When Xavier Bowie died in a flooded neighborhood, his companion did the only thing she could think to do. She wrapped his body in a sheet, laid him on a makeshift bier of two-by-fours and, with a little help, floated him down to the main road.

For more than an hour, Evelyn Turner waited along Rampart Street outside the French Quarter, her husband's body resting on the grassy median as car after car passed, their wakes threatening to wash over the corpse.

Bowie, 57, a truck driver who had been with Turner for 16 years, had advanced lung cancer and could not be easily moved. When Turner could find no one to take them out of the city, she decided to stay home and hope the storm would spare them.

But Hurricane Katrina left her neighborhood under several feet of water. By Tuesday, with no phone and only a small tank of oxygen left, Turner slogged out into the streets for help.

By the time she got back, Bowie was dead.

Grief-stricken, Turner walked two miles to a neighborhood police precinct and asked someone to come get the body. An officer told her a truck would be along.

When more than an hour passed, she started down the road again. When she got to the station this time, there were no more promises.

"There's nothing we can do right now," an officer said. "We don't have any equipment." Curtis Miller, a former city employee, helped float the body down the road, hoping a passing military truck would pick Bowie up. He was disgusted.

"I'm hurt to my heart with this," the grizzled man said. "To see the city stoop this low." Finally, about three hours after Bowie died, Miller flagged down a passing flatbed truck filled with downed tree limbs. After heated words and an offer of $20, he persuaded the driver to take the body to Charity Hospital, where the police had directed them.

-- Associated Press

Evelyn Turner, right, with friends and family, waits with the body of her companion, Xavier Bowie, in New Orleans. They decided to stay during the hurricane because they could not find a way to leave.