The Widdershins

The 10 year anniversary

Posted on: August 29, 2015

Katrina Satellite image offshore

It’s not as though I needed a reminder of what this day is.  I will most likely have it and the memories in my mind until the day I die, that is if I keep my mind and don’t slip into a senile, demented old age.  It’s all just clear as a bell.

On Friday the 26th of August 2005 I was at work in the Ops Control Center at USDA’s National Finance Center in New Orleans.  We had these big monitors at the front of the room that we could all see from our workstations.  They showed the status of the IDMS databases, the CICS online systems, and various other systems that we kept track of.  But we had one monitor that had a tv tuner attached to it and we had The Weather Channel on that one.  And what I saw on that channel began to scare me terribly.  Hurricane Katrina had already crossed Florida and was supposed to turn up the peninsula of Florida but it wasn’t doing that.  It was staying out in the Gulf and the weather people were talking about it possibly heading toward the central Gulf and perhaps Louisiana.  We already had Tropical Storm (later reclassified as a Cat 1 hurricane) Cindy pass through and we didn’t have power for two days.  The power situation was hit and miss and it was available in other parts of St. Bernard, including a hotel.  I tried talking the momster into us going there so I could leave her someplace with a.c. so I could go to work.  She refused and there was no way I could leave her in a house without a.c. by herself.

So with Cindy in mind and watching Katrina not doing what she was supposed to do, I got on the phone and started calling hotels out of the area.  Previously we had evacuated to Meridian Mississippi.  It was about 150-200 miles inland and had always worked out satisfactorily before, well out of the way of any

TIMES-PICAYUNE FILE PHOTO/TED JACKSON A cross stands out in the Mississippi River Gult Outlet at Shell Beach as part of the St. Bernard Katrina memorial.

Katrina cross in the MRGO commemorates the 180 people who died in St. Bernard parish

possible water or flooding and the hotel we used accepted pets because we had Chloe with us.  I called the place and there was “no room at the inn”.  So I had to start looking online for hotels there that were pet friendly.  I found one that looked acceptable so I called and booked us two rooms for, I think, 4 days.  We(my Dad and I) never thought as much about getting out of the path of a hurricane as much as we thought of just getting out of the immediate area.  Obviously the idea of levees being breached and floodwalls collapsing never crossed my mind.  So then I called the momster and in my sternest voice told her we had to get ready to leave for Katrina.  I was surprised when she said okay because she had watched the news on tv also.  (big sigh of relief from me!)

That evening I started boarding up windows and putting things away that were in the yard and on the

Memorial plaque with the names of those in SBP that died in the storm.

Memorial plaque with the names of those in SBP that died in the storm.

patio so there would be no flying projectiles when the winds hit.  Saturday I ran errands before getting ready to leave and then spent Saturday evening loading up the Expedition.  We left out Sunday morning and I was concerned about my neighbors because two families of them decided they would ride out the storm there.  That morning I found out  that one of families had decided to leave and that was a relief for me.  After following the news and weather I was awfully concerned about anyone staying behind.

We got to Meridian and the hotel and I was surprised at the number of Louisiana tags in the parking lot and then even more surprised when I found out that many of the people were fellow residents from “da parish”.  We watched the news as they showed Katrina hitting Louisiana and then as it moved inland.  Then we watched as it was approaching Mississippi and I realized the winds weren’t really dying down

A flooded Judge Perez Dr. in Chalmette LA.

A flooded Judge Perez Dr. in Chalmette LA.

much.  I found out later that winds in Meridian got up to 100 mph (I figured this out as I watched pieces of the

hotel next to us break off and fly around).  We lost power there and didn’t get it back for two days.  Meanwhile I was checking with people around the hotel to see if anyone had news from the parish.  Gradually folks started getting some news.  We knew the city had been flooded…we all sat around in shock just watching the videos that were coming in.  But then I started hearing that the levees on the MRGO that protected St. Bernard had failed.  Chalmette was flooded, with some places having water over the roofs.

The storm surge comes through the MRGO overtopping the levees.

The storm surge comes through the MRGO overtopping the levees.

In the picture above I can’t give anything for a reference except to say the tall things there are the supports for a four-laned Interstate type bridge that crosses over the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.  Obviously those are telephone poles and trees in the front.  Normally the MRGO was so placid people would go out there in flat boats to fish.

All I can say is that for days there was a bunch of people who were milling around a hotel with no power, hotter than hell , just wondering what had happened to their homes.  We were getting no news about our parish because the bigger disaster was what was happening in New Orleans.  Then news started trickling in as I wrote above.

I’m going to wrap this up with something from The Rude Pundit because writing about “the thing” as Chris Rose referred to it is not something I really want to relive again.

“I don’t wanna write about that. I’m tired of thinking about it,” said one of the Rude Pundit’s New Orleans friends when he asked the woman to post on this here blog about the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the storm that caused the levees in New Orleans to break, allowing cataclysmic, murderous floods to ravage that place and many others. “Why does it matter that it’s been ten years? Every day is another anniversary.” Her family had lost three Katrina shrimp Boat Chalmetteor four houses between all the members. She lived a damn nightmare.

