Day after day, for more than two weeks, the 76-year-old man sat trapped and alone in his attic, sipping from a dwindling supply of water until it ran out. No food. No way out of a house ringed by foul floodwaters.
Without ever leaving home, Gerald Martin lived out one of the most remarkable survival stories of Hurricane Katrina. Rescuers who found him Friday, as they searched his neighborhood by boat, were astounded at his good spirits and resiliency after 18 days without food or human contact.
"It's an incredible story of survival," said Louie Fernandez, spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency search unit that carried out the rescue.
Incredibly, Martin — who ran out of his gallon-and-a-half water supply on Thursday — was able to walk out of the house with just a bit of assistance.
"He was weak, very tired, but he was able to speak, able to stand," Fernandez said. "He was very relieved. He was very thirsty. He was in good spirits."