Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I really, really thought I was starting to get over this. I rejoiced a few weeks ago when instead of feeling a sense of panic, I ran outside with my camera to take some shots of the awesome storm clouds. Even the multiple tornado warnings didn't faze me.

But yesterday I started having the flashbacks. There wasn't any thunder or lightening, just very strong winds. Those winds had an eerie keening that was reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina. It wasn't the strength of the winds yesterday that gave me a sense of unease. It was the keening.

During Hurricane Katrina, that keening was a constant presence for over 8 hours. In the months after, I would have nightmares about the sound of the wind. It wasn't so much the trees being blown down, I expect that during a hurricane. It wasn't watching parts of your sister's neighbor's house swirling and skipping along in the wind, I've seen that in previous hurricanes. In fact, during Hurricane Elena, part of my own roof was blown off.

No, no. The thing that gave me nightmares was the keening of the wind during Hurricane Katrina. The wind sounded as if though it wanted to destroy everything in its path and was searching for any means possible to get to you. From the sound of the wind, I just knew this was one bad, destructive storm. And it wasn't even the wind that caused the most damage.

After the winds died down and I was able to leave the shelter of my sister's home, the closer I came to my home, the more fearful I became. A 20 minute trip took more than twice as long. The firemen had done a great job of clearing major roads but the other ones were a maze to go through. Transformers were suspended in the middle of roads. Trees blocked the way and debris from damaged homes had to be avoided. And all of this was 12 miles inland, far from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina's storm surge.

And the closer I came to my home, the more damage I saw. Somehow, I was one of the lucky ones. The homes next to me, behind me, and across the street suffered from major roof damage. My home had only the soffit and fascia on the south and east sides ripped off. No roof damage. No blown out windows. Heck, I didn't even have any trees blown down.

But it was the drive home that lent credibility to my fears that the keening of Hurricane Katrina's winds portended a very, very, very destructive storm. And then the news reports started coming in about the lethal storm surge that caused havoc from Lakeshore Mississippi to Escatawpa Mississippi. The 66 miles of beach front and a quarter mile inland and some places, a mile or more inland, were wiped clean. No homes, no businesses, no familiar landscapes existed any longer. Only the miles and miles of debris were left.

And yesterday, the keening of the wind brought back the first shock of realizing my world had literally turned upside down. Listening to the news on a battery powered radio came the realization that the place I worked out had been swept out to sea along with much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The frantic calls trying to reach my son to make sure he was okay. As I've written before, my landline worked just long enough that afternoon so that I could hear my son's voice and know that he and his Dad's family were okay. All of my family had stayed at my sister's. Now we had to wait to see if my brother's home close to the beach had survived and to see if my Mom and sister's home in Biloxi had survived.

My youngest sister didn't know if she still had a job. She did, but it would be almost a year before repairs were finished and she could go back to work there. My youngest brother no longer had a job either. Working close to beach or Biloxi's Back Bay has many benefits but 8 hours can change all that.

I was able to conitune working as the company I worked for began the long and ardous task of clean-up and then started the rebuilding. My office is still the trailer rented 3 weeks after Katrina. Work is supposed to begin soon. The main focus was to have the plant rebuilt and operational. My sister found and held two jobs until the place she worked before Katrina reopened the doors on the one year anniversary of Katrina. The place my youngest brother worked may or may not ever rebuild. He has been working steadily for a glazier since Hurricane Katrina.

Even though three of us were out of work for a short period of time and two of us had major damage to our homes, my family was one of the lucky ones. We lost no family memebrs and we lost no friends.

And the keening of the wind yesterday brought back a flood of memories. It is going to be a rough week. Once those memories come to the fore-front, it is hard to overcome the fear of having your world change in just 8 hours.

No comments: