Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Most Grateful Guy Ever - A Hurricane Katrina Story

A freind of mine forwarded this letter from a friend.

Except for a few surnames that have been deleted, this piece is completely unedited.

Thanks to Everyone who is writing and calling and checking in on our plight. Here is what has happened to us during the Katrina Disaster. Jasmine and I decided to ride the storm out. We are both from hurricane country and have weathered enough of them to know that we could last 7 days or so. Plus we we're looking after the bar.

We lasted through the storm without any problems despite very very high winds which we thought would rip the shutters off the windows and blow the windows out.

When the storm first subsided we walk around the corner to the bar. In the French quarter there was very little damage. Mostly signs down, debris everywhere a few walls collapsed glass everywhere etc. Then we checked the bar and it too was fine. One broken window.

The police called the 7 pm curfew so we went back to the apt. This is where it started to sink in. The entire FQ was pitch black. From my 2nd fl balcony we could not see the street below. Eerie especially considering the bustle and hustle and street noise that normally exists in the quarter.

Police patrolled and finally the national guards drove thru.

I awoke early the next day to ride my bike over to the house I own in the lower garden district. destruction was huge. every tree was down. But the house was FINE (again) 2 windows broken and that's it. Trees everywhere but the structure was intact.

I rode back around the town. And could see that the entire area was destroyed, but was accessible by bike. No standing water. I went back to the apt and then to the bar. We decided to cook the food in the freezer and frigs and give it to the friends and former customers and whoever asked for.

Our bar is next to NOFD headquarters. They were hanging around telling us various stories about the city's plight. Then all of a sudden they were scrambling to evacuate... so fast I could find out why. Which isn't that strange because they regularly run off to fires and such as is there mission. But this time they were cursing each other to hurry up and leave the area. Then traffic became extremely sparse.

Jim, a local regular customer of ours came down the road with a huge pack on his back struggling to reach the Super Dome. He had a wind up radio that alerted us to the latest news. The LEVEE was broken and the lake was filling the city like a tub.

Time to go.

I offered Jim a ride in the back of my 78 El Camino. He said yes. WE shut the bar, grabbed like 2 shirts and money and birth certificates and such and ran out the door. And two cats. No cage. Piled into the Camino and took off.

We rounded the corner and saw other close friends scrambling to siphon gas out of cars left behind to fill up their tank so they could leave. We had half a tank of gas. We drove the only route out of town. US hwy 90 west to the 310 junction to the 10 west (beyond the metro area). Connected to the 55 North toward Jackson MS. In 90+ degree heat no AC and not enough gas to make it to Jackson.

We were the only car on the road in that direction for about an hour. The cats were going crazy. WE were in silent shock and relief. It literally felt like a movie scene when you see the heroes drive out of an explosion or just avoid a collapsing building. I felt like we had avoided Armageddon.

We had no idea how true that was until we saw a television some 15 hours later. So we made it to McComb MS and found a shaded spot. No Gas. No Electricity to pump the gas out of the stations we ran across. We met families who had been in McComb for days. and had not seen the full on aftermath.

The only way we had to communicate with anyone was via Text Msgs. I text Mike , Alan and Cindy...Please send help to McComb!!! Alan called my mom. Mike called his. She called mine. Alan found a friend from my highschool and elementary school, Pete, who we now refer to as St. Pete, in Jackson MS. He then, god bless him, collected gas from his neighbors and struck out to rescue us 2 hours south of his home. He found us and we dumped the 2-3 gallons he had scrounged up from his neighbors into the car.

We struck out for Jackson...again without enough gas to get there. Cats still going crazy. The fuel gauge was still below E. We FINALLY saw a line of people buying gas. We were elated. We drove a few more exits and pulled into the smallest Stuckey's gas station I have ever seen. The car literally died on us 20 feet from the pump. The truck behind us pushed us into place! At this point we were beyond exhausted but still thankful not to be in NOLA. It's sinking in that everything we own is 200 miles away and probably flooded or looted away, but we were lucky. Again back on the road in the pitch black night.

WE made it to Jackson and them Meridian MS. Gassed up and then to Prattville. Dropped Jim, who is like 45 years old off, out of the pick up of the camino. Then to Auburn arriving at 6 am. Into my crying mom's arm. And then to the TV to see the devastation for the first time. After taking in the broadcasts f a few hours we collapsed into sleep. We are here and okay. and Resting.

And nightmares and emotional breakdowns in Wal Mart shopping for clothes to wear, razors to shave for the first time in days. Crying. Angry. crushed. in an un imaginable limbo that I have not even begin to come to grips with.

AND YET WE ARE THE LUCKIER ONES!! WE had a car. We had text messaging. WE had friends and family outside of the region. Help New Orleans in anyway you can. Help Mississippi. Help Alabama. And say some sort of prayer to whatever you believe in. God bless everyone and hug who you love. Thanks. We will be in touch with you. Please We will call you in time. This is the story.

From Jazz and Louis

1 comment:

Greg Mills said...

Well, that was a good story. Wish more people had that luck.