Friday, March 2, 2007

Katrina - August 28, 2005

August 28, 2005 a day thousands will never forget, but many others have. A day that will be in an indelible memory to our family.

Our daughter, Jacque, and granddaughter, Jessica, were residing in Ocean Spring, Mississippi. We are watching the news channel and all the reports through the night about the hurricane watch and this massive storm heading their way.

An evacuation notice is put out for the area where our two precious ones live in a lower floor apartment of a two story apartment building right on the beach. This is not a new experience for them. The prior evacuation they had actually packed all they could in their car and headed north to Memphis to Jacque's Aunt Helen's home. Fortunately this time they have a house on higher ground to evacuate to and decide to stay there. A policeman instructs them to take one of their cars and park it on higher ground than even the house they are going to. They heed the policeman's advise.

We receive the first phone call informing us of all the above. We wait. We are glued to the TV set and constant weather reports. The hours pass. Later we receive the second phone call. We can hear the roar of the storm over the phone. The home where they are at is a split-level with the main floor being street level and the lower floor under that opens up to the outside with a creek behind the home. Jacque informs us that the lower level of the home is flooded and the water is beginning to come up onto the main living area. Two navy wives from next door with 3 very small children have joined the husband, wife and son homeowners and Jacque, Jessica and Jessica's boyfriend, Doug. The 11 of them are going to evacuate and go across the street to another house that sits on higher ground. Jacque is calm, Jessica is almost hysterical. We are informed they have some life jackets and rope. I assure Jacque they are going to be fine. She says, "I know it mom".

We hear nothing for more than three days.

We stay glued to the TV and the phone. We are concerned, naturally, and yet both Mickey and I have "the peace of God that passeth understanding". FINALLY around 1:00 pm the phone rings. It is Jessica saying "Grandma this is Jessica". Sweeter words are seldom heard!!! They are okay. They have driven to Mobile just to be able to pick up a cell phone connection so they can call. Jacque is driving while Jessica is talking to us.

The story: they had waded across the street in chest high water. A single man lived across the street by himself. His home set on a little higher ground, why they had gone there, plus he had a second story if the water had gotten up that high. Thankfully it had not. These 11 people, some of them strangers a few hours before had weathered out the storm together.

The crises is over. Ours are safe. Many others are not.....we all know that. Now comes the nitty gritty facts of trying to figure our where to go and what and how to do. Because they had evacuated so many times before and nothing had "happened" this time, not only did they decide to stay in town but did not take much with them. They thought they would be gone probably a day or so. Jacque had a pair of jeans, a couple pair of shorts, a shirt and some tops, flip-flops and tennis shoes. Jessica had about the same but no tennis shoes. Can you imagine the devastation and having to walk around in flip-flops? Jessica's car, the one they had driven to the house was completely flooded and ruined. So was Doug's. Jacque's, which thankfully they had parked where the policeman had instruction them, was okay except both the front and back windows on the driver's side had been blown out. There was no gas to be found. They had siphoned the gas out of Jessica & Dougs cars and put in Jacque's to get to Mobile to make the phone call. They are okay on food and walk long distances to obtain bottled water. They cannot find Jessica any tennis shoes.

Disastrous times bring out the very best and the very worse in people. You find out your true "metal". When finally some gas trucks got into the area they had to pay $5 a gallon for gas. Price gorging? They finally got to the Salvation Army trying to get some money. They would not give them any. They were giving food and clothing but not cash. FEMA-----you know the news stories on that at the beginning. Who did come to their aid? The churches and Christians of course. Jessica finally got tennis shoes!!! They got more clothing, water and additional food.

We are frantically trying to get money wired into them. The banks are down. Finally we find we can wire money to them through Walmart but not the Walmart in Ocean Springs. We have to wire it to Pascagoula and they have to get there to get it. The same with trying to buy a cell phone. Took them 1/2 a day to buy a cell phone.

One of the "funniest" things was people would say to us, and to them, "Can't you go over to the apartment and salvage some things?". The entire 2nd floor of the apartment building had fallen onto the lower floor where their apartment was. As Jacque told us "When we finally got to the apartment area to see it we could not even tell exactly where our apartment had been".

