Ongoing Katrina journal (warning: long and detailed)

Discuss the recovery and aftermath of landfalling hurricanes. Please be sensitive to those that have been directly impacted. Political threads will be deleted without notice. This is the place to come together not divide.

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breeze
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#41 Postby breeze » Sun Sep 11, 2005 8:57 pm

Yes, this is a truly amazing story! I keep logging on for the rest
of the story! And, the fact that it is a real human story and not fiction
makes it more awesome to read. Thanks, LAwxrgal - my heart goes
out to you and your's!

~Annette~
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#42 Postby inotherwords » Mon Sep 12, 2005 4:01 am

Good story. I can relate to your difficulties in getting your mom to take it seriously and agree to leave. I had the same experience last year for Charley with my elderly mom.

One comment though:
The same feelings of dread and uncertainty were echoed in some of the many weary travelers we encountered. “Is this what they went through in Florida?” one lady asked me in a restroom in Breaux Bridge, just east of Lafayette.

“None of the storms that threatened Florida last year,” I reminded her, “was a Category 5 monster.”


Well, actually, it IS what we went through in Florida, with regard to evacuations the lady in the restroom was talking about. We had four storms in six weeks and two of those storms hit as Cat 4s. I am in a coastal evacuation zone and had to leave twice. I rolled the dice the other two times and stayed. Believe me, it was extremely nerve wracking, with fuel running out and not knowing what was coming next or if a storm would strengthen or turn unexpectedly. Evacuation is always stressful and disruptive. You don't know what you're going to find when you return.
Your personal evacuation was dramatic and you definitely have my sympathy because I've been there, but in all due respect what many Floridians experienced was equally as nerve wracking, some of whom had to evacuate their homes more than once within a six week period when four storms hit back to back.

Also, I don't think the people in the direct path of Charley or Ivan in particular would agree with you minimizing what they went through. In the end, though New Orleans fared worse because of the levee breach resulting in the flooding, it did not get a direct hit nor did it get the maximum winds. What happened was horrible enough, for sure, but Charley and Ivan were horrible too in more of the way Mississipppi and Alabama were affected, and both of those storms were near category 5 as well for those directly in their paths. Ivan definitely was a "Category 5 monster" for a while during the time it was bearing down on the Florida panhandle, only weakening slightly before it came onshore.

If you're going to pitch this commercially, I'd also double check your storm info for Friday. I was watching the live news feeds on your Channel 4, and I believe by that time, the storm was already huge, centered in the Gulf, and the meteorologists were already predicting a NO hit and urging people to leave. You don't show this as being the case until Saturday, so it might be worth a little fact checking to be sure.

Otherwise, good luck. Let us know if your story gets placed. Where else can we see your other work? Please let us know.
Last edited by inotherwords on Mon Sep 12, 2005 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#43 Postby LAwxrgal » Mon Sep 12, 2005 8:55 am

:uarrow:

Thanks for the commentary, inotherwords. This is just a draft, and I'll go back and change things in the final copy. As for the "Cat 5 monster" comment, I do recall Ivan was a 4 off Mobile Bay before weakening slightly and drifting toward the Panhandle. Massive damage, and people are still living in temporary housing. Had the flooding not occurred in New Orleans the damage would have been much less.

I will agree that Jeb Bush and the people of Florida handled their situation much better than the government in Louisiana, but this is not the time or the place for such an argument. :D
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inotherwords
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#44 Postby inotherwords » Mon Sep 12, 2005 8:58 am

I'm not making any political argument, however the people of Arcadia, Florida are still pretty much homeless. The coastal (read: "wealthy") areas got the attention. The poor people inland, many of whom are migrant workers -- not so much. Sound familiar?

I don't think this should be an argument about who has it better or worse. It's all bad but especially bad for the poor.

And double check, I'm pretty certain Ivan was a 5 for a while.
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#45 Postby LAwxrgal » Mon Sep 12, 2005 9:04 am

:uarrow:
Which explains the surge off Escambia Bay that destroyed the bridge and a whole bunch of coastal structures. For some reason storm surge is the last thing to weaken from a major hurricane after it becomes a 5 and weakens to a 4 or 3.

