Friday, September 2, 2005

In The Aftermath…

I didn’t want to do an entry on Katrina. That murderous storm has received enough ink as it is. I changed my mind, though, and here we are.

I sent out notices to many of my friends here in J-Land telling about my family ties to Southern Louisiana and of my sister, Jan, and her husband, Dave. Their home is in Slidell, a town on the northeast shore of Lake Pontchartrain. In the letter I described their home on the Pearl River and the boat they keep docked in New Orleans on the lake.

After I sent the letter out, I went back and watched more coverage on CNN and MSNBC and any other station that showed new camera shots of the area. I saw so many who had lost everything, even their love ones. I listened to Jeanne Meserve’s tear choked account of the mass devastation she had witnessed. I saw the man who told of losing the grip he held on his wife when their house split in two, never to see her again.

As I watched scene after scene of mass destruction and pile after pile of debris, I felt myself closing in and retreating within myself. This has been my lifelong defense mechanism to protect me when reality becomes too harsh to bear. I seal myself off into a private world within, where nothing can reach me and, seemingly, nothing can harm me.

I realize, though that this story is not about me and I am trying to keep that inner door open and stop my mind from shutting down. This story is about those who have lost everything, the ones whose lives will be changed forever.

As many of you know by now, both sides of my family are from Louisiana. My mother’s side of the family is from Franklinton, about 75 miles north of New Orleans. Franklinton is where my brother-in-law, Dave, went to wait out the storm. He stayed at my first cousin Bill’s house.

Jan is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves and is on active duty at Ft. Polk, located in the northern part of the state. I was talking to Jan on Sunday before the storm hit as she drove north to return to the base. She described to me the traffic and the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty the looming storm was causing.

I have heard from Jan since the storm passed. Dave and the family members in Franklinton with whom he stayed made it through the hurricane without harm. They were without phone service and electricity, but safe.

On Wednesday, Dave drove up to Ft. Polk to stay with Jan. What should have been a four-hour drive took him nine hours to navigate.

The pictures shown on TV of the Slidell area tell a story of almost total destruction. The hopes of salvaging anything from their home remains dim at this point. It will be days, maybe even longer, before it’s safe enough to even attempt to survey their house and belongings.

This story is but a small byline in a tale of epic dimensions. As all of the individual experiences are pieced together, the account of one of the worst disasters in our nation’s history takes focus. In perspective, and by comparison, my family is lucky. They survived and have a place to go for shelter. There are untold thousands who are not as fortunate.

As the days go by, the stories of horror, destruction, and despair will multiply. Let us band together as a nation and offer our prayers and aid in whatever form we can to the survivors. Let us vow to remain steadfast in our strength and loyalty and help one another make it through this most troubling time.

35 comments:

jlocorriere05 said...

I'm so glad your family are safe, that's what really matters. I posted some photos on my journal last night of New Orleans which I took 14yrs ago. I did it to show people what a beautiful city it was before the storm. I think we are all praying for the survivors down there, it must be a never ending nightmare. Jeannette.

nightmaremom said...

Sam-sending hugs and prayers to you and yours.  I've cried several times as I've seen the news and can only hope our neighbors will come out of this with some semblance of order and hope.  I am truly saddened by the delay in getting help to them.  I do not blame any one person for the chaos taking place but am disgusted with the delay.
hugs
d  

ltcjan said...

My brother is so awesome and has captured the spirit of the time.  WE ARE safe.  New news  tells us the house is still there, full of water and mud, dead things and that it stinks.  Someone is going in today to look for us and will send information back.  Reports are that the boat is gone as are all the boats in the harbor.  I can't believe they(100+ strong) sank, but no one knows where they are at this point.  With martial law in New Orleans, it is a small thing right now.  New Orleans was a beautiful city and will be again.  Maybe the "urban wars" will teach us some lessons about how people react when basics are removed fromtheir life.  Maslow's research was right on.  We thank you for your prayers.

sistercdr said...

My heart is with your family now, and they are in my prayers.  I wish there was more I could do or say.

gdireneoe said...

Hugs upon hugs Sam, for you and your family.  Glad to know they are all safe. ;)  C.  http://journals.aol.com/gdireneoe/thedailies

csandhollow said...

I am so glad about the good news you have received about your family.
Iunderstand about the shutting down. I used to do that so often it became second nature to me. Now I sometimes wish I could go back to that. It is so painful watching while sitting here in my home.

madcobug said...

