Oklahomans stuck in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath

Wednesday, August 31st 2005, 9:54 am
By: News On 6

Some Oklahomans are among those stranded in Katrina's aftermath. They have the money, the means and the support to come home to Tulsa, but for Joe and Judy Rodanski, there is no way out of their downtown New Orleans hotel.

News on 6 anchor Tami Marler says this tragedy affects much more than just the people in the Gulf states. The Rodanskis' have family members who've been agonizing with worry since Katrina made landfall this weekend.

From the time Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, Ruby and Joe Rodanski were on the phone and in front of the television, trying to get information about their son Joe and his wife Judy. "So I'd just keep hitting redial and finally I got him and oh what a blessing to hear his voice."

Ruby and Joe’s son, Joe Rodanski: "Southwest Airlines had a full flight into New Orleans. Nobody even warned us that we were in danger or harm's way. In fact everybody said the storm was tracking up the Florida coast, which we felt comfortable."

Joe and Judy had just flown into New Orleans for an oil and gas conference. They knew as soon as they landed they were in trouble, when they saw others already trying to leave. They tried everything they knew to get out as well. "There was no taxis, there was no rental cars, there was no flights. And uh, this was the day before the storm."

Now they're stuck, 12 floors up in a hotel in downtown New Orleans. No electricity, no plumbing, no food, nothing to do but sweat and wait. "Sun's been out all day. See some clouds out in the distance but the more the sun's out; the hotter it gets in this room. It’s a big stinky hot mess down there. Like a sauna inside that room."

Rodanski tells his parents it's more than a hundred degrees in his room, even when its pitch black at night and the smell is becoming unbearable. "Once the electric and the water went off, that meant that there was no toilet usage for flushing, and most of the toilets within the hotel were full or overflowing and the smell continues to get worse by the hour. The time goes so slow and one time we were sitting here and my wife said, 'do you think this is what prison is like?' and I said, 'no I think prison is better than this.”