Sunday, September 4, 2011

Remembering Katrina...Coloums written and Published in the Hinds County gazette in September 2005

Republished in the Hinds County Gazette September 2 2011
Remembering Katrina on this her 6th Anniversary

Sunday morning August 28 2005 Edwards Mississippi:

  Katrina, a category 5 hurricane, is in the Gulf of Mexico, 275 miles out, the storm progressing at a pace of ten miles an hour, the eye headed for the Louisiana /Mississippi gulf coast. This storm has persistent winds of 175 miles an hour; the weather channel is warning Katrina is as powerful as the august 1969 hurricane, Camille. Of course we all know, it took years for the Mississippi gulf coast to recover from Camille.

New Orleans is especially vulnerable; as it is several feet below sea level, the high waves will cause vast damage. They are also concerned that Lake Pontchartrain will not be able to hold all of the water that is on it's way.

Millions of people will be affected by Katrina. They are predicting the loss of property will be catastrophic. They are saying there are people who can not get out of Katrina’s path; some do not have the means to leave. Old people who do not drive for example…one of the reporters asked some of the folks who are leaving, to take someone with them. They are advising the people that are evacuating to go west, not to go north into Mississippi, they are saying we could feel a very angry smack from this storm even this far North, very heavy rain and high wind

After church I am going to batten down a bit around here. Get the ferns down, take the porch swing off the chains and sit them on the porch floor. I do not know what the out come of this will be. I am very concerned. The people to the east of us are even more at risk then we.
They just said, the folks in the panhandle of Florida, no matter where this storm makes land fall, are going to have high waves and winds to deal with. Those poor folks have been whacked over and over again by hurricanes; they just do not get a chance to recuperate before being whacked again.…

It is harvest time here in the south, the corn has all turned brown and is standing quite stoic, in straight rows like soldiers, waiting to be picked, the cotton is setting bolls , the soy beans are near ready. I am afraid the crops will suffer, or be lost altogether.

love to all
 call if you need me

Monday Morning 5:00 am:

Katrina is a category 4 this morning, and eye is fixing to make land fall…it looks like it is not going to hit New Orleans directly. Fox News says the power is still on in New Orleans.

Schools are closing all over Mississippi
The news folks are painting a grim picture of what it is going to be like even this far north.

Katrina came ashore at Grand Isle Louisiana.

I am going to leave you all now…go get what I can get done, while we still have power.

Love to all

This is the first column I wrote after Katrina hit and the lights came back on.

Katrina taught me more about myself then I wanted to know.

We lost our lights sometime around lunch time on Monday, not long after, we lost  running water. Thankfully we never lost phone service; folks from all over this great land were calling to see if we were safe. They were our only connection to the outside world …every call I would ask “where’s the eye?” hoping the wind and rain would soon end….the eye seemed to stay above Laurel forever. I don’t even know how long the storm lasted here, but for hours I could hear the sound of tree limbs breaking and falling to the ground… great "cracks", followed by deep "thuds"…sometime in the night it was over…the wind stopped.

After Twenty four hours of being with out water, I learned what I thought I needed…were not needs, they were frivolous wants. I learned even lights were not essential, but water was vital. At one point I told God, “If you let me have water I will not fuss about the electricity.”

We had a two of gallons drinking water on hand; the Kemp's water didn’t go out when ours did, so I was able to get 10 gallons from their house. I learned when the water is off; all you can think about is water. Thankfully, we have big galvanized wash tubs in the yard, for the dogs to drink out of and sit in to cool off.  Katrina filled the dog tubs to over flowing... that water is what we used to flush the commodes and felt fortunate to have it.

After 48 hours with out water, my hair was so oily and dirty…When I could stand it no longer; I went out to the back yard, to the dog tub, under the cedar tree, there was a dead toad floating in the water, I flipped the dead toad over the side, filled two milk jugs with the water, then went back in the house, bent over the kitchen sink and commenced to wash my hair. That head washing felt so good…I didn’t think about the water coming from Charlie dog’s spa tub or the dead toad that had been floating in it..

On after while, Wednesday night, the water came back on….Thursday morning, we had to go in to Big Town, to the Baptist Hospital, John had a scheduled procedure. In the waiting room , while waiting for John was the first time I had seen a TV since our lights went out. I could not believe the total devastation that Katrina had caused…..I cried and cried for those folks in shelters with nothing, and in some cases they did not know where their family members were…Heart breaking.