So glad to hear from you and the family Sam. It's a blessing that everyone is safe. I read your sisters comment and my heart goes out to them about all they have lost. They and everyone else will remain in my prayers. Keep us posted as to what is going on with your sister and your other family members. helen

louie0768 said...

Sam,
First and foremost, I am very relieved to hear that your family is safe. That in itself is a blessing.

I have only limited myself to watching this tragedy as, like you, I tend to roll up inside of my feelings and let them take over. I became a slave to the tragedy of 9/11 and found myself sinking into a very emotional depression due to the devastation. It's like a black cloud to think about. I guess I just don't deal well with such things, I internallize way too much.

I heard on the radio yesterday morning that not only were they dealing with looters but people were being raped in the dome? It was my alarm clock waking me up so I don't know if I had heard that correctly or if it was a dream state. To hear that or dream it was a horrible way to wake, to think that in the midst of such tragedy that people could take advantage...it makes me physically ill. I was sick to my stomach all day and just couldn't get that out of my head.

Keep your wits about you Sam and remain strong. You are a wonderful human being and although it may sound selfish, your family is safe. Rest easy in that and my thoughts, prayers, and love is with all of those who are in the midst of this horror!

barbpinion said...

Will keep you and yours in prayer, as  I am all those who are so horribly effected by Katrina. Your last paragraph, dear one, says it all:
"As the days go by, the stories of horror, destruction, and despair will multiply. Let us band together as a nation and offer our prayers and aid in whatever form we can to the survivors. Let us vow to remain steadfast in our strength and loyalty and help one another make it through this most troubling time."
 Prayer IS the best gift we can give one another. Faith honors God
and God honors our faith.
Barb- http://journals.aol.com/barbpinion/HEYLETSTALK


candace636 said...

We are watching hell played out on TV (again). Thank God your family is safe. And yes, we as a nation need to pray and regain our strength and fight this. Everyone in the path of Katrina are counting on us.
Candace

ally123130585918 said...

Sam I have been watching on Sky Tv - and the devastation is as you say horrendous....I just cannot imagine what it must be like for them..I hope supplies get too them soon - where are so many homeless people to find the accomodation they so badly need - the people I know in England are all thinking of you and very concerned about the plight you are in I hope we can do something to help if that is possible...Ally

mavarin said...

Sam, I'm glad your family is safe, at least.  I did not believe, did not want to believe, that it's all as horrific as it's turning out to be.  What is the matter with everyone, that so much of the help is slow to arrive or afraid to go in, and some victims make things worse by shooting at the rescuers? - Karen

memes121 said...

I am so glad to hear your family is safe. They have been in my prayers. Our enemies must be loving all this. But once again we are going to show them just how strong our nation is. We will overcome this. It will be a long slow process but our nation will pick up the pieces and move on. God bless them all.

mechants said...

I'm glad your family is safe. This has rendered me speechless. I don't know what to say. I guess all I can say is that all the people of LA and MS are in my thoughts and prayers.

fitzzer said...

This storm & it's devestation is horrible & unbelievable. I can't even imagine what it's like to be there. We experienced the catagory 1 winds here & that was bad enough. I'm so glad your family is safe. My heart and thoughts are with everyone touched by this terrible tragedy & I hope help gets there quickly. ~ Lori

jtuwliens said...

The heartache I feel is indescribable.
Judith
http://journals.aol.com/jtuwliens/MirrorMirrorontheWall

ryanagi said...

Most things can be replaced. Family cannot. Glad they are ok!

emmapeeldallas said...

I'm glad to hear your family is safe.  Time and time again, watching the news, I've heard survivors say that they can bear losing everything because their loved ones made it through, but of course not everyone can say that.  My heart goes out to everyone touched by Katrina.

Judi

alphawoman1 said...

I am glad your family is safe. The terrible mind numbing aftermath is making me turn inwards also.

chatzeekay said...

glad to hear famliy is safe, its sad about katrina and the orleans

lurkynat said...

Dearest Sam
Great Job on this entry and even in your immense grief youare tremendous.
I am very sorry that you are having to go through all of this and I am so sorry that your family is ahinvg so many rpoblems,as many are. I loved your thought taht we stick together and give eahc other support.
love,nat

onemoretina said...

