Harry Connick, Jr talks about first days after Katrina

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Harry Connick, Jr Talks First Days After Katrina

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — It's the first time he's told the story, according to New Orleans' own Harry Connick, Jr.

"I'll be honest with you. I don't know that I've ever said this, " the Connecticut resident told a crowd at Gallier Hall on Friday as he began to tell a room full of people about his experience in New Orleans in the days after Hurricane Katrina.

SEE MORE: Special coverage on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Connick says he used the private jet of an executive at NBC to get to New Orleans.

"I couldn't find my dad. He wasn't answering the phone, " Connick said.

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Harry Connick, Jr talks about first days after Katrina
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 27: People walk in Crescent Park in the Bywater neighborhood on August 27, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. President Obama spoke to a crowd in the Lower Ninth Ward today which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina's flooding. The 10th anniversary of the storm is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 27: People visit the newly erected historic marker at the site where the Lower Ninth Ward levee failed on August 27, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The new levee stands in the background. President Obama spoke to a crowd in the Lower Ninth Ward today which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina's flooding. The 10th anniversary of the storm is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 27: People walk past a restaurant on August 27, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. President Obama spoke to a crowd in the Lower Ninth Ward today which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina's flooding. The 10th anniversary of the storm is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 27: A bicyclist pedals through the streets in the French Quarter on August 27, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tourists have returned as the town prepares to honor the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, on August 29. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
New Orleans is seen from Air Force One after departing Louis Armstrong International Airport on August 27, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. US President Barack Obama traveled to New Orleans to survey progress 10 years after Hurricane Katrina. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 25: Brandan 'BMike' Odums' Wall of Peace mural nears completion on The Grand Theater, vacant since Hurricane Katrina, on August 25, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The mural is part of Russell Simmons' RushCard Keep The Peace campaign. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 24: A wrecked ship remains from Hurricane Katrina flooding near a wetlands area on August 24, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 24: Old homes and vacant lots in the Lower Ninth Ward on August 24, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The area was one of the most heavily devastated areas of the city following a levee breach along the Industrial Canal during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 24: A baseball field is lit near Lake Pontchartrain on August 24, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The waters from the lake inundated New Orleans following the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 24: Workers clear an overgrown lot in the Lower Ninth Ward on August 24, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The area was one of the most heavily devastated areas of the city following a levee breach during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Much of the area has yet to be rebuilt and some areas and lots have been overtaken by nature. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 24: Robert Fuselier climbs to do caulk work on a home in Musician's Village on August 24, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Musician's Village homes were constructed following Hurricane Katrina in the Upper Ninth Ward in an effort to house dozens of musicians and their families who were displaced by the storm. Some of the homes, constructed mostly by volunteers, are now in need of repair work. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 24: Wrecked shipping containers and other debris remain from Hurricane Katrina flooding near a wetlands area on August 24, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 24: The Mercedes-Benz Superdome stands (Top R) downtown near the abandoned Charity Hospital (Lower L), which was flooded during Hurricane Katrina and never re-opened, on August 24, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Superdome site was used as a 'shelter of last resort' during Hurricane Katrina. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 23: The Superdome (LOWER C) stands downtown in an aerial view on August 23, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
The overgrown interior of an abandoned house, damaged by Hurricane Katrina, is seen in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans on August 17, 2015. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina swept buildings off their foundations and deluged nearly all of New Orleans with floodwaters which rose so fast some people drowned in their homes. Those who made it to their rooftops or the relative safety of dry land waited days to be rescued as the Big Easy descended into chaos. Today, colorful homes on stilts have replaced many of the rotting hulks left behind after the low-lying coastal city in the southern United States was finally drained. AFP PHOTO / LEE CELANO (Photo credit should read LEE CELANO/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 20: Twin brothers and Hurricane Katrina survivors De'Shane and Dennis Sims, 14, pose before departing in a pickup truck after training at the Running Bear Boxing Club, run by their grandfather Harry Sims next to his home in the Lower Ninth Ward, on August 20, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The teens were four years old when they were rescued from the flooding in the neighborhood by their grandfather and taken to the Superdome. The gym was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina and it took about three years for Sims to be able to reuild the club. A number of youngsters train there on afternoons after school. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
A view of the Lower Ninth Ward and Industrial Canal of New Orleans near a point where a levee was breached during Hurricane Katrina on August 17, 2015. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina swept buildings off their foundations and deluged nearly all of New Orleans with floodwaters which rose so fast some people drowned in their homes. Those who made it to their rooftops or the relative safety of dry land waited days to be rescued as the Big Easy descended into chaos. Today, colorful homes on stilts have replaced many of the rotting hulks left behind after the low-lying coastal city in the southern United States was finally drained. AFP PHOTO / LEE CELANO (Photo credit should read LEE CELANO/AFP/Getty Images)
