Saturday, September 17, 2005

Life with Katrina - Part Five

Friday September 2

We arrived at my sister’s house at a little after four Friday morning. We had left Bogalusa a very long fourteen hours before. We were exhausted, dirty, sick, hungry, and so glad the ride was over.

It took us a while to unload all of the pets and to get them situated. My sister had a pen out side for my son’s female dogs since one of them was in season and all of my dogs are male. We put our two big yard dogs out in another pen, and then brought the six others in with us.

Everyone soon crashed into the nearest bed, not even worrying about eating or cleaning up. I wanted to follow but my sister and her husband were about to leave for work so I stayed up a few moments more to see them off. When they went to leave I found my two yard dogs had gotten out of the pen so I ended up staying up alone for a good while catching them and fixing their pen. I just didn’t have the heart to wake hubby or the kids to help.

I finally got to sleep for about an hour or so, and then couldn’t rest any more. I guess I was just too wound up. When a neighbor brought a meal over for us before my sister got home from work that evening, my daughter actually cried as she fixed her plate. I can’t even think of a way to explain how great it felt to have hot food, ice in a glass, and an actual shower, clean clothes, and air conditioning. Things we have every day and never think anything of it.

We also had television and got to watch news. What we saw was so awful and since we had already been through it, we didn’t watch much more about Katrina for days. My husband said I was still having enough of my ‘special moments’ without the new stations helping me. I think we all were still having those moments, even when the tears didn’t show.

Saturday September 3 through Friday September 9

We went to bed early Friday night and got our first full night’s sleep in nearly a week. We got up early still, but I felt so much better. My sister and her husband had a three-day weekend, so they stayed home with us until Tuesday. We still had family members missing in Mississippi, and spent a lot of time on the phone looking for them. My sister didn’t have internet so the phone was the only way we could try and find out info. I also made a lot of calls to Bogalusa, my friends, my neighbors, my doctor, my vet, the city hall, the police station, hoping just one phone was working in one place. Nothing was.

My sister did her best to make us feel at home, and soon we did. Even the dogs settled in and enjoyed her wide open yard in the mountains. She lived out in the middle of no where.

Tuesday my sister drove us to the nearest town that had more than a gas station and a little market. It was in Harrison. The Super Wal-Mart there had a special program going so even though I didn’t have a refill left on my bottles, they let me buy a one month supply of both of my important meds. We stopped by a veterinary office too. When I explained where I was from and about my dog’s seizure meds, the vet there let me buy enough for a month without seeing the dog, even let me buy some tranquilizers for my big dogs to help make the trip home better. It seemed everyone we ran into was so open and friendly and nice to us.

Just when we finally located the last missing family member and knew for sure that everyone was okay, my brother who lived in Mississippi, had a heart attack. His daughter and wife kept us updated as best they could, but things looked really bad that first day for him. (I’m happy to say he came through fine, had some stints added and is now home doing well.)

Thursday evening we got our first answer in Bogalusa, a friend who lived near the highway. She said only a handful of people had phone service and pretty much no one had power. The water was on, but still not safe to use. We tried everyone and every place else we knew, but couldn’t get another answer.

Friday the police station answered. They had just got phone service but still didn’t have power. They said help had made it in and that the power companies that were working on things had the main grid up and going, the one that went to the hospital. That was great news since our home and my husband’s job and even my daughter-in-law’s job, were all along that same grid. My husband still couldn’t reach the sawmill in Bogalusa where he worked, but was able to reach another one owned by the same company. They said he could start back to work Monday. My son goes to college about an hour and half from Bogalusa in Hammond. He was able to reach them and find out he could start back to school. That meant we really needed to be home for Monday. We tried off and on, but couldn’t get any other calls through to anyone else.

As we made plans to leave for early the next morning, I wondered what we would find when we got home. Did the looters break into our homes? Did we really have power and water and maybe even phone service? Would we be able to find gas once we got close to home? Would the drive back be as ruthless as the drive up had been? Would there be stores and places to buy food and supplies?

There was only one way for us to get the answers to any of those questions. It was time to go home.

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