Landfall

There are just some days you never forget. August 29, 2005 is one of those days for me. Even though I was watching The Weather Channel and staying updated at Weather Underground’s Tropical Weather page, I still did not grasp the magnitude of Katrina. As the storm twisted out there in the Gulf of Mexico perhaps it mesmerized a lot of people. At 2:00 a.m. on that Sunday morning a mandatory evacuation was issued for all of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I was up. Watching. We scrambled to gather some belongings, woke up the kids, and got in our minivan and headed to North Mississippi.

Living just a few blocks from the Gulf of Mexico, we had done this before. Often, we felt a bit sheepish to come back to the Coast to find a few branches blown out of the trees. To be honest, I expected to come home in a few days and resume our lives. I don’t know how I could have been watching that monster storm and still have that assumption.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db7QtIbSWjE[/youtube]

Everyone knows the horror that Katrina brought to the Coast at landfall. As soon as we arrived at Maggy’s parents, I was glued to the television. We heard differing reports. First we heard that everything south of hwy 90 in Pascagoula was gone. That’s where we live. It wasn’t gone, but it was all flooded with seawater and sewage. We later heard that somehow our house was OK. That was the view from the outside. On the inside there had been three feet of water.

First of many debris piles outside our home after Katrina
First of many debris piles outside our home after Katrina

Gas shortage and warnings not to come back kept us in place for several days, but then we just had to get back. We drove to Pensacola, Florida and stayed with friends Danny and Terri Dodd. Terri was pregnant and had been put to bed-rest by her physician, yet they remained hospitable. When I got to the Dodd home, there were already phone messages waiting for me … offers to help. There was an offer from friends in Georgia to come and live there and start over. It was with Danny and a crew from the Gateway Church of Christ that we first saw our home.  We later stayed a few days with the Wetheringtons and Boswells so that we could work in our home … and with others … during the initial recovery time. I’m sure we were all in shock – just surviving.

In those extremely difficult days of tears and pain, we couldn’t have made it without friends. Local friends, our longtime friends from other areas, and our internet community banded together in a thousand ways to send support. One amazing phone call from Bill Denton let us know that an anonymous donor had given us a camper, we just had to get it to the Coast. My friend Cecil May 3rd and a member of his church brought the camper to us – and we could now live at our address again.

Thus could begin the telling of endless tales of  courageous volunteers, selfless examples of people like David and Elaine Kilbern, and amazing works of God through the storm. The weekly visits from Chris Lockhart that helped keep me sane, the flood of materials and supplies from across the United States, the time that Marvin Phillips adopted Pascagoula and brought / sent work crews … once I get started it’s hard to stop. And I was so proud of John Robert. He never complained, and he worked so hard in our house.

College Students from Conway, Arkansas Volunteering
College Students from Conway, Arkansas Volunteering

CLICK HERE if you want to see hundreds of pictures from Pascagoula post Katrina. I wish I knew the names of every volunteer there were so many. Really, the only thing that makes this dark day worth remembering, is the flood of love and help that came from strangers … God working through the open hearts of people everywhere. If you were one of those who prayed, gave, or came to work four years ago … THANK YOU.

Thanks for reading,

John

Comments are closed.