Message in a Bottle Returned Eight Years after Hurricane Katrina

The Park Ranger who found the note never stopped trying to find the author

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Don Bayley / Getty Images

When Hurricane Katrina was raging on its destructive path, a young girl, trapped in her house, scribbled a note that said that their roof was gone and water was all around them:

“I guess I’ll have to wait and see what happens next. If anyone is reading this, keep me and my family in your prayers, and I will keep you in mine. God Bless.” It was signed, “Angela Caballeros.”

She shoved the note into a plastic bottle, took it to her front porch and dropped the note into the rising water. That’s the last she saw of it.

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Weeks later, National Park Service ranger Rob Turan was working with a hurricane response team when he found the note, still in the bottle and buried in debris from the storm. “It was a real message in a bottle,” Turan told the Times-Picayune. He made copies of the letter, handing them out to people helping with the disaster recovery, in the hopes of finding out whether the girl and her family survived the storm. Then, “I took it home and had it framed,” he told the Times-Picayune. “For almost eight years I’ve looked at it every day and wondered about [Angela].”

A reporter at the Times-Picayune heard about Turan’s mission to find the author of the note and stepped in to help, tracking down Caballeros and getting her to agree to meet with the man who found her message in a bottle. When Turan and Caballeros met, Caballeros recounted the tale of how her family survived Katrina, huddling together in the attic before a helicopter eventually came to rescue them from the flood waters. Turan returned the note to the now college student, promising to stay in touch. “I think I’ve made a lifelong friend,” Rob said of the young woman who’s message haunted him for so many years.

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