A decade ago, in reporting on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I met a couple who survived the storm by escaping to their church's balcony.
This was the lede on the in-depth narrative feature I wrote on Charles and Angela Marsalis:
NEW ORLEANS — "Girl, you better get out of town!”
Angela Marsalis’ mother made it clear what she thought her daughter should do that weekend as Hurricane Katrina — a Category 5 storm packing 160 mile-per-hour winds — threatened a direct hit on New Orleans.
In a perfect world, Angela — a substitute teacher who helped each day with an after-school program at church — would have done exactly as her mother urged. She, her husband, Charles, and their boys would have joined the clogged procession of vehicles fleeing the tempest predicted to make landfall Monday morning.
But Charles — who worked 12-hour days on a tugboat yet still volunteered most mornings at a Christian outreach center — had just spent $2,000 to fix the family’s blue 2000 Dodge Caravan, wiping out their bank account.
Jittery over the calamity that could befall the bowl-shaped metropolitan area, Angela begged her husband: “Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!”
But her practical side knew they lacked the cash to keep their gas tank full. They simply could not afford to heed the mayor’s mandatory evacuation order.
Now, the Marsalises are about to be featured on actor Morgan Freeman's "The Story of God," a six-episode series that premiered Sunday night on the National Geographic Channel.