Hurricane Katrina survivor Tommie Elton Mabry dies

Mabry documented his life on the walls of his apartment starting the day before the hurricane hit.

A man who documented Hurricane Katrina using a black Sharpie pen and the walls of his apartment died Jan. 30, The Times-Picayune reported.

Tommie Elton Mabry died of a heart attack, the newspaper reported. He was 58.

Mabry started to document his life on the walls of his apartment the day before Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005. Many of the entries were mundane, the Times said, detailing things like the rain, a hangover and a toothache.

But, the Times reported, the glimpse Mabry provided into his daily life eventually formed a moving and human portrait of the epic destruction caused by Katrina.

The Times noted that Mabry's writings were removed from the walls three years after the storm when his apartment complex was torn down. At the time, the Louisiana State Museum stepped in to preserve his writing and install it, and a picture of Mabry, in a permanent Hurricane Katrina exhibit.

According to the Times, Mabry spent much of his adult life homeless; the city tried to evacuate him from the apartment complex before the storm, but he refused to leave.

The report said that National Guardsmen patrolling the area after the hurricane struck tried to help Mabry by dropping off cases of meals and even a steak for his dog, Red.

The Times interviewed Mabry in 2008. At the time, he told the newspaper he didn’t know why he started writing on the walls, except that he found it relaxing.

"Sometimes, expressing yourself, it gives you the basis to keep going, keep going," he told the Times. "You've got to keep going. Keep going and get through this."


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