Ten years ago today, I was in a small town South Mississippi church with my parents and my 4 month old son taking refuge from Hurricane Katrina.
Here is my story……
I lived in a small town about 40 miles from my family. My husband was working offshore. Hurricane Katrina was heading straight for the west end of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. My husband advised me to go stay with my parents. They were staying at their churches educational building, which was built with concrete blocks. I wanted to stay because I was a youth and children’s director. I wanted to be there for my kids. But I knew being single with a baby in tow, I would not be much help. I would do better helping my family.
My home church was gracious enough to let us stay with my family there. My sister went north to stay with a friend.
We witnessed some of the strongest wind, rain, and storm that we have ever seen. I saw a tree fall on a church members home. We were blessed to be down a hill. The storm seemed to last forever. It was not until the next morning that some were able to venture out.
We had no power and there was a short time we had no water. We were not able to get to my parents’ home until 2 days later. My sister’s home in town was destroyed. We were blessed to have young men in our community who chainsaw’s their way to clear the roads. My parents had to climb over fallen trees to find a path for us to get home. Thankfully we found my parent’s home with minimal damage.
I was not able to get in touch with my husband nor his family in San Antonio for about 3 or 4 days. My husband was stuck in Lafayette with his crew. He was due to come home, but he had to wait for his relief to come.
I truly saw the true meaning of community. The news was covering the “man made” disaster in New Orleans. The only one who truly seemed to care was Robin Roberts of ABC. She was from the Pass…Pass Christian. She came down and broadcasted what we were all going through. She even had the raw pain and fear of not knowing what happened to her family. Thankfully, she found them safe.
So many lost there lives in this disaster. A dear coworker and friend of mine lost her sister.
The coast that I grew up with was gone. The churches and campgrounds where I took my youth so many times were destroyed.
We were not able to get over to my home for about 4 days. When we drove into town, it looked like a war zone. I was preparing myself to find a destroyed home. My parents kept the baby in the stroller at a distance while I climbed over pine tree after fallen tree. When I finally got to our street, I could see part of the house. As I got closer, to my amazement, we were still standing. Trees had fallen all in the yard. A huge limb was sticking in the roof of the carport and a small stick was in the roof of our den. That was it! The trees fell in all different directions around the house, boxing it in. I had to crawl through debris and trees just to get to the house. That was one of many, many God moments!
My husband finally was able to get off work. He drove west to Beaumont, Texas to get another generator. We decided to stay with my family and pool our resources. They had a grill and a freezer to empty. We had many challenges. My husband and I slept outside in a tent guarding our generators. People were desperate and were stealing them right out of yards.
One major incident that humbled me was a time that a guy drove up at my parents’ home in an old blue mini van. He had his share of tattoos and looked exhausted. He told us that he lost everything on the coast. He was staying with family nearby. He was driving every day to the coast where he found a job clearing debris. He would go to the different places where organizations where giving water, food, diapers, formula, etc. We had set up a clothesline on our front porch for laundry. This guy saw my baby’s onesies on the line and stopped to see if we needed anything. He had nothing…..but was still giving. We were okay, but told him of some other families with babies nearby. What a God moment!
Whenever the anniversary of Katrina comes around, or someone mentions about how awful it was for New Orleans, I have bite my tongue. It was awful what happened to New Orleans. Their governor had sent busses and other transportation to get those people out. But the mayor failed to implement it in time…then blamed it on the national government.
Mississippi didn’t wait for FEMA or the President to come save them. They got out with chainsaws, trash bags, and brooms. They grilled meat from the freezer. They had get togethers in their yards. We got to really know people. We helped each other. We looked out for each other. We loved each other.
It was hot. It was humid. You conserved your fuel and generators. Even with all that we did, my baby still developed bronchitis a week later. And, thankfully he recovered because of my cousin’s wife, who was a doctor.
And that is my story!