The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University and the University of New Orleans organized the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank (HDMB) in 2005 in partnership with many national and Gulf Coast area organizations and individuals. Liz's story is documented and included in this digital library.
After Katrina, New Orleans' Climate Conumdrum: Flight or Fight, written by Kathleen Bagley.
A collection of interviews, including Liz Ashe Havrilla.
After the destruction by Hurricane Katrina, many of the city's festivals were cancelled. Read about the return of one of New Orleans' festivals that Liz helped as a celebrity chef.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
American Author Liz Ashe Havrilla Announces Her Audiobook “One Step at a Time”
One of the newest authors to come from America, Liz Ashe Havrilla, is set to debut her audiobook biographical novel on surviving Hurricane Katrina
New Orleans, LA – April 30, 2019 – American author and realtor broker, Liz Ashe Havrilla, is set to debut her biographical account of her experience during Hurricane Katrina in her audiobook, “One Step at a Time: An Eyewitness Account of Surviving Hurricane Katrina, published by Absolute Author Publishing House. “I am so excited to share my story,” Havrilla told Dr. Melissa Caudle, author and senior editor with Absolute Author Publishing House who had the pleasure of editing Havrilla’s book. “This book is inspiring, and anyone who reads it will be touched,” Caudle said. “Liz is a true inspiration and heroine by all measures.”
According to the book’s blurb, this book is meant to help others. Have you ever experienced your life as useless and painful? Do you get to the point that you want to end it all? Are you depressed or need hope? If you answered yes, this book can offer you a reprieve.
“I wrote this book to help others who are suffering,” Havrilla said. “I knew I had a message from God that had to be told. He saved me for a reason. I was called by Him to tell my story.”
When Caudle first read Havrilla’s manuscript, she felt every bit of her pain. “I cried so many times while I was editing this book I ran out of tissues,” Caudle said. “You know a book is special when it can move you spiritually and bring healing to others. Moreover, this is exactly what this book does.”
The book opens days before Hurricane Katrina was expected to make landfall in New Orleans as Havrilla prepares for her son’s wedding shower at her home. Once the Hurricane approached, Liz and her husband were faced with the decision to either evacuate or to remain in their three-story home. They chose to stay and suffered the consequences for it.
Here is an excerpt from “One Step at a Time.”
I’m extremely grateful I didn’t see the massive wave coming toward us and even more thankful that Tom didn’t tell me to look at it as I am confident I would have had a stroke or heart attack. I can’t imagine having more panic and fear. The wave approached quickly, and Tom knew it. If we had not decided to get out of the house at the exact moment, we surely would have drowned by the relentless crushing wave that battered us.
Just as the wave reached the edge of the balcony, I grabbed the hot tub cover. The cover was folded in half. Tom managed to stand and grab me and the cover. We each held onto one side. Within a nanosecond and with perfect timing, Tom pushed me into the thirty-foot wall of water. We both held the cover, and Tom clutched the sheet as we were instantly whisked away by the water’s fury. The current was strong. It was also dirty, salty, and moved quickly.
I felt as if something was slowing me down. I soon realized it was my jogging pants I had put on earlier.
I thought for a brief time I could drown as I was hanging onto dear life to the hot tub cover. I knew that I had to get out of my pants quickly. As Tom continued to hang on to the sheet, wrapped around me, and to the cover, I tried to listen to his instructions, to accomplish my task, while praying to God at the same time. I could barely hear him, but I saw the fear on his face. We were in trouble. While removing my pants, I lost both of my shoes.
The water was moving us fast in tandem; neither one of us knew where we were headed as we struggled to remain afloat. Then, Tom spotted a tree.
“Liz, you have to get into that tree!”
“How can I?”
“Don’t worry; the water will take you there.”
Tom was right. It only took a few seconds for us to reach the tree. We both got there at the same time. We were about to be whisked away by the current, and fortunately, there was a chain from a swing set lodged in the tree. The chain was wrapped in plastic with one metal triangle on each end.
