in New Orleans.

    Personally I think those who stay are nuts but that won't stop me from praying that they will survive in tact. I just don't want to hear the damn lies about how America let them down if things turn bad.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:43 pm |
  33. ella

    we will pray for everyone that will be affected my this monster storm,God be with you all,I pray for your safety!!!!

    August 31, 2008 at 7:42 pm |
  34. Rekaya Gibson

    I use to live in New Orleans East until Hurricane Katrina destroyed my home. I moved to Las Vegas and decided not to return to New Orleans. It was easy for me to make this decision because I was not born and raised there. Though I don't approve of Mr. Gore staying during Gustav, I respect his decision. I think he has accepted the fact that he might die in his home, a place he loves unconditionally. I will keep him and the residents of New Orleans in my prayers.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:27 pm |
  35. Pax

    Mr. Gore–please get out

    August 31, 2008 at 6:39 pm |
  36. Jolene

    Sounds like a suicide mission to me. This man must not be in a good mental state. Why would he want to go through this again? I hope Gary can convince him to evacuate or get help. My prayers are with him.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    August 31, 2008 at 6:34 pm |
  37. gayle dean

    Why are we seeing this as "News" ?? Why draw attention to one person's insainty. Not leaving is not thinking straight. Emotions being allowed to rule his life ... to lose his life... is he just trying to kill himself in a passive manner ??? "The storm got my wife, now it can have me?" But mostly my comment is to the CNN staff who decide to run with this ... to "Interview" this man, to make his choice a Front and Center piece of footage. It isn't news... it is just a sad event.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
  38. debra jaynes

    I can only pray that this individual will be kept safe by God. No one has the right to judge any of them, we can only pray or even try to understand what these people are feeling, but until you have walked every mile in there shoes they have their reasons for staying. I only wish them safe

    August 31, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  39. Paul

    I hate to see this happen again. I went to New Orleans after Katrina hit with a couple other firefighter friends to try to help out. I t was the worst thing I have ever seen in my 10 years of fire and ems service. I 'll keep you in my prayers. the People of New Orleans are some of the greatest people I have ever met. even when they have lost everything they would bend over backwards to do anything for you.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:14 pm |
  40. Rennae from VA

    I hope that someone reaches out and takes this man to safety, he isobviously very depressed and no in stable mental health because of his losses.

    My prayers are with him and all of the Americans that may be in harm's way.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:10 pm |
  41. Rebecca

    I'm a Seattleite who grew up on the coast and in N.O. and I have deep, deep ties. I always talk to Mr. Gore when I buy his beautiful hand made jewelry in the French Market. I wear a Mardi Gras pin he made often; after Katrina I wore it all the time to keep people from forgetting the storm and how my people were suffering. When I was there a year ago he showed me his hurricane tattoo, commemorating his wife. He's what N.O. is–living life his way, maybe not without consequences, but his way.

    Be well, Mr. Gore. I'll come see you next time I'm down there!

    August 31, 2008 at 6:02 pm |
  42. Isabella, California

    Such a sad story. I wish he would leave, he must know that is what his wife would want. I hope he survives and will be OK.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  43. Christine

    Anderson we hope you all stay safe in New Orleans we hope New Orleans comes through okay this time.We are all praying for you up here in Montreal Canada .God bless be safe!!Thanks Anderso for a great job letting us know how it is.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:46 pm |
  44. EJ (USA)

    He is probably still very depressed. You reporters should try to convince him to leave. He's really saying he'd rather die and be with his wife. Does he have children or other relatives?

    August 31, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  45. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    I guess at the end of the day, people will do what they want, regardless of the warnings. It's a shame. I understand their desire to never give in, but no home is worth a life.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  46. My Heart Goes Out To You

    I will never understand how you feel and many people won't. I know you're doing what your heart is telling you to do. And I feel you're doing the right thing! You will be in my prayers. I sit here with my eyes glued to the tv watching in horror. I went thru the same motions 3 years ago with Katrina. My boyfriend lived in NOLA during Katrina and I went days without knowing if he was dead or alive. Heart wrenching is the only words I can use to explain it. This time he's sitting at my side with tears in his eyes knowing what's going to happen if Hurricane Gustav hits like they say it's going to.

    I'm praying for you and your home! GOD BLESS ALL OF NOLA!

    August 31, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  47. Lesley, Lighthouse Point, FL

    I live in a hurricane zone. My sister and I were just talking about this. When Andrew was upon us, our entire family went into a panic. Tempers flew, disagreements took place and we said and did all kinds of stupid things. The stress involved in this makes you crazy. We get very emotional with this stuff. Wilma hit us very hard a few years ago. God Bless this man. My heart goes out to him.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:52 pm |
  48. chuck kinsey

    It is brilliant that McCain's strategists are using Gustav as a way to answer " is the Republican Convention going to compare to the Democrat's Convention." It will allow Bush and Cheney to be even further distanced from the campaign. (satellite Mr. President?) Obama better get his plane turned around and get down to New Orleans real quick or Gustav is going to put the righteous McCain into the white house. This is huge.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:51 pm |