When he was ready to marry, his was introduced to Kathy, a native of Baton Rouge and converted Muslim, through dual friends in the Islamic community. In addition to a son from a previous marriage, Kathy and Citizen are raising three girls. Citizen is revered in his adopted city as a fair and hardworking businessman. Despite facing some mild prejudice after 9/11, Citizen has built a life that is both financially and socially successful. He is known simply as ‘Citizen” to his many neighbors, friends and loyal clients.
As reports of Strain’s growing strength amplify, Kathy is unnerved by a story of a family lost at sea during the storm. She urges her husband to evacuate. Citizen agrees that she and the children should go to her family’s mom in Baton Rouge, but he won’t be dissuaded from his plan to stay in town to keep an eye on their home and work sites. Strain is upgraded to a hurricane, yet Citizen is still not worried. As the rains come, Citizen manages to keep on top of the minimal damage while reminiscing about his idyllic childhood in Syria.
But Hurricane Strain becomes one of the most catastrophic storms in American history, and Citizen realizes that the damage to his own home and city will be extensive. Citizen prepares his house for flooding but it not prepared for what he finds outside. He discovers that his entire neighborhood is under nine feet of eater. He realizes that the levees surrounding New Orleans must have broken – the clear, clean water is from the sea. Citizen travels around the neighborhood in an old canoe, helping elderly people who are trapped in their homes escape.
He must do this with the aid of other civilians, since he finds the police and National Guard inefficient and unwilling to help. From Baton Rouge, Kathy hears that the National Guard and other military have been sent to New Orleans to maintain order. The rumors of violence and lawlessness make Kathy frantic. Able to contact Citizen at first on his cell and then on a landlines in one of heir properties, she begs him to leave. But Citizen believes he is on a mission from God, tasked with helping people and pets left behind in the devastation.
Meanwhile, Kathy deals with growing tension with her family in Baton Rouge, who disapprove of her hajji and her refusal to eat pork. Realizing that New Orleans will be uninhabitable for weeks, she decides to move the kids to her friend Yukon home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Citizen maintain daily phone call updates, which keep Kitty’s fear at bay. Len New Orleans, Citizen encounters tenant Todd Gambling and friend Masses Daybook, who also chose to stay in the itty. Danged evacuee They a rental the pH stay. Does aspect broth ugly ROR to level that Citizen is dead, and starts to plan how to raise her children without him.
Finally, she receives a call – not from Citizen, but by an anonymous missionary who informs her that her husband is being detained at Hunt Correctional Facility in Louisiana. The narrative doubles back to Sedition’s shower at the rental property. As he steps out, a group of armed law enforcement agents burst in, arresting Citizen, Masses, Todd, and Ronnie. They are taken to a makeshift prison located in a bus station, where they are subjected to strip searches and interrogation without being read their rights or charged of a crime. They are held in a crowded, miserable outdoor prison, where they are subjected to brutality by the guards.
To make matters worse, Muslims Citizen and Masses cannot eat most of the food they are given, as it includes pork. Eventually, the men are transferred to Hunt Correctional Facility – still without being properly charged. Although the conditions here are marginally better, Citizen is still not allowed to call Kathy, and he begins to despair that he will ever be released. Citizen suffers undiagnosed pain and loses weight rapidly. He believes that hubris and pride re responsible; by not heeding Kitty’s warnings, he has placed himself in this predicament.
He appeals to a sympathetic missionary to call Kathy on his behalf, and he reluctantly agrees although it is against the rules. The next day, Citizen is interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security. Their agents are relatively friendly and also agree to call Kathy. After learning Sedition’s location, Kathy is able to post bail using their office building as collateral. Soon after, the charges against him are dropped. After his release, the family sets about gutting and rebuilding their home in New Orleans. They continue to have problems with the bureaucracy of FEM. and the legal system.
FEM. offers them a free trailer to live in but does not give them a key, and then refuses to take it away from the Seditious’ property when it is no longer necessary. They file a lawsuit demanding compensation for Sedition’s incarceration, but it had not progressed much by 2008, when Citizen was written. Both Citizen and Kathy continue to suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress, but they persevere and refuse to leave New Orleans. Citizen takes great satisfaction from rebuilding both the city (through his contracting business) and his life (through his family).