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  • Submitted by: Phyllis Montana-Leblanc
  • Date Posted: Jun 13, 2017
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Hurricane Katrina And Faith Beyond Words.

Phyllis Montana-Leblanc

New Orleans, Louisiana

I'm 52 years old. I am the middle child of 4 sisters. I have one brother, the youngest. I've loved writing since the third grade. I am a Hurricane Katrina survivor. Before that I am a survivor of teenage domestic abuse. I am a published author, since Hurricane Katrina. My memoir, "Not Just The Levees Broke" was published in 2008 by Atria Books/Simon and Schuster. This all happened after being featured in Spike Lee's Award winning HBO documentary; "When The Levees Broke."

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Hurricane Katrina And Faith Beyond Words.

After surviving Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and living with a couple of relatives on the outskirts of New Orleans, I was introduced to the Jabez Prayer. I was short and to the point, so I read it each day and never thought much about it. I didn’t know then what I was putting into the Universe. I just wanted to return home and start my life over with my husband and family who also survived the storm with us. It was me and my husband, Ron, my mother Clovina, my sister Catherine and her son Nicholas who is Autistic. My husband and I were separated from them the family during rescue efforts. They went to Texas. We got left behind, which was a good thing because their needs were much bigger. Mom is elderly, Catherine has Crohn’s and Nicholas with his Autism. So, we were glad they were evacuated out before us.

So, living from house to house, we finally were able to get back to the city and live in a hotel, while my husband worked to help rebuild the city. Ron is a Pile driving crane operator, so his job was very vital in rebuilding the city. I was left alone a lot and it was during this time that Spike Lee was interviewing people in New York who had gone there for refuge and family members. My eldest sister interviewed with him and informed him that her sisters, mother and nephew had stayed for the storm and had a story to tell. I was able to tell our story because Mr. Lee and his team came to New Orleans to film his award winning, HBO documentary, “When The Levees Broke.

It was during this time, now 2006 that I heard about a book called The Secret. I thought nothing of it, as much as I loved to read, because I was still dealing with what we had experienced staying in the city a week after the storm. We hadn’t bathed for a week! But, that was all over, at least, that chapter. I wrote a poem while we were still filming and asked Spike to read it. The next day when he came out to wrap up filming, he said he needed to call someone that he wanted me to speak with. I give him my cell phone and he talks for a few minutes to someone and then hands me the phone. I asked him who was it. He said she was an editor for Atria books and he’d told her that I was a writer and they thought I should write my experiences during and after that storm. I was shaking, literally shaking. I took the phone and it was just a natural conversation. She gave me all of her information and told me that once we were done filming, to write our story and mail it to her in New York.

I don’t remember who gave me the book, The Secret. I do know that I ran across it last week, and in it, there in my handwriting is the date, June 27, 2007. Now, here’s one of the best chapters of my life. I wrote my memoir, “Not Just The Levees Broke” “My Story During and After Hurricane Katrina” in 2007. I remember reading about writing a check for however much I wanted, and putting it in a prominent place. I wrote a “check” for one hundred thousand dollars and that I would get a book deal with Atria Books. Thumbing through the book is where I ran across my handwriting.

Well I got that book deal for my memoir for one hundred thousand dollars in 2008!

There’s more to tell. I’ve also, since been in an HBO Series called, “Treme”. My character’s name was “Desiree.” I worked on it for 4 years. I also participated in a follow up documentary by Spike Lee called “If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don’t Rise.” I was asked by Spike to write the title poem and I did. You can view it on Youtube. I’ve just recently booked two roles, both series. One is “Claws” and the most recent is Spike Lee’s first feature film, “She’s Gotta Have It.” I begin filming in December.

I am also re-reading The Secret. I firmly believe that reading and following The Secret was very instrumental in my putting into the Universe what I wanted and it coming back to me. Thanks again. My faith got me to this point and The Secret was a huge part of it. Thanks so much for the inspiration, Mrs. Phyllis Montana-Leblanc. This is just a portion of the many more chapters of where I am today. The new memoir is more detailed and I’m confident that it will be completed by next year and the advance will be more that one hundred thousand dollars. I’m declaring one million dollars.

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