I am not making arguments with anyone. There is hardly an area of the Gulf Coast that has not been touched by this recent tropical onslaught. Just about everyone has suffered, and this is the time to come together not fall apart. :D
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inotherwords
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#46 Postby inotherwords » Mon Sep 12, 2005 10:07 am

I was not accusing you of an argument. I was referring to the last line of your previous post where you said "I will agree that Jeb Bush and the people of Florida handled their situation much better than the government in Louisiana, but this is not the time or the place for such an argument."

And I agree with you, this is a time for action above all else. Accountability will come later, hopefully after an independent investigation. I'm hoping that this deconstruction and analysis will help to improve future response, because more storms and disasters are, unfortunately, inevitable.
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#47 Postby LaPlaceFF » Sun Oct 16, 2005 9:18 pm

Bump=a good read
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#48 Postby bevgo » Sun Oct 16, 2005 9:22 pm

Team Ragnarok wrote:I don't mean to be rude, but this should be in the Hurricane Recovery & Aftermath forum. :oops:


Leave her alone. We want to hear what she has to say--and yes it is about recovery.
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#49 Postby LAwxrgal » Sun Oct 16, 2005 11:30 pm

A large chunk of this area (and Mississippi too) is still reeling from this storm. And then, in many places, Rita came in and piled more misery on top of it.

Now, I was supposed to have composed another section weeks ago but got wrapped up in cleanup/repair work from Katrina...so here goes, another unfinished section:

Our worst fears
It wasn’t until we returned to southern Louisiana, though, that the scope of the catastrophe set in. It became perfectly clear that Armageddon had indeed happened. The whole thing seemed fully surreal. Aerial shots played and regurgitated over and over on both local and national news revealed entire cities underwater, towns turned into piles of rubble, parishes and counties disappeared from the map. Lakes were made where just a few days earlier, grassland stood. There were some areas that were still inaccessible. The submerged city of New Orleans had descended into lawlessness and chaos, while survivors who sat stranded for days did anything and everything in their power to get the attention of anyone who could help. On the home front, helicopters flew overhead all the time, and there were lines for everything for gas to ice to bread. Hurricane Katrina was the worst American natural disaster I had ever seen. And it happened right in my backyard.
The whole time, though, I continued to wonder about my own house. How had it fared? Information was difficult, if not impossible, to come by. Most every modern method of communication failed during the storm. One thing about extreme circumstances is that they force us to think “outside the box.” In other words, many of us survivors had to come up with ways of passing on news to our loved ones. The only thing that worked was, believe it or not, text messaging on the cell phone. Some people say text messaging is easy, I find it incredibly difficult. One must repeatedly press keys on the phone pad until the correct letter comes up. Through this method I let friends and family who had this capability know I was okay.
After my tour of duty in Houston, I settled a few days more with other relatives in the Baton Rouge area. Our stay there became protracted when we learned of my oldest aunt's death. She’d been a resident of New Orleans for over forty years, moving there after she got married. Her husband perished long ago, in Vietnam. I suppose after seeing the devastation of her adopted hometown at the feeder bands of Katrina, she saw no other reason to live.
At 83, she was the oldest surviving family member, and had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for the past ten years. She’d been through the turmoil of the sixties and had also survived breast cancer. During the final two years of her life, she had been back and forth in between hospitals for myriad ailments ranging from diabetes complications to Alzheimer’s complications.
To ease transport worries with my wheelchair-bound mother, we decided to stay put. Reluctantly.
Being with more relatives was not what I wanted at this point. But then again, Katrina made sure none of us did what we wanted. All the newscasts both local and national were devoted to her and the mess she’d created, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The complete and total devastation that she wrought on a large swath of the Gulf Coast was on display for the entire world to see.

