4/07/2008

Hurricane Katrina: Part I

Shortly after my divorce, I moved back to the Alabama gulf coast. I was not sure what I was going to do or even where I intended to live. As luck would have it, my nephew asked me if I would be interested in buying a house together. Buying a home (something I would like to discuss in a later blog entry) can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of your life. It can also be a real pain and cause you a lot of sleepless nights if you don't mind your P's and Q's.

Anyway, we bought a home in an old neighborhood. It wasn't as nice a home as the one my ex-wife and I had. But, at the point I was in life, at that time, it was like a mansion to me. There were a few things that needed fixing up. But, over all, I couldn't have been more pleased with our new home. We moved in the first week of June of 2005. Now, living on the gulf coast, there are many advantages. Great seafood, deep sea fishing, beautiful beaches and many historic landmarks. There are are also disadvantages. Drivers that don't know their cars have these new fangled things call "turn signals", heat and humidity that can be dangerous in summer months, and skyrocketing real estate prices. Of course, the biggest disadvantage is the gulf itself. Hurricanes are always a threat to one's livelihood, home, property and personal safety. During my time, I've experienced many hurricanes living on the gulf coast. Hurricane Camille was the standard for many years. Hurricane Frederic (1979) was the standard that people in Mobile, AL used to measure hurricanes. But, the hurricane that everyone on the gulf now uses and, most likely, always will, is Hurricane Katrina. It is impossible to imagine a worse hurricane. It's possible we may have a worse hurricane at some point in the future. I don't like to even think about that possiblity. Just the very mention of the name "Katrina" sends cold shivers down the spine. Katrina has become the byword for disaster, mayhem, fear...and death on the gulf.

As I said, I moved into our new home in the first week in June of 2005. I came back to the gulf coast just in time for Hurricane Dennis which hit the gulf coast the first week in July of 2005. Pensacola, FL took the full brunt of this Cat 4 hurricane. Mobile got the west side of the storm (the lesser of strong winds) and suffered minimal damage. Little did we know this was only the beginning of the hurricane season. We had a tropical storm shortly after this and we still didn't think much of it. I was still in the process of bringing stuff that belonged to me from a self-storage facility in Florence, AL, about 400 miles north of Mobile, AL. I made my last trip on August 9, 2005 and was bringing in the last of my clothes, electronics, etc., when my nephew told me about this tropical storm that was showing a very rapid rise in strength. He said it had crossed over southern FL as a Cat 1 hurricane and was rapidly gaining strength. It was at this time we both took notice of the storm. We decided to go to Home Depot and buy the essentials that have become a habit of living on the gulf; battieries, bottled water, canned food, flashlights and so on. We were prepared or so we thought. We both boarded up the house as best we could on August 27th and waited to see where Katrina was heading. We heard many times it was headed straight for Mobile, packing 165MPH winds (which would have ripped the roofs off homes quite easily). Still, we didn't think that it was going to be THAT bad.

We couldn't have been more wrong. Part II tomorrow.

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