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Andrew Locke and Bob Sullivan

From Sept. 22-27, the posts in this blog about Rita's evacuation and devastation were reported and photographed by Bob Sullivan and Andrew Locke. Sullivan, 37, is MSNBC.com's technology and consumer fraud reporter. Locke, 34, in charge of MSNBC.com's editorial strategy, was on his second hurricane blog tour.

David Friedman and Miguel Llanos

From Sept. 18-22, the posts in this blog, examining Katrina's impact on the environment, were reported and photographed by Miguel Llanos and David Friedman. Llanos, 45, is MSNBC.com's environmental reporter. Photojournalist Friedman, 35, is a multimedia producer at MSNBC.com.

Kari Huus and Jim Seida

From Sept. 10-16, the posts in this blog were reported and photographed by Kari Huus and Jim Seida. Huus, 43, has been a journalist for 20 years and a reporter with MSNBC.com since 1996. Seida, 39, has been a media editor with the Web site since 1996.

Mike Brunker and Andrew Locke mugshot

From Sept. 2-9, the posts in this blog were reported and photographed by Mike Brunker, left, and Andrew Locke. A journalist for 25 years, Brunker, 49, is MSNBC.com's West Coast news editor. Locke, 34, has been a journalist for 17 years and is currently in charge of MSNBC.com's editorial media strategy.

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How to help the victims of Hurricane Rita

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The amazing story of Bill Harris of Slidell, La.

Posted: Monday, September 5 at 09:10 pm CT by Mike Brunker

EVANS CREEK, La. -- We’ve heard some amazing stories from hurricane survivors during our wanderings, but the tale told by Bill Harris of Slidell, La., is the most gripping yet.

050905_blogpm_bill_harrisonAUDIO: Listen to Harris describe getting hit by a 30-foot storm surge, and how Miss Kitty helped save his life. (Andrew Locke / MSNBC.com)

Harris, 63, who suffers from a chronic kidney disorder, said he went to sleep Sunday night in the condominium he shares with his cat, Miss Kitty, which was approximately a mile from Lake Pontchartrain alongside a canal. When he awoke, the gray and brown cat was on top of the China cabinet meowing piteously.

Harris found out why when he sat up to get out of bed.

“There was no floor there,” he says of the bizarre sight that greeted him as his bed floated in six feet of water toward a newly broken bay window in his bedroom.

Harris fell off the bed and remembers praying each of the four times he went under, fighting to avoid being pulled out the window by the roiling current. The fourth time, though, he saw Miss Kitty hurl herself across the room to a table that was still above water and struggled to follow her. He wasn’t able to climb onto the table, but he found a chair that had miraculously stayed upright nearby and managed to stand on it, soon to be joined by Miss Kitty.

Harris says he tried to get out, but found his front door blocked by a 30-foot fishing boat that had been deposited on his porch. So with no other way out, he spent the better part of three days standing on the chair and clutching Miss Kitty to his chest.

A boater eventually heard Harris’ shouts and a second boat soon arrived to pull him to safety out the window. Despite his pleas, though, the rescuers were not willing to re-enter the condo to grab Miss Kitty.

Harris remains disconsolate over the loss of the cat he calls his “guardian angel,” though he is still holding out hope of a reunion. And he is very worried about his mother, Jane B. Harris, who he believes was moved out of the Trinity Nursing Home before the flood for parts unknown.

A lifelong citizen’s band radio buff known by the handle “Wild Bill,” Harris also is grieving the loss of his old faithful radio and is hoping all the friends he made over the airwaves can pitch in with a spare to help him through this very tough time.

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