Thursday, August 28, 2008

Remembering Katrina

Three years ago tomorrow Hurricane Katrina hit the Golf Coast killing thousands of people with the destruction it caused.

While I did not live there or even know anyone that did Katrina played a big part in my life.

Dave has always had a love for all aspects of Law Enforcement. He has tried to go through a police academy but because he is not a runner he was unable to pass the physical assessment. One of his buddies from the Academy was working for a Loss Prevention company when Katrina hit. His company was contracted to go to New Orleans and under Marshall Law guard some of the buildings throughout the city and they needed guys willing to go down there. Dave's friend Bill immediately contacted him and a couple other guys from the academy to see if they were interested.

Dave and I threw the idea back and forth for a few days and in the end we decided that the experience and the pay was worth it. We were told that the guys would be leaving at the end of that week and they needed to have certain things with them. For whatever reason Dave and I decided to go to the store the next evening and buy some supplies for him like toothpaste, deodorant, extra underwear and socks, and lots of non perishable foods and bottled water. It was a really good thing we did because Dave came flying into the bedroom around 2:30 that morning because Bill called him to say they would be leaving at 9 am the next morning. For whatever reason the company that contracted them needed men ASAP.

I took the morning off work partly because I was so tired from being up helping Dave pack and because I was sad. At the time Emma was a few months shy of 2 and I was 6 months pregnant with Ian. My hormones were in full swing and this was the first time since Dave and I had moved in together that we would be spending more than a weekend apart. His contract was for 3 months putting him home the week of Christmas and just a few days short of my scheduled c-section.

Because of how badly things had flooded they had to stay at a hotel in a suburb about 30 minutes outside of downtown. The hotels first 4 floors had actually flooded but the top few floors were fine so the company put them up there. They also provide three meals a day and tons of MRE's for them to eat. They were bussed to there post every day or night depending on which shift they worked. They all worked 12 hour shifts 7 days a week. When Dave first left no one knew what to expect. We weren't sure if he would be able to get cell phone service or not. The few things we did know where there was no power in the city, and they were having problems with people trying to get back into the city. Luckily Dave's cell phone worked most of the time so I was able to talk to throughout the day and in the evenings once he was back at the hotel. I don't think I would have made it through without those calls.

Dave was one of the lucky ones and was stationed at a Hotel in the French Quarter on Toulouse St. less than a block from Bourbon. They had no power and no generators for the first three weeks they were there. There uniform consisted of black cargo pants, black polo's that said police, army boots, and all there guns, cuffs, amo, etc. The temperatures were in the upper 90's and the 100's during the day with very high humidity. Dave hated this part and was so happy when they finally brought in the generators and started hauling away the massive dumpsters that had rotting food in them.

I was lucky enough to be able to fly down and spend a long weekend with Dave in late October. By this time the city had been opened back up. I had never been to New Orleans before and I wasn't sure what to expect. I remember flying into the airport and being able to see all the areas still underwater. Seeing it on TV was nothing compared to seeing it in person. It was truly amazing how much land was cove rd with this water and very sad to think of all the people that had lost everything. Once we left the airport I was noticing all kinds of cars on the sides of the roads. Dave said that people abandoned their cars in an effort to get out of the city and most of them had been flooded so people weren't coming back for them.

The first day Dave and I stayed at the Hotel and just spent time together. Dave also sleep some because he had started working the night shift. He had to work that night but one of his buddies was in the room next to him and he worked day shifts so he checked in on me a few times but I just went to sleep that night. The next day Dave and I did some touring of the city. Are first stop was to a mall in the same suburb of the hotel. This mall had a Super Target in it. Now I love Target but up here we don't have the Super ones so I had to see this. It was amazing. Then we headed for the French Quarter.

I don't remember the name of the highway we took to get there but you could see the water lines on some of the overpasses. In some areas I think we could have stacked four cars on top of each other in order to be above where the water was. As we approached the city I could see the Superdome. It was kind of cool because there were men working on the roof and we could see them. It was also amazing to see how well the French Quarter held up compared to other areas. Most of the damage in the FQ was from the wind. If you have never been there before and you love architecture I really suggest you go. The buildings were amazing and there is soooo much history there. I must say my favorite thing was the church in Jackson Square. It was truly a breathtaking experience for me.

I am very proud of Dave for everything he did in the weeks and months after Katrina. It may not seem like much to some of you but for those the lived or owned business in that area it meant allot. He kept lutors out and allowed the construction crews to work in a safe environment therefore getting these business's back up and running.

I hope all of you take a moment this weekend to remember all of those that lost their lives or loved ones during Hurricane Katrina and it's aftermath.


Emily said...

Jess, you are one STRONG woman, for a good cause of course, but it was so good of both of you to keep it going on the "War Front" AND the "Home Front" of Katrina.
I admire the committment and you should be very proud that your family has all been part of the rebuilding.
God Bless all the people that were affected that day.

Mom to 3 Monkeys said...

Thats a great story. I would have never known that if you didn't post it. Doc was rapid deployment for the 82nd. We got a call and he had to leave immediately with no notice. Neat they were both there!

The Rockin' Wife said...

That is a great story. I know another commenter put that already, but that is literally what I said out loud after reading it. So scary that this next storm may affect New Orleans again.

Veggie Mom said...

You and your husband are wonderful people, even if you ARE Buckeyes! What a poignant post! I've been sad all today for NOLA, especially since it looks like the new 'cane, Gustav, might be headed that way, too. Pray that it's not!

A couple of Badger vs. Buckeye things.
1. The Wild One was accepted to 2 esteemed Ohio colleges. She chose to attend college in Wisconsin.
2. Hmmmmmm...I know what a Badger is, but what's a Buckeye? Oh, of those Nut Trees, right?

Hey, all in good fun, 'cause I can tell you're Good Folks! And Carrie warned me about you! Just 'cause you're from Ohio doesn't mean you can't drink Leinie's, right? Cheers!!

Kelly said...

Wow, What an experience for both of you. What a great post and thanks for the reminder!

Tiffany McCallen said...

I still can't believe you managed that pregnancy, working, having Emma, etc., all while Dave was gone. I'm glad we were working together around then. Made it a lot easier for me to keep up with you. :) And, BTW, your hubbie rocks for working in NO then... many wouldn't if given the same chance.