Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Remembering moments from Hurricane Katrina - Part I

I was torn about posting anything related to hurricane Katrina, it's so depressing, yet I feel in ways that it helps to talk about it. (Excuse the typo's, I'm writing this on the go.)

I have to say up front that my life wasn't destroyed like many people's were, so I can't complain. But the memories are rough at times, especially around the anniversary. It's almost 5 years already. 2005 was a year of huge moments in my life.

January we moved into our brand new home. March got married. August Hurricane Katrina. What a year!

I'll try and skim as best I can, but I'll start from the beginning and post on this topic a few days this week to spread it out.

Hubby and I were watching the news/weather and a hurricane had re-organized after going through Florida and was heading our way. I felt something bad in my gut. It was going to be bad. I couldn't believe the New Orleans Mayor hadn't insisted on people getting the hell out. Other town Mayor's told people leave and leave now! I was stunned at Mayor Nagin! I think too many close calls had the city thinking nothing will happen as usual.

Unfortunately, my husband was one of those people. However, I knew in my gut this was it. My hubby didn't want to leave, but I insisted we had to for his parents. We had to get them to safety just in case it did hit us. I packed for about a week, when most people packed 2-3 days max. At the last minute we ended up heading to Texas. We sat in traffic for I can't remember how long. (maybe 12 hours?) The traffic was a nightmare, but at least we were out of there. We found a sleezy hotel that took pets (we had a golden at the time) and I can't remember if we slept at all or not. All I can remember is staying glued to the tv. At first it appeared the hurricane jogged to the east and missed New Orleans, but then a day or so later the levees broke, and the water poured in trapping thousands in their homes. Killing over a thousand people.

One of the local hospitals called my husband, asking him to come back to repair some damage to a much needed space in the hospital. The hospitals in New Orleans were under water and destroyed. This hospital that called my husband was not, but had damage and if it could be repaired they needed the "bed" space for the overflowing patients. We left the hotel and headed closer to New Orleans, but yet still far enough away that we had grocery stories open and running electricity. We stayed at my aunt's camp for 1 night in Morgan City, but my husband still had to get back asap. He had his hospital pass, but I kept hearing horror stories about power line people and helicopters being shot at - it was a war zone and I didn't want my husband to be in the middle of it. - He was upset he hadn't brought his boat because he wanted to help rescue people. A neighbor of my aunts gave him a gun to come home and he did. Alone. He wouldn't allow me to go back with him. One for my safety and two because he didn't know if we had a home left or not. Cell phone service was hit or miss, and I remember talking to him as he came through town. He said I wouldn't believe it. He said it was like a third world country. Destruction everywhere.

He couldn't drive down our street because of huge oak trees covering the road. When I say huge, I mean almost as tall as me while they are laying on the road. He had to walk the rest of the way to the house. We live on three acres of wooded land so you can imagine what we thought we would come home to. As he neared the house he told me he would call me back. He didn't want to be on the phone with me as he examined the damage. Tons of trees and debris laid on the ground surrounding the house, but it appeared no major damage. He called me, and the relief in his voice I can't describe. He said it looked like a giant weed wacker cut off the tops of all the trees. Broke them clean off without doing any damage to our home. (A tornado had to have come through). The brand new house still stood. The damage was minor. Amen!

My husband met with facilities from the hospital and immediately began scheduling the sub-contractors to get to work, at least the ones he could find. I wanted to get home. I had to see everything for myself, but I was stuck at the camp without a car until he came back for me. I knew there was something he wasn't telling me.

To be continued..........

(see attached video from WWL TV news for some local updates)


alanarose said...

Wow, hearing this from someone you know makes it all the more surreal... We followed it on the news and had several misplaced families end up in Waco, TX, but it's still not the same. I can only imagine the chaos. Thanks for sharing your story.

Rachel Firasek

Suzanne said...

I've been reliving it all week too, Dawn--can't help it. Posted some of my pictures from my first day back after evacuation, if you're interested. It's feeling like an emotional week.

Nancy Kay Bowden said...

What a year you had--one you'll never forget! Can't believe Katrina was five years ago! We "rebuilt" our first house in Houston after a freak rainstorm... ohhhh, Mother Nature...

BonSue Brandvik said...

I was in Miami two days after hurricane Andrew hit and know what you mean about everything looking so strange... trees everywhere; people burning debris to clear streets... no street signs or buildings left to tell you where to turn... no stores and no matter how hard you work, there's so much more to do that the light at the end of the tunnel is just too far away to see. Glad you made it through safely. Also, sooo glad they changed the hurricane scale this year to make storm surge a completely different warning than wind. We'll stay put for wind, but not for water.