Sunday, August 20, 2006

Yeah, Skeered

Yup, I think for the rest of my life I'll be scared.

Scared of the date.

Scared of what might happen.

Of course, what might happen could happen anywhere between June first and November thirtieth.

But because of Katrina, I'll always be a little more sensitive to tropical upsets in August.

Just like folks who went thru Betsy will be leery around the first two weeks of September.

Or feeling a little uneasy like the people who experienced Camille in August of '69 . Yikes.

Because of Katrina I think I'll be uneasy for the rest of my life.

My husband, daughter and I stayed in my little cajun cottage in Slidell for Katrina.
I should have known things were not right when I went driving around Slidell on that Sunday morning, trying to get supplies to last us through a few days of no electricity. I was also looking for things to make my only child's 17th birthday something to remember even though a hurricane was to take the wind out of her sails.
There were hardly any cars out that whole weekend. Nobody was around.

Little did I know how much I under estimated Mother Nature.

I didn't pay attention to the weather that weekend. Sure, I had the TV on that afternoon, watching Ray Ray and the Stupid Woman Governor (who I did not vote for) giving a press conference on TV. I didn't pay attention to the scenes on TV about the interstate at a complete standstill....all lanes going north or west. "Same old same old" I felt. Just like hurricane Georges (George or Jjjjj--or-jjjjezz) a few years before, when everyone left and nothing happened.

We celebrated my daugher's birthday that Sunday afternoon, August 28th. We had a good dinner, boston cream pie and enjoyed some easy-to-forget television programming. About 1 AM Monday morning my daughter came upstairs to tell me the electricity was out and she was scared. I came downstairs to lie on the floor and keep her company. Within three hours I had to give my precious child 1/2 Xanax to keep her from completely freaking out. She slept for the next 12 hours.

Katrina's winds were just beginning about daybreak and they were fierce. Hubby and I lay on the living room floor listening to the pine cones slam into the roof with so much force. When we didn't hear the pine cones hit, all we could hear was the howling of the winds.

You know how people try to explain that sound of the train during heavy storms? It's real. We listened to that sound which was constantlly over ridden by a stronger whooshing sound. All I can do to describe it is to tell you to imagine the sound of a very loud central air conditioner humming. Occasionally one of us would look out the front door to check on the huge pine trees bending. Little did we know that 1/2 of those trees would end up in houses or across the road.

One truely odd moment during the height of Katrina that is burned in my mind is seeing a white pickup truck stop in front of my house. DURING THE HEIGHT OF A CAT 3 (winds of 177-190 mph) a man got out of this pickup truck with a chainsaw and proceed to cut down pine trees that had fallen across the road. I found out later that this guy patrolled the whole neighborhood of Ozone Woods, clearing the way for whatever rescue people that might show up.

We didn't know how bad it would be at that time.

A few hours later - Monday afternoon - we ventured outside. The winds were still gusting and rain was falling. Looking up and down the street we were stunned. In my 50 years I have never seen such destruction from Mother Nature.

In retropect, I realize we were in shock. Otherwise we'd have taken pictures of what we were witnessing. Our shock lasted for at least two weeks.

My daughter woke up later that night. With no electricity but plenty of candles and batteries, we listened to Garland Robinette on WWL radio (using a Sony radio I got for my 13th birthday).

I can't relay to those of you who weren't here the horror of listening to what was going on in the days following Katrina. Read WWL's transcripts to get the real feelings. It was not nice.

Four days after Katrina hit we procured a generator after standing in line at Home Depot for four hours in 90 plus degree, almost-cloud-free-high-humidity weather. After we set it up, we agreed to only run it for a few hours after six pm. It felt good to feel the moving air of my box fans. But I would've traded that good feeling not to see what was going on in New Orleans on that Thursday. Lord, our hearts broke. I went outside and wailed, cried for an hour. Oh how could this horror be happening? I think we each took turns going outside to cry for a week after we got the generator.

Up here in St. Tammany Parish we were cut off from the rest of the world for 2 weeks. Cell phones didn't work. We drove to Hammond to contact family members and let them know we were alive. Lots of tears. Communication was limited to hand made signs. Land lines worked in some homes after a week. A lot of tears. I don't think I'll ever look back at that time without crying. Can anyone who has a heart?

I'll never stay again.