    Hello, Sam.   Thanks so much for the update.  I am sure this was not easy for you, but I appreciate you taking the time to let us know how things are.  I am  happy to hear that your family is safe, and out of harms way.  
    It is pretty common to "shut down" for awhile when something like this happens.  You are giving yourself time to process all that has happened.  Just be kind to yourself now.  You and your family will be in my prayers.  Tina

mutualaide said...

It is good to know Sam, that your family are well and safe.  It is truly horrible that they, like the many, will probably arrive home to little, if any material possessions.  A childhood friend lives in LaPlace.  She left with another friend and two dogs, drove far enough and spent the night in the car.  They drove back on Monday afternoon to little damage and no lights.  She now has opened her house to a number of folks and although there is no power, they are all safe and have each other and a roof over their heads.  

You are quite right in your suggestion that we all remain steadfast and help one another.  We all should and will do what we can.  I have faith.

childebrand1968 said...

Hey Sam!

Glad to hear your family is safe.  That is the best thing to be right now...

The folks I know made it out safely, too.  They were in Boggsville.  They are in Shreveport with other family now.

I hope something can be salvaged when they return...

Happy you got this out and didn't shut down :)

Cat

anmyatt said...

Sam,  This hurricane has been so tragic from every aspect so far.  I pray that things can only get better from this point in time.  It's such a heartbreaking situtation.  I am happy to hear that you have heard from your loved ones and family.  Many people here are living in organized chaos as rescue crews pass through town stocking up on the basics.  The amount of 55 gallon drums that I see filled with gasoline everyday, is absolutely mindboggling.  Evacuees number in the thousands with more arriving every day.  2,000 in the main shelter alone.  That's not counting the others (can't imagine how many) living in hotels, motor homes and whoever else that will be placed in the state parks very soon.  Have a restful weekend, Sam.  ~Nikki

rivercitygirl1 said...

Hi Sam,
I'm so very glad your family is safe.  My heart is heavy and full.  It is so painful to see all those people suddenly left homeless.  I'm on the coast of Jacksonville and that haunting feeling is always in the back of my mind that we're next.  
Hang in there
Tami

jcole16757 said...

Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana took such a devasting blow.  It's so heart wrenching to watch the footage.  I am glad to hear your family is safe!

slbourgoyne said...

Sam, thanks for your lovely story.  I talked to Bill's family 2 days ago.  They will be without utilities for weeks.  60% of the houses in Franklinton are uninhabitable.  The old business district is destroyed.  Many of the scenes of our childhood are gone.  But the people are alive and well.  People keep asking about our boat.  We cannot get there to check on it.  All of the roads are impassable. And we are too busy trying to help evacuees.  My answer is "Who cares?  It's just a boat."   Love you, Lynn

tendernoggle said...

I watched the new again last night, and I felt so helpless. I wish the troops had been called in alot sooner...I feel so sorry for these people, our fellow Americans...and the looters...my God....what is wrong with these people??? I can understand if they have to take medicine, food, clothes...things to help them survive....but the rest is stealing..pure and simple.
I hope all turns out ok for your family...I will keep them in my prayers.
Carlene

ksquester said...

People do not realize the power of that damn storm or the flooding that followed. I listen to people point fingers of blame and really all I want to have happen NOW is that people find a safe haven and a plan to start their lives over. I am humbled by not only this storm and stories of survival, but of the men and women who stayed behind to help their fellow man. I am glad that your family is safe and I realize it is not the end of the story, but the beginning of one.  

sanforized6 said...

Thanks for letting us in on your little corner of this terrible mess, rich

cyndygee said...

Oh, I am so relieved to hear that your family is safe.  That is really all that matters.  The devastation is overwhelming and finally, almost too much to watch . . .  but just as you did not turn inward, it's so important that we ALL help in whatever way we CAN.

I believe in the spirit of the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans.  New Orleans has been flooded not only with water, but also with the prayers of a NATION ~ Cyndy

judithheartsong said...

my best wishes to you and your family Sam. judi

ondinemonet said...

(((((Sam)))))

Although your family did make it to safety, I will still keep them close in my heart. It's all so sad, strength needs to come from us...the citizens across the country who can send aid, support, and love and prayers. I will, and I won't forget!

Always, Carly

mcjerseygiri said...

At one time my Dad owned a huge farm in Franklinton. His parents who lived in Alexandria moved there to run it. They got older and he sold it off. What a small world. :)