What is the end of my story and how are our two precious ones doing? Fabulous! Jacque decided the best thing for her to do was come back to Tulsa. So on September 14th, 17 days after Katrina she left and drove to her Aunt Helen's in Memphis for the night and then arrived at our home in Coweta on September 15th. Now remember she is driving a car with both the driver's side windows blown out and the door won't open so she has to get in on the passenger's side. But get here she did. Jessica decided she did not want to move to Tulsa because of boyfriend, Doug. We were not happy about that decision but she was 19.

If you've been reading my blog you know that we own a 30' Jayco 5th Wheel. When we decided to stop our travels and settle down at home and church we put up the 5th wheel and the truck for sale. The truck sold immediately. The 5th wheel did not. We tried for one month and then decided it just wasn't God's will. Mickey had already poured a second driveway, on the other side of our property, to the back yard and had electric, water and sewer connections set up for it. We parked the 5th wheel there. Guess what? That has made a perfect home for Jacque since arriving here. She is right here with us and yet we have our privacy and she has hers. It NEVER ceases to amaze me how "God works everything together for good to those that love him".

One more thing I want to say and point out. When Jacque got to Tulsa she got excellent help immediately from both The Salvation Army and FEMA. Maybe that was because they did have the tremendous load here in this area, although there were quite a few here from Katrina. They bused in people to Fort Gruber, an old National Guard Army Base.

Jacque began an entirely new profession as a pharmacy tect with Walgreens. A position she was able to get through some church friends of ours. She is well and happy. We are delighted to have her home. We are delighted that she and her sister, Suzette, and brother, Marc are enjoying each other. Her niece, Oksana, and nephew, Aric, absolutely love having her here because she spoils them!!!

I do want to say that the pictures I have included were not taken by Jacque but were ones that were sent to her. I would give credit for them if I knew who to credit. I am thankful to have them for this post because they really show what it was all about.

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Anonymous said...

It sure was a horrid time. We, too had family involved in New Orleans. My young nephew and his wife lost their apartment and their car, but relocated in Kansas City where he is going to school. My kids were in the hurricane in Mexico right after Katrina during their honeymoon. It was so hard to have no communication with them. It does bring you to your knees. Thanks for sharing you incredible story and the protection of the Lord upon your family. Amazing!

Anonymous said...

That is so awful they had to go through that. Praise God they were ok. I am so happy for you that you have them there with you now. A very good decision. We live very close to the coast here and evacuated with Rita. We were stuck on the freeway for days. People were actually ramming there cars into mine.

Morning Glory said...

Those are stunning photographs and that's a really hair-raising story. I'm so glad they were safe and have been able to settle down again.

My stepmother and her daughter/SIL had to evacuate out of the Galveston-Houston area during Rita, and it was quite an ordeal. They were able to avoid disaster at home when the hurricane turned up the coast. Scary times!!

Momma Roar said...

We didn't know anyone personally involved in that. It is so different to be able to feel the story through your words. Thank you for sharing that.

Candy said...

Wow, what a story! I got choked up actually. I felt tears welling in my eyes and a lump in my throat!
I didnt know anyone personally that was affected by Katrina. But obviously many, many people were affected. However, my Dad got a call from our government in Canada asking if he would go down there afterwards and counsel the people there because hes a pastor. He was there for quite a while, helping however he could.
I am so thankful your family was safe and God protected them.

eph2810 said...

I am thrilled to hear that your family made it safely through the storm.

Incredible picture--with so much destruction.

Thank you for sharing your story.

weavermom said...

Wow! Even with God's peace - that must have been a LONG 3 days!!

I went to college at Mississippi State and knew several that went through the storm - including my roommate and her family; and my godchild and her family. Heart-wrenching stories - and the pictures! Scary, but breath-taking!

Glad the storm brought your daughter home! I know you are glad to have her close by :)

Barbara said...

Hi! Susan

Read this account of Katrina along with my daughter Jane who is here for the night. A truly inspirational post but we also find it hard to imagine what you all must have been going through. The photos make it so real. Have never seen such sharp and clear photos of a hurricane before, not even on the storm chasers. Thanks for telling me. Barbara