with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Hurricane Katrina – This is Our Life

The wizard known as Rincewind lurched into the room, white-faced, and stopped in front of the table.
“I do not wish to volunteer for this mission.” he said.
“I beg your pardon?” said Lord Vetinari.
“I do not wish to volunteer, sir.”
“No one was asking you to.”
Rincewind wagged a weary finger. “Oh, but they will, sir. they will. Someone will say: hey, that Rincewind fella, he’s the adventurous sort, he knows the Horde, Cohen seems to like him, he knows all there is to know about cruel and unusual geography, he’d be just the job for something like this.” He sighed. “And then I’ll run away, and probably hide in a crate somewhere that’ll be loaded on to the flying machine in any case.”
“Will you?”
“Probably, sir. Or there’ll be a whole string of accidents that end up causing the same tiling. Trust me. sir, I know how my life works. So I thought I’d better cut through the whole tedious business and come along and tell you I don’t wish to volunteer.”
“I think you’ve left out a logical step somewhere,” said the Patrician.
“No, sir. It’s very simple. I’m volunteering. I just don’t wish to. But, after all, when did that ever have anything to do with anything?”
“He’s got a point, you know,” said Ridcully. “He seems to come back from all sorts of-”
“You see?” Rincewind gave Lord Vetinari a jaded smile. “I’ve been living my life for a long time. I know how it works.”
The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett

Welcome to the story of our life. We volunteered because we knew that it would happen to us anyway, so why not beat fate to the punch.

We arrive from five years of terrorist suicide bombings and wars in the Middle East just in time for the worst hurricane season on record. We know how our life works.

In Atlanta, about 350 miles northeast of Mobile, Alabama, we hoped the storm would wrap around us and that we would be far enough away. The storm did hit us, but only the outer rings of wind and rain, which caused tornado warnings all over Georgia and massive flooding, but nothing of the scale hitting the Gulf Shores area we’d left behind. Hurricane Katrina left marks and scars on the Gulf Coast area that will take decades to heal.

There is no cable hookups here in this campground that we can find so we’re getting what news we can from the Internet and radio, as well as a few people who call us, checking on us and reporting on their state of affairs left in Mobile.

The storm surge brought water into downtown Mobile high enough to cover the parking meters and almost to one story depth in places. The airports were closed and there is wind and tree damage everywhere. Many signs, windows, and buildings were damaged by flying debris as well as flooding. Winds peaked over 100 mph there.

I called our campground hosts at Shady Acres Campground and they said that the river rose up, flooding the lower, older house (build in 1947 and never flooded before), but came up just below the newer house, build up on a rise above the river and other house. Trees are down all over the campground, some falling with damaging results on trailers that didn’t leave and mobile homes which couldn’t. Charlie says we won’t recognize the place when we get back, there are so many trees down. What leaves were left on the trees are gone and while the flood waters have receded, the ground is like a sponge, especially with this rainy season and previous hurricanes dumping tons of water. It’s mud and muck everywhere.

The power is out and he’s not sure when they are going to get to that little neck of the woods of nearby downtown Mobile. The trees are down over the power lines, including trees he’s been warning the power company about for 9 months that have been leaning and threatening to go down since Ivan. While most of the roads are now clear, they are still driving around downed trees along the road.

I’m trying to reach Brent’s office to see what the damage is there. Brent was wise enough to get a bunch of huge plastic garbage bags and pack up the work-related belongings into them and put them up high on this desk, just in case. His most important books and paperwork he brought home to the trailer.

The damage throughout the Gulf Coast has been horrible, with the typical fashion of mother nature with some homes and buildings destroyed while the others sit untouched next door. But the flood damage was fairly universal, with miles and miles of area underwater from 1 to 3 meters. The mess left behind is going to be terrific to clean up.

Currently, the death toll is just over 50, which is lucky. Most of the dead were in Mississippi, in parts where the people are poor and unable to get away from the storm for lack of transportation and money. And a few of those number went out in the storm to either play and be foolish or check on something outside and were killed by flying debris. I hope future plans include bringing in buses to get people out of the path of a storm instead of just relying upon their personal transportation. Very sad stuff. It could have been much worse.

We’ll be here a few more days, waiting for power and roads to clear, and then return back to our work in Mobile. It looks pretty clear that another tropical depression – possible hurricane – coming up behind will turn east out into the Atlantic, avoiding the US for now. Who knows what is coming up behind it.

Hurricane Katrina is already estimated to be the most expensive hurricane in recorded history, and let’s hope it doesn’t beat the rest of the records.

So, we are safe and sweating in Atlanta, Georgia, and Brent made it to his meeting today, so he’s a happier boy.

One Comment

  • Posted September 1, 2005 at 21:53 | Permalink

    I’ve donated money, but it’s frustrating that my money will probably go to the restoration of New Orleans several months from now instead of food and water to the people who really need it right now. I can’t believe this is America.

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  • [...] States the next morning, bringing death and complete destruction. It followed us up to Atlanta, hitting us with floods, tornadoes, death, and destruction hundreds of miles from landfall. When we returned a week later, the campground that had been our [...]

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