Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Salon - The I Hate Hurricanes edition

It's been another difficult week here along the MS Gulf Coast and its surrounding communities.  We've been watching this approaching storm with first denial and now with this morning's projections showing us right in the path of landfall "wild ass guesses" as one of my friends described the Jim Cantore and friends show, with our heads hung low.
 
7 years ago we had our fill.  The rest of the world thinks Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans...and she did, no doubt.  New Orleans still has not recovered, and I'm honestly not sure she ever will.

But, sisters and brothers, Katrina also hit the MS Gulf Coast.  Some areas along our small coastline were obliterated.  Literally.  The highway along the MS coast is not and never will be the same.  To this day when I drive that highway, I'm sad...the first beach I saw as a little Missisissippi girl was at Biloxi Beach.  It will also never be the same.  It took years to clean everything up, and some things couldn't be cleaned up.  People did lose their lives, and some lost everything but their lives. 
 
Katrina traveled from Biloxi right up HWY 59N, right past my house about 90 miles from her landfall, and it was no fun.  No. damn. fun.

No.
damn.
fun.
 
Please excuse my language as I gird my loins before making the mandatory trip to a chaotic Wal-Mart this afternoon, where I feel sure there will be no canned goods, bread or bottled water to be had and a bunch of post traumatic stress disordered people running around like chickens with their heads cut off. 
 
I don't wish this storm on anyone...we had no electricity for at least 2 weeks in our community, there was no gas, and many places had no water for as long or longer.  The heat and humidity here this time of year are unbearable...so you can imagine no AC, no water and sweat + an onslaught of evil lovebugs that stuck to everything and everybody...honestly, I still find the evil things in my garage from time to time...dead from 7 years ago. :p  My husband says this is not scientifically possible (he was a biology major), but I don't care about science (I was an English major). 
 
During Katrina, our home was spared...one tree brushed up against the garage side of our new home...but others were not so lucky.  Trees were across roads, neighbors were trapped in their homes or left homeless, and the police force instituted mandatory curfews.  We couldn't even get a cell phone signal for 2-3 days...I remember feeling like we were in a war zone, shut off from the rest of the world.  As I'm typing this, I vividly remember getting the first cell phone signal, sitting in my den on the 2nd night in pitch black darkness...bc you haven't seen dark until you're sitting in a blacked out town in the middle of the night when even law enforcement is struggling to survive just like everybody else.  Talk about a scary feeling.

The one thing our community had and still has is small town community folks who take their responsibilities towards each other seriously.  Make fun of us small town Southern Mississippi folks all you want, but I witnessed men firing up giant cookers and feeding anybody and everybody from the freezers at our community college.  Community people brought their own meat and threw it on the fire...one morning the cafeteria workers showed up to set up portable skillets heated by fire and cooked bacon, sausage and pancakes for again anybody who needed it.  It was the same way in people's homes; if somebody had a fire, all you had to do was show up.  There are lots of hunters in our area. so most folks had freezers full of meat that was going to spoil.  Instead, they cooked it all and gave it away.

Gave.
it.
away.

Neighbor after neighbor showed up with chainsaws and tools to dig folks out and fix roofs so that everyone had a place to stay. Many, many, many people rode around with ice and water...things they had for their own families and shared with others who did not have enough...even people they didn't know.  Churches threw open their doors, hooked up generators and gave the facilities over to anyone who needed a place to stay, as did our college campus. 

Was it all perfect?  No, there were a few scary incidents (there will always be those who resort to idiocy when things get tough), but even in those situations, the hooligans learned pretty quick that as generous as our community could be, stealing would not be tolerated...thieves found themselves staring down the wrong end of a shotgun and quickly re-thinking their plan. 
"All they had to do was ask." 
That's a quote from one man who caught some doofus heads trying to steal meat from a cooler on his porch. Once you sneak around and steal, you quickly become a threat to the family and that's even more sacred to a small town Southern fella or gal than the overall community.
 
I'm sure you've heard the Hank Williams Jr. song "A Country Boy Can Survive"...go ahead and cue it now...if you haven't, you should.  It always brings a sense of pride to me about my home state...we take a beating on a lot of things in this country, but taking care of ourselves and each other has never been a problem.


 
My sweet husband bought us the biggest baddest generator he could find after hurricane season was over that year...you couldn't find one anywhere for months during Katrina's season...and we crank it from time to time to make sure she works.  We'll be sure to keep things charged this week and the house cooled as much as possible in preparation for the worst, should the worst occur again :(
I'm going to try not to worry too much though...because I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world if we have to go through this again.

Home.
 