Coming back to Edwards from the hospital Thursday evening, more lights were on in Edwards my heart soared…then fell… the lights stopped just before our street…our house was dark…seemed even darker because of the street lights at the bottom of the hill were burning.

I tried to keep my promise to God…I tried not to fuss about the lights not being on, I had water, but it was hard… especially when the rest of the town began getting lights…and we still didn’t have any.

You all, I had always thought of myself as a nice person, not on the level of Gandhi or Sister Teresa, but still and all ...Pretty nice… but I just couldn’t help myself, I was hot, very tired, it was too hot to sleep, I got a be a bit cranky and one point I caught myself telling God, “I could pray harder for those people without homes, if I had lights” I believe that was my lowest low point…. as soon as I said it, I was ashamed of myself. I was so ashamed it was a good while before I could get up the nerve to ask God for forgiveness.

My 90 year old mother lives with us, she was nearly undisturbed by her Katrina experience, except for the nights, the nights were awfully long for her. One evening we were at the kitchen table, eating saltine crackers and Vienna sausages right out of the can; the last bit of daylight was coming through window; I told mother how sorry I was she had to go through this. She quickly answered “This is not the first hard times I have seen; this reminds me of the Dust Bowl days.” Mother has lived long enough to see many hard times, the depression, crop failures, wars and rationing.

When the lights came back on (around 8 pm Saturday night) and mother got to see the first pictures from the Gulf coast and New Orleans of people suffering and all the destruction, mother with tears in her eyes pointed to the TV and said, “Those are hard Times”

The clean up has begun but it will take years… Katrina was so deadly and so destructive, for many thousands people along the gulf coast, time will be remembered in terms of “Before Katrina” and “After Katrina”

Love to all

PS  Let me say this the folks who had lights, were very generous, letting people use their laundry facilities, showers, refrigeration etc. Suzanne Harpole, over on Jackson street, almost immediately after her lights came back on, managed to get up an emergency party, Saturday evening for her friends who were  still with out power …And it was a very nice party, with real food, served on real plates, real glasses and pretty napkins….it will always be a favorite memory of mine.

Cars in line for gas....

September 27 2005
Katrina’s impressive winds caused a big oak tree, in the square, to break and fall over; parts of it landed on our famous railroad bridge causing it be damaged, enough that it had to be blocked to traffic.
Old Railroad Bridge

There have, in the past, been suggestions that our famous bridge be closed…I thought maybe this would be its demise….but last week; it was repaired and is back in service once again.

That old humped back railroad bridge, the old water tower on the square and the concrete letters spelling out Edwards, are land marks in Edwards, visitors remember them. And I am not sure it would be possible to give directions to any place in Edwards if we didn’t have them. Many directions end with the phrase, “If you get to the old bridge you have gone too far.”

Katrina injured one my favorite yard trees, the oriental persimmon. You guys are probably like john, he says “You tell me so much, you can’t possibly expect me remember it all” So you probably don’t remember me telling you, that I name my trees after people, the theory being, if I name them I will take better care of them. This tree is named Paula, after one of my walking Buddies. So anyway, I say injured, because it is still standing, Katrina just put about a 15 degree tilt on it… …the fruit is ripening right on. I don’t know what to do….I don’t want to lose Paula.

Because of Katrina blowing out the power, we lost a freezer full of food…I have a gas stove so I could have cooked it up, and did cook the big hunks of meat, but it was so hot nobody had an appetite to eat.

Pre Katrina, every time I went to the store, I bought a buggy full of food because it was on sale, calling myself saving money, and going to be ready for an emergency. I say Katrina was the cause of me losing that food…but the truth be told…much of that food was doomed from the minute it was bought. I put package after package  in the freezer; followed by more packages gather from the most recent trip to the store…The only time much of that food was touched was when I shuffled it around, to make room for the next batch coming in. Many a pot roast has died in there from freezer burn.

The emergency came…my great hoard of food was of no use to anybody. In the end, no money was saved, and I for sure was not ready for the emergency. I have unplugged the freezer…I hope I have learned my lesson.

Love to all
call if you need me