Hurricane Katrina in Gulfport, Mississippi (By Hannah Galloway)
I had just begun my senior year at Gulfport High School when Hurricane Katrina hit. I was 17 years old. The day before the hurricane came it was my best friend Mary's 18th birthday. We were celebrating it at my house in Bayou Oaks. I kept hearing about the hurricane coming but I didn't pay any mind to it and figured we would be back to school on Monday.
I was still recovering from the haze of my best friends birthday party when the rain and wind began to start. It was me, my sister Laura, my dad Ben, and my mother Denise in the house. I had parked my first car, a toyota 4-runner, in front of my parents home. We have french doors that run all the way across the front of my house so we had all the shutters closed and could not see out.
Shortly after the storm began, trees started hitting my car. We were hear a very loud "BANG!" then my car alarm would go off for awhile. By the third time this happened, we had to start to laugh about it. It was obvious my car was screwed.
We were looking out a side window when my mom said to my dad, "Ben! It looks like the cars are going to flood!" By the time we all gathered around the window, water began to seep through the floor and into our home. My mother ran to the center of our house to get a mop, but by the time she returned, the water was ankle deep.
We all ran to our rooms and tried to pull out our bottom drawers and throw them on the bed. My parents ran around trying to roll up all their rugs. We tried to unplug electrical things like TVs and speakers. The water rose so fast that not much could be done.
Within what seemed like minutes, we were standing in several feet of water. Our house is only one story so we had no where to go. We just walked around the house and couldn't believe what was happening.
We lost a lot. We didn't think about the fact that the food was flooding. We could hear my parents cars banging together in the garage. They love their cars so they wanted to take a peek at what was happening. My dad had a BMW, my mom had a Mercedes, both were technologically advanced with complex computer systems. When we looked at the cars floating around the garage, the windows were going up and down and the seats were moving electronically back and forth and up and down. It was kind of funny. Then we tried to shut the garage door back and realized the water pouring in was very strong. It took all four of us to shut the garage door back and we all looked at each other with the realization that this flood is very powerful and dangerous.
We didn't know what to do about the flood. We were just standing, walking around. In my kitchen, we have windows that go from the floor to ceiling. I could see fish swimming in my backyard through the windows.
Eventually the storm stopped and the water went down. It seemed like the storm lasted for a whole day. Once it was safe to go outside, it was crazy what we saw.
I grew up surrounded by graveyards. There were huge, maybe 50 foot long yachts in the graveyards! There were boats everywhere. I had an 18-wheeler tire outside my bedroom window. There was so much trash and debris all over the place.
There was no electricity, no plumbing, no water. And it was very hot and humid outside. We would sit cans of food outside and let the sun warm it up before we ate it. We ate right out of the can.
We had to clean out everything out of our house. We lost pictures, books, clothing, music, all the little things that decorated our home. Two weeks passed before help from the government came.
I went to wait in line to get a bag of ice and a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE). The government was very rude and mean to us. They would yell and talk down to us and offered zero simpathy. They would ride around in their war vehicles in full uniform with loaded guns, just making their presence known, trying to intimidate everyone.
My parents soon realized this was not a good place for a child and made arrangements for me to go stay with my Aunt Judy in New York City.
The Mercedes company came from Alabama and brought my mom a new car. She drove me to the airport in Alabama then I was off to New York City. My Aunt Judy took great care of me and took me shopping and bought me new clothes. I had a great time staying in NYC with her.
Then my highschool opened back up and my mom insisted that I return to the south. So I did. And it was no fun. Life would never be the same.
We lived in an apartment on the Gulfport/Biloxi line while men lived in my home and worked to repair it. Eventually we got back into our home. We were lucky. We were lucky we found an apartment and we were lucky that we had good workers who were able to fix our home. We were also lucky just to be alive.
After I graduated highschool, I moved to sunny Southern California. It never rains there.