My Hurricane Katrina Story

Hurricane Katrina Facts

  • Formed on August 23, 2005
  • Sixth strongest hurricane on record (highest recorded winds recorded - 175 mph)
  • 1,836 fatalities/ 705 "missing"
  • Costliest hurricane in U.S. history (81.2 billion dollars)

I don't have much of a story compared to those who waded in rising waters or waited for help on their roof tops, but I do have a story. I also wanted to write this Hub to remember those who lost their lives to such a horrific storm and to say God bless to all those who fought with their insurance companies and FEMA and not only lost that battle but also lost the life of a loved one. I know there were so many of you. And to those displaced, I hope you are where you want to be...

Picture of my backyard
Picture of my backyard
My neighbor's house
My neighbor's house
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army
Line at Walmart
Line at Walmart
Closed sign at Walmart
Closed sign at Walmart

My story

I was living in Hattiesburg, Mississippi at the time of Katrina. Hattiesburg is located about 60 miles north of the Mississippi's coast. Like many others, I blew off how strong and powerful Katrina was going to be and did not prepare quite as well as I should have. Luckily, my good friends and their daughter (my daughter's best friend) did take the storm seriously, and they were staying at my house with necessary supplies: plenty of water, batteries, food, games, beer, etc.

I was supposed to be at work the morning of the Katrina. I worked at a homeless shelter for men. Both my bosses were from the North and had never experienced a hurricane, so to say the least, they had not prepared the shelter at all. I basically went to work that morning and told my boss that my family and home comes before my job, and I had to be at home to protect my property from flying debris. I was also not going to get stuck in the dark with 25 men, most with criminal backgrounds. By the time I got back home, the power had already gone out. It was about 9 a.m.

By 11 a.m. the winds had really picked up. Trees were snapping and falling into my back yard. My friends and I watched shingles and trash fly down the street. I had put the two kids and some mattresses in the hallway. A few times I had put myself in the hallway, but I could feel the wind blowing threw the carpet. It was about 1 p.m. at this time. This is when I made my last phone call to my father. He informed me that I still had about an hour before the eye would pass close by. I told him I was scared to death and didn't know if I could handle another hour this intense storm. The winds were so powerful. Trees were snapping like toothpicks. A constant sound of a train howled through the air. At 2 p.m. we tried to play scrabble, but the only words that came to mind were words like death, die, wind, scared.

By 4 p.m. the winds finally started dying down. We had no communication with the outside world: no phone lines, no radio stations, no TV, we couldn't even get out of the driveway because of all the trees down.

Around 7 p.m. one radio station finally made it back on the air, but instead of music it served as a communication device. This is when reality hit. This is when I started to cry. People started calling asking for their loved ones to call if they were alive or calling stating they were o.k. People were calling saying that restaurants and houses on the coast of Mississippi were gone! When one d.j. asked a caller, "What do you mean gone?" the lady replied "I mean, not there! Everything's gone!"

The next day people were out chainsawing trees to clear roads. I had to be at work at 7 a.m. but was not able to arrive until the roads were cleared which wasn't until close to 10 a.m. When I got there no one was there, but the middle of the building looked like it had been pulled apart. I imagined they had to evacuate. When they arrived, I was told their interesting story...

Around 10 a.m the homeless shelter's building did start to lose part of it's roof, and there was massive flooding down the middle of the shelter. Because they had 25 residents and only a 15 passenger van, they had to make two trips to another location. They thought where they evacuated to was safe until around 1 p.m. when the roof caved in and broke a gas line, and once again they had to make two trips to another location. Only this time more trees were on the road and flying through the air. At times they had to get out of the van to move trees to continue driving. My boss from L.A. made the comment that he would rather live through an 8.5 earthquake than experience another hurricane like Katrina again.

Why they brought them back to the homeless shelter, I do not know. There were no phone lines (in the city - including cell phones) that worked, they had no candles, little food, only two flashlights, and only one bottle of water per person, and to make matters worse the night shift worker didn't show, so I had to drive to the main office and inform them I couldn't stay overnight. Thank goodness for the night worker that lived down the road who came to stay the night.

While I was at work, my friend went to his place of employment and borrowed their generator and small TV. We saw footage of New Orleans and the MS Coast for the fist time. We all cried.

The next following weeks were interesting. Neighbors all shared food. I meet some neighbors for the first time. We pulled our mattresses out to the back porch to sleep outside because of the heat. We did a lot of talking, walking, drinking, eating, smoking. It was like camping. We finally got phone reception after 4 days. We had to wait in long lines for ice, food, beer, gas, and most supplies were limited. We finally got power after 3 weeks, and soon after life began to get back to normal... for my family, but for so many others the wait was much longer. God bless them!

Footage From Gulf Coast

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Comments 24 comments

Sara Tonyn profile image

Sara Tonyn 6 years ago from Ohio, the Buckeye State

Powerful hub; it stirs up vivid memories and deep emotions. I'm glad you survived it. Thanks for writing about your experience!


