Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Katrina Revisted--two years out


Some one asked me to tell them about Katrina. These are my memories of that time. These are pictures of my house and yard. God is good.

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We lived on the river and had since we had gotten married 17 years ago at the time. The property and house usually flooded at least once a year. We had gotten used to this and the clean up process.
When we heard about the storm we packed up like we normally did for a hurricane. I put the photos in the van and packed enough clothes for a couple of days.
Our pastor invited us to come and stay with them. I can't say I was nervous-actually it was a little fun to be getting away.
Most of the storm was during the day so we could watch it. We had two generators so once the electricity went out we were still able to watch the news because they had satellite. Amazingly it only went out for a short period.
About noon the wind got really bad--trees coming down everywhere. The biggest were further from the house. You could not have spanned some of those trees with the arms of one person.
One tree right by the house came down some time that morning. God laid it down right next to the house.
Keith and I went and took a nap during the heat of the storm.
Probably around 3:00 the storm was over. We went outside and things did not seem too bad. That was until we got beyond the trees around the house and saw the damage all around us. We could not even get out with vehicles because the trees were down everywhere of course your noticed the ones most on the roads. Being from the country chainsaws were on hand and so the work began. I would say it took at least a day to cut ourselves out.
Meanwhile we were able to get the TV going by way of generators. We began to hear the horror stories that were developing. We heard of the water that was flowing into New Orleans. Part of that area was where I grew up.
It still did not seem real because we had not been out to see it with our own eyes.
We were not able to get to our house in Covington for two days.
Because the phones were down and cell phones did not work none of us could check on our families. My mom and dad had stayed with my sister and her family not even 20 minutes away but I could not find out if they were o.k. Keith's sister lived in New Orleans and although we knew she had left we did not know where she was and there was no way to find her.
It was really an unreal situation. I woke up the next day and I guess we really thought that in a day or two we would be back to normal. That did not happen. We finally got through the trees and were able to get to Folsom to check on my Mom and sister. They were fine. Now you have to remember this happened in August and think about the heat and no electricity, no running water for showers. Yuck.
We did go to the gravel pit and take a bath. It is amazing what becomes fine when you have nothing else.
Our house was over 45 minutes away from our pastor’s house. Curfews were in place. There was drama going on everywhere.
You could not get gas--no electricity--no gas.
We gathered up as many gas cans as we could find and planned to make a trip as far as we needed to, to find gas and try to use our cell phones. I have family in TN and N.C--Keith had a brother also in N.C--we needed to let them know we were O.K. Also Keith had not had any contact with his Dad. And his Dad lived in the same town as our pastor. Although we were probably only fifteen minutes apart it seemed as if we were in a world of our own without phones.
We made a trip by our house. When we got to our subdivision we could not get all the way to our house. There were trees crossing the road everywhere. You could here the sound of chainsaws and you knew eventually the roads would be cleared.
When we got to our house the water was still up. We had 4 feet in the house with Katrina. I could see that the house had taken two huge pine trees and we had lost just a few in the yard. One was a huge oak in the driveway. It was just like the wind had severed the root bed and laid it over. Pine trees were twisted off mid way and leaning against or on where ever the fell. We walked through the water and opened the front door.
I will probably never forget that first view. Our house was an old two story wooden structure. The tree had come in the corner of the house. I will try and find the pictures.
When I opened the door and look up the stairs--I saw the sky.
Now this was really not so bad. Once the tree was cut and removed we put a piece of plywood up and heavy duty plastic and we lived with it that way for over a year. We had no insurance because the house was so old. Other details fall into the reason for no insurance--one being 911 and the fact that they stopped writing new insurance polices.
Now I say the trees was not so bad except the corner of the house that the tree landed on was the corner with my china cabinet.
I lost all the family antiques that were china.
When I realized that-- I cried for the first time. It would not be the last.
It was not that I was that tied to those things---but they were memories. Memories of Keith’s Mom who had passed away. Memories of traditions and stories that would not be passed to the children. They were of some value but mostly just memories.
We left the house and went on to find gas, water and groceries.
The nearest place with electricity and gas was Baton Rouge a little over and hour away . Lines were horrible.
We talked to one guy at the pump that was from Mississippi--he had lost everything.
We were all so numb and yet at the same time our emotions were all riding so near the surface. It was really like it was just a horrible dream.
This was the first of many trips that we would make to Baton Rouge for gas and food.
Our stores and gas stations would not open for several weeks.
Our electricity poles and lines were a jumbled mess.
I can remember working in the yard hauling our trees to the road so that they would be hauled off and seeing electric trucks from other states working in our neighborhood. You just wanted to run out and hug them.
We were out of electricity for about three weeks--maybe four. We were fortunate because we had two generators to run our window air conditioners and refrigerator. Basically I could run what ever I needed-- just not all at the same time. We opened our house to our friends without electricity and water to come and bathe.
We had church at our church without electricity. We would put the folding chairs outside and we had church. Sometimes we would bring the generators and hook it up to the air conditioner in the back kitchen area. People were there for every service we had.
After awhile what had been abnormal became a normal way of life. Phone service came back with in a month--service was off and on. Cable did not come back on till after Thanksgiving.
For months stores would only be open until about 6:00 because of curfews and lack of supplies. It would be nothing to be in line with all your groceries and have the electricity go off and have to wait for 30 minutes for it to come back on so you could check out. It made me think of what it would be like during the end times. We have no idea how much how much we depend on computers that have to have electricity to run.
I don’t think anyone could have come out of that time unchanged.
Now on this side of it --it seems like there was no way we could have lived through it.

We tore our house down last December.
So many memories.

13 comments:

Cindy said...

Wow. I'm sitting here, still stunned, even though I've read many accounts and seen many photos. It still doesn't seem possible that SO MANY lost SO MUCH.

You are so full of light; that is what I keep thinking.

Denise said...

Bless you for being such a faithful woman after all you have been through, you really touch my heart.

mandy said...

wow.
i'm speechless

Debrand said...

God is good. He's brought you through for a purpose.

Sue @ praise & coffee said...

Oh my goodness. Wow.

We brought a team of 6 down to Biloxi 2 weeks after the storm. It was amazing.
I stand in awe at how God took such a horrible situation and turned it into some beautiful stories of hope and restoration.

Blessings,
Sue

Nicki said...

wow.......thank you for sharing your innermost experiences through that tragedy. God was so good to you and even through the "storm" you praised him. Have you all decided what you're going to do are you going to rebuild your house or look for a new one? Truly amazing, thanks!!!

Jenny said...

Sharon,

I never knew you had been through all that. Your light still shines so brightly despite the tragedy that you have witnessed. It is a testimony to the Lord and your faith in Him that you did make it through. Thank you for sharing your story.

Bless you-
Jenny

CrownLaidDown said...

Thank you for sharing your story, Sharon. We drove down there a couple of weeks after it happened to my cousin's house. The things I saw being carted (people's lives, really), like water and homes and generators. Then people stopped on the side of the road and sharing their stories. It was like life had stopped and people took time for listening to each other. I am thankful that you all were not hurt.
Love ya'll!
Holly

Karen said...

Oh my, thanks for sharing that was incredible. It must have been hard to see the losses, but you have such an amazing attitude to it all. I'm a bit slow this morning, so this is why you moved to the caravan before renting? Wow. You are the first person I've 'spoken' to who was involved in this hurricane.

I have only one hurricane experience it was in Guernsey 1987, freakish winds. We lived opposite a park and just as I was running up the drive to my home (my dog was barking) a tree fell into the road. Would have been on me. Thank you Lord for getting my dog to bark, to make me run up that drive.

How is your friend the lady from the Muslim background? Had her on my mind and thoughts yesterday.

Halfmoon Girl said...

Makes it seem more real now that I have gotten to know you more. Watching it on the news was shocking- I can only imagine how it was for all of you. Can you remind me what you are doing with your property? Is the plan to rebuild there? I know you talked about this many months ago...

Nise' said...

We were watching the TV shows about the 2 yr. anniversary and I was thinking of you my friend! Glad you shared your story.

MelanieJoy said...

Thanks...it's still so hard to believe that something like this could happen in our state. Your attitude really is amazing. You are like my sister you just have to keep moving forward. She lost her house last summer in a fire. It was so hard to watch it be destroyed and to watch her stand in tears. It really broke my heart to see all she then owned in a small pile in our corner. All they had left was two days worth of clothes. But man did our God show us how amazing He is!!!!

A&D said...

It is amazing what becomes fine when you have nothing else. Wow Sharon! Amazing story. D