The Axe in the Attic

  • William R. Freudenburg
  • Robert Gramling
  • Shirley Laska
  • Kai T. Erikson


After a number of New Orleanians died from Hurricane Betsy, having fled to their attics only to find them-JL selves trapped there, many families learned the wisdom of keeping an axe in the attic. One story about such an axe involves a family that was deciding whether or not to evacuate in the face of an advancing hurricane. After the man of the household had decided the family would stay put, his mother-in-law, the matriarch of the clan, ask whether he had an axe in the attic. When he answered yes, she responded, “Good. After you use it to chop us out, I’m going to want you to give it to me, so I can kill you with it.” The family decided to evacuate after all.


Flood Damage National Flood Insurance Program Floodplain Development Flood Victim Growth Machine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© William R. Freudenburg, Robert B. Gramling, Shirley B. Laska and Kai T. Erikson 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • William R. Freudenburg
    • 1
  • Robert Gramling
    • 2
  • Shirley Laska
    • 3
  • Kai T. Erikson
    • 4
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.University of Southwestern LouisianaLafayetteUSA
  3. 3.University of New OrleansNew OrleansUSA
  4. 4.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations