Hurricane Katrina, 10 Years Ago

This weekend marks the ten year anniversary of when hurricane Katrina slammed into the shores of the Mississippi gulf coast, effectively flooding many areas, destroying homes, lives, and property. All of my family lives in the New Orleans area, and I grew up about 30 minutes north of the city. This time ten years ago was a very scary and uncertain time for my family.

We had six people, a dog, and a cat in my one bedroom apartment at college in Jackson, Mississippi, and we had no idea if the business my parents owned in Kenner (right next to the New Orleans airport) was going to be there when they got back, or if their house would be standing. I have told my story here on the blog before, so instead of retelling, I am just going to share a couple of links with you at the bottom of this post.

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Trying to look happy and like we were having fun all hanging out together…but we were very scared of what was going to happen.

While New Orleans and the Mississippi gulf coast look much better now than they did right after the awful storm, I can assure you, that for the people that still live there, things are not “the same” or “back to normal” and probably never will be. We are so thankful that damage my family sustained was in property and not lost lives, but many were not so lucky. Let’s all keep those family members in our prayers this weekend as they are having to re-live this awful time during the 10 year anniversary.

My Katrina Story

More photos

QOTD: Where were you during hurricane Katrina?

My Katrina Story

I can’t believe I have been blogging nearly 4.5 years and have never shared my hurricane Katrina story! Keep in mind myself and my family were all physically ok, and this is just MY story. We were very lucky, a lot of people had it MUCH worse! Ok, so let’s start at the beginning.

It was late August 2005, and college had just started back up. I had stayed in my college town over the summer in an apartment and worked, and now I was moving back into the dorms because my lease was up at the end of August. We watched as the storm went to Florida, and in horror, watched as it started heading straight for us as it churned in the gulf of Mexico. The next few days were very tense. My family had already evacuated once that summer, so a lot of people didn’t take this one seriously because the one storm ended up being no big deal. I feel this is where a huge mistake was made by many to be honest.

As the week went on and it was clear everyone in southeast LA and on the MS gulf coast needed to evacuate, plans were made for my parents, sister, and her fiancé to come up to my apartment for the weekend. We figured it would just be a precaution and they would be back home soon. Meanwhile, my now husband, then boyfriend was moving apartments from one to another, so when my parents arrived they helped us get him moved. Come to find out, the place we moved him to was a NIGHTMARE and the toilet didn’t work, so he ended up staying with us as well. If you lost count, that’s 6 adults and a toy poodle in a one bedroom apartment in Jackson, MS. My parents took the bed, and me and my sister slept on the sectional sofa while the boys were on the floor.

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The fam at my apartment the night before the storm hit.

We gassed up our cars, went out to dinner to try to get our minds off the storm approaching in the morning, and tried to go to sleep. The next day, the storm went through my hometown, destroying parts of the coast and flooding entire cities. We had no way of knowing what was going on with any family members or my parents house because phones were not working for anyone. The house I grew up in is in an older neighborhood and my parents had TONS of huge huge pine trees in the yard, and we had pretty much predicted which ones had fallen on the house. My mom was panicked because all of her brothers and sisters and her dad lived in low lying areas of New Orleans, and we couldn’t get in touch with anyone.

That afternoon, the storm made it’s way up to Jackson, and it was still VERY strong. (Jackson is about 2 or so hours north of my hometown). We lost electricity at the apartment, as did the rest of the city. Luckily we got it back quickly, but my school did not and ran on generators for days and cancelled classes. (Did I mention it was August in the south, and it was HOT AS HECK?!?). There were a lot of downed trees, and the wind was so scary to go through, so I couldn’t imagine what things looked like back home (except for what we saw on TV, which was so scary.) I remember sitting on the couch with the family in silence as the wind howled around us for a couple of hours, just waiting for the worst to pass. I felt like I held my breathe the whole time.

My memory is a bit foggy, but I want to say we got ahold of some family members but still hadn’t heard from my grandfather. I found a missing persons board someone had set up online and made a post about his location, etc. Oh, did I mention in all of this my dad had an allergic reaction to some medicine and I had to take him to urgent care? Such a fun time.

