September 6, 2010

Labor Day 2005

Filed under: Personal,Pictures — Neil @ 7:00 am

Labor Day 2005 is a day that I’ll never forget.  Hurricane Katrina had struck the week before.  Amanda & I had left New Orleans on August 27.  We packed up a few items (we had already evacuated twice before w/ everything we could fit in our 2 cars) & headed north to stay with my parents.

Following the storm & the ensuing lack of electricity we went to my sisters in Atlanta for a visit.  We figured that we’d be back in school in a week & wanted to make good use of our time.  When we arrived in Atlanta news began to break on how New Orlenas was beginning to fill up w/ water.

While we were in Atlanta it was announced that residents of Jefferson Parish would be able to return to their homes beginning on Labor Day.  There was still no electricity or gas in central MS so we bought all of the necessary supplies we’d need for the move in Atlanta.  We bought a hitch cargo rack & all (5?) the 5 gallon gas cans that would fit on it.  We knew that we would have to take gas w/ us to New Orleans in order to be able to get back to my parents home.

Before driving back to my parents we made a stop in rural (rural as in a “town” w/ not even a blinking light) Alabama.  We spent the night.  The next morning we headed out in search of filling up our vehicle w/ gas & the 5 gas cans.  The maximum amount of gas that you could buy at the local gas station was $10 worth.  I needed much more.  I told the store owner our story.  He was a bit skeptical, but he allowed me to fill up our vehicle & the 5 gas cans (I got many angry looks while I purchased 40 gallons of gasoline that morning).  We made it home to MS later that afternoon.

We now realized that there would be no going back to New Orleans for a long time.  We needed to our move all of our belongings in our 2 bedroom apartment (our apartment was not flooded) back to Mississippi.  The problem was there were no moving trucks available for rent.  A deacon at the church I had served let us borrow his cattle trailor.  So, we moved most of our belongings in a cattle trailor.  Amanda loved the fact that her dining table was tied to the top of a cattle trailor!

It was a wild day.  Amanda’s brother pulled the cattle trailor w/ his truck & we had 2 other vehicles.  Traffic was horrific.  At about Hammond (60 miles north of New Orleans) you had to exit off of I-55 onto Hwy. 51.  We sat in traffic for hours.  Hwy 51 is just barely above the water level.  The smell was awful.  We were a total standstill for most of the time.

We finally made it.  Loaded most everything up & headed back home.  My biggest mistake that day? Opening our freezer to find sevral pounds of shrimp that I had bought the day before we had left.  I can still smell it.  We returned the next day to retrieve the rest of our items (the air conditioning went out in our truck on our way to New Orleans.  Another fun day.).

In January we were finally able to go to Amanda’s school to see her classroom.  Her classroom remained almost exactly as she’d left in on the Friday before the storm (the school received about 12 ft of water, but her room was on the 2nd floor).

It was a loooong, hot, miserable day that I hope I never have to repeat.


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