411 Operator remembers taking Hurricane Katrina calls

By Brittany Pieper – email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) –When Hurricane Katrina hit the national media interviewed many of the survivors. Sitting in her office, at the 411 call center in Shreveport, Bessie Tyler took the calls and heard the stories of many who would not make it out of the city alive.

"A lot of them were people who were up on their roof tops that wanted us to try to get somebody to rescue them," said Tyler.

She said the most difficult and haunting calls came from those who had accepted their inevitable fate and just wanted someone to talk to.

"She said I'm in a nursing home, and it's flooded. All the staff has left, and the water is up on my bed. I am bed ridden. I know I'm going to die. She said, will you pray with me, and so I prayed with her," said Tyler remembering one call.

Tyler took down information of where people were to try and get them help, but for the most part all she could do was listen.

"To hear the panic and the hurt in their voices just gave me nightmares. I left work and I had to stop on the side of the road and cry. When I got home I cried, and I can't watch Katrina film without thinking about all the many people that I talked to and wondering how many for them made it out alive," said Tyler.

The untold stories of those whose lives were washed away in Katrina's flood waters replay in Tyler's mind. Their faith strengthened her own, and on this anniversary weekend, they are not forgotten.

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