To the people coming down here - a YEAR after the storm to "blog" on what's "REALLY HAPPENING" in New Orleans: you are not wanted here. Find another cause. We've survived this long without you and do not need your help getting the word out.

Pay your dues elsewhere, kids.


Anonymous said...

how can you say you "don't need help"? why are you turning away those folks who are trying to help you? there is no doubt in my mind that you need help...and that you've needed help from august 28 2005.

and why all the blogging and the pictures and the websites that YOU'VE done about katrina and the aftermath and destruction if you "don't need help"? it's been 3 years now and you still need help. i hope you've at least recognized it by now.

judyb said...

Anon, read it again. I was speaking to folks who came down here to blog about the storm just for the notoriety. Of course this area still needs help.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if it's just me or what but why would you stay afte4r it being so bad? Is this the first hurricane you've seen in 50 years? I'm from central Florida and before I hit 40, I hauled my butt out to Colorado. Sure, the snow might be a pain in my bum but I still shop like I have kids at home so my husband and I could survive for easily 3-4 weeks if I could stomach powdered milk and could bake my own bread!! But as long as we live within a couple miles of a grocery store, I'll drive down and get provisions that we run out of.
My main question to people who live where they've been HIT by a bad storm and continue living there... WHY? And since it's an area that's prone to get horrible storms, why should FEMA or any other "agency" have to rebuild your homes, give you money for "everything" that you lost and be responsible for rebuilding your community when you KNEW this could happen??
Personally I think it's nonsense that those of us who are bright enough not to live in area's where we could be displaced by mother nature, why should WE pay because you like it there?!? Please make this, make sense for me!!!
Even the people who grew up there, had their families there, parents are buried there, etc. KNOW it's very probable (not even just possible, probable!!) that within a 25 year span, there will be a CAT5 hurricane that will level the town, city, your home?!? No, I'm sorry that I do feel sorry for you people but I don't understand why my countries deficit should go higher and higher because you refuse to heed warnings or have enough common sense not to want to lose you children's memories, the pictures of grandma sitting in the chair that her now great, great, grand daughter will rock her baby to sleep in and hoped to have passed on to her someday and lose it all. Report cards, letters to Santa, family portraits painted by an artist who passed away many years ago..... Some things cannot be replaced, like lives amongst the things I just talked about.
I'm not insensitive, and yes I do have a heart but you need to be realistic.
I'm not here to offend anyone but let me end this by telling you that I used to work as a desk clerk in a Best Western here in Colorado. The Red Cross bused displaced families in, put them up in our rooms (Which nobody asked for a discount on, just rack rate) for a few days until they arranged to move them into apartments and homes all over the city. I met some wonderful, nice people that had obviously went through hell but by the second evening, they were down at the desk ordering taxi's go to the liquor store. I'd had 3 different rooms asking me where they could go to buy crack cocaine!! Yes I know I can't judge everyone based on the ones I met but it was funny that I was so nice that when they came back from the liquor store, they said I was so nice, they'd bought me a gift... a bottle of Chevis Regal which if you've ever priced, isn't cheap!! But with everyone getting $2000. EACH in Visa bank cards from FEMA, what the heck?!?
I have a big heart and very much care for people but if people don't have their lives back in order by 2009= They never will. Obviously some people don't want to work and why should they if they can ride the gravy train forever because they were in a horrible storm? I buried my childrens father when they were still kids, before I got to have grandchilfren, I'd buried both my parents. Life isn't meant to be fair, sometimes it just sucks!!

If you want to live in a place where mother nature can decide your fate, carry good homeowners insurance and make sure you have all the flood insurance, and that it even covers acts of god!! Also keep in mind that when they warn you to leave, they're not saying it for kicks, it's for your own safety!! If you care for your loved ones, get them out of harms way, and if you must put people in nursing homes then send them to states where they won't be left for dead in the event of a storm like Katrina. I'm sorry for those who this might upset and to those whom it doesn't apply. But some people need to get a grip on reality and read this a second time, please do!!!

judyb said...

I'm glad you're safe in Colorado. With your "I'm smarter than you" attitude, I hope you stay there.

I'm oh so grateful that you alone have paid for those of us who live here to stay here. What would the world be without anonymous people like you.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Anonymous disapproves of all the Haitians who stayed in Port-au-Prince for the earthquake!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure this Anon disapproves of all the Haitians who stayed in Port-au-Prince for the earthquake!