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September 1st, 2008
05:34 PM ET

Bourbon Street was a barren street

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/01/art.bourbon3.jpg caption="Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans was empty, Monday."]

Gary Tuchman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Bourbon Street was a barren street. The road where it takes you a half hour to walk two blocks through thousands of people during Mardi Gras, had nobody on it when we were shooting video in the worst of Hurricane Gustav.

The street and the entire city as a matter of fact, haven't been this empty since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The effectiveness of the hurricane evacuation was remarkable and commendable. But a tiny percentage of New Orleanians decided not to leave, and one of the people who didn't leave is a guy I want to tell you about.

Russell Gore lives in New Orleans East, a neighborhood that was devastated during Katrina. And nobody was more personally devastated than Russell. He and his wife Cindy did not evacuate during Katrina, and while they were in their house, floodwaters tore into it.

Russell says more than nine feet of water came into his home, and for a day and a half he and his wife were in the attic. He says his wife was panicked, and then, to his utter shock, she died. Russell says the doctor told him she died of stress.

Either way, psychologically, Russell Gore has been a wreck for the last three years. He said he pledged to rebuild his house and move back in because he never wanted to forget the good memories.

So indeed he did. And it's that house where Russell decided NOT to evacuate once again from this hurricane.

I couldn't understand; I asked him after all he went through, why wouldn't he leave? And he gave me an answer that in a way made a certain degree of sense.

He told me he felt guilty he did not leave with Cindy in 2005; and that he just couldn't bring himself to evacuate this time, and not with her last time. He told me "I ain't running."

I stopped by his house after the worst of Gustav was over today. He told me it was scary but staying was something he had to do. It's easy to think that Russell Gore didn't make an wise decision. But its hard to say that to him because most of us fortunately have not had to walk in his shoes.


Filed under: Gary Tuchman • Hurricane Gustav
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    I'm glad Russell is ok and made it through the storm. I understand his reasoning on staying, but I think his late wife would have wanted him to evacuate and be safe. Sounds like he has more than an ample helping of survivor's guilt. My thoughts are with him. Thanks for the story and the follow up Gary.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 1, 2008 at 9:27 pm |
  2. ,Barbara-Dalton Ga

    Gary, I saw your story on Russell, it touched my heart so much. I am
    glad you checked to make sure he is ok. I sorta understand why Russell stayed, I think when you go through what he did you feel quilty that you made it and someone you loved didn't.. Maybe after this
    Russell will understand that it ok to look to the future and begin to
    live again. I know after loosing my mom a few years ago it was hard
    to talk about the lost,. For a long time there wasn't a day that came
    and went that I didn't think about her and feel a sadness I can't
    describe. Now I feel good remembering all the happy times we
    had together, even the few times that we were in conclict with one
    another. I hope Russell finds this peace soon,

    Good job all you, Anderson and all the others have done
    comvering Gus

    September 1, 2008 at 9:00 pm |
  3. Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio

    Gary,

    The evacuation seemed to work beautifully, but you can’t always convince everyone to leave. Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t realize what an unpredictable and relentless force Mother Nature can be until it is too late.

    It sounds like Russell Gore’s heart has been as empty for the last three years as Bourbon Street was on Monday.

    Many of us choose to react logically to an emotional decision like Russell’s, but sometimes that is not the right approach. The best thing we can do is to try and be supportive. I agree with you, no one really knows what heartache others are going through until they are put in the same position.

    Thanks for the update on Russell. I wish him the very best!

    I have appreciated the reports you have done so far regarding Gustav. As always they are thorough, interesting, and sincere!

    Best,
    Jo Ann

    September 1, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  4. Heather

    He has tremendous courage and strength. He has been through so much
    It's great that he and his new home are ok.

    September 1, 2008 at 6:45 pm |
  5. Wolf

    I can't blame him one bit.

    We stayed for Hurricane Bertha. We should have evac'd. We left for Fran.

    Compared to Katrina, what we went through was nothing.

    I can't blame him for not leaving now when he didn't the first time around.

    September 1, 2008 at 6:40 pm |
  6. pati mc., camp hill, pa

    Hello Gary,

    Thank you so much for letting us know that Russell is ok. I have been thinking about him all day. His story is heartwrenching. God Bless him.

    Clearly the evacuation worked, I agree with you that it was indeed, commendable. Thank goodness that things went better than during Katrina.

    One last thing,....have you guys been able to find out anything about Herbert Gettridge and his wife? Ever since I heard that Gustav was headed for NOLA, I wondered for their safety.

    Thanks Gary! Hope to see you on 360 tonite!

    September 1, 2008 at 6:32 pm |
  7. Patricia - Little Rock, AR

    Fortunately I have not walked in Mr. Gore's shoes....I don't know what I would have done in his position, although I can certainly understand why he didn't leave.

    September 1, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  8. J Holmes

    I don't feel sorry for New Orleans or the people who reside in it. How can anyone live in a swamp below sea level and expect it not to flood? Where is the logic? I am tired of spending billions of taxpayer dollars to rebuild a city time and time again. Isn't doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result insanity? A war against mother nature is a war that you can't win.

    September 1, 2008 at 5:53 pm |
  9. Cindy

    Gary,
    I saw your report on this story and it was extremely sad. I feel so sorry for Russell. I can see why he chose to stay because that is where he feels closest to his wife and if he left he may feel as if he was losing her all over again. I hope that he is safe and makes it through this storm. I'll be praying for his safety.

    Cindy...Ga.

    September 1, 2008 at 5:51 pm |