Monday, October 17, 2005

What a Difference a Week Can Make

My husband Glen had a week’s vacation last week. For seven days we let the fur fly around here. (He’s much better at fur flying than I am, but don’t tell him I admitted that. Smile)

You wouldn’t think one week could make such a difference, but boy did it. The big oak tree that crushed our shed and just about every plant in our back yard, is all gone now. Well, there’s some huge hunks of it left back there, but it’s in hunks now….instead of one big tree. The crushed shed is gone, the limbs are gone, things are raked up and although a lot of the plants look worse for the wear, I know most of them will look better next year.

Inside, we finished moving things around and got a lot of the sheetrock tore out. We also got our new hot water heater in and it works great. We even have DirectTV now. We ordered it but they never showed up to install it. Fussing did nothing, so finally my husband, handsome jack-of-all-trades that he is, decided to give it a go and install it himself. He did it! So now we have channels again, lots of them. I can watch all kinds of things. (Smile) Our cable company says it is going to fix things here and come back, but I’m not so sure. I haven’t seen one of their trucks out fixing anything, and their office here is still shut down and boarded up.

We lost a number of businesses thanks to Katrina. Some were looted, some just threw in the towel, and some had already been on the edge, and such a long time of being shut down just gave them a final push. We lost a neat little corner Mexican place where we liked to grab a quick bite, our ACE Hardware, a gas station, and other places, including our theater, which was the only show we had here….it was also the only place for teens to even go out together at. It seems our local newspaper is hanging on, and is now delivering three times a week.

Sadly we have lost another person in town too. A man who worked with my husband died last week….doing the same thing my husband had to do….cleaning up a damaged tree from his yard. We have one huge oak left to saw up, but thankfully this one is flat on the ground instead of leaning against anything.

Hopefully the newest storm, Wilma, won’t have anything to help her get stronger and maybe she’ll fade away and then there won’t be any more to worry about this year.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Pictures of Bogalusa after Katrina

I put up a second picture page. The first page was filled with pictures of my home, yard and street after hurricane Katrina. The pictures on the second page are more after pictures, but these are from all over Bogalusa, Louisiana, the town I live in.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Things Could Always Be Worse

I’m a big believer in never saying that things can’t get worse, because they always can. I also have a habit of pulling myself out of feeling bad for myself about anything by simply taking a look around. Katrina was awful. The twelve hours or more than she pounded us was terrifying, the days afterwards, with the heat and the bugs and the worry over how long our food and water and meds would last was something I don’t want to ever go through again, but…

There’s always a but isn’t there. (Smile)

I still have only a few local channels, but I’ve caught some news and I have the MSN homepage. The two headlines there that caught my eye today were Thousands killed in Asia quake & Hundreds killed in Guatemala mudslide.

Like I said, Katrina was awful and thousands of people were injured or suffered, and probably by the time they get through with the counts, more than two thousand paid the highest price of all, the price of life. But… when you put two thousand up beside twenty, maybe thirty thousand, it puts things in a better perspective of just how very lucky the states that were hit by Katrina really were.

My city, Bogalusa, has a population of around fifteen thousand. That means everyone here could have died during Katrina and we still wouldn’t have reached the numbers from that earthquake alone. I can’t imagine being in the middle of that kind of death, where whole towns are gone, where maybe one single family member is left to stand alone without even a friend alive to turn to.

We got a really good taste of what it’s like not to have power, phone, running water, stores, police, even a hospital, but when it got too bad and we knew we couldn’t take any more, we were able to load up in my husband’s truck and drive away to help. It might have taken us a couple of days to cut a path to get that truck out, and maybe we had to drive hours away, but family was there waiting and we had the means to get there. Once there and near a phone, my on line sisters and others rushed to my aid. I received calls, cards, letters, even gift cards and money, to help me at least start to start over, to assure me I was cared for and held close with prayers, thoughts and warm light and love.

I had my husband, my children, even my pets, and we weren’t alone, not really, not for one single second. I wish it could be that way for everyone!

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Greatest Losses of All

It’s taken me a little while to write, or even mention very much about the things I lost that hurt the most. At first it was too painful to think about it in detail, and then I pulled something in my neck and back, trying to do too much around here, and have spent a number of days that mostly consisted of me in bed staring at nothing, waiting for the pain to go away, for my neck and back to heal enough for me to get back to work on the thousands of things I need to do.

There was other pain there too though, emotional pain. Too much time to think, to relive, to regret. Most of that pain came from a couple of boxes of belongings that the flood waters of Katrina took away from me. They weren’t things that money could replace, like my furniture, my appliances, my car, my shingles or my walls. Losing those things hurt, but they were things that money and time and work, can and will one day replace.

But there are things that no amount of money or time can replace.

There were two big boxes in my house that got over looked during the flooding. Lots of things did really, since we never expected the water and since it came during the worst fury of Katrina, surviving seemed more important than saving things. These two boxes were in another room, in the back at the bottom of a closet, dusty and forgotten. I had actually looked for some of the things in them for a long time, and couldn’t find them. Couldn’t remember to save the world what I had done with them.

