I see and hear lots of frustration and anger from decent people. I fight this fight every day, its almost impossible to not be confronted by the madness in one form or another each day. What do we do? Well I am going to tell you a story it will lead to advice on how to keep the madness at bay.
Early morning August 29th 2005 I found myself standing in 5ft of storm surge pushing our floating kitchen table into the corner of the part of our house that was still intact. My wife was sitting on the table holding our dog pippen. A few feet to my left, on the other side of the wall the wind was screaming by at 100+ miles an hour. I stared around looking for my options and trying to figure out my next step when my wife tapped me on the shoulder and said "the water is going down" sure enough I looked at the white wall and saw the water was now below the high mark by about 6 inches.
14 hours earlier we were kicked out of the hotel north of I-10 in Ocean Springs MS. What to do? A car, a moving truck filled with most of our belongings, a trailer with our second car was attached to the truck. Me my wife and pippen a pile of supplies which we had just purchased to ride out the storm in a well located hotel and now with a huge hurricane headed our way, we were just evicted from our shelter. Less then a quarter tank of gas in the truck, no open gas stations and bumper to bumper traffic limited our options.
Our new home was located on a small bluff overlooking the Gulf of Mexico it was 16ft above sea level. Based on the last information I saw the weather channel was predicting a 13 to 16 ft storm surge. After evaluating our choices I decided that we would be better off in our new home versus stranded on the road.
We barely avoided two accidents on the way to our house, one of which a man blew a stop sign and almost broad sided my wife. These events reinforced my choice to get off the road asap.
We arrived at our house at around 5 pm. We had already unloaded most of our belongings the day before but I went through the truck one more time to see if there was anything that might be of use. I grabbed my tool box and a tote of assorted bits from the garage.
I new the water and power was going to go out so the first thing I did was to stock pile water on all the high spots in the house. Slowly the night progressed the storm grew, as far as I could tell no one was home in our little sub division of 28 houses. By 9 oclock the local radio station reported that the bridge crossing the bayou was underwater and we were trapped.
10 O'clock my wife was in panic mode and in the bed with pippen our aussie, watching the weather reports and checking local news. I could tell she was in the early stages of shock. I spent those hours stacking up all our belongings in the back rooms farthest from the water. I stacked everything by importance things we could never replace like pictures and my wife's dead mothers antiques were put on the top shelves and or on top of all the other furniture.
11 O'clock we lost power and the sewage started to back up in the house. The sewer lines ran under a bridge and had ruptured and the storm was pushing the sewage back up the pipes into our house. I closed the bathroom doors and piled rugs in front of them to keep the raw sewage out of the rest of the house.
All night I went outside with my mag light to check the water levels. Each time I went out the water was higher.
1 A.M. our neighbors roof was ripped off by the wind and flew down the street. The water was about 5ft below our property. I knew the worst was yet to come so I had to make a plan. I went into the garage and found some 2 x 6s left by the construction crew. All the windows had been boarded up the day before but I knew the front door was our weakest point. Fortunately all the batteries for my power tools were charged so I was able to cut some boards to a good length and secure 3 of them across the front door attaching them to numerous points of the walls with 3 inch screws.
2.30 A.M. the water was now level with the bottom off our front door. Whenever a bigger wave came in water would squirt around the edges. I knew the water was coming in. My wife was now pretty much out of it, she was curled up on the bed hugging pippen, the dog knew he had one job and that was to be her comfort. She looked up at me when I came into the room, "the water is coming I told her" "its okay we will be alright"
sometime during that night all my military training kicked in, I never stopped I was always doing something.
3 A.M. the waves were now hitting the bottom of the windows in the living room. Every wave brought more water it just kept rising. Plan b, I cut out a big half moon of the living room carpet and pulled it into the hallway, with a few boards and small dresser I made a barricade in the hallway using the carpet as a sort of washer between the boards furniture and walls.
3.30 the water was now squirting through the sides of the door from at a height of about 3 ft I know we were in trouble.
I retreated to the bedroom pulling up the hallway carpet into the bedroom. I turned to my wife and simple said "the water is coming" I closed the door put some screws through the door into the doorframe, I pushed the pulled up carpet against the door then dropped a huge dresser against the door. Several minutes later there was a loud boom. We found out later that it was the front door and a few surrounding feet of wall giving way. A whole section of the wall with door still attached was literally ripped away from the rest of the front brick wall, it washed across the living room, into the dining room and then helped by the water blew out the back wall of our house in the kitchen.
4 A.M. the waves started to crash against the bedroom window, I suddenly felt stupid, if that window broke and the water rose one more foot I know we would be trapped and drown. I told Sharon "we have to leave if we stay here we will drown" she just looked at me and said okay. I told her to get on the bed and hold on to pippen because I was going to have open the bedroom door. In the room we had about 6 inches of water but I know there was at least 4 feet of water in the hallway and when I opened the door that a wall of water was going to come in.
Fortunately I had a crow bar to open the door, I told Sharon we were going to get in the moving truck calculating the height of the truck I knew it would be relatively dry. We filled a small bag with some basic items and prepared to open the door. I pried open the door and stood to the side as the room filled with 4 feet of water. I picked up pippen and told sharon to follow me.
Ignoring the chaos and destruction I headed to the side door of the house. I told sharon to wait for me I would put pippen in the truck and then come back for her.
Okay imagine the worst rain storm you have ever experienced then double it 120 mph winds and viscous rain pounded me as I headed to the truck, remember I was also walking through about 4 feet of water and getting pounded by waves. I managed to get pippen in the truck and then went to get Sharon. Somehow I got Sharon to the truck and into the cab. I went around to the drivers side and climbed in. I looked over at Sharon and she said "look I saved the radio", she held it up as the water leaked out from the battery compartment. To this day we both find that moment worthy of a good laugh.
As we sat in the truck I tried to formulate a new plan. I knew the road behind our house headed up a small hill so I figured if I could get the truck running I would drive up the road. To my amazement the truck started up on the first try. Needless to say its a different experience driving a 28 ft truck through 4 ft of water. I made it to the end of the driveway and into the street in front of our house, when the storm intensified and we got hit with several large waves that pushed us off the street and into the ditch. At this point the truck started to float a little and rock from side to side.
I turned to Sharon and said " I refuse to drown inside a moving truck lets go" were! was all she said. Well part of the house was still standing so I said lets go back to the house and we will figure it out.
Walking back to the house carrying pippen who understood the only dry spot in site was on the top of my head was not fun, oh pippen was an Australian shepherd about 45 lbs. This led to a moment that death stared me in the face. I happen to get my foot tangled in a fallen tree at the exact same moment that a large wave hit me and dragged me under water. Sweet pippen was not particularly helpful trying to use me as a floatation device, I small voice in my head said "you know a person could die doing this" I kinda laughed cause it was true. Recovering my footing I got a hold of pippen and headed into the house. To my surprise floating in the wreckage of our house was my wifes one legacy project. Many years earlier this strong single mother had rescued a rather large ancient oak table from salvage shop. She stripped and stained it. Her pride and joy was now a beautiful life boat, I put pippen on the table then got Sharon and put her on the table with the dog. I pushed them into a corner that was still intact, people ask how high did the water get, I always say this high and put my hand up near my shoulders because the waves were hitting me on the side of my face as I stood there holding the table. What do I do now?
Well my wife was right the water started to go down. The next few days are another story.
The point is you are never done till quit or give up. You can give into the darkness and accept your destruction or you can use your God given gifts and try. I know for a fact that if you reach out doubting nothing a helping hand will be found reaching down to you.
Choose to act and the storm will retreat to being a large nuisance in the back ground that can be overcome. Quit and you will drown.
Focus on one thing within your grasp.
Plant a garden, help your neighbor, stack some food, work around your property. Chop some fire wood. Zero you weapons, clean your weapons, plan your strategy, look at your options, know your skills,
Fear and despair are evils favorite weapons they want you to feel alone helpless. Stuff (things) are more anchors then they are trophies.
If you are in the wrong place then move.
My wifes favorite saying is "Stuff doesnt matter it can all be gone in a moment" we lost everything in that storm but in reality we lost nothing, we lost stuff.
What happened after the storm
State Farm insurance, yes we had hurricane insurance but they claimed it was a flood so they denied our claim.
We had flood insurance but nobody told us that in the first 30 days of coverage you are technically not covered until day 31
We lost everything, house belongings, cars, jobs everything. We were basically homeless and unemployed.
We both agree that the best thing that every happened to us was Katrina. One year later we started our own business and well 14 years later we are semi retired living on our 40 acres farm with a beautiful house I built, we have enough to live out our lives and we don't owe anyone.
There is more to this story, things that will shock you but also prove to you that God is real. To me faith goes hand in hand with not giving up. Hope is a choice, life is a gift.
Hope lives in the heart, fear has no place were there is love and hope.
God Bless I hope this helps a little.