Online Story Contribution, Hurricane Digital Memory Bank
When I first heard about Hurricane Katrina I thought nothing of it, to me to was just another of the many hurricanes that my brother told me about. That was our routine, whenever there was a hurricane threatening the east coast of the Gulf States he made it his mission to tell me about it. When I finally saw the weather coverage for Katrina it looked like any other storm that was going to hit the Florida coast and then work its way northward. Even when Katrina crossed into the Gulf of Mexico I was not worried by it; to me the worst that would happen would be a repeat of Hurricane Ivan last year, we would be out of school for a week and everything would then return to normal. I slowly began to worry the Saturday morning before it hit when more and more people said it was on a direct course to New Orleans and my parents were making hotel reservations, I still thought that the storm would bypass New Orleans. My friend, who had been staying with me for a few weeks, called to ask what my evacuation plans were, she wanted me to go with her and some friends to Baton Rouge instead of going to Jackson, Mississippi with my family. I agreed because I thought it would be fun to weather out the storm with my friend and because I still believed New Orleans would be ok.
As we left early Sunday morning none of us had heard that Katrina had been upgraded to a category five and now looked like it was headed directly for New Orleans. The reality of this deadly storm began to sink in as Sunday night approached, my friends and I realized that New Orleans may cease to exist once Katrina hit. When we awoke Monday morning it was to a howling wind outside our windows and no power. We were lucky in Baton Rouge; all we got was wind, rain, and a lot of down power lines. We lost power for a total of eight hours. When the power returned Monday night we saw the news coverage of New Orleans, the city that I had come to love in the ten years that I lived there looked like it would never be livable again. Seeing the places that my friends and I would hang out at were under several feet of water and imagining what we may have lost was heartbreaking. What made this experience even more frightening was that I could not get in touch with my family in Jackson. The cell phones were not working and no one knew the number were I was staying. The only contact I had with any family was through email with my cousin in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, she informed me that my family had made it safely to Alabama and they were ok.
In the days to come I made my way to Mandeville and stayed with some family friends. We still owned a house there so I went to see the damage. It was overwhelming driving into my old neighborhood and seeing almost very pine tree that once stood now cracked in the middle and resting on several homes or even through former neighbors homes. Our house there was lucky; we only had two trees on the roof and three little holes in the roof that were quickly patched up. Our pool looked nothing like a pool but more like a swamp with bright, almost neon green water. After two days in Mandeville my parents came and picked me up and we went to Birmingham, Alabama. There we stayed for a week, when we realized that we might not be able to return to New Orleans for months my sister and I decided to go up to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and stay with our gracious aunt who invited to stay with her. My sister who has since lost her job in New Orleans has decided to move back up north (we are originally from the northeast) and I decided to stay here until the spring semester starts.
My parents finally got to our house in New Orleans to find that our house weathered the storm ok. We had several broken windows, severe water damage in one room, and pieces of the roof that are missing, but all in all we were one of the lucky ones.