An Unexpected Life-Changing Trip - My Family Travels

It was 5:00 am on Sunday, August 28, 2005 in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, when I was woken up by my parents and told that we had to leave the house immediately. I asked why. They told me to watch the weather channel.

 

I ran into the living room, and the weather channel was on. The projected path of Hurricane Katrina was still aiming towards the Louisiana-Mississippi border with the worse side of the storm aiming for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where our house was. I noticed, however, that the wind speeds went from 105 mph to 170 mph overnight.

It was now a Category Five, the worst type hurricane, so we had to leave fast. Luckily, we packed the night before, so we put suitcases of clothes, snacks, and water into our van. Then, my mom, my dad, my brother, my dog, and I all piled into the van and drove toward my aunt’s house.My aunt lived three hours away in Jackson, MS.

About an hour into the drive, my mom flipped on the radio. Katrina was expected to make landfall the next day, but the outer winds would reach Ocean Springs sooner. With everyone evacuating, traffic was horrible.

The three hour drive turned into a six hour drive. We arrived at my aunt’s house around 4:00 pm. I was scared for my friends who didn’t evacuate, so I attempted to contact them through email.

I got through to one of them who said that the rain already started in Ocean Springs on Sunday evening. I was even more nervous because Katrina would probably hit Jackson, too.The next day Katrina made landfall around 6 am. I woke up to wind and rain.

After a few hours, the power came back on. Water started seeping through the back door and soaked the carpet’s edge. It smelled like a wet rag.

I went to the front and watched as the winds threatened to blow shingles off of a roof. Finally, the storm passed. Now, we had to deal with the worst part of Katrina: the aftermath.Later that day we watched the news non-stop.

In the Jackson area, there were gasoline shortages, several communities were without power, and a couple people died. I was panicking. If it was this bad up here, I couldn’t imagine how it was along the Gulf Coast. The next day, there was still no news of the Gulf Coast. The news reports told people to wait a few days before returning to the Gulf Coast.

I was scared for my friends because I hadn’t had any contact with them since the night before the storm. Then a couple days after the storm, my friend called!  However, I lost her immediately. I called back and got her for a few seconds then lost her again. The phone towers were having problems, but I managed to have a broken conversation with her. Through her, I discovered that most of the stores were closed except a few that ran on generators. People lined up to get ice. An elementary school lost a wall. Her house was gone, and she was staying with relatives. She had no idea on the status of my house. I thanked her and said goodbye.

I went inside and saw footage of the Gulf Coast on TV. Only then did I realize how bad this was. Casinos beached, bridges demolished, and New Orleans flooded. The damage shocked everyone. We saw an aerial picture of our house. It looked intact, so my parents decided to go to Ocean Springs to see the house. They left Saturday morning, and I anxiously waited all day for their return.They returned later that night and said that the house was flooded, and that my brother and I would go with them tomorrow to see it.

A week after the hurricane, my family and I drove toward our house. As we drove, the damage got worse. Finally, we reached my neighborhood and pulled into our driveway.When I stepped into my house, I was overwhelmed by the smell of a thousand wet rags. Books from my room lay ruined in the living room. Mold grew on the walls and furniture. The refrigerator was horrendous. I ran outside to get fresh air.As I saw the ruined contents of our house, I realized how meaningless objects were. I also remembered how scared I was for everyone in Jackson, and how lucky I was to have my family and friends alive.

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