This story originally appeared on KUT News.
Ten years ago tomorrow, Hurricane Katrina made landfall and displaced thousands along the Gulf Coast. Many of the storm’s survivors came to Austin, to the Austin Convention Center. Timothy Jones was one of the displaced, but his first home in Austin wasn’t the convention center. It was a hospital and now, a decade later, he’s still recovering from his own trauma the storm left in its wake.
Every day, Jones clips a green leash onto his German shepherd, Missy, and heads to the dog park in his apartment complex.
For Jones, that’s a challenging task.
“I close my walker, set it to the side, get Missy together and she doesn’t move until I say ‘go,’” he says.
Ten years ago, as he waited to evacuate from New Orleans, Jones was knocked over and trampled by people who wanted to secure a spot on the helicopters leaving the storm-ravaged city. He was left unconscious and later woke up in Austin bruised and swollen. He had no teeth and needed surgery on his legs but, he says, he was ready for a new life.
Now, Jones lives in North Austin in a second-floor apartment, a safety measure he adopted after Hurricane Katrina. With one hand he holds his folded walker, and he holds Missy’s leash with the other. Then, with both hands he holds onto the stair rails and drags himself down, slowly.
“So, we come down here, we sit down on that bench for about 20 minutes. I let her loose, I let her run, take care of business, then we come back,” he says.
At 49, Jones says doctors in Austin put him back together, and that he was able to walk again and get a job because of it. Then, in 2011, he got really sick. He was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, a condition marked by inflammation in the skin, the lymph nodes, lungs, eyes, liver, heart and brain.
“I lost both of my hips and now it’s affecting me in my lungs and in my chest,” Jones says. “And, now, it’s affecting me in my eyes.”