We thought the worst was over, but then I woke up the next morning and we started hearing about the levee breaks and flooding in New Orleans, and all of the people trapped in the city. Meanwhile I was already online registering my parents business and personal property with FEMA, because I knew it would be a mess trying to do if we waited too long. I just had everything mailed up to me at school, because at that time we didn’t even know if they had a house let alone a mailbox. Oh, one of my families biggest worries was their business. My dad owns a small company right near the NOLA airport, it’s a metal building with a tin roof, and we thought for sure it was all blown away. After a lot of internet searching, I found where someone (who is a genius) did a fly by over the area and took pictures in a grid so you could search and see if your home/business was destroyed. I was somehow able to find my dad’s building!!! It had some panels stripped from the roof but it was still standing! We had no idea if it was looted or not, but it was still there.

After a day of sitting on our hands, we got antsy and decided to do something. My sister and her fiancé left to go be with his family in Texas as they had more room, and my dad wanted to know what was going on at home even though no one was allowed into the area, and there were road blocks everywhere. We didn’t care, and decided we were going to drive down and check on the house and the neighbors homes, etc. We filled up a bunch of gas cans because we had no idea if we could find gas once there, and the four of us drove down to Mandeville. Oh, my parents neighbors had also evacuated to Jackson so they took their car and went along as well. We were so nervous the whole ride down not knowing what to expect. We took some back roads to avoid road blocks, and were able to make it into the neighborhood. When we pulled onto my parents street, what I saw is a sight I will never forget, one that makes me cry to this very day. We later figured about 85 trees had been downed on the street, and out of a street of about 20 homes, only 2 did not have multiple tress going through the roof. I don’t just mean ON the roof, I mean slicing it down to the ground, cutting through homes like a knife. What used to be a beautiful wooded and shady street now looked barren, and all was quiet.

We were shocked yet again when my childhood home had ZERO trees through it. We felt so blessed. We have no idea how we were spared. There were trees down in our yard, one busted the water main, and one next door neighbor had 3 trees in his house, but ours was untouched. Sure there was crap EVERYWHERE in the yard, but the house was ok. We later concluded that a tornado came down our street, because the other streets didn’t look as bad as ours. based on the stories we heard from the couple of people that stayed, it sounds accurate.

This is the view from the front porch. You can see the giant tree the fell behind the car on the right, that one busted the water main, but nothing fell on the house.

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Backyard. No we did not put the grill or furniture up against the house like that!

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backyard

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backyard See the huge tree below? We thought for sure it had fallen on the house. They later had it and about 5 other trees cut down. Everyone did. No one wanted to have these in their yard anymore.

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My next door neighbors roof. He STAYED during the storm, and said it was the most awful experience. I cannot imagine how scary it was.

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Another neighbors home, tree split it in half.

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Another home

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Our front yard. Note that we have a HUGE ditch in the yard, we think the water came up to the house and eventually everything drained to the ditch and stuffed it full of debris.

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The boys did a lot of raking and bagging to get stuff out of the street, and poor Bobby had a terrible cold and felt so miserable. They also helped another neighbor rip up some carpet. It was SO hot outside the poor sick boy nearly passed out. While we worked, my mom and the neighbors that came down with us went and hunted for gas and luckily were able to get in line for some down the road. After cleaning up all day, we drove back to Jackson. We couldn’t stay, we had no water and no electricity and no food. It’s not like any stores were open, and they wouldn’t be for many weeks. We were thankful to find that one gas station. There was nothing else we could do except go back and wait.

Meanwhile, we finally got word of my grandfather. He got trapped in the second story of his condo, the bottom was flooded. A man came by on a boat and gave him food a couple times, and finally he thought to ask for a phone to call the family. So at least we knew he was safe. My extended family had a lot of loss, flooded out homes, completely destroyed. One aunt and uncle had a house near the beach and were left with a slab. When we got back to the apartment, we went to the leasing office and begged to stay on a week by week basis. My family had nowhere to go. Thankfully they agreed, and my parents ended up staying over two weeks. Even when they went back, things were not “normal”. They had to go to the local Target parking lot where military men with big guns handed out MRE’s out of a truck so they could have something to eat. It was like being in a 3rd world country. Talk about the most eerie feeling. Being in America, and having to stand in line with soldiers guarding the area so you can get food.

A lot of people think things went back to normal after the storm, but the truth is it changed things forever. My dad’s business never fully recovered, the town I grew up in is now SUPER overpopulated because a lot of people moved from downtown to my town to be on higher ground. Locals tell time in reference to the hurricane. If we can’t remember what year something happened we say “was that before the storm or after?” and everyone knows exactly what you are talking about. If you Google “hurricane Katrina Mandeville, LA” you can see pictures from my hometown. My parents are lucky and live on high ground, but a lot of people that live near the lake and river completely lost their homes. The damage was a very widespread, and now that I live in Biloxi, MS which was hit VERY very hard, I still see, nine years later, that things are not the same. If you drive along the beach road, you will see more empty lots and slabs than you do businesses. It’s very, very sad.

I am sure I am missing a LOT of details, but it’s been 9 years. Smile It’s something I will never forget, the uncertainty of it all was very scary, and every June we hold our breathe as hurricane season approaches, wondering if the next one will be the perfect storm.

QOTD: Ever been through a hurricane? it’s not fun.

Storm

Nothing figurative here, I am talking about an actual storm! Last night, we had some big storms come through and we were under a tornado watch all night. I woke up about 4:00 to some serious rain, thunder and lightning and checked the weather. (You know, after going to the bathroom #pregnantproblems) and saw a huge squall line about to hit us. We decided to go sleep downstairs for the rest of the night. We have a HUGE Pine tree right outside our 2nd story bedroom, and if it fell on the house it would literally fall on our bed, so we don’t like to take chances when high winds are involved. I have seen firsthand that a pine tree can be used as a missile during hurricane Katrina.

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That gets me thinking, have I ever told yall my Katrina “story”? What I was doing/what happened with my family etc.? I know I have posted a couple of pictures, but is that a story yall would be interested in hearing on the blog? Let me know!

Moving on, my parents came for a visit on Saturday and we had a nice time. My mom bought me some maternity clothes from Old Navy and I am so grateful, because especially in the pants/shorts department, I have nothing much I really fit into anymore. Even my yoga pants are starting to cut off my circulation. Sunday we spent waiting on the rain that ended up not coming until the middle of the night. Back to the grind again today, hope everyone has a good day!

QOTD: Would you be interested in hearing my Katrina story?

Power Through the Storm

 

You may remember a little thing called Hurricane Isaac that swept through the Gulf coast back in August. Well I can, with much thanks, say that hurricane season is almost over, and we are pretty much in the clear for another year. There were a lot of scary thoughts going through my head before and during the storm. What if a tree falls on our house? What if we flood? And a big one, what if we lose power for several days? While for my particular family losing power wouldn’t be life threatening like it is for some people who rely on refrigeration and power for medical situations, it was still a scary thought.

Wondering if you will run out of food because you lose everything in the refrigerator. Wondering how you will sleep because it’s 100 degrees outside, and wondering how you will get in touch with family members to check on everyone when you can’t plug in your cell phone. (Or, if you are just obssessed with your cell phone mike me). Also for someone like me who works from home with the assistance of a computer, the thought of being out of work for several days or even weeks is not something I want to have to worry with. It would be nice to be able to rest easy and know that even in this kind of situation, we would be covered.

Thankfully, there IS a solution, and it’s never too early to start planning for next summer. Have you ever heard of a residential standby generator? Kohler makes them, and they are pretty sweet!

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Most people have heard of portable generators. These are the kind I am used to, growing up in hurricane country. They run off of gasoline (not very safe!) and must be used outdoors due to fumes and carbon monoxide poisoning. Having to set your alarm clock to get up and refill it with gas is not fun either.  Also you must plug the things you want powered directly into the generator, with cords running through your house. This works, but it’s just a temporary solution and is not ideal.