 
 
 

20 comments:

  1. I so hope that Isaac veers away from all land and piffles out off at sea somewhere where no one has to face any type of hardship from the effects. My sister and brother in law are in Florida and we're supposed to be heading down there for a delayed anniversary trip to scuba dive this weekend. Isaac just needs to bugger off!

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    1. You and me both, Kristen...this morning's shift is a little more to the left but that throws us in that dangerous NE section of the storm...where tornadoes and other violent storms tend to live. Now Texas has been put on alert as well. We have family in Houston so it's just one worry replaced by another :( Hope ya'll get to take your trip! :)

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  3. This is an amazing post. I'm lucky enough to be in England where the worst natural disasters we face are the occasional flood - but you're so right that community is everything when it comes to keeping things going. That old saying "Give what you can, take what you need" pretty much sums it up, I think. I'll be thinking of you and hoping you get through your prep with as little stress as possible, and through whatever comes next with as much strength and good fortune as I can wish for you. xx

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    1. Thanks, Ellie :) We're all going to work and school today, but tomorrow we'll be closing up early and are already out on Wednesday. Katrina caught us way off guard, and we have students who need time to get home if they should choose to do so. I bought everything I need yesterday so I'm fairly nested now...:) I'll be relaxed as much as possible once I get my little chicks back in the nest tomorrow :)

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  4. Stay safe Patti, we will be thinking of you and wishing you the best.

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  5. My mom lives in Alabama and they've been getting dire warnings about Isaac for a while. I told her they were being premature and guess what? Now they're saying they'll be spared. I hope and pray you're spared too.

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    1. My mom is also in Alabama...a little up higher North but they'll still get storms associated with the storm. We're in the right quadrant now which tends to be the side that throws out tornadoes...weather for which we are prepared. Spring around here is just one tornado siren after another :/ I generally spend Spring in the closet (literally) :p

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  6. We have been hit by a few hurricans here on the East Coast as well, homes washed out to sea, lives lot, electricity lost for weeks, etc.... but not the horror that was Katrina... I don't think many people realize that the devastation is still there...

    Good luck to you in riding out the storm - hoping it quiets down quickly and does not wreak the same havoc as previous storms.

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    1. Isaac won't be anything like Katrina. But, we'll probably see some flash flooding and high winds before it's over. Wasn't Irene a big one for ya'll? If you live anywhere around the Gulf of Mexico, hurricanes just become a part of life. People are jumpy this time around bc of Katrina. I honestly don't think New Orleans will ever be the same...very sad.

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  7. I hope this hurricane is not as bad as you are expecting. My husband and I visited New Orleans, Mississippi and lots of places in the South on our honeymoon and we were blown away by how friendly everyone was to us, two foreigners who didn't even properly know how to drive an automatic car! Keep us updated.

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    1. Aw, Sam, that's sweet :) I remember you mentioning your Southern honeymoon before :) I wish you could have experienced New Orleans before Katrina :( We may be jumping the gun with Isaac but we're determined not to "get caught with our pants down" like we did with Katrina ;) Our government agencies and law enforcement as well as utility depts. spent the several years after Katrina making improvements to all our systems and processes to hopefully keep that from happening to us again. As long as I have electricity, I'll be posting. Might switch over to FB/Twitter if we do lose power :)

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  8. Hope you are doing ok and the hurricane misses the shore. I can't even imagine how horrible the aftermath of a hurricane would be. We had a brief taste of the chaos a storm can bring when 100 mph winds and rain tore through my town in July knocking out power for 3 days during a 100 degree heat wave.

    Stay safe!

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    1. I remember reading about that storm, Leslie...and I remember thinking about our time without power after Katrina. It's miserable, isn't it?

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    2. also, forgot to say that our utilities' companies took a pretty heavy lashing when it was all said and done...it took months to get everybody back on electricity, cable, water, etc. They have since made major adjustments so I guess we'll see how it all measures up.

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  9. I wish you the best, and will be thinking of you as the storm plays out. It's not a fun thing at all to be involved in a storm like this. We had a couple a few years back that did a lot of damage, and I was living in Miami when Andrew took us down in 1993, so I can commiserate. be well, and be safe.

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    1. I don't know if I could live in Miami or Key West areas, Heather bc they always seem to be on alert during hurricane season. I'd be a xanax junkie ;)

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  10. I don't go near Walmart on a good day, much less right before a hurricane. I hope you got what you needed without too many interactions with the People of Walmart (love that website).

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    1. I don't like Wal-Mart either, Ti :p Unfortunately, where we live, there aren't many other options. I do shop dollar stores more often than Wal-Mart though...I just can't stand the crowds. I actually saw a lady in our Wal-Mart yesterday that honestly made me think about that website :p We do see quite a bit of everything around here in Wal-Mart :/

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