Day after day was filled with waiting and wondering. It seemed as though when one day ended and another began, it was the same day. At least at this point, we had settled into some sort of routine. I would fix mother’s breakfast, check her blood sugar, administer her meds, and then walk to my sister’s place where I was able to briefly use the internet. The fact that I was able to use the internet at my sister’s was a small miracle. On the bright side: at least there was a routine. I thought about the people in shelters for whom routine was a foreign word. Every passing day was yet another reminder of how lucky I truly was. I was alive, in a reasonably safe place, leading a life that, while it wasn’t completely what I was accustomed to, was considerably better than what it could have been.

This went on until September 10, nearly two weeks to the day after we fled Armageddon.

It was another crystal-clear morning, much like the one during which we had to abruptly leave our lives and our securities behind. The circumstances surrounding my aunt’s death are still murky -- to this day none of us knows whether she died surrounded by relatives or if she perished in one of the hospitals that was without electricity after the storm.
In either case, the aftermath of the hurricane severely limited the type of funeral she could have. It could only last an hour, and very few fresh-cut flowers were available for her casket, from any of the local florists we called. To add insult to injury, my cousin, her son Joe (who, from Avondale, on the west bank of New Orleans, was himself evacuated) was frantically trying to plan the funeral. Needless to say, he was a bit frazzled. I tried to step in wherever I felt it was appropriate. But doing so without stepping on a few toes proved to be problematic. When I made suggestions about the wording in the obituary, they were brushed aside. However, my corrections in punctuation and spelling were accepted -- if not happily.
At least the funeral kept the focus, if temporarily, off worrying about my home in Katrina’s wake.
In keeping with the grand tradition of deep South funeral dinners, my relatives cooked a gigantic feast, with more food than one could imagine. One thing non-natives must know about the deep South is that funerals and their accompanying dinners often are not sad occasions. They are celebrations of a person’s life and legacy. At eighty-three, my aunt certainly had plenty of both.
Among the scores of family members who streamed into my other aunt’s house were Ray and Betty Grant, cousins I had never met. My mother told me Ray was the son of one of my uncles, who died well before I was born. I would learn through conversation that they fled New Orleans on Saturday afternoon, two days before Katrina hit, and only took a few articles of clothing and a couple of assorted mementos. Like all of us, they had been watching the news reports with dismay and horror, and anxiously watching to see if their home survived the deluge that inundated most of the city. They were afraid that since they lived in eastern New Orleans, that they were more likely than not to be homeless.
We exchanged phone numbers and I told him to call me as soon as he got any word, and also to call me if he needed anything.
A few minutes later I gathered the courage to walk the few steps to the little church where her funeral was taking place. If hearing about her death didn’t bring it home for me, then seeing her in the casket definitely did. The reality of it was finally sinking in. She was dead. And so was our sense of security.
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#50 Postby LaPlaceFF » Mon Oct 17, 2005 12:08 am

A very good read!!! :D
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#51 Postby bevgo » Tue Oct 18, 2005 12:03 pm

is there going to be more? You are saying it so much better than I could. I went to NOLA to check on my house on the West Bank yesterday. It was so sad to see all the destruction, especially in NO east
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#52 Postby breeze » Tue Oct 18, 2005 8:23 pm

Thanks for the latest section of the story, LAwxrgal! Yes, most
folks don't understand our Southern tradition of feasting when a
loved one dies - coming home from the funeral parlor, and, the
ladies of the community have cooked food - the counters are full
of food, the refrigerator is full, and, even ice-box pies and such in
the freezer - and, while eating, you share wonderful stories of
the deceased person's past. Even in your greiving, sharing stories
with others during a meal is a wonderful way to make closure
on that person's life, and, the closeness of families drawn together
symbolizes the deceased person's very important place in the family.

Of course, your dear aunt would want you to prevail and grow stronger
in the face of everything that has happened, growing and learning,
living life to fullest....right? :wink:

God Bless You.

Annette
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#53 Postby LaPlaceFF » Tue Jan 31, 2006 2:42 am

Bump :uarrow:
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#54 Postby LaPlaceFF » Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:31 am

Bump
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