Hurricane Katrina

My life was recently changed. It was changed by a storm named Katrina. It was changed, and it will never be the same.

Hurricane Katrina devastated my home state of Mississippi on August 29, 2005. No one thought that a Hurricane could change our lives so dramatically in a matter of hours, but it did. The beautiful historic homes that lined the beaches, framed by hundred-year-old oaks, are gone. The many years of living, laughing, and crying that occurred there were not considered by this storm. Some of these homes, not houses but homes, are gone without a trace. Others may have some small tidbit remaining to remind them of what they had.

The once bustling coastline of our state remains stagnant. Most people do not have homes. Most people to not have a place to go to work. Some people did not know where their family was or if they were okay for days. Others wish they did not know that horrible fate that their friends or family met that day.

How are you supposed to feel after something like this affects your life – your friends, your family, your neighbors, your state which you love because it is home? I wish that I knew the answer to this question. Unfortunately, I do not have the answer.

My feelings have put me on an emotional roller coaster that never stops. When the storm first hit, I felt a few different things. I felt relieved that my husband and I did manage to evacuate, along with our cocker spaniel. I knew that the eye of the storm was coming really close to our town, and that we would be in the right front quadrant of the storm. I knew from years of living near the Mississippi coast that this was the worst place to be. After many debates, I finally convinced my husband that it was best for us to leave.

Although I was relieved for us, I was also scared. We had family that stayed, and I was worried for them. I was able to talk to them during the storm until the phones went dead. Unfortunately, our conversations did not reassure me. My mom was in tears when we spoke. She could barely and did barely talk. All I could hear was a constant roar over the phone from the tornadoes that swarmed and the sound of trees breaking all around. Then I heard my mom scream as she handed my dad the phone. I was trying to hold back my tears, but my attempt was unsuccessful.

Moments later, I received a call from my friend who stayed behind with her three-month-old baby, her husband, and her grandparents. She was hysterical. She was begging me to check the news, and see where the eye of the storm was located, hoping that the worst had almost passed. I could barely make out what she was telling me. I finally realized that their roof of their house had been blown off like it was nothing. They were trying to take cover as best they could until they could be rescued.

Fortunately, I did learn that all of all of my friends and family were okay before we lost phone contact, but I also learned that the damage was devastating. My husband and I were anxious to get home to check on our house, but we decided we should definitely wait until the next day to try to get through the roads. So, that is what we did. We woke up around 5:00 am and began our journey back home. We stopped around 9:00 am at a home improvement store, thinking maybe we should buy a generator in case we had to go without power overnight. We also thought we should buy a chainsaw in case we had a few trees down. So that is what we did. We then continued on our way, still with no contact with family or friends because the cell towers were down.

We finally made it into Mississippi. We decided we should get some gas before we got into the area that was hit hard. We definitely wouldn’t be able to gas-up there, but it was too late. There was very little gas in Vicksburg, and the lines were miles long at the couple of places where they did have it. We knew that they would be out of gas too by the time we sat for hours and made it to the pumps. The only option we had after hours of riding was to turn back. So, we did. We went back into Louisiana. We found a little town about thirty miles back. We waited in line for 3 hours before it was finally our turn. We were tired, and we were running out of patience, but we could now try again to get back into Mississippi.

We made it down to Jackson okay. There was definitely damage there. There were trees down, and the power was out still. Due to the power outages, the traffic lights were not working. Traffic was pretty backed up, and unfortunately many people are unaware of the traffic laws in the case that the traffic lights are out. Anyway, that is beside the point, and it was the least of our worries. The further south we made it, the worse it got. There were trees everywhere. There were power lines everywhere. We had to make up our own detours in many cases. The police definitely had more important things to do. In many cases there was only one lane cleared, north and southbound traffic would have to take turns. In some cases, you would pray that a car would not be coming from the other direction in your lane because you couldn’t see anything. We even had to drive our car down a bicycle trail at one time. That was very interesting and scary.

We finally made it home. It was unbelievable. There were trees covering the ground. Where was our yard? There were power and phone lines in our driveway. Our fence was now buried amongst what seemed like a ton of trees. There were limbs and treetops on our roof. I looked at my neighbor’s house. I couldn’t believe what I saw. There was a huge tree that must have been hundreds of years old going through their bedroom. The whole town was like this. You could see straight through buildings because the back walls were gone. It looked like a bomb had went off in the middle of town. There was no area that remained untouched. It was definitely a good idea to buy that generator and chainsaw, but it was a bit naÃ?¯ve or optimistic maybe that we would only need the generator for one night and that we would only have to cut a couple of trees.

I tried to hold back my tears as we went inside. The smell reeked when we took that first step. The power had been out for a while. Everything in refrigerator was beginning to rot, and don’t forget it was August in Mississippi. The heat index was probably 105 degrees. That definitely didn’t help. As we walked into the living room, the carpet squished with every step. It was soaked. I couldn’t believe that the front door had blown open. It was locked, dead bolted, chained, and it had heavy boxes setting in front of it, and it had come open. Wow. I then walked down the hall, and the carpet still squished. I turned into my office. It was soaking wet. The floors, my desk, my computer, printer, the ceiling had all been drenched. It was apparent that a tree limb had shot straight through the roof like a dagger. I could see daylight through my ceiling. It was unbelievable. The unbelievable part was that we were the lucky ones.

It is now December. Where did the months of September, October, and November go? It seems as if time has stood still. There has been some progress in cleaning up our town, but it is far from being back to normal. Most everyone is still waiting to receive insurance checks before they can begin repairing or rebuilding their homes. Unfortunately, the insurance companies are overwhelmed still and will be for a while. There is still a lot of debris to be picked up, but again that is time-consuming. Workers are working hard to get it done. Luckily, we had so many kind people come from other states to try to help us in whatever ways they could.

So, how do we feel now? Well, our lives are changed. When you go to the local cafÃ?©’ or service station in my small town, you always hear someone talking about “the storm.” There is no question of which storm they speak. It will probably be the main topic of conversation here for quite a long time. After all, our daily activities still revolve around rebuilding. We are heartbroken, but we are optimistic and thankful. We are thankful that we are okay. We are thankful that we have friends, neighbors, and strangers helping us. We want ya’ll to know that it is so appreciated, and that it will not be forgotten.

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