He reached out to another buddy, an old friend, a writer and photographer, who responded, “I’m just keeping my head low and not following it at all. It makes me crazy.” He meant that it depressed the hell out of him, and it was hard to blame him. He had been chased out of his home by the storm and came back to help rebuild the town. – See more at: http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2015/08/not-katrina-anniversary-post.html#sthash.NaWKKbPo.dpuf

And that’s sorta the way I feel too.  We were fortunate in that we had “only” about five to six feet of water in the house and it did not come up in a violent matter.  The house is structurally sound and is secured, just waiting there for the rebuild.

But as Rude Pundit’s friends said, “I don’t wanna talk about it”.  Sometimes wounds take forever to heal and sometimes they don’t heal at all.

When I first saw someone post this song online, after the storm, I was sitting in the Birmingham area, where I am now, and just completely broke down.  I had a bottle of Seagrams 7 near me and just started slugging the shit.  The guy wasn’t even from La, but he knew…he knew.  I sat there slugging and snuffling until I got loaded enough to fall asleep.

It’s an open thread and comment however you’d like.  And writing about this has made me have to take a half of a xanax.

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23 Responses to "The 10 year anniversary"

Wow, this opened up a bunch of shit I didn’t want to recall.

Heck, Fredster, I didn’t suffer through any of this and now I’m crying. I can’t even imagine how bad you feel. Sometimes opening up a bunch of shit you don’t want to recall is supposed to be healing. At least that’s what my therapist says. But what the hell does she know?

I hope the Xanax works for you.

I see the same type of thing in friends who went through the worst of Andrew – the South Dade, Cat 5 part. The BFF’s family lost three homes, and got jumpy with rainstorms thereafter. One co-worker huddled with his wife and three small children under a staircase watching his roof blow off and the walls of the house collapsing around them, He went from being one of the most easy-going people that I knew to an irascible SOB/ I’m certain that these are all manifestations of PTSD, and sometimes you just don’t ever completely get past them.

Fredster, thanks for sharing this. Katrina was awful to witness from afar, I can’t imagine what it was like to actually live through it. I think too often there’s some sort of “acceptable prototypical healing,” but just as every injury does particular individual damage, everyone’s healing takes a distinctive circuitous route. Scars are always stronger than regular tissue, not as pliable, but always stronger. The scars add character and power. Healing is just the process of coming to accept and appreciate the scars. May that time come sooner than later.

Fredster, that was a moving and heartbreaking post. I’m so grateful that you and your parents got out.

Oh annie, dad didn’t get out. He had already passed. It was me, the momster and Chloe.

Thanks y’all for your comments.

I want to say the worst part at first was seeing the flooding in nola but not knowing what happened in St. Bernard, although it began to sink in and I realized we probably got our share. I just didn’t know how bad it was. Then the next thoughts were “What’s going to happen now?. I’m sitting here with an 80 year old frail woman and a mini doxie that has separation anxiety. Where do we go?”.

That “where do we go” thing got pretty important later when I went to the front desk of the hotel to extend us and the mgr said “nope”, you have to leave tomorrow.”. As people’s check out dates were coming up, they had rented the entire place to insurance adjusters who were coming in to start work. 👿 The manager wouldn’t budge either. It was only because one guy who was local and staying there because of no power at his house and he gave up his room so that we got the extra night. Now Meridian was still kind of messed up so at least that gave me time to get our stuff together and go get in line for over an hour and a half to fuel up.

I’m not even going to go into the mess and nightmare of trying to get a FEMA trailer back in La, explaining how we needed a handicapped one for mom and then just saying “eff it”. I could probably write another two thousand words or more about that disaster.

Beata, I read that suicides spiked amongst the survivors of the storm and *they* even started keeping track of people whose health just started getting worse afterwards and that’s not just the ones who stayed. Heart attack rates went up, g.i. issues and the like. Most likely all the result of the stress of everything folks had to go through.

Damn! I wish I had know about this link when writing this.

@9, that was good! Added to the media bs, terrible memories and ptsd, the poor people in NOLA getting a visit from GWB.

Oh wasn’t that hysterical? Dubya showing up?

And as much as I hate to deal with Politico, they polled some NH and Iowa Democratic leaders who believe Biden will not decide to run for Prez. I hope they’re right on that.

@10: Heckuva job there, Georgie.

I’m not worried about Biden. If he ran, i think he would be more likely to split up Bernies vote, rather than Hillary’s.

@10 and 12, Dubya in NOLA, haven’t those good folks suffered enough? Dubya, a Category 5 imbecile revisits.

@14: Bonus Points and btw, looks like Georgie is gettiin’ a little thin on top.

Watch out y’all, I’m wondering around in the Atlantic.

Oh those clever Chinese.

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Fredster, thanks for this, and thanks for the re-post of the “balloon boy”/Hillary email server on Monday. I have been enduring the media brouhaha about the 10th anniversary of Katrina with more than a dollop of cynicism. It’s like 9/11, we don’t need to remember it. We need to move past it and make sure it never happens again.

MB@18: Thanks! When I was looking thru the plays I saw Balloon Boy and thought it fit just right with the server hubbub. And a double yes on the Katrina stuff. It’s one thing to acknowledge it happened and how awful it was. Yes, many lives were changed forever and the loss of life was awful just as in in 9/11. The best thing we can do is try to make sure another K. never happens again. That and max out on your flood insurance. 😉

Welp…Saints are on. BBL

Good article over at HuffPo in which a gay father in Cali writes a letter to Kim Davis, the clerk of court in Rowan County Ky. He also slams Liberty Counsel.

@21: Well I love the “thus far”. 🙄

One never knows……….

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