Paris to the Rescue
It’s not enough that we should stay glued to the television to witness the devastation and now rescue operation in New Orleans. It’s not enough that just a short distance away in the historic Le Marais the same night that Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, a score of people were rescued from a burning building, seven of which died, or that 1 a.m. Sunday morning fire tore through a high-rise in south Paris killing another 12 people.
Then, just two hours later about 3:30 a.m., I was awoken by unusual noises on the street — more than just the loud music I went to bed by. It sounded much more serious and I noticed the flashing lights. Directly below my window was a Paris fire truck. The ladder had been extended to the roof top of the building facing mine and a fireman was at the very top struggling to convince a young and pretty woman with long flowing brown hair to allow herself to be rescued.
She had crawled to one corner of the roof. Another fireman had his upper body out of a skylight and another stood at the back of the roof. I never learned why or how she had gotten there. The first thought was suicide, of course, not all that uncommon. Perhaps you remember a few years ago when I wrote about a neighbor of mine who sat perched in the window of her 5th floor apartment for seven hours threatening to jump into the air shaft to which my kitchen and toilet are vented? Or in the dead of winter of 2004 when my daughter’s 19-year old friend took her own life by hanging herself in her father’s apartment?
No, life isn’t perfect whether you’re weathering the storm in Louisiana and Mississippi or coming down a fireman’s ladder from a rooftop in Paris.
All weekend long I was prepared to relate the stunning event that took place Friday night at the garden of the Musée Galliera, the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris — a champagne reception to celebrate “Paris Capital de la Création” — and show off the beautiful shades of pink that flooded the columned building and stunning garden. I was also prepared to celebrate in the newsletter my 11 year anniversary in Paris which took place yesterday, the same day this young woman may have lost her life.
Instead I recount the sadder side of life — the side that makes us count our blessings and realize how precious life really is, no matter where we are or how much we earn.
It took about 30 minutes before they had her secured and escorted to the skylight where they hoisted her down and I never saw her again. Later that morning when I woke to the bright sun, the window to her “chambre de bonne” studio apartment was shut tight, the street was quiet except for a neighbor or two in their windows watering their flowers as I do every Sunday morning, too. The sun was bright and I hunkered in for a day of attacking overdo paperwork and unanswered emails.
News from my New Orleans family who have taken refuge in Houston and other parts of Louisiana and Texas is that they are anxious to head home, get a few things from their homes (if they are accessible) and head to another temporary refuge till they can get back to their lives at some future date. I beg them not to take the chance…not until it’s really safe! I couldn’t bare another rescue scene…here, there or anywhere.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
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P.S. I’ve been overwhelmed with emails from many of you concerned readers of which I am very grateful, and even more from those who are in the thick of the disaster seeking information or assistance in finding their families and friends to know they are safe. I urge all of you to do what you can, however little. A donation to the Red Cross would be happily accepted. Click here now: https://give.redcross.org/