Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a native of Syria, owns a painting / contracting company in New Orleans. He is so beloved and trusted, that whenever a hurricane is heading toward SE Louisiana, people who are on vacation call him and ask him to board up the windows in their homes and store anything that can turn into a projectile.
He married Kathy, a convert to Islam. She brought a son to the marriage, and she and Zeitoun have three more children.
Eggers writes about their childhood, how they met, and their life before August 2005.
Kathy and the children went to Baton Rouge to escape the storm. She went to her family but couldn't stay there too long. They didn't approve of her religion and food restrictions. Kathy finally goes to a friend's home; sometimes a "family" can be people who are not your blood relations, but those who really care for you.
Zeitoun stayed behind to protect his main home, rental properties, and business. He rowed to these places, rescued people, and telephoned Kathy as long as the landlines worked.
And, now this is the part that is hard to believe: Zeitoun was arrested just ROWING WHILE ARAB. (Similar to African-Americans who get harassed for DRIVING WHILE BLACK.)
Homeland Security was still concerned about 9/11; I believe that the law enforcement officials were told to look out for people who could destroy important structures. (But didn't they see that there was really nothing left to destroy after the levees broke? Duh.)
Zeitoun was taken to Camp Greyhound, the national bus company terminal turned jail. Then, he was taken to a jail near Baton Rouge, LA. He was never given the ONE PHONE CALL; Kathy was frantic trying to find him.
Eggers tells the story well. It was well organized, and the narrative moved along at a good pace.
I will have a supplemental entry soon, illustrating the places where Zeitoun rowed. I have a copy of a 1849 flood map and a 1873 cholera map of the city. When I decide which one to use, I will decorate it and indicate the distances of his home, his rental home, Camp Greyhound, and the Super Dome. Imagine rowing in nasty water with so many things floating around, like rats, snakes, dead animals, trees, pieces of homes, gasoline, etc. I found a link of Camp Greyhound a few months ago; I hope it's still up. I will also post pictures of the Greyhound station today.