Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Year Later

The big topic around here is "Katrina, One Year Later". It was a Saturday morning when we woke up and found she was heading our way. I had a Girl Scout meeting scheduled that morning, and my daughter's birthday party was supposed to be that afternoon. I didn't figure anyone would show up for the GS meeting, but since I was the leader, and called the meeting, I felt obligated to show up. All the girls came and we had a two hour meeting. On the way home, I told my daughter that we ought to go by the club and see if it was open. Of course it was not, so I told her she had a choice--we could have the party that day at the house and the kids could play in the hose, or we could wait until the next weekend and have it at the pool as planned. She decided she wanted to do it that afternoon, which was fine with me, since we had decided to leave, but late, so the baby would be sleeping. About eight kids showed up for the party and a good time was had by all. In the middle of it, my brother called. He lives behind my parents in Mississippi and wanted to know if we could stop and pick up my parents on our way to my sister's in Atlanta. Of course we said yes. My parents had never evacuated for a storm before--their house was fine during Camille in 1969, so they just hunkered down for a few days without power. This time however, my mom was on oxygen and chronically/terminally ill and she wanted out. We picked them up about six and headed toward Atlanta. We spent the night outside of Montgomery and got to Atlanta Sunday afternoon.

Monday we took the kids to the zoo in Atlanta and saw, among other things, the pandas. It was a dismal drizzly day, and since school had started, the zoo was practically empty. We got back to my sister's and watched hurricane coverage and worried. When we finally heard from my brother, we found that my parent's house had two feet of water in it. It took over 24 hours before we heard from my brother and sister-in-law who chose to ride it out in thier home in Bay St. Louis and ended up with four feet of water in thier house. We looked at the TV shots from New Orleans and figured that life as we knew it had come to an end. We set about enrolling the kids in school and trying to figure out where we went from there.

We were lucky. My husband heard that they were allowing people to return to our area to "look and leave" on Labor Day. He headed to Baton Rouge and spent Sunday nite at a friend's house (along with 14 other people). Our first good news was when he got home and found that we had no water in our house. That same weekend I found that our firm had opened an office in Baton Rouge and that I had a job. We knew we'd be going home sooner rather than later.

There have been a lot of articles in the paper about how things have changed. We are lucky--by October my kids were back in their schools, my husband and I were back at our jobs and the baby was at her sitter's. Our house is fine and in a lot of ways, for the last few months things haven't been that different from before the storm. Yet, in other ways they are different. We haven't been to be beach at Grandpa's (Grandma passed away in March) because of the debris in the water. Our damage (minor thought it was) is mostly not repaired because of the expense and the difficulty scheduling workmen. I'm working on a Katrina case at work that has changed the client's life forever. People we know have moved and will probably never return. Our neighborhood is dotted with FEMA trailers (not everyone was as lucky as we were).

Now Earnesto is in the Gulf. Our Lady of Prompt Succor pray for us that we may be spared loss of life and property this hurricane season.

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