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What do I remember of our time during Katrina? Things that 5 years later just stand out?

  • I remember standing in the parking lot of NAVO, knee deep in water during the eye of the storm. Pulling debris from the storm drains and throwing it as far as I could so it wouldn’t just stop up the drain again. Finding the drains between the cars. As the drains cleared a whirlpool would form and suddenly I’d be standing in ankle deep water while just feet around me the water was still knee deep. The suction and swirling water was intense. I remember reaching under the front passenger wheel area of a grey car, pulling debris and being frightened that I would get sucked down and drown. I can still see the wheel, hubcap, and grey of the bodywork. Nothing else about the car, just that.
  • I remember Drew sitting in our garage with a bucket of soapy water washing muddy plates and glasses like they were made of gold. Instead of the $3 Target specials they were. The look of “I’ve saved this” on his face. The look someone gets when their arm gets ripped off and they haven’t decided it’s really happened yet. That was his look. Drew and Sam had a foundation with debris around it where their house used to be.
  • The smell. Riding my motorcycle between Stennis Space Center and Diamondhead Mississippi. There was a stretch by the river where the smell was so bad you couldn’t breath. The stench of rot and death. I remember how the smell would get less strong after search and rescue went through.
  • Lines and lines of trucks being loaded with supplies and heading for New Orleans. Signs in the windows saying “Ice” “Water” “Food”.
  • Riding my motorcycle through the debris and over 50k volt highline power lines as big around as my wrist.  Thinking, damn, what if these go live again? Damn near hitting a ladder in the middle of the road at 70 miles per hour.
  • Having a van stop in front of me as I drive through someones yard, thinking “oh crap” some dude is gonna be mad I keep driving my truck through his yard. Watching the side door slam open and my neighbor jump out yelling “They found them! They’re alive!” and balling my damn eyes out. It was 6 days before we found out my daughters friends had survived. Where they rode the storm out took a 25ft storm surge, they were in a single wide trailer. No one knew, or thought, they had lived. I remember calling Roberta so she could tell Megan that Heather and Skyler were still alive. Roberta and the girls had left for Montana thinking they had been killed.
  • I remember the quiet in the hallways as the storm approached. The tv at the end continously playing news and landfall projections. The screaming fury of the storm as it hit. Water coming down through the ceiling. The ceiling tiles lifting and falling with the ebb and flow of winds howling outside. The hallway between the two buildings, it sounded like God was tearing at the doors and he wanted in BAD! The windows on the second floor shattering and falling into the courtyard. I remember the shock once it was over.

Those are just some of the things I remember.

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