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Chapter 6 Katrina living in a nightmare

FEMA had not opened a center on the Coast at the time. There was one 800 number for an untold amount of people needing help. No telephone lines were working not even at the hotel. We took turns dialing on our cell phones when one cell needing charging we would charge it and start dialing on the other one. We were very lucky, we both had cell phones. To get a number, most of the time it took hours to get in. It took Buster several days just to register with FEMA.

One day I watched him trying to tell our information six or seven times. He would almost have the registration completed and the cell dropped his call. Only to start over dialing over and over to get back to FEMA. He stood tall, he never gave up then he did it, bless his heart he finally completed the forms.

He told them of our plight the credit card was almost at the limit, we had no where to go. FEMA promised to pay the room for us, it might take a while. We told the hotel manager FEMA said they would pay for the room, he said okay. We had been in the hotel room for a little over two weeks when we got a phone working in our room, It was easier to contact FEMA!!

To say the least we were getting a bit jumpy, some call it cabin fever! The Coast was under curfew we had to be back in the hotel by dark. With only the fuzzy TV there was not a lot to do, but get on each others ONE GOOD NERVE!

Okay this makes me laugh every time I think about it now but not then! Most people have been in a hotel room, you know the lay out. The front door, the bed, the sink and the bathroom. Every hotel I've stayed in, not that I'm a world traveler. I've stayed at only seven or eight, we very seldom stayed in a hotel. As far as I know this pretty much describes the normal room. (right? )

Every night he would be laying on the bed watching that fuzzy TV. I would be in my chair by the only door on the cell trying to reach family and friends almost eveytime I got up walking away from the only door he would ask " where are you going?" I can't prove it and he will not admit it, but I think he was trying his luck or my patients one.

Well, by this time I was all out of patients! I tried, I promise I really tried as a rule I failed miserably. I'd go nuts, and say NOW LET ME SEE??? Where would I be going??? To brush my teeth, comb my hair or to the bathroom! Gosh such tuff choices with so many options! Then he would have the never to say are you upset? I was just asking." It was not a repeat of those words each night, only on his part.

Sometimes mine were a little more heated.

We had looked everywhere we could think of to find a place with at the very least, let me see three rooms and two doors. Then when he asked his famous question I could have more options to choose from.

Our third week in the hotel room my sister called. She had met a woman and man, they had two small places they would rent in Ocean Springs. I called Mr. Stan I said to him "we want them, we want them both! One for us and one for our son and his family." He was very nice " you have not even looked at them, they need cleaning up a little from the storm. They are not very big but you are welcome to come see them." I replied We WANT THEM!! he laughed and said he would meet us there. We rented them both that day on the 18th of September.

Buster had told me on the way back we had to wait for a phone line, maybe we would get a line by the 20th. If not he would have the line at the hotel for another week. We made it that final week just fine, he stopped asking me " where you going?"

On the twenty seventh we moved to our new rented cottage. I had called the telephone company to have our lines moved to the new location. She took all the new information, then told me the GREAT news! We would have phones by the first of the year or December! I almost fainted, " not until December or the first of the year?" Then I really had to compose myself when he sweetly replied " you do know Katrina, almost cleaned out the Gulf Coast, right?" My reply "OH MY GOODNESS I had wondered what the heck had happened!Well, now I do feel better, let me dash and tell everyone what happened!" She then started laughing and said "I will try to get it as soon as I can."

We went to the cottage almost everyday, when we had rented it we had a stove and refrigerator, they came with the cottage. Each time we went more things were added. The cabinets were full of food as well as the refrigerator. Our daughter Lauria went to churches and distribution centers to get the food for us. She did the same for my son and his family, Jackie and Jacee.

Lauria and her children had gotten us a coffee maker, microwave, toaster and a few towels, pots and pans. She had also gotten a bed, sofa, love seat, table with two chairs. She had it set up so we just needed to move in. We even a small black and white TV with an antenna and it came in better than the one at the hotel.

The first night we were there it hit me! We had really lost our home of over thirty years on Hoxie St. I think even after seeing it falling in with mud everywhere I still had hope we had a home. When we had gone by before, we could go back to the hotel. Most people didn't stay at a hotel for a month. I must have had it somewhere in the back of my mind that we were on some kind of odd ball vacation.

Isn't it strange how a mind can fix things for you so you don't have to have a reality check? Well I got one that night and had to cash it!I stayed up until well after midnight hanging pictures on the walls, I was making a new home. When we got up the next day I knew it had not worked we had lost our home on Hoxie St., it was gone forever!

Please don't get me wrong the cottage was adorable, sitting just beside the state park. Little animals playing in the beautiful yard birds singing, but it was not home. I can tell you this if I never and I mean never stay over two or three days in a hotel room again it would be way too soon.

Oh by the way, FEMA did come through for us they paid for the room, well gave us a check then we sent it to the credit card company. They also agreed to help us with the rent on the cottage.

I have used this poem in a couple of my books, it is among my favorites It really fits in with this chapter. It is called " I'm thankful.

I'm thankful none of my family died in Katrina, even if we lost almost everything we had each other, we were alive. We had friends that didn't make it.

My husband, son his family and I had a nice place to sleep. Most people were in tents or what was left of their homes, others were sleeping on the ground .


I was driving down a country lane one cold November day,

Thinking of Thanksgivings past, and the one that was on the way.

I was not going to cook this year, I did not even care,

I saw a tall Oak tree, an old man was sitting there.

He looked so cold and lonely, I pulled over for a bit,

He looked up smiled at me, invited me to sit.

He said my name is Henry, I've lived here most of my life,

I met my Mary Lou under this tree, one month later she was my wife.

We built a house just over there, lived together for sixty two years,

She give me thirteen children, when I think of them I have tears.

My Mary went to Jesus, about ten years ago,

I'm thankful for the time we had, I loved my Mary so.

I remember the year the fever hit; she sat by our babies' bed,

God called nine up with Him, my Mary bowed her head.

I'm thankful, Lord, that You saw fit to have these children for a while,

As I sat and cried from my heart, I saw my Mary smile.

We lost two boys in that great war, they died for what was right,

Yes, they are gone but will always be forever in my sight.

Last year my oldest daughter went home with the rest,

I'm thankful to God she did not hurt, God always knows what's best.

It was time to say good bye to this sweet old man,

As I stood up he reached out, gently took my hand.

He smiled and said be thankful for all your tests,

Give it all to Jesus, He will do the rest.

I had only taken a few steps when a chill filled the air,

I saw an Eagle taking flight, as I turned the old man was not there.

Dear God help me to be thankful, never lose my faith,

A miracle is waiting; all I must do is wait.

ęcopyright 11/13/02

~ Johnnie Oakes ~

FOOT NOTE: It is amazing how a poem I did in 2002, seems so right for this chapter four years later.