Hurricane Katrina was like no other natural disaster in American history. We all witnessed the natural disaster in the Gulf Coast region on national television. It’s one thing to watch it, another to live through it. ADA Representatives & New Orleans native’s Larry & Stella Bordlee along with our 200 American Dart League (ADL) members did just that. The following is a report from Larry sharing with us his experiences during this terrible tragedy.
It started just like any other fall season with my wife, Stella and me, working most of the week assembling 40 American Dart League team packets for the ADA members. We were well aware of a tropical storm on the east coast of Florida that was forecasted to go northeast just missing the east coast of Florida. We finished the packets at 4:30 PM and distributed them out to the locations for Captains to pick up before Monday night, the first night of league play. Around 11:00 PM Friday night the national Hurricane center put out another forecast that changed its direction now entering the southern portion of the Gulf of Mexico as a “Category One” hurricane. By 7:00 AM the next morning the National Hurricane Center issued a new report tracking this massive storm had changed direction and was heading directly for southeast Louisiana, straight for New Orleans! By this time all hell broke loose as we tried to make reservations in any hotel or motel anywhere west of the storms path. It took us 4 hours to find a hotel in Texas. Around 1:00 PM the next day Parish officials starting ordering people to get out of Southeast Louisiana immediately. So we left with my family around 2:00 PM thinking that this would be just like other times we’ve had to evacuate, staying a few days in a hotel then coming back to our home. By this time all eyes was on Hurricane Katrina.
By Sunday morning Hurricane Katrina went from a “Cat 1” to a “Cat 5”. We all knew that this was bad for the New Orleans area because if a hurricane from a cat 3 or higher would ever hit New Orleans we would have about 8 to 10 feet of water in the city. When Katrina hit the city it turned to the northeast and the eye just missed the New Orleans area. We thought that everything was going to be alright. Then our ADA members who were “scattered” all over the south starting calling us from their cell phones to see if everything was ok. We asked if they had heard from other members. To our pleasant surprise many of our members had kept in contact with one another. American Dart League members are like one big family. Once they realized Stella & I were ok many asked when we would be back home to get the American Dart League franchise in New Orleans back in operation!. At the time I didn’t even know if we would be able to salvage the fall season. And even if we did, how many members would come back to participate? Those we were in contact with didn’t hesitate, “We’ll be back, we need to get the dart league going so we can get our mines off what we have been going threw.” It made me feel very good about our members; they are not just members but a family!
Well after a week in a hotel and running out of money. I went to my insurance in Center, Texas explaining we were from New Orleans and that we were staying in a Hotel. I informed him our financial situation was critical and that we knew for a fact that our home was damaged during the storm, He filled out a claim and sent us on our way with no help at all. We headed south to stay with family members residing southeast of New Orleans. The next morning my daughter, son-in Law, Granddaughter and myself headed home. Just 7 miles from our home we were stopped by checkpoint personnel who informed us “rebels” were in our area and advised us to turn around. It took another week for the U.S. military and FEMA restore order so we could return to our home. Unfortunately FEMA was no help to our parish officials and Police department. Our parish President and the Police Department had only one line of communication with the out side world. Parish trucks needed fuel and a company donated a ship full of fuel docked on the west side of Jefferson parish. After two weeks FEMA and the U.S. military arrived with the forces needed to secure the rest of the city.
After a month we were finally given the go ahead to enter the parish. As we entered the west bank of New Orleans it looked like a war zone with military personnel and trucks everywhere. With helicopters flying overhead residents waited in line for ice and food. In spite of what we went through fortunately our home was structurally sound sustaining only moderate damage. After a week of cleaning our house it once again became our home. Like Dorothy said in the Wizard of OZ, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.
Thanks, Larry for taking the time to provide us all what you and your family experienced. However there is much more to the story. I’m pleased and proud to report on October 17th the American Dart League did, in fact, start the fall season! Before Larry evacuated he forwarded all of his Franchise data to ADA headquarters. Upon his return he was able to contact all of his members via electronic mail. The end result, 92% of his members will be returning! With schedules and standings listed on the ADA web site New Orleans members are just a “click” away from everything they require to get started and continue playing.
On a related note, we’ve witnessed relief efforts from across the country to get New Orleans back in operation. The ADA is pleased to report on the relief effort by our own “darts community”. First and foremost once we heard from Larry and found him and his family was safe we immediately realized forwarding him cash was the best relief possible. The ADA sent a notice to our Franchisee’s that Larry was in harms way and could use our support. Donations came in from our Reps and were forwarded to Larry and his family.
Next, Larry brought to our attention that neighboring New Orleans dart clubs may not be functioning this fall season. Their members contacted Larry seeking info so they can get back to playing darts! Be that as it may, the ADA has waived the annual membership fee for these new members. Our sponsors have also come to Larry’s rescue. Southern Eagle, Anheuser-Busch’s (AB) local wholesaler, has forwarded AmberBock dartboards to Larry for taverns whose dartboards were destroyed by Katrina. In addition to compliment members returning, AmberBock walnut backboards and bristle dartboards will be awarded by random draw to an existing fall league member and a new member. Dart World, the official dart company of the ADA, donated bristle dartboards and “bar” darts to taverns to get them back on their feet!
In closing, we can only imagine what Larry and our New Orleans members have gone through. It is rewarding to see fellow ADA members, ADA Reps and our sponsors come to their aid.