View Full Version : Five years ago today

08-28-2010, 04:22 PM
Five years ago today, in anticipation of the impending hurricane Katrina, my wife Kim who was pregnant and due in less than a week, myself, my mother, and my daughter Abigail left our home we had just built and went to Kim's mom's an hour north to stay. Her mom lives only a few blocks from the hospital where Kim was to have the baby. Traffic going up was horrible, as people were evacuating from the entire coastline. We live a little over 20 miles inland.

The storm came in the next morning, which was a Monday. Generally, hurricanes don't look as bad when you watch them during the day, but this one was an exception. The storm turned when it came inland, and went right through the city of Hattiesburg where we had gone to avoid it. Kim's mom lives next to the park and zoo. Several tornadoes spawned from the storm came through that neighborhood and wiped out most of the park and zoo. Trees were down everywhere. Houses were destroyed. Power was out, as was water. The first day was spent chainsawing just to get up the street they live on to the main cross street. We had no idea what had happened anywhere else, other than the few rumors we heard.

We finally got to the hospital to get Kim checked out in regard to the baby. All but one of the hospital's generator's failed. It smelled like blood and urine, and was hot. Only emergency cases were admitted, but since she was pregnant, they let us in. The dr said she was no where near dilated, and the best thing to do was to get out of Hattiesburg. The first few ice trucks came by heading to the coast. We prayed for ice, but were glad there was some heading South. If it was this bad 60 miles inland, we could not imagine what the coast was like.

I made a trip back to our house to get a few things and make sure everything was secure. It took forever to get back. Few vehicles were on the road. The interstate was a one land road due to downed trees. I could not go down the highways because the military had them blocked and was not letting anyone through. As a surveyor, I knew the backroads. When I got to our newly built house, I found that the roof was gone. The carport, which was a gable off the back of the house, was gone as well. All of our baby stuff had been inside, and was either destroyed or was spread across the field. I went and checked on Abigail's grandparents and let them know we were ok. I had to walk a good part of the way because the bridge had been destroyed. They fed me lunch from food they had gotten when a National Guard helicopter dropped MRE's in their pasture.

On my way back to Kim's mom's, my sister called my cell to check on us. She lives in North Carolina. I told her about everything, and she offered to let us stay with her until it was fit to come back to Mississippi. I told Kim about it, and we weighed out options. We could not have the baby here, and certainly couldn't keep her in these conditions. It was very hot and humid. Abigail had asthma and needed breathing treatments. My mom had suffered a heat stroke a couple of years ago and did not need to be hot. Against her mother's wishes, we left for North Carolina on Sept. 1. We did not find fuel until we got to Meridian, MS, which is a couple hours North of where we were. The van we had at the time posted the number of miles till empty, and I kept watching the number get lower and lower, wondering if we would make it. Finally we did, and then picked up a few things from Walmart and got something to eat.

We crossed into Georgia at about 8pm. I did not want to drive through Atlanta at night since I was not very familiar with it, so we decided to find a hotel. We stopped at a little town called Bremen, GA, right off the interstate. Kim & I were in one room and my mom & Abigail were in another on the floor below us. It was wonderful! We had been in that hot house with no power or water all week. We turned the ac down to 60, lol! We took a shower for an hour and I shaved Kim's legs for her since she couldn't reach them. Finally, we got in bed and turned on the tv to watch what had happened for the first time. Unfortunately, most of what was broadcast was about New Orleans. People don't seem to realize that the storm actually hit Mississippi, not New Orleans, and that most of the N.O. damage was from flooding due to the levee failing. We watched the scenes of devastation until midnight, then settled down to go to sleep.

30 minutes later, Kim woke me up. She was having contractions. I could feel them and see them. We started to time them, and waited to make sure it was not false labor. They were getting much closer together, so I called a local hospital to get directions. We got to a hospital in Carrolton, GA around 4 am. I called my sister, and she came down from NC, picked up my mom & Abigail from the hotel, and brought them to the hospital. Emily Elisabeth was born that day, September 2, 2005. We thought she would be a Mississippi Belle, but would up being a Georgia Peach! Since all our baby stuff got destroyed in the storm, the nurses gave us extra stuff for Emily. One of them contacted a lady from her church who called the local paper. They came and did an article on us, and the entire community had a baby shower for us. A mechanic even took our van, which was having brake problems, and fixed it, cleaned & washed it, & filled it up, but would not let me pay him for it. We had to rent a Uhaul to get all the stuff we were given to my sisters and then home. The people even brought things for Abigail and Kim. God's goodness to us was amazing! The people told us that they wanted to help in the situation, and that we helped put a face on the need for them. New stories abounded of abuses of donations by other organizations then.

My sister took Abigail and my mom to her house since Kim and I had to stay in the hospital a few days, as Emily had jaundice. The hospital let me stay in the room and gave me complimentary meal tickets. The hospital also donated all of its services to us. After we left, we went on to my sister's house in NC and stayed until power and order were restored. We moved back into our house July 4, 2006, after lengthy repairs and lots of out of pocket money, since the insurance was not sufficient for what happened (builder's risk with a wind rider).

A year after the storm, our local paper ran a co-feature with the paper in Carrolton about our story. We will always have a special connection with Carrolton, GA. I think about it every year this time when I get to celebrate the birth of my little Georgia Peach!:)

08-29-2010, 06:25 PM
Thanks for sharing. There are many of us here in north Louisiana who gave shelter to family and friends during that ordeal. We thought we had seen everything.
It was a little over two weeks later when Rita hit. My 90 year old mom and dad had to be evacuated for that one. I think that experience pushed them over the edge, God rest their souls but it was just too much.

08-30-2010, 07:45 AM
That is a harrowing story, Shawn! Wow. You can regale your daughter with it when she's old enough to understand the meaning of it all a little better. You and Kim have a wonderful and positive attitude, especially considering all the things you two have been through.

I shaved Kim's legs for her since she couldn't reach them.
Now that's a dedicated husband, lol!

08-30-2010, 07:46 AM
Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear that about your folks, cubsfan. :cry:

08-31-2010, 01:04 PM
Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear that about your folks, cubsfan. :cry:

Thanks. After 64 years together in this life, they are together again.

Sometimes natural disasters have a human cost not often mentioned by the media.

09-02-2010, 01:54 PM
Well, today is Emily's actual birthday! My little Georgia Peach is 5 years old! She started preschool yesterday.


I think her backpack was bigger than she is!


Here is her cake..she is obsessed with dinosaurs! Lol


Shoots like a girl
09-02-2010, 10:02 PM
Shawn what a remarkable story!!! Thank you so much for sharing it and a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Emily!!!!!!

09-03-2010, 04:40 PM
Awesome post and thanks for sharing Shawn. Emily is beautiful. I have 3 girls myself. They are special man. Hold on to her tight she will be driving away in your car before you know it.