The Hurricane Katrina Correspondence

The following are excerpts from a series of emails with friends regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina such as the status of our families and their homes.  Most of this was with my friend Syd who still lives in Louisiana, though far enough north to be safe.

However, both his family and mine live in the same town, Slidell, which is just north of Lake Pontchartrain against the border with Mississippi.



9/1/05
>We are hearing, though, that LOTS of houses in Slidell are flooded up to the roofs, so they may not have a home to return to in a day or 2 when they drive back....
Same story with my folks and some other relatives from around that area.  I don't know how bad things are, and neither do they.  I only just talked to my folks for the first time last night [They had gone to a hotel in northern Mississippi with my Uncle and his wife].  They couldn't get through to me to give me a number to call them back for a long time, then they left a message, but didn't leave their number.  I had the number they called from, but it was my uncle's cell phone (they all left together in his van), and the cell phones weren't working at all because the radio tower was completely knocked out.  Apparently they're gradually restoring service.  Fortunately, they got through via a land line, so I have that number now, and hopefully that will stay in operation even though the lines are clogged.  Keep me posted if you hear anything about Slidell.  I don't get as much detailed information at this distance from the area.

Late addition: I just got off the phone with my dad.  One of my cousins is heading into town possibly this weekend and may check out the scene.  I may have some news there.  However, things apparently aren't nearly as bad there as elsewhere.


9/2/05
I talked to my parents today.  They're staying with my uncle (also from Slidell) up in northern MS.  However, they're keeping in touch with a few people who have ventured (or plan to) back to the area.  One of them reported back today that they drove through both my parents' and uncle's neighborhoods.  My parents' house may not have gotten any water in it after all.  For a while I was expecting to hear that it had been completely submerged, so this it surprisingly good news.  On the other hand, my uncle's house seems to have gotten approx. 18" in it, judging from the watermark.  There was also a fallen tree *on* his roof, but that seems not to have done any damage (well, we hope anyway).

Their plans are to all stay in MS for the time being and wait until power is restored to the area.  They don't know when that will be, although I'm guessing it will be on the order of weeks.  Whichever house is restored first, that's where they'll return to and stay until the other house has electricity (and other utilities; I don't know what else isn't working).

I don't keep in touch with anyone else who still lives in the area, so I don't have much more information that than, and it's coming to you 2nd- or even 3rd-hand.  I hope your parents' place fared at least this well.  Keep me posted and I'll do the same.


9/5/05
>I talked to my dad on the phone this morning.
It sounds like it's a bit crazy over there still.  My parents still plan to stay away for a while until power returns.  However, they did get a hold of one of their neighbors.  Actually, the neighbors were out of the state (up in Tenn., actually), but her sister was there cleaning out the fridge before things got really bad.  She said that my parents' place never got *any* water in it, which was something of a surprise.  Not everyone was so lucky, however, the neighbor a couple doors down had their roof collapse, so I don't know how much damage they have now.

There are a few trees (all small) that are leaning and need to be righted, but no major destruction.


9/8/05
It's 9:30pm 9/8/05.  My dad just called and said he's back in Slidell, LA.  They found out the power was back on in his neighborhood, so they headed back that way from where they had been staying in northern MS.  They didn't receive any damage at all from the hurricane.  However, my aunt and uncle (with whom they were staying at a hotel in MS) had ~18" of water in their home.  They also don't have electricity at the moment.  My dad doesn't have cable or a working phone (just my uncle's cell), but that's good enough for the time being, so my aunt and uncle will stay with them for a while until they can move back into their own place.

My mom and dad's neighborhood wasn't hit too badly, but they said the fences are knocked down all over the place.  They lost a few shingles, but are otherwise unaffected except for the missing shingles and their small trees are down.  I don't know how my relatives in New Orleans fared yet.  They were fortunately on the opposite side of the river in Algiers, so they probably saw a lot of water, but none of the flooding from the ruptured levee walls as seen in New Orleans proper.  And then I also have an aunt on the MS gulf coast who was maybe half a mile from the beach.  We don't know if she even has a house at the moment.  The phones are still out in New Orleans (and few people are left there anyway), so they can't call any of her kids to find out what happened to her.


9/13/05
My parents still don't have a working phone, although I just talked to them via my uncle's cell phone.  They're doing fine.  Since their house ended up with water in it and my folks' place didn't, my aunt and uncle are staying over the for long haul, which is probably a really great thing.  He and my dad sometimes didn't get along, but they're also very close.  The odd thing is that they're really stubborn, so they've gotten into arguments about stupid things and just didn't talk to one another for months.  They're now 75 and 77, so it's great that they're getting to spend some time together.  I think this is probably the first time they've slept under the same roof since they were in their teens.

My 85 year old aunt who lives in New Orleans on the other side of the river in Algiers is back up from her refuge in Houston. She hasn't been back to her place yet though.  She's staying with a niece who she's pretty close with and lives not too far from my parents (all of whom live on the other side of the lake from N.O.).  Still no word on my aunt on the Gulf Coast.  Hopefully she's doing okay, although I suspect her house didn't fare so well.


9/15/05
My parents have returned home and they presently have electricity, but no phone or cable (hence, no internet either).  They were very fortunate in that their home was untouched whereas some houses just a few miles away on the coast are no more.  My aunt and uncle that live a few miles away (with whom my parents evacuated) have returned as well, but are staying with my parents for the time being since their home received ~18" of water.

Since few others have phones, we are still not sure of other relatives' status.  I've been acting as a clearing house for exchanging information for many who are either away or who have limited access.  For example, one of my dad's neighbors is in AL with her daughter, so they emailed me for my parents' status and/or alternate contact info while their phone is down.  Similarly, my aunt was able to call me from Houston and I was able to exchange numbers with her for my parents' hotel.  She's back now, although she hasn't returned to her house yet to see what damage occurred on her home.


9/18/05
Another post-Katrina update: My parents have returned home; I can't remember if I told you that in the last update.  They presently have electricity, but no phone or cable (hence, no internet either).

Since few others have phones, we are still not sure of other relatives' status.  I've been acting as a clearing house for exchanging information for many who are either away or who have limited access.  For example, one of my dad's neighbors is in AL with her daughter, so they emailed me for my parents' status and/or alternate contact info while their phone is down.  Similarly, my aunt was able to call me from Houston and I was able to exchange numbers with her for my parents' hotel.  She's back [in Louisiana staying with relatives] now, although she hasn't returned to her house yet to see what damage occurred on her home.

My dad called just last night and told me they (with a neighbor's help) managed to get a severely leaning tree righted again, so things are getting back to normal.  I hope your family's situation is improving as well (e.g., electricity).


Copyright 2005 Alexplorer.
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