The following information was written over time, and will be uploaded the first chance I get...
First, I want to say to all of you that I and my family are alive and well. Hurricane Katrina did not damage my home, although the devastation it brought to hundreds of thousands of homes is beyond belief. As crazy as it may sound, I believe that my mother who passed away several years ago somehow protected us. Looking around at all the devastation around us, and then to see my little area being mostly unharmed, I have to assume that my personal angel was there for me.
Having said that, this is an incredibly difficult time for us. I don't presume to place my situation in the same category as that of those terribly unfortunate souls who are waiting to be rescued from rooftops in New Orleans. My heart breaks for all who are suffering, all who have lost their homes or loved ones, and all those who are in worse shape than I am. However, I can only tell you what my own experience has been through these first two days of Hurricane Katrina.
THE FIRST FEW DAYS
First of all, we live in Covington, which is a small town just north of Lake Pontchartrain (north of New Orleans). We are a few minutes north of Interstate 12. A mandatory evacuation order was sent out to all those south of I-12, therefore, we were not part of that evacuation order. Nevertheless, we spent a lot of time getting my elderly, handicapped in-laws (who live next door to us) evacuated to Franklinton (a town about 50 miles north of us). In addition, we evacuated our daughter, who is 9-months pregnant and due at any time, to a safer spot just a few miles north of us. By the time we accomplished all of this, there was no time left for us to evacuate. We knew we would probably end up facing the hurricane while still in our car, so we made the decision to stick it out at home. I quickly bought a few supplies (some canned goods, a case of bottled water, and lots of cigarettes). Then, we spent the rest of the time preparing our home by making sure there were no loose items in either our yard or in my in-laws yard. There was no time to board up the windows, however.
When Katrina struck, it was a terrifying experience. I tried very hard to stay calm and remain brave, but my insides were churning. I cannot begin to describe the terrible winds and sounds of breaking trees all around us. When the worst of the storm ended several hours later, I was relieved and astounded that we had made it through it virtually unscathed.
It is the aftermath, however, that has been the true horror. For the last 36 hours, we have been without power, without water, and without any kind of communication to the outside world - no cell phone, no land line, and of course no internet connection. I have no way to find out if my loved ones are ok, and I have no way to let our families know that we are ok. We do have a battery powered radio, so we have been able to have 24/7 coverage of all the horror that surrounds us. It is very difficult to listen to the sadness that exists for so very many. But the worst of all of this is the unbearable heat. It is late August in southern Louisiana, where the average temperature each day is 98 degrees, with a heat index of 115. With no electricity, we have no air conditioning. We don't dare use anything more than the barest amount of water to soak a rag with which we can press against our heat-ravaged skin. In addition, I'm attempting to keep our animals (3 dogs and 2 cats) from having heat stroke as well.
We desperately need a bath. We are drenched in sweat, and the smell is horrendous. Of course, we also have no water for sewage purposes, so that in itself is getting to be a desperate situation.
The hardest part is not knowing if there is any help on the way. We have heard on the radio that we cannot expect to have electricity for a month or more. Plus, because the world is focused on New Orleans, the smaller communities such as the one we live in are largely ignored by the media. I am worried that our little area has been forgotten about. They never mention us on the radio. Hello?? Is anyone out there? Do you know that we are also in trouble? I have no idea when we will see anyone from outside reaching out to us here. Our provisions will not last more than a few more days. Hopefully, by then, we will be able to acquire more, but I have no idea if that will be possible. We are trapped here, and cannot go anywhere.
To top it all off, we are the only people left here on our street, with the exception of a gang of teenagers who are thriving in the lawless atmosphere we find ourselves in. I am trying desperately to protect our selves, and our homes, but I don't know how successful I will be after an extended period of time. I have my gun at my side at all times, but especially at night. It it pitch black here and I cringe every time the hoodrats race down the street trying to terrorize us. We have no phones, so we cannot even call for help.
We are truly in a situation that feels like a war zone must feel. Terrible destruction everywhere. No communications. Dwindling supplies of food and water. No electricity. No sewage. No relief from the intense heat. And absolutely no hope in sight for a very long time.
I am typing this on my laptop in Notepad, hoping my battery lasts long enough to finish this. If life ever returns to normal, I will upload this to SEO Scoop so that I can share my experiences. For now, I will sign off so that I can save the battery for future documentation of this terrible ordeal.
My deepest sympathy goes out to all those who are in the midst of this nightmare, and my strongest hopes that as many as possible will make it through.
It is now several days later. Don't ask me how many because I've lost all track of time. So let me tell you the good news. Eventually, we were able to evacuate and get out of the hell-hole we were in, and yes, there were people out there who remembered about us. In addition, we were able to rescue and reunite with all our family. One thing that most worried me was that our daughter was going to have her baby in the midst of the nightmare, but luckily our little granddaughter has chosen to wait before being born. I hope she waits a few more days, so that we can find out where the nearest hospital is, and make arrangements for the birth.
So, what has occurred in the past few days? Well, I can't possibly describe the hundreds of things that have gone on, so I'll be brief. We were finally given permission to leave, so we carefully made our way through tree-littered streets to find our daughter and my inlaws safe and well. (My mother-in-law was in very bad shape, but she is recovering nicely now). We are now living in a small trailer in a tiny town. We have electricity, air conditioning and water! For the first time, I can relax a little and hopefully even get some sleep. The joy of having some semblance of a normal life again made us all ecstatic. The future is still uncertain, however, and the reality of what lies ahead is even a bit bleak.
I probably won't be able to work for quite some time, and I've had to spend nearly all my money to deal with this disaster. I have no idea how I will be able to provide for the family. It's not like I can just go out and get a job. The jobs disappeared with everything else. I assume my sites are still bringing in some money, but I don't know how much. I can't actively participate in the process. I guess I should get a post office box here in this town and try to get my mail forwarded to me. At least then, if there are any checks coming to me, I will be able to receive them. I don't know what will happen, when it will happen, or when I can expect my life to return to normal. At times, I feel guilty for being depressed, when so many people have it so much worse than I do. But, regardless of what others' experiences may be, mine is mine alone - and it has not been pleasant. I worry about my infirm, elderly inlaws. We generally have to take them 3-4 days a week to one or another doctor. Now, we are stuck out in the boondocks with no idea what to do about getting them the medical assistance they constantly require. I will start making phone calls to see what we can do to make sure they get the care they need, as well as making arrangements for our daughter to be able to safely have her baby. For now, we are safe. But how to deal with everything...that is something that still eludes me.
One thing I want to be sure to do is give credit to our local leaders, especially Governor Kathleen Blanco and Senator Mary Landrieu. During the dark hours, when all we had was the continuous drone of bad news coming over the radio waves, the words and actions of Governor Blanco and Senator Landrieu made us feel better. As far as I can tell, they have both done a very good job. I'm sure there are thousands of other people who deserve just as much recognition, but I don't know their names, so I will simply say thank you to all involved in helping to overcome this massive problem.
I will try to get online whenever I can, but it is unlikely I can do that very often over the next few months. This may be my last post for a while. Good luck to you all in your SEO efforts.