After meeting every week for 18 months, Gerald Anderson and I have published his remarkable story. Check it out on Amazon, view our video, visit our website in time for the Katrina tenth anniversary:
The Kindle format is up on Amazon, and I was going to wait until the paperback was up (any minute now) to post this. However, tonight, while I was revising my LinkedIn profile, in my sleepy stupor, I accidentally hit a link that reached out to 1,100 names in my address book (which is linked to LinkedIn) and now quite a few of those people are checking out this blog. Tomorrow I figure a bunch of the early-to-bed, early-to-rise types will do the same.
So, good morning! I hope you will share this and enjoy the book and check back on Amazon, if the paperback isn’t up yet!
Oh, and did I mention that a couple of weeks ago Gerald jumped onto a subway track to rescue a man who had fallen?
Here’s a description of the book:
For Gerald Anderson, a brewing storm meant an opportunity to break into cars, stores, and homes. He would then buy drugs and inevitably land in jail. From age 15 to 37, this cycle was all he knew. But when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the levees broke, Anderson’s focus shifted, and he called upon skills he had learned in prison to tend to those who were trapped.
Using a boat they found at an evacuated house in the Garden District, Anderson and his homeboys battled chin-high floodwaters to rescue victims, in some cases their bodies: a woman in labor, an old man without legs, an addict with a bullet in his chest. He and his friends looked after families and elderly in the projects “just like if we was protecting the President’s house.”
Still Standing: How an Ex-Con Found Salvation in the Floodwaters of Katrina is more than a tale of struggles when the levees broke. A gifted storyteller, Anderson weaves reflections on life before Katrina into the narrative. “Whenever I disobeyed my brother, he’d hold me up to the ceiling and drop me. One hour later I go right back and disobey him. After a while it like a bee sting, it hurt for a minute and go away. . . . The neighborhood I came up in, you sit on the porch, and it like watchin’ a wrasslin’ match. You see the ladies, the hustlers, the dogfights. If there ain’t men doin’ violence, women be fightin’ about men.”
Anderson also reflects on using his wits in prison, where he grilled cheese sandwiches by ironing them inside brown paper bags. In Louisiana State Penitentiary, Anderson lived with his father for the first time and realized, “My daddy got a little care about me.”
Seeing dead bodies had been commonplace for Anderson. But when his beloved Miss Mary and her grandchildren are stabbed to death during Katrina, Anderson says, “It put chills in my body . . . . I ain’t never seen anyone murdered that open her heart to you like Miss Mary.”
Anderson’s memoir illuminates a man’s life that is tested by floodwaters and then given new meaning by his rescue efforts. His voice and cadence lend immediacy to his riveting story.
When author and award-winning journalist Susan Orlins met Anderson he was selling Street Sense, Washington, DC’s newspaper that is written and sold by homeless vendors. For 18 months they met weekly. He talked, she typed. She asked questions, he answered. Anderson’s memoir is the result.
I’ve been reaching out to TV, radio, and print media. I welcome any suggestions, connections, and questions!