In contrast, a residential standby generator permanently connects to the house (think air conditioning unit) and it runs on propane or natural gas, connecting directly into your existing fuel lines. Sweet! My favorite part is, when you lose power, it automatically kicks on after about ten seconds, and you don’t even have to be home for it to come on and work.

Want to know more about how it works? Check out this video for information.

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Also, here are some key things to look for in a generator (Kohler offers all these things!)

A commercial-grade engine that provides clean, consistent power and can handle heavy loads.

·An attractive design. The unit will be installed outside your home, so looks truly matter.

·Corrosion-resistant housing, which is important in areas with salt water.

·Quiet operation.

·An extended warranty. Look for a standby generator with a minimum five-year warranty.

Remember that you are always just one storm away from a power outage, so don’t be caught without a plan. Kohler makes it easy to price and research these generators, so go take a look! #KohlerPower

QOTD: HAve you ever used a generator? Did you even know one like this existed?

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign.
All opinions are my own;

Getting Back to Normal

 

Hurricane Isaac hit back at the end of August, but what people may not realize is that things aren’t quite back to normal for some people around here, but everyone is doing this best to get back to the way things were. I was reminded of this yesterday morning when Bobby and I headed down to the beach just a few miles from our house for a long run of nine miles.

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So…this is the parking lot we always park at when we run at the beach, covered in deep sand, seaweed, and lots of trash buried. In the photo below I backed up so you could see the parking lot.

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This is before we ran, behind me is the beach and water, and a sand filled parking lot.

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We started out on our run, and the pier at the parking lot and the beach were actually still closed as the clean up crews try to get everything looking good again. Every walk down to the beach from the sidewalk we ran along looked like this:

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Well, you can imagine why. This is what the piers looked like DURING the hurricane.

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Yikes. This is what the “sidewalk” we ran along yesterday looked like during Isaac:

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Yeah….Pretty sure it’s “somewhere” between the palm tree and the no left turn sign.

We ran in both directions, and were happy to see bulldozers moving trash, and crews getting rid of the seaweed and adding in some sand. 9 miles later, we were back at the car, drenched, and ready to head home.

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We have learned to bring flip flops and beach towels when we drive somewhere to run so we can get out of our shoes and not get the seats in the car covered in sweat! Doesn’t Bobby look thrilled?

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No, he doesn’t wear his hat like that when he runs. he would be running alone if he did.

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Better. Now fix your goofy hat.

Keep in mind, a trashed beach is just the start. Many people had several feet (as in 8-10) feet of water in their homes, and are having to start over again. Some, for the second time (thanks to Katrina). Just a reminder that even though the sky is sunny and the media coverage of the hurricane where you live is over, it doesn’t mean it isn’t still an every day reality for some people. Be sure to keep them in your prayers, and be thankful always for the blessings in your life (like somewhere dry to sleep). It is a good reminder to us all (myself included!) that things aren’t THAT bad even when we feel like we can’t make it through today. Just felt like sharing that today, thanks for reading friends.

QOTD: What are you thankful for today? I am thankful for a dry home not flooded and ruined by water or wind.

Sprigs Review and Giveaway

 

Good morning! Well, scary morning around here. Isaac is supposed to hit tonight/early tomorrow morning, and we are staying put at the house. Please say a prayer for us during this uncertain time, that the storm calms down and doesn’t cause a lot of damage. My parents are staying at their house just north of New Orleans and I am concerned for their safety as well, being so close to the eye. For those unfamiliar with hurricanes, the east side if the “bad side” to be on as far as storm surge, winds, etc. We are of course, on the east side. It just started raining here about 7:30 am. We have food, water, flashlights, and are as ready as you can be. Yesterday morning we still were not sure if we were staying or going, so Bobby and I did what any rational person would do…we went on a ten mile run! Oh my friends, it was a gorgeous run and a beautiful day! Kind of the “calm before the storm” if you will. It was kind of eerie….it was so beautiful, but here I was running, ad knowing that the conditions would deteriorate very, very rapidly—and soon.

