The Gulf Coast

We can't get any news at all other than the little we see on the national news. There is frightening lack of communication coming out of the Gulf Coast. Kenny's mom, stepfather and grandmother decided to ride out the storm about 10 miles north of Bay St. Louis. No one has heard from them since Sunday, before the storm hit, so we're worried. Hopefully, they're fine and just can't contact us, as Bay St. Louis appears to be cut off from the entire world right now.

Kenny is frantic and left this afternoon to drive down there--he's going to get as close to the area as he can and then, if need be, bike/walk the rest of the way in. Quite possibly a futile effort, but he couldn't stand just sitting and doing nothing, and I can't really blame him. I would probably do the same thing if my family was still down there. We loaded up his car with five-gallon containers of gas, several cases of bottled water and a gun, and then he took off.

We're pretty sure that my parents' house has been severely damaged, if not completely obliterated--the only news we've seen coming out of Mississippi is of houses reduced to shards.

News doesn't seem to be much better in New Orleans. We have no specific news about our neighborhood in general, but I've seen news reports of flooding in areas very close to our home. Very bizarre to watch a reporter cruising around in a boat on a street you drive down regularly. Things don’t look good. It's true when they say New Orleans is a big bowl--our house is at about two feet above sea level, and that's considered relatively high. Once the water gets into the city, it’s pretty difficult to get it out--the levees that were supposed to hold the water out are now holding it in, and the pumps that normally get the water out are submerged.

We're trying to take this all day by day--it's too overwhelming to do anything else.


New Orleans

The situation in New Orleans started out okay. Newscasters were discussing all day how the city had “dodged a bullet,” and I felt both relieved and guilty. My home was spared, our families’ homes were not. But as the day goes by, it looks like things in New Orleans are bad as well. The levees breached. No one knows how much damage there is yet. We might have lost our house after all.

Jeane Meserve was just on CNN. We’ve been watching her, along with every other national reporter, give reports from New Orleans for several days now. In this report, her voice was wavering as she talking about how catastrophic the situation has become. She was in a boat in New Orleans East, in the dark. She said she could hear people begging for help from their rooftops, and she said she’d seen dogs in the flood waters, entangled in fallen power lines and being electrocuted. She sounded awful, and it was obvious by listening to her voice that the things she was seeing were incredibly disturbing to her. After the past few days of constant fear and stress, I finally lost it. Completely lost it. Went out on the porch and cried and cried and cried. I haven’t cried like that since Charles died. What do we do now?



We’ve done nothing but sit around staring at the television all day. We’re all in shock, I think. It looks like the worst has happened. The eye of the storm went in over Bay St. Louis and Waveland. Things have got to be bad there.

Today would have been Charles’ 27th birthday.



Mom, Emmeline, and I are in Atlanta. We left this morning, scared to death we’d end up in an hours-long traffic jam of evacuees. We seem to have beaten the mad rush out of town, though. Kenny promises he’ll come tomorrow if things continue to look bad. And things are continuing to look bad. I can’t believe this is happening. As of yesterday morning, Katrina was a Category 1 storm that was supposed to loop around and head back into Florida. And then I turned on the news late last night to discover that Katrina had become a Category 5 storm and was heading for us.

It’s not supposed to happen this quickly. We usually have a few days to watch the storm as it spins around in the Gulf, waiting to see which area it will set its sights on. This one came out of nowhere. I didn't even pack up all of the sentimental stuff I usually take with me. I just grabbed a suitcase, threw a few clothes in it for me and E, and took off to Bay St. Louis to travel on from there with Mom. I left our house this morning and wondered, as you always do in these situations, will I be coming back?

Evacuating for a hurricane is surreal. It’s kind of like trying to face the incontrovertible fact of your own death. You know rationally that everyone dies, but there’s always a part of you that’s surprised to know that it really will happen to you. When you leave, you know there’s a chance that everything you own will be destroyed, but you don’t really believe it. You take two or three days worth of clothes, as you feel certain you’ll be back in that amount of time, and then go on with life as normal. Maybe this will still turn out that way. But I have a feeling, as I sit here looking at that monster on television, that this time is going to be different.