Neighbors said Ms Bergerol largely stayed in her apartment with doors and windows closed. Yet she seemed to survive. On September 3, she texted Josh Hailey, a neighbor, asking if she could visit her cat while he was away. “I have lots of goodies,” she wrote. The next day, she joined neighbors in the courtyard of the building for a screening of “Cinderella”.
On Sunday, Mr. Hailey entered her apartment when she did not answer the door. He found her lying on the floor and tried to resuscitate her, but it was too late. That evening, the neighbors played fanfare music in the courtyard and danced for Ms Bergerol, remembering her bright blue eyes and her frequent broad smile.
By this time, city health officials had begun to realize the danger older residents faced. A day before Ms Bergerol’s death, they evacuated eight apartments for older residents, including several where people had died. Now, city authorities are considering requiring, during natural disasters, that subsidized apartments serving elderly or disabled residents have generators, perform welfare checks or have a building manager on the property at all times, said a spokesperson.
The proposed measures are gaining momentum in part because of deaths such as that of Mr Joseph, the man trapped in apartment 312.
Mr. Joseph was well known in Village de Jardin, a relatively affordable complex in New Orleans East for those 55 and over. It is owned by the Louisiana Housing Corporation, a state agency, and is managed by Latter & Blum, a large real estate company that manages properties in multiple states. The real estate agency said Latter & Blum encouraged tenants to evacuate and then, after the storm, brought cooling buses to the property and supplies to tenants who chose to stay.
Mr. Joseph had retired years ago from an auto parts sales job. He chatted frequently with his neighbors and his routine was to have coffee and donuts around town. He was known for his faith, his love for his family and, to some, his characteristic “Yes indeed” response, which led his grandchildren to call him Grandpa Yes indeed. Many more people knew him for his humor, which is how he befriended Mr Righteous, 45, who was attracted to Mr Joseph when he made jokes at a event hosted by the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church.