Anyway! Speaking of my run, I tried out this new product I was sent from Sprigs. This is the Banjees Wrist Wallet.

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This is a two sided wallet (check out the reflective strip, safety first!) With a zipper pouch (no worrying about things falling out!) for you to carry small items with you when you run, go to the gym, the beach, etc. I hate carrying things in my hands so this was right up my alley. It was big enough to fit some tissue, and some GU, and didn’t bother me while I ran.

It is made of a light, breathable fabric so it didn’t get heavier/noticeable as I ran and sweated. It was stretchy enough to accommodate the items inside but was still lightweight.

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I highly recommend this product for runners, or anyone who wants to be hands free but doesn’t have pockets. Not to mention, it comes in tons of fun colors and prints!

Sprigs was nice enough to not only supply me with a Banjees Wrist Wallet to give away to a RWS reader, but they also are offering a discount code for you, my awesome readers! Check it out:

RunningWithSass20 valid for 10% off orders up to $29.99 or 20% off orders over $29.99. Valid until 11:59 PM EDT on September 27, 2012.

If you would like to check out Sprigs on Facebook or Twitter and see their other awesome products, be sure to do so with the provided links.

How To Enter:

Leave a separate comment for each:

1.) Tell me which Banjees Wrist Waller color/print you would choose if you won

2.) Tell me how/for what purpose would you use your Banjees Wrist Wallet if you won (running, to the gym, beach, walks,  shopping, hiking, etc.)

3.) Tweet the following! “I want to win a Banjees Wrist Wallet from @sprigsville and @runningwithsass http://runningwithsass.com/sprigs-review-and-giveaway/” (remember my twitter handle is in the tweet so I can see who actually is doing it. :))

Giveaway ends September 5, 2012 at 8:00 CST. I will post a winner on September 6, 2012

Huricane Readiness

 

Oy what a whirlwind. After tracking tropical storm Isaac all weekend, we still have not decided what we are going to do. We are going to wait until about lunchtime today before we decide.

For those of you who do NOT live in a hurricane zone and have no idea what I am talking about, well, here goes. In case you live in a hole, there is a storm coming into the gulf. It already has done some major damage in Haiti, and it is heading, literally, right for us.

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Do you see the “H” in the circle right along the coastline in Mississippi? Yeah….that’s where my house is. Oy. (As of Sunday afternoon, this has since shifted SLIGHTLY west). This thing WAS headed into Florida but keeps shifting west. We aren’t sure if there is going to be a mandatory evacuation or not, only time will tell.

So for those of you unfamiliar with the “fun” of this, let me explain a few of the things we are doing to prepare.

1.) Bring in all patio furniture that could be picked up by wind

2.) Pack up all important documents like passports, social security cards, birth certificates, homeowners insurance, etc.

3.) Pack up keepsakes such as photo albums, baby books, etc. Either bring them with you or put them on a high shelf on the first floor of your home.

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4.) Fill up your cars with gas, and containers with gas for cars/generators (we did this yesterday morning because we knew gas stations would be busy today).

5.) Video tape your entire house for insurance purposes. Growing up, I did this for my family, and now it’s time to do it for my own home.

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6.) Pack a survival kit. We have gathered our flashlights, batteries, canned food, bottled water, etc. to take with us, just in case

7.) East out of your refrigerator and freezer. There is a good chance power will be out for an extended period of time, so we have been trying to eat perishable items first (this means ice cream for dessert tonight!) Such as frozen chicken, cheese/eggs/milk in the fridge, etc.

8.) Have a plan. This is a no brainer.

The storm (as of this morning) is set to make landfall on Tuesday night. let the card games, boredom (and a bit of fear!) begin. Please say a prayer for us if you think about it! I will be back tomorrow with more to report, right before He makes landfall.

QOTD: Would you rather ride out a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake?