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Top : In The News : Walking Through Katrina, Pt 2

Walking Through Katrina, Pt 2

~ Lissa M. Lee

I went downstairs and turned on the television to get an update. There it was headed straight for us as a Category 4 storm. I knew I was leaving, no matter what Mr. Davis said.

I called my son in Hattiesburg and asked if we could ride it out with him. He said sure and then I called his sister to alert her. Her boss had just found out and suddenly his store was flooded with people preparing to leave or stay. My daughter would not be able to leave until 10 pm Sunday night.

So I suddenly had some time to fill.

I immediately prayed. After the past 14 years of learning to walk with God, I decided it was time to see if I had been paying attention.

I asked God what to do. He told me, "Remember Lot's wife and don't look back."

Okay, that wasn't exactly the word I was looking for, but then I didn't want to be salt either.

I called my boss and asked what I could do to help prepare for the storm since I couldn't do anything until Sunday. I met her at the office and began to scan the most important plans as she battened down the hatches.

Only two weeks before I had asked her what their plans were to protect everything in the event of a storm or fire. They had none.

Over the next week I had begun investigating options.

Our printer had a large format scanner that he had rented to a man in Slidell. The gentleman wasn't using it. So he brought it to us on Wednesday. Thursday he showed me how to use it. Friday and Saturday, I began scanning the materials.

Saturday night before I hugged my boss good-bye not knowing what our future would be, my boss shared a prophesy with me he had heard back in the 1970's. In the 1940's an old time evangelist had spoken a word, "unless New Orleans repents and returns to the Lord, He would wash it away with a flood from the north."

My boss' final words to me, "You need to mentally prepare yourself to return to nothing."

Saturday, I don't remember anything other than praying myself to sleep and the words to the Newsboys song, "Blessed Be the Lord," rising up in my spirit.

Sunday I asked the Lord what to pack. I have a small compact car, so there wouldn't be much room.

As a mom, my photo albums and pictures are my most precious positions. As a writer all my journals came secondly. As a woman who just invested in a new wardrobe for the job she just started, my clothes and shoes were ripped off hangers and piled in garbage bags. Last came my bedding, then time at the gas station filling our cars.

Fortunately as the storm approached and the national headquarters weighed their options, my daughter's store was closed at noon. She came home, accumulated her precious positions and off we drove toward Hattiesburg.

We took back roads. Still it took 5 hours to make a 90 minute trip.

I will never forget the sight of two little boys playing in the lawn sprinklers that afternoon in their front yard as a bumper-to-bumper caravan inched pasted their home. I thought that they will always remember today. I will always remember them, a last semblance of normality.

Anxious tired and exhausted we arrived at my son's home in Hattiesburg and tired to focus on anything but the coming storm. That night we got little sleep.

Monday, August 29, 2005 broke early in my son's home. We all scurried around to let the dogs out, nibble breakfast and make whatever preparations were required. Turning on the television we learned that Katrina had again shifted direction. Now she would skim past the east side of New Orleans and barrel up the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Eye would pass over us.

The only real preparations, other than miscellaneous items from the "junk food" group, were opening all the windows about an inch to help with pressurization and filling every available container and bath tub with water. No windows were boarded or taped.

Although my daughter-in-law didn't say much, I could see the concerned etched in her face. This was her first major hurricane. Several times that morning she spoke with her mother in Missouri and her father in Arizona.

I can't begin to know how her parents felt. After all she is a grown, married woman, but it was still their baby girl. I am sure her father worried if my son could be trusted to care for her during this weather event. I was blessed. Even though I might be more of a burden than a help, I was with my family, at least most of it.

My brother was somewhere snaking along an interstate in traffic headed to someplace north. My parents were somewhere about 20 miles south of us in my uncle's fall-out shelter and my youngest son was somewhere across town with his girlfriend. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, my family worries so much about being an imposition to others, we completely avoided imposing on family all together. I think Katrina may have switched our paradigm. It is amazing what God uses to reveal hidden pride in your life.

We watched television until the power failed. The last thing we heard was the ripping of the roofing pieces from atop the Superdome. I uttered a prayer for those thousands waiting it out in the Dome. I also prayed for my neighbor who had refused to evacuate and stayed. I hoped that he would be safe.

Initially the day was relaxed. Although the sky was overcast and breezy, it seemed no different from any other summer storm. But as time passed, tensions heightened and by noon we were beginning to feel the full effects of Katrina's fury. Unbeknownst to us, the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the eastern tip of Louisiana had just been erased.

Looking out the side window my son commented that he had a few dead trees he hoped fell during the storm as he had been planning to clear them. As the winds picked up speed, the first tree down was the live tree along side the house.

Soon snapping trees and roaring winds bathed in sprays of rains were the only sounds we heard. We learned later that wind gusts were clocked at 135 mph in our neighborhood and probably about five tornadoes had trampled through the area. At one point the wind was so furious that it sounded like a powerful jet engine booming toward us. The wind was so strong and so forceful; you could actually see a sheet of white buzz past the house carrying all manner of debris with it.

My mind suddenly filled with the reference to the Holy Spirit's entrance on the Day of Pentecost, the sound of a rushing, mighty wind! If that sound was anything close to what we experienced, it is no wonder all of Jerusalem was shaken to it very core.

For hours Katrina beat our area. Tornados tipped across trees, clipping them at even height as a beautician would trim a straight bob cut. Although there was rain mixed in the destructive brew, Katrina didn't drench the area as I have seen in other hurricanes.

Finally, at dusk, Katrina had made her mark and moved on further north. Gradually one by one, my son's neighbors began to fill the streets of their subdivision and take stock. It was quickly apparent, that out of all the houses in the subdivision, my son's home was the only one completely untouched - not one shingle moved from the roof.

Within a few minutes, neighbors had chainsaws clearing the roadway and helping each other patch roofs with whatever materials they could find. Assured that only property was the only damage, we all wondered into our dark homes to rest from the strain of the day.

It was still that night. The remaining fragments of Katrina's winds blew gently through the curtains as we drifted to fitful sleep exhausted from the day, our minds clouded with concerns for others.

That night, in bed I thought about all I had seen that day. The dead trees, with no branches to catch the wind, stood. The trees full of life; lay slaughtered on the ground.

How many times had the Word of God referred to believers as "trees, a planting of the Lord." My daughter-in-law had made an interesting comment about the dead trees, "Since they have nothing to grab, the wind can't pull them down."

My mind wandered back through all the times I had seen powerful men and women of God, taken out by the enemy at the height of their ministry. Hearing her comment gave me newer insight. When a person is "dead" in their faith, there is nothing for the enemy to grab on to and pull them down. Paul's warning words about being ever watchful, least you fall into temptation seemed all the more real.

Again, I felt a deep compassion for all the people trapped by this storm. At that point we had no idea of the human tragedy that lay in the days ahead. We had no idea of the nightmare that would soon commence at the Superdome or the stark nakedness of the Gulf Coast. That night, the last remaining thread of what we had known as "normal" snapped as we slept. It was the same feeling I felt the morning of September 11, 2001, our world would never be the same again from this point forward.

The next morning my son and his wife took a drive to check on their assorted friends and co-workers scattered throughout the Hattiesburg area. I felt so alone and abandoned waiting in their house for their return. I read my Bible, recorded in my journal and prayed.

I also tried to use my cell phone.

It was then that the reality of our alter life began to emerge. Sitting there, pressing redial only to be cut off by no tower, no service, no nothing, I felt a panicked urge to communicate with anyone. I wanted something to work.

Part 3

Submitted on : 20-Sep-2005

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Top : In The News : Walking Through Katrina, Pt 2

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