In about a month and half, it will be the 7th anniversary of an event which totally changed my life…Hurricane Katrina. Every year around this time I start thinking about it….and it makes me emotional. Yes even 7 years later you can’t shake off the events of it. Many people I know have told me I should write about it, to tell my experiences in it, what it was like to be in it and survive it. I never wanted to do that because there are a million Katrina stories out there. However, I probably need to exercise some demons and this would be therapeutic for me so…now there can be a million and ONE stories out there. 🙂
Interesting thing about them though….all the stories are unique, even though there are some common threads. Everyone lost something and everyone was psychologically affected.
There is so much to tell about this that every person who was in it could write a book. So I will divide things up among some periodic posts. Please feel free to leave comments or questions, I will be happy to answer them.
Also..VERY IMPORTANT (at least to me) >>> if you were a person who helped somehow during Katrina (even if you just gave $1.00 to the Red Cross or prayed for us) please give a shout out and tell me what you or your org or church etc did….. because I really REALLY want to thank you. Without you people, the private people, the caring people, we would have been lost….completely lost because we had nothing and no other help was coming. (Oh heck I am already getting tears thinking about this part but…its so true) I’ll talk more about this later on, but I would so like to thank you and let you know how much this one survivor appreciated you.
So to start with, yes, I belong to this elite group that I didn’t really want membership to but I got it anyway… I survived Katrina.
At the time I was living in Baton Rouge, on the south end outside the city limits. (on that Google map above they call it South Baton Rouge but there is really no such place, that is still Baton Rouge) Baton Rouge is about an hour north of New Orleans on the Mississippi River. It is the state capitol and the home of Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers!) Fortunately for us it is inland and on higher ground. Unfortunately for us the hurricane wasn’t afraid of that. Living on the Mississippi and having a hurricane coming is a bad equation no matter where you are.
We used to hop to New Orleans (or NOLA as we call it) all the time. Almost everyone knew someone there. Living in Baton Rouge was cool because you could easily go to NOLA for events or for the day, but you didn’t actually have to live in the big city. How good is that !!!
Every year at the beginning of the hurricane season they will warn you to prepare for them. Most people usually have something like this hanging around:
Of course there are some that do not. You know how it goes…human nature. If you live directly on the coast..say Grand Isle, LA or something well they take it a lot more seriously but in Baton Rouge…well…they are a tad more laid back about it.
That brings me to one of the questions I hear the most, and what I will end with today and that is:
“If you know a hurricane is coming, why don’t you leave?”
Having grown up in the Midwest where a tornado comes without warning and kills so many people, I can really understand this question.
The fact of it is that many times they tell you one is coming, only to have it shift course or fizzle into a tropical storm or something. So essentially you board up and pack up and leave for nothing. If you multiply that times a few times a year…well…people develop this “boy that cried wolf” type thinking. Oh there is another hurricane…hmm well we will see about that……..it will probably be nothing.
Nine times out of 10, it is nothing. I went through 2 tropical storms before Katrina…both predicted as hurricanes…both I totally prepared for…and both ended up to be no more than a glorified thunderstorm with a lot of wind. Another time there was a fizzled out hurricane and another time there was one that changed course and didn’t come anywhere near us…etc etc… So you can see where this thinking starts to come in. Remember this happens sometimes several times over the course of the season. I should also add that there had never been an evacuation (mandatory) ordered ever for New Orleans, and most people there were always able to ride out the storms.
Nine times out of ten…it is nothing. It is the tenth time that comes and bites you………..