As soon as I began to dig through those boxes, I remembered.

I was putting some new photo albums and scrapbooks together and I had located a lot of family photos and keepsakes that I wanted to include. I just didn’t have the time to do it, so I put them all away in those two boxes for safe keeping, for a later date, for a time when I had more time.

The story of my life.

If I had only known then what I know now. If I had only put them on a top shelf, or in the attic, or found them before when I was searching for those old family photos to go on my family site, if I had thought about them and moved them, or if I had… Well, if only and if had were magic, I guess they would help. But they are only words and what’s done is done.

I didn’t find those boxes until after we came back home, after Katrina was long gone. Nothing I had gone through or lost brought me to my knees, but the things in those boxes, as I looked through them and slowly realized what all was in them, and that nothing was left of it, that did bring me to my knees. I would have traded my whole house and everything else in it for what was in those two boxes, but hurricanes don’t make trades or deals and what is gone is gone.

Even now I can hardly bear to list the items that were in those boxes. I guess I’m doing it as a confession because I feel like somehow I failed the family members who have gone, the family members who are here, and even those who are yet to come.

In those cheap cardboard boxes were a number of years’ worth of pictures of my children and family, as well as other rare and precious, irreplaceable possessions. My kids’ baby books were in there, old black and white photos that no one else had of family members who died years before I was born, there were letters in there that my mother, a child bride, wrote to my father during World War II, letters he wrote back, the wedding vows my husband and I exchanged twenty-two years ago when we were young crazy teens who everyone said would never make it, in those boxes were clippings from my babies’ hair and the little hospital shirts they had on the day I removed them to dress them to come home, the signed guest books from my mother and father’s funerals, school pictures, keepsakes, odds and ends and many other things that make up the collection of a lifetime of special moments.

All of those things were nestled safely together, or so I thought, sitting and simply waiting for me to find the time to scan them into my computer, bind them into a scrap book, stick them into a photo album, or hand them down to my children.

All of those so dear scraps of paper and ink that was so easily destroyed by the rush of flood waters that filled my home on that awful morning, can never be brought back. They were in my safekeeping and I failed. And maybe that’s the hardest pain to take of all.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Some Pictures of Katrina

I took some pictures right after hurricane Katrina of my home and street and yard. I've put some of them up on my website, some of the ones I took with my digital camera.

If you want to have a look at them, you can find them here

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Little Things Mean A Lot

Less Debris - The city finally cleaned up some of the fallen trees from the side of my street yesterday. I didn’t have much in front of the house, but both sides of the street beside my house were filled with tree trunks and limbs. They didn’t do the whole street, but did both sides of half the street and a little more than half on the other side. It just looks so great not to see those tall wide piles of dead tree debris! We still have piles of stuff from inside our house out there on the other side of the street, like my living room furniture and my refrigerator, but I know day by day, street by street, pile by pile, things will get better.

Daily News - I got a newspaper yesterday. There was no paper for weeks, and then we started getting a “daily” newspaper twice a week, Wednesday and Sunday. Then yesterday suddenly there was a Friday newspaper. Maybe that means more days? Another step back into normal!

TV News - I have a couple of local channels I can watch on a real TV! (Local for us is New Orleans.) Until now we’ve gotten one channel out of Mississippi on our little snowy black and white portable TV. The cable company hasn’t even sent in workers here yet because there is so much damage. The word is that it will be six months to a year before we have cable TV again, and maybe even much longer. But now my husband has put an outdoor antenna up for us--the things we went through to get that darn antenna. The channels we get are out local ones, so we know what’s going on in Louisiana, like the weather, what’s being opened where and what’s still closed. We get one channel in clear, another a little snowy, and then five more that we mostly can’t get in good enough to watch, though a couple come in better at night, but it’s all local stuff! (Smile)

Back to School - Talking about things opening…my daughter’s high school will be opening up for classes Monday. The schools here still have damage and need a lot more work done, but the kids have already missed over a month of school, so it’s time they get back. As it is the school board will be taking away holidays, adding nearly an extra hour a day to classes, and extending the school year by at least a couple of weeks. Duke Power that has been down here helping had been sleeping at the high school, since they were there, they did a lot of work that they weren’t even asked to do. They also gave the school a check for five thousand dollars to help replace some of what was lost. The Pennsylvania National Guard that has been here helping out so much put in time working on things at the school too.

Help From Others - If any of you know someone in the Pennsylvania National Guard or someone from NC that works for Duke Power, or those who give or help with the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief from Illinois, tell them how much their help meant to us down here. I don’t know what we would have done with them, and the help of so many others who came down here in these awful conditions and terrible heat and gave their time to smaller areas like ours that didn’t have the same press value as places like New Orleans. Just saying thanks seems like nothing at all compared to the help they gave us.