An abandoned house, damaged by Hurricane Katrina, is seen in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans on August 15, 2015. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina swept buildings off their foundations and deluged nearly all of New Orleans with floodwaters which rose so fast some people drowned in their homes. Those who made it to their rooftops or the relative safety of dry land waited days to be rescued as the Big Easy descended into chaos. Today, colorful homes on stilts have replaced many of the rotting hulks left behind after the low-lying coastal city in the southern United States was finally drained. AFP PHOTO / LEE CELANO (Photo credit should read LEE CELANO/AFP/Getty Images)
Trucks cross the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier on Lake Borgne in New Orleans on August 17, 2015. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina swept buildings off their foundations and deluged nearly all of New Orleans with floodwaters which rose so fast some people drowned in their homes. Those who made it to their rooftops or the relative safety of dry land waited days to be rescued as the Big Easy descended into chaos. Today, colorful homes on stilts have replaced many of the rotting hulks left behind after the low-lying coastal city in the southern United States was finally drained. AFP PHOTO / LEE CELANO (Photo credit should read LEE CELANO/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 22: Mary Picot looks stands in front of her home near a levee in the Lower Ninth Ward, on July 22, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her original house was destroyed when the levee broke. It's been ten years since hurricane Katrina devastated neighborhoods throughout the city. Her house was built by Brad Pitt's foundation. While many homes have been rebuilt, there are still many empty lots where homes used to stand. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 22: New homes stand just across from a levee in the Lower Ninth Ward, on July 22, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. It's been ten years since hurricane Katrina devastated neighborhoods throughout the city. This area was wiped out when this levee broke after the storm. These homes were built by Brad Pitt's foundation. While many homes have been rebuilt, there are still many empty lots where homes used to stand. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 22: A damaged home in an overgrown lot stands empty in the Lower Ninth Ward, on July 22, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. It's been ten years since hurricane Katrina devastated neighborhoods throughout the city. This neighborhood was wiped out when the nearby levee broke. While many homes have been rebuilt, there are still many empty lots where homes used to stand. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 28: A young boy rides his bike through a housing development that was built in the Upper Ninth Ward after Katrina destroyed neighborhoods when levies broke, on May 28, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Low-income residents who lost their homes live here and either rent or own their homes. It has been almost 10 years since hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, devastating many neighborhoods. Rebuilding has been slow and controversial. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 18: A woman walks along the rebuilt Industrial Canal levee wall in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 18, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The levee was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina and people have been slowly moving back to the formerly devastated neighborhood ever since. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 17: Club members march past the historic Carver Theater, named for former slave and famed botanist and inventor George Washington Carver, during the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club 'second line' parade on May 17, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Traditional second line parades are put on by social aid and pleasure clubs organized by neighborhood in New Orleans. The parades represent a history of solidarity, empowerment and cultural pride within the African-American enclaves of the city. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 22: A sign in an empty, overgrown lot in the Lower Ninth Ward says 'I want my tax dollars used on my streets,' on July 22, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. It's been ten years since hurricane Katrina devastated neighborhoods throughout the city. This neighborhood was wiped out when the nearby levee broke. While many homes have been rebuilt, there are still many empty lots where homes used to stand. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 17: Kids jump rope at the Sobaluavro family home at the conclusion of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club 'second line' parade on May 17, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Traditional second line parades are put on by social aid and pleasure clubs organized by neighborhood in New Orleans. The parades represent a history of solidarity, empowerment and cultural pride within the African-American enclaves of the city. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 16: A home which was flooded during Hurricane Katrina remains abandoned in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 16, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. While many areas of the city have recovered, much of the Lower Ninth Ward remains uninhabited. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 16: A home which was flooded during Hurricane Katrina remains abandoned in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 16, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. While many areas of the city have recovered, much of the Lower Ninth Ward remains uninhabited. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 15: Freight trains wait on railroad tracks with the city skyline in the distance on May 15, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 14: A McDonogh #35 Senior High School graduates walks to her commencement at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on May 14, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Thousands of Hurricane Katrina survivors attempted to use the convention center as a shelter of last resort in the days following the storm, yet it lacked power, water, food and medical supplies. McDonogh 35 was damaged by flooding from Hurricane Katrina and was the first high school for African-Americans in the state of Louisiana. It is one of the last remaining traditional public schools in the city. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 14: Survivor Robert Green pauses while posing in front of his new home, constructed by the Make It Right Foundation, in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 14, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. His mother and granddaughter perished after clinging to the roof during flooding of their former home on the same location in the Lower Ninth. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1,836 people and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 13: Students attend dance class at the Encore Academy charter school on May 13, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. More than 100 schools in the city were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Following Katrina, New Orleans' decimated public school system was almost entirely revamped and now approximately 94 percent of city students attend independently run charter schools. Encore Academy's performing arts focused program is outpacing most other open admission charter schools in academic performance in the city. