The message posted on Craigslist.com yesterday was one of scores pleading for information about friends and family missing in the catastrophe that was once New Orleans. This one was in search of relatives gathered at an uncle's house in the badly hit 9th Ward: "They are on the second floor of their home," wrote Checquoline Davis. "They didn't get out."
Davis's uncle is Fats Domino, the R&B legend.
After several long, anxious days, Davis last night got some good news: Her uncle was identified in a photograph of people being rescued from the 9th Ward, CNN.com reported.
His whereabouts since the rescue, however, were not immediately known. Nor is there any news as to the fate of his wife, Rosemary.
Fats Domino had not been heard from since Sunday, when the 77-year-old musician -- whose Top 40 singles include "Ain't That a Shame," "Whole Lotta Loving" and "Blueberry Hill" -- told his agent via phone that he planned to stay in his house with his wife and daughter.
Davis told The Washington Post that her family stayed in the city because of her aunt's poor health: "My Aunt Rose, she didn't want to leave the house because she's sickly."
The New Orleans Times-Picayune photographed Domino getting off a rescue boat Monday night. Domino's daughter Karen Domino White, who lives in New Jersey, identified her father in the photo on Thursday, CNN.com reported.
Domino was just one of several artists who live in the city and had been feared missing for much of the week.
When James Hampton had not heard from his mother, New Orleans musician Charmaine Neville, since Monday, he tried "not to think the worst." His mother and some friends had planned to wait out the storm, then make a run for a school if conditions worsened. "I know my mom," he said yesterday afternoon. "She's a strong woman." Neville's father, Charles, is a member of the Neville Brothers, whose hits include "Fly Like an Eagle," "A Change Is Gonna Come" and "Ain't No Sunshine."
Last night Hampton got the phone call he had been waiting for: His mother was safe and staying at a church in Donaldsonville, La.
"She said she had to get out of the house" after the levee broke, he said. "They kicked out the windows" and made it to safety. They've slept on rooftops for the past few nights, but weren't able to make it out of the city immediately because "people were trying to take over the rescue boats."
Neville and her friends finally spotted a bus and made a run for it. She is now staying in a church 40 miles from Baton Rouge, where the nearest airport is located. "I'm trying to get a ticket to her," said Hampton. "But she doesn't know how to get to Baton Rouge."
"She was hysterical while she was telling me this," Hampton said.
Producer and musician Allen Toussaint, who wrote "Working in a Coalmine" and "Get Out of My Life Woman," was initially reported to have been one of the 15,000 refugees at the Superdome. It turns out that the night before the hurricane hit, he had moved to the Astor Plaza hotel in the French Quarter. "I'm the die-hard Orleans southerner," said the 67-year-old Toussaint. "I always think I'm going to stay through the storm."
Toussaint said the water outside his hotel was high, but "it wasn't waist-deep," so he waded out and caught a chartered bus. He headed for Baton Rouge at 6:55 a.m. yesterday, flew to Houston and then to New York, where his label, NYNO Records, is located.
Other celebrities who have relatives in New Orleans have publicly expressed concern, and some are raising money to help victims.
Rapper Master P, a New Orleans native, told the Associated Press yesterday that his uncle, father-in-law and sister-in-law, among others, were unaccounted for. "We just got caravans of family members," he said. "It was just devastating." The rapper-producer created a foundation called Team Rescue and had helicopters searching for his missing family members.
New Orleans native Harry Connick Jr. posted a statement on his Web site announcing that his immediate family is safe, but "I have not heard from many, many friends and other family members."
"I haven't slept in days," the 37-year-old singer also wrote. " . . . It is hard to sit in silence, to watch one's youth wash away." Tonight, Connick will join NBC's televised fundraiser, "A Concert for Hurricane Relief."
Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman told the AP that his home in the Mississippi Delta escaped the brunt of the hurricane, but Freeman, 68, has helped organize an online auction to raise money for disaster relief. The auction will open tonight on CharityFolks.com and will run until Sept. 16.
"Now, charity begins at home, so we call on anybody to . . . help these people," he said.