Faybe Bay profile image

Faybe Bay 6 years ago from Florida

Absolutely. I am reminded that we were so lucky here in Florida, three in a row, but Katrina did more damage up there than three down here. I remember too how we all pulled together. I was working, no power, a neighbor gave me his battery alarm clock because he wasn't working. Thank you for reminding us, people are basically kind. Great Hub, so glad you are here to tell the story.


figment profile image

figment 6 years ago from Texas Author

thank you


BEAUTYBABE profile image

BEAUTYBABE 6 years ago from QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA.

Hi Figment,

Hurricane Katrina certainly was a nasty one

I think your Boss got it in one when he said "he would rather live through an 8.5 earthquake, than go through another Hurricane Katrina.

My heart really goes out to the people who lost their wordly possessions during H. Katrina. You have been through so much. I will become a follower of yours, please keep touch if you need to chat you know where I am Beautybabe


figment profile image

figment 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Great hub. Thanks again. I have one about the Katrina Mis-communications. It was a terrible tragedy. Keep hubbing.


Putz Ballard profile image

Putz Ballard 6 years ago

She was a bad girl and her reputation preceded her, I know being there must have been horrific and the losses you sustained can never be replaced. We held you and all the folks in that part of our country in our prayers.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Lord, figment-what a story. I lived in Birmingham during an ice storm in 1980 and all communication was cut off for days-terrifying ordeal.

I imagine you were all crying-60 miles from the coast? Wow. I'm impressed with your devotion to both your family and the shelter-you sound like one hell of a woman.


donotfear profile image

donotfear 6 years ago from The Boondocks

I am glad you wrote about this. I do have mixed feelings about it because I worked in the outreach effort in NE Texas 6 months later. I just can't shake some of the stuff I heard from survivors. I think I had burnout, for sure. But I do believe we need to remember. Thank you very much for this.


tipperary profile image

tipperary 6 years ago

I think its good to hear what happened from a surviver as it tells us so much more than we could read in the news. Sorry to hear you had to go through so much, we dont know how lucky we are here.


bgamall profile image

bgamall 6 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

I was in a large earthquake once. Terrible. But Katrina was huge compared to other hurricanes in terms of sheer size. Bush was asleep and was a failure. I wrote about his legacy regarding his more ruthless and immoral actions.


figment profile image

figment 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you.


bonny2010 profile image

bonny2010 6 years ago from outback queensland

good hub - I didn't realise the extent of the damage as I live outbush and don't get much news traffic so i appreciate what I read - thank you


Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

Wow! You did a great job on this one. My emotions were stirring all the way through. I can't even imagine.

I can remember watching it on our T.V. day after day and being so angry that no one was stepping in to help you people out.

I'm so glad that you and your family are here to talk about it today. There were so many tragedies with Katrina.

Great Hub,

Sage


Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

Wow...I know a goup of people who went down to do some relief work, one of my brothers included, but it never ceases to amaze me when I see pictures....Thanks for sharing your story!


bmtphoenix profile image

bmtphoenix 6 years ago from Austin, TX

I'm just loving how you threw weed in there as necessary provisions...LOL.


Linda Myshrall 6 years ago

Your story sends chills up and down the spine, and goose bumps to the arms. Many of us are guilty of letting our minds rest on New Orleans when we think of the hateful Katrina... we forget that a region (not just a city)was devastated. Yours is a powerful story, and I'm glad you survived it and have told it here. There are many lessons to be learned from it.


Patiopursuit profile image

Patiopursuit 6 years ago

great hub


FCEtier profile image

FCEtier 6 years ago from Cold Mountain

Wife and I had houses in both Gulf Port and Baton Rouge. By Thanksgiving, the Gulf Coast in Miss had done a LOT to recover. Know what Louisiana and NOLA had done in the same time? Formed a committee to try to keep the Saints in NOLA. We sold both houses and moved to North Carolina.

We saw Jerry Lee Lewis in concert at a casino in GP the night before Katrina hit. The concert hall was gone after Katrina.


PaulaK profile image

PaulaK 6 years ago from Austin. Texas

Thanks for sharing your personal story!


Sunshyne1975 profile image

Sunshyne1975 6 years ago from California, US

Thank you for sharing your experience. That must have been so horrible. My husband is a utility forester, he went and helped the utility company in Louisiana to help restore power to everyone. He has told me many stories about the aftermath and showed me many pictures, so I am really glad you and your family made it through.


Twisted FDL profile image

Twisted FDL 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing. It seems like the national attention was focused on New Orleans, which was in horrible shape but many of the surrounding areas were severely impacted as well as you document.


marimccants profile image

marimccants 5 years ago

You have unforgettable experience,figment.


JonnyGreen 3 years ago

Wow! Just wow

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