Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katrina Anniversary

Sorry. I don't mean to be cliche, but you all knew I had to blog about this today. It was a year ago today when Katrina hit land. Now I realize it did not make a direct hit over New Orleans, which is the reason that a year ago today, my family breathed a slight sigh of relief and decided that we'd return home sometime on Tuesday. We only brought enough clothes and such for that length of time as it was. It wasn't until Tuesday morning, passing the television on my way to the breakfast table that I heard, "The waters are still rising in New Orleans." I was stunned and confused, and obviously did not fully grasp the situation. I remember asking Nene and Dr. Bob what the news was saying. Apparently, I knew I had missed something. That's when all the pieces of the puzzle can together!

One by one, my family arose from sleep and came to the breakfast table only to discover for themselves the harsh reality of the situation at hand. It was surreal at the very least. There was a moment in time that almost stood still as we each in our own way tried to soak in as much of the situation as our understanding could hold onto. I remember hearing that it would be at least 6 weeks before anyone would be allowed to return, quite possibly closer to 3 months. After mostly grasping all of that, I remember my husband and I deliberating in Nene's blue room about where to go from here. Our natural choice was to head for Birmingham, because Jason had enough connections there to get a job. So, we gathered as a circling of wagons, my parents, jason, mercy, and I and discussed our decisions. I remember that mom and dad had there own private deliberation, the outcome of which was their decision to go with us, if for no other reason than the understanding that we were going to have to stick together in this if we were going to make it through all of this with any kind of sanity intact (the verdict is still out on this).

I think we decided to leave on the Thursday after my birthday. And what a birthday it was! I did manage to get my favorite cake out of the deal, so I can't complain...I remember, though, noting that we immediately needed to get our money out of the bank and move it to a bank less connected with New Orleans. That was difficult since the computer systems were down due to the hurricane. The personal banker was extremely helpful and managed to work around it, noting our desperation and quietly trying to fully grasp our situation.

We walked across the street to a children's consignment shop, the only one in Shreveport, LA, because we needed clothes for Mercy. The onsies and gowns I had thrown in her bag in a hurry were already too small. Mom and I discussed it all as we sifted through the secondhand clothes searching for anything marked one or two dollars. Another customer overheard our conversation and donated her credit in the store to us. It was a mere $32, but considering they were having a sale, those dollars were stretched even further. That was the first ray of God's light amidst the settling storm.

The journey to Birmingham from Shreveport was a long one filled with angst. The cell phones didn't work, so we had to resort to texting to communicate between the two cars, not to mention trying to check in with friends also scattered. Some we didn't hear from for at least another month! The most nervous part was the whole gas scare/hoarding. Everywhere we attempted to stop, there was no gas. Finally we made it to Meridian where we sat in a fairly organized line and filled up both tanks before moving onto Jackson. We topped off the tank whenever we could to make sure we made it to Birmingham. We knew once we got there, even if there was no gas there, we would be safe.

We stopped in jackson and checked in with family. We let poor Mercy get out of the car seat for a while. She did so well noting that she was only about 7 weeks. Thankfully at that age they still sleep alot! Then, we quickly moved on to Birmingham. Many phone calls were and emails were made requesting our sizes as friends and previous church members gathered up the appropriate clothing in a holding place for us! Another ray of God's love.

Additional posts commemorating the remainder of the story to come...