In a little over a week most of us on this blog will be remembering (not like we ever forget!) something that happened, that has in some way big or small changed our lives and our families lives forever......Hurricane Katrina.
For those of you who weren't Louisiana citizens when this BEAST came knocking on our doors, let me try to put into words how it felt. Imagine being in one of those water globes, (of course our globe was filled with a Catholic church, crawfish, beer and beignets, what else do you need in life?) Imagine that globe, being your life and all of a sudden some little snot nose brat comes and picks up YOUR globe and turns it over and starts shaking it and shaking it and then all of a sudden they put it back down. That was what it felt like for me, it was that SUDDEN and that INTENSE!
Obviously being born in raised in Southeast Louisiana, hurricanes are just a part of life. Where are we evacuating to this summer? That's just as much a part of your summer plans as where are we going on vacation? My birthday being at the end of August, I could always count on 2 things. School was going to start ON my birthday or there was going to be some kind of system in the Gulf to talk about.
Honestly, I can say that I never thought a major storm would hurt our state, let alone devastate it. Maybe that's ignorant to say but its the truth! We had dodged so many bullets.
On the morning of Monday, August 29th, 2005 our lives would all change in ways we never imagined....
The whole week before the storm, I was making plans for a birthday celebration. I was turning 30 on the 25th and we were going to CELEBRATE! We made plans with all of our friends to meet up on Saturday night (the 27th).
The news was talking about the hurricane all week, most of us didn't even really think anything about it. We said oh well, we will leave on Sunday morning, if we really need to go. By Thursday, my daddy was in full HURRICANE mode. He wanted us to make sure we had rooms booked just in case and gased up our cars. My family is all about leaving for any hurricane, category 1 and over. Brian's family didn't really leave for anything. So it was always a battle to get my husband to leave with me. We were both used to what our parents did. And us Leibfritz's....we get out of dodge! One of our neighbors had family in Sulfur, Louisiana about 3 hours away. So decided if we were going to leave we would go there. Saturday morning I went and got my hair cut, ready for a night out on the town. While I was there, the radio was on. And the weather man said something I have never heard them say before. He said, guys this is not a test. We have potential for multiple deaths and severe flooding. Stacey was at the hairdressers with me and we both decided we should cancel the plans, we would just do it NEXT WEEKEND. Little did I know I wouldn't see my very best friend for months after that day and there wouldn't be a next weekend. The next weekend we were starting a life in Georgia. THAT JUST SOUNDS CRAZY!
Brian and I were suppose to be moving in October or November. We had already excepted a job to move to Georgia.
I drove home (45 minutes) from the hairdresser, the roads were already packed. The gridlock, had just started. I argued with Brian on the phone the whole way home about leaving. WE DO NOT HAVE TO LEAVE, Heidi! It is not coming. It is a waste of gas and money!! Those were his words.
Usually I love to say that my husband was wrong, this time I wish I could of said he wasn't wrong.
We left our home Saturday afternoon, my husband wouldn't help me pack and was basically acting like an (excuse my french) ASS the whole time. What was suppose to be a 3 hour drive, turned into almost 8. If you have never been in an evacuation situation, at 36 hours before the hurricane is suppose to make landfall, they close your interstates down. You can only use them to go out of the state. It's called contraflow (I think) and it is NOT FUN!
People that wait until the last minute to leave, will sit in traffic for hours upon hours. They will run out of gas, cars will over heat. It really is crazy!
We made it to Sulfur at 1:00 in the morning. We had a nice Sunday with our neighbors and spent the day, hoping that Monday was going to be some bad rain and wind and on Tuesday we could go home.
Sunday the 28th was also my little brother Patrick's birthday. I am 21 years and 3 days older than him, there are lots of things that because of the age difference he and I will never share. But we do get to have hurricanes RUIN our birthdays together!!
Brian and I didn't really sleep that Sunday night. I woke up at about 5 and started watching the events unfold.
Now looking back, it was like one of those dreams that you just want to wake up from so badly but you can't.....no matter how many times you try you just can't stop it from happening!
Little by little that day we watched and heard the story's of the CITY'S, STREETS and PLACES we loved been torn apart or flooded!
By that afternoon the levee's hadn't yet broke, it still didn't look good but the worse was yet to come!
We knew by Monday evening we couldn't get back to our house for a few weeks. We didn't know if we even had a house to go back to. Brian's WHOLE family ended up having to stay at OUR HOUSE. It was considered higher ground. We didn't know if they were OK, we knew nothing.
We left Sulfur on Tuesday and decided to go to Georgia. Brian had meetings there and that meant at least we had a hotel. We met with my parents (I don't even remember where now) about 4 hours away before we started on our 8 hour drive to Georgia. THAT WAS A FUN TRIP!
We didn't have "the beast" we had all of us and our stuff in our Intrepid. We had no CD players or DVD players and we are all still alive to tell this story :):):) I HAD TO SEE MY FAMILY, I would of driven an extra 8 hours just to see them.
Early Wednesday morning we made it into Georgia. Brian got about 3 hours of sleep and got up and went to his meetings and I just waited to hear any news about my in laws, my friends, my house.
When something like this happens, you try and keep everything as normal as possible for your kids. So my kids were splashing in the pool, excited because they were off of school and the whole time I just kept thinking, can this be real??
This has already gone a lot longer than I ever expected it to go, but to finish off the story the fastest way. We stayed in 2 hotels for about 9 days. We met up with the Lipani's at some point. They had gotten an apartment and were gracious enough to let us stay with them for a few days, while our rental house was getting furnished. We rented for a month and in that time found our house here. And here I sit almost 3 years later on my computer, crying (I know, I know, what else is new?) telling you guys "OUR STORY". Everyone has one, from that crazy time.......
In the end, everyone that we loved was OK. Lots of damage, lots of items lost, lots of material things gone but all of OUR PEOPLE were safe. And I thank GOD everyday for that!
New Orleans, Louisiana is, what it is. Lots of people think all sorts of different things about it. But it is my birth place, my 3 babies birth place and it is "MY HOME". No matter where in life my husband's wonderful career takes me, it will always be "HOME". And I am PROUD to say that, Y'ALL!!