writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: September 27, 2005; revised: April 23, 2018; readers in past month: 578
My cousin, Nicholas Catalano — who’s also my godfather — has been missing for eleven days now. He stayed for the storm in a neighborhood where the levee broke. The levee broke by his neighborhood during the last big hurricane which hit New Orleans in 1965 — he was living there then, too. He’s 69 years old. A friend of his picked him on Sunday night to take him to a shelter. They stopped at an old lady’s house that they knew — older than them — to pick her up. She refused to go, though, because she was worried about her dogs. So my cousin stayed with her and the friend went to the shelter alone. We found out about that piece of the story a few days ago from the friend through a round about way — he told a relative of his by telephone in New York, who knew my cousin in Methuen, Massachusetts, who in turn told the rest of the family. The area where the old lady lived had over 20 feet of water, so we’ve assumed that they either drowned or were stuck in her attic. It has been in the 90’s there. As old as they are, we didn’t have much hope of them being found alive.
In this photograph, you can see Nicky on the left. My godmother, Amy Chin is holding me, the baby. This photo was taken right after I was baptized at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Chartres street in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I was about two weeks old at that time. The other woman in the photo is my mother, Fortunata Serio; the other man is my father, Paul Dyer. I posted this photo because it was taken when Nicky became my godfather.
This afternoon, just a little while ago, I was in a restaurant in Cambridge eating lunch at the bar. I haven’t watched the news in a few days because the people I’m staying with never watch television and their only TV is a small one in their bedroom. After I was at the bar for about a half hour, I asked the bartender if he’d change the channel to CNN so I could watch the news. I was sitting there talking to some woman next to me when I looked up and there was my cousin sitting on the back of a pick-up truck with the old lady and her dogs. They were interviewing her before they took them off to a shelter. They had just been rescued from the flood, I guess by boat. I only saw him for a moment, but my cousin was sitting there looking disgusted as he usually looks all the decades I’ve known him. I called my mother and cousins where they’re staying in Houston — using that woman at the bar’s cell phone — they confirmed it was him and said that’s the first they had seen or heard of him. It’s amazing he survived and how we find out about the status of lost relatives and friends through this.