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...
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!