Tuesday, September 06, 2005

One Foot In Front Of The Other

Just to get it out of the way – here’s my family’s experience of Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath:

My father in law’s house in Lacombe was designed and built by him to withstand winds of up to 250 miles per hour. Except for some shingle loss and some weather damage to the attic the structure didn’t even creak. Around us, though, trees of all kinds were uprooted and tossed around us like dominoes. The transformer pole split and missed one of our cars by a hair. Luckily the power was already out or we would have had a live wire to contend with. Instead it just meant that there would be no power or phone in that area for quite some time. That was our first omen. The next was after the storm when we walked down where the driveway used to be and found the bayou there instead, along with a complete maze of downed trees further blocking our way out. The third was two nights of oppressive heat, country black darkness, sounds of approaching wild life and the infuriating buzz of mosquitoes. Not a happy place and the impending danger to our health were clearly aware to us all.

Trapped like rats and running out of water the urge to get out and for some reason get here to St. Mary’s became a repeating loop in my head. My entire focus became solely on getting my children out of there as fast as possible. It took three days for my guy and a very wonderful neighbor to chop and saw a clear path to the road. Once we could get out the cars were packed, the pets gathered and we set out on an eighteen hour drive that finally landed us at my Aunt’s doorstep.

Once cleaned, cooled and re-hydrated our relief and grief were at once immense. Seeing the news footage for the first time was the worst but, we forced ourselves to sit through as much as we could stand in order to try and grasp the full scope of what has happened. After that we all got some much needed sleep and I was able to get the majority of my crying over with. Feeling rested, highly fortunate and finally safe we began to make plans to move forward with our lives. Not easy but not negotiable either. I can’t have my children looking back at this and thinking that their parents handled this wrong. Falling into an abyss of sadness and stagnation is not the example that I wish to impress upon them. So there is no choice but for us to get back on track. No matter where we are and no matter how we feel about it.

Our first decision was to enroll our eldest in school, find a job for me and a new place to live. We managed to do most of that today and it feels good but also quite painful. With each new form I signed meant my living connection to someplace I love as if it were human is ending. There’s nothing I can do to change that. I have to accept the inevitable and move on now while the opportunity to do so is good. In time we will see this place as the paradise my children seem to have found here. At least that is the hope I cling to at the end of the day.

What came out from beneath the skirts of New Orleans after the storm and our local/national (lack of) response to this has shocked and hurt me more than I thought possible for a tough broad like me. Working with some of the volunteers here in organizing the relief effort has been my only source of reprieve from the vast feeling of helplessness that I can not shake. Still, it is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the full scope of this kind of tragedy. My mind just can’t wrap itself around the whole picture but I’m trying to deal with it step by step. If I don’t keep on keeping on I’ll fall into an abyss that may be unable to return from. So, it’s is from here on out that life really has to go on. It has to…

P.S. The help, kindness and understanding from everyone we have met here has been outstanding. People really do care about what happens to New Orleans and it's people. We have been witness to that first hand. For that we will be eternally grateful and will do our best to pass it on to other who are in way more need than we are.


Blogger Tigerpixie said...

I wish there was something I could do or say to make it all better :( I'm glad you guys are getting somewhat settled where you are.
Please, please let me know if I can do anything for you and your family!!! ((((HUGS))) P.s. I finally signed up for a blog over here too ;)

10:49 PM  
Blogger ...e... said...

keep blogging

11:04 PM  
Blogger cherrybones said...

i dont know what to say other than im so glad you are all safe. im so sorry you have to experience this.

1:32 AM  
Blogger Al said...

Glad to hear that all are safe. Last year I went through three small cat. 3's. Nothing to compare what has befallen the gulf coast. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the world. I've had many great times there. During my first trip, I remember someone telling me - "You'll never taste food, hear music or meet people like you will in New Orleans". It's true - the food and the music will return because of the great people of New Orleans.
All my best

8:34 AM  
Blogger se7en said...

I hope this works... I've tried to comment several times, the connection here is truly lousy.

I'm really glad to hear you and yours are safe, you were one of the first people I thought about the day after. I was seriously thankful that you both decided to leave and that you were able to.

I'm still in Az. at the moment but I'm headed back to the Dallas, Tx area today where I may stay for a while, not sure yet. I don't think that I will even attempt to go back to the house on the westbank until the power and water are restored.

I'm sure I'll have a lot of blog fodder in the coming months, just like you. I hope that it doesn't drag you down though! Maybe we can meet in N.O someday in the future and have a laugh over a drink and swap reconstruction stories!! hehe

Take care of yourself and family, I'll be checking back!!!



8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in Folkston, just down the road from St. Marys, (my dad owns the Ace Hardware stores in Kingsland and St. Marys), so I know you are in good hands. South Georgia people are some of the best in the world.

I live in Fort Walton Beach now and I feel your hurricane pain as well as your pain over the loss of life as you knew it in New Orleans. N.O. is my favorite place in the whole world and I can't imagine living there and then having to leave it.

I know you have to put your family first, but I will sorely miss your little glimpses into daily life in the city that I love.

Keep blogging and let us know how you are. You are in my prayers.


11:24 AM  

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