If those triangles weren’t there, I don’t know how I could have gotten into the tree. With all the strength I could muster, I grabbed the triangles frantically; one in each hand, as I pulled myself up into the tree. Tom was unable to assist me and worse, there wasn’t room for him, and he let go of the sheet, and the raging waters swept him away. I thought I’d never see him again.
On a side note, several weeks later, I discovered that the chain was part of our neighbor’s children’s swing set and the tree I was in was not rooted in the ground, it had just blown up against a pine tree.
The tree, lodged on the Mumphrey’s property, that Liz clung to during the height of Hurricane Katrina.
My heart pounded. As soon as I felt safe and secure, I realized how hard and fast I was breathing and knew immediately I had to slow it down before I had a heart attack. I started thinking about my daughter, Aimee, and I could hear her voice inside my mind.
“Mom, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.”
That is exactly what I did, and as soon as I began to breathe better, I turned around and looked toward the lake.
What I saw next scared me to death. Our master bedroom closet carried by the rushing water was heading straight for me.
“I am going to be crushed to death by my dream closet.”
“How in the world could that part of my house be coming straight for me?”
I didn’t have any time to think – only react.
I lifted my legs and used the bottom of my feet and pushed the closet away from me. Thank God it was weightless due to the water which enabled me to push it out of the way. No doubt, my adrenaline helped me too. I shudder to think if I had not turned around exactly when I did, I would have been hit in the back of my head by that portion of my closet.
As I watched the top of our closet slowly sink into the flood waters of Katrina, I looked toward the bayou and saw Tom. He was alive, still hanging onto the hot tub cover, and being whisked away by the waves. He didn’t see me look at him and I am glad he hadn’t. If he had, he would have certainly seen the look of desperation I had on my face. I’m not sure why, but I looked down at my watch. It was 11:11 AM.
Alone, exhausted, wet and about 20-feet up in a tree, I could feel the ferocious winds and see the powerful waves. I tried to block the fear by using mind over matter. I felt safe and wasn’t afraid anymore for some odd reason that I can’t explain.
It may sound bizarre and hard to imagine, even though the warm salt water was up to my neck, in some ways it was comforting. It was such an eerie, surreal moment in my life. It was also a lonely feeling. It was just me, in a tree, and an endless lake of waves with white caps. Then a dose of reality hit me in my face.
“I’m going to die.”
I knew that my life was near the end. But I was okay with that because I felt God’s presence and His majesty. It felt as if I were wrapped tightly in His arms and was under His protection. With His presence, I stopped being scared and began to focus on staying alive. I think that fear propelled my strength by turning it into hope. There is no other alternative answer for me.
“I think anyone who is need of an uplift should read this book,” Caudle said. “It touched me.” The book published by Absolute Author Publishing House is available in paperback, eBook and audible on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2Gjxt4J
About the Author
Liz Ashe Havrilla is a Christian realtor broker with a compelling testimony of God’s miracles as she survived one of the most dangerous hurricanes ever to hit the United States. She opens her soul with clear transparency as she fought for her life and how God provided for her needs one step at a time. Her testimony and statements have been featured in magazines and newspapers and has been a guest speaker at numerous conferences and for several organizations. Liz authored this book so that she might be able to help people struggling with the aftermath of a destruction from either a man-made source or a natural disaster. “A tragedy doesn’t always come in the form of a hurricane,” Liz says. “Sometimes it comes from outside sources; such as an unhappy marriage, an abusive relationship, or an addiction to drugs, alcohol or sex. It could also range from experiencing a great loss from a loved one or pet to a victim of sexual assault. I want my readers to know that God's hand is in everything that we experience; and, that we should remain faithful. Also, life goes on. Your situation can and will be better than it was before, as it was in my case. I did it one step at a time.” Now, and since Hurricane Katrina, Liz has devoted her time to help rebuild several communities. It is her prayer that this book finds its way into the hands of other survivors and those who have lost everything to Mother Nature’s fury.
To contact Liz go to her website https://www.LizAsheHavrilla.com
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