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 13: People wait in line to enter a restaurant in the French Quarter on May 13, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1,836 people and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 12: Barry sits beneath an overpass on May 12, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. While Hurricane Katrina drove many in the city into homelessness, New Orleans has recently become the first city in the nation to declare an end to veteran homelessness. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1,836 people and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 12: A 'No Parking' sign stands amidst overgrowth in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 12, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The area was heavily damaged during Hurricane Katrina and some formerly inhabited sections have been overtaken by nature. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 12: Broken steps are all that remain from a home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina flooding in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 12, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Residents continue to slowly return to the Lower Ninth Ward although much of the area remains uninhabited. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 11: An abandoned lot and a home stand in front of the rebuilt Industrial Canal levee wall in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 11, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The levee was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina and people have been slowly moving back to the formerly devastated neighborhood ever since. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 10: People gather in the community that was formerly the St. Bernard housing projects, which flooded during Hurricane Katrina, on May 10, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The formerly crime-ridden projects have been tranformed into mixed-income housing now known as Columbia Parc at the Bayou District. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 10: A girl sits near an overpass on May 10, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 9: A car drives in the French Quarter on May 9, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 09: Landrum Hughes and Julie Hughes celebrate their wedding with a 'second line' parade through the French Quarter on May 9, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. Around 80 percent of the city flooded in the aftermath of the storm. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
People wave from a shrimp boat as they motor to get in line for the blessing of the fleet in Delacroix Island, La., Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015. It was the first blessing of the fleet since the coastal fishing and shrimping community was devastated by Hurricane Katrina nearly ten years ago. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the Roman Catholic New Orleans Archdiocese blesses boats with fellow clergy at the blessing of the fleet in Delacroix Island, La., Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015. It was the first blessing of the fleet since the coastal fishing and shrimping community was devastated by Hurricane Katrina nearly ten years ago. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A man rides a bike in Woldenberg Park Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
This Wednesday, June 17, 2015 photo shows a landscaped courtyard seen from an upper floor of the soon to open University Medical Center New Orleans, during a media tour in New Orleans. Building the $1 billion medical complex has come about despite a yearslong fight over the extent of hurricane damage to the city's old Charity Hospital, fights over the razing of a neighborhood where the new hospital was to be built and over the objections of many in the medical community. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
The Valero Energy plant is seen in the background at dusk, alongside the Mississippi River levee, far left, in St. Bernard Parish, La., Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. The span of cycling and walking trails along the Mississippi River is reaching into new territory: Down river from the French Quarter into bucolic and working-class St. Bernard Parish, a slice of Louisiana that suffered even worse damage than the metropolitan areas of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. This levee-top trail is part of a greater vision to construct riverside pathways from the Mississippi’s headwaters in Minnesota all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. sor onln (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 10: People gather in the community that was formerly the St. Bernard housing projects, which flooded during Hurricane Katrina, on May 10, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The formerly crime-ridden projects have been tranformed into mixed-income housing now known as Columbia Parc at the Bayou District. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1836 and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 12: Rubble remains at the forner B.W. Cooper housing projects on May 12, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The low-income housing development, which was plagued by crime, has been replaced by two-story, townhouse-style buildings. The city has revamped its major housing projects following Katrina. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1,836 people and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 16: A woman walks with a dog in the Lower Ninth Ward on May 16, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1,836 people and is considered the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, is August 29. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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The comments came during a big announcement that included Connick, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and the top executives from Walmart. The retail giant is participating in a "Day of Service" event on the Katrina anniversary that aims to put 10,000 volunteers to work. Walmart is also making a $25 million commitment to disaster relief around the world. The first $500,000 will go to nonprofit groups along the gulf coast.

Connick told the crowd that he eventually reached his father and then was taken to see the people left stranded at the convention center. He said that he saw the bodies and the suffering and had to do something, and that's when he began brainstorming with his friend and fellow New Orleanian Branford Marsalis.

Together the two came up with the idea to build the Musicians Village that now provides more than 80 homes for musicians and others in New Orleans. But he says it wasn't an easy sell early on. Even his father was a little dubious.

"And I called my dad and said, 'Dad, we need to rebuild New Orleans.' And my dad said, 'You are so stupid.'"

The humorous story brought a chuckle from the crowd. Then Connick updated everyone on the progress of the Musicians Village.

Friday's event at Gallier Hall also included a leadership forum for business, government, and nonprofit leaders to discuss the lessons learned since Hurricane Katrina.



SEE MORE: Special coverage on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
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