with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Surviving Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita

We escaped the rage of Hurricane Katrina by evacuating to Atlanta, only to return to Mobile, Alabama, and be threatened by Hurricane Rita. Luckily for us, and unluckily for others, Rita moved to the west, so we’ve missed the full impact, but not the brush by.

The damage around us from Hurricane Katrina would be terrible, if this was an example of the most damage that was done to the area. Compared to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, even New Orleans got off light. There are whole towns wiped off the map in Mississippi, so the few destroyed and flooded homes and massive wind damage here ain’t nothing compared to Mississippi.

The campground has been sold out with the few who leave quickly replaced from the long waiting list. There are even people dry camping down by the old homestead on the river desperate for any place they can find to put their trailer or motor home. The campground owners draw the line at tents, as there are no bathroom facilities to acommodate them, but the requests come in every day. As I mentioned, the campground continues to be filled with insurance adjusters and a few FEMA agents, heading out early in the mornings to start processing claims throughout Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. For most of them, the can’t find a closer place to stay, so they drive hundreds of miles a day into the other states to do their work and drive back to sleep for the night.

I’ve been helping out in the early mornings and late evenings to give the owners some rest. They’ve been working overtime to repair and restore the campsites destroyed by Hurricane Ivan. Most of them are back with water and electricity, though many whine about lack of cable TV. Tough. Comcast just hasn’t gotten back here to finish working on it, and for $20 a night or less (weekly or monthly), then you can suffer without cable TV. Other campgrounds are charging $25 – $50 or more a night. I overheard Diane tell someone on the phone who was complaining, “We’re in a disaster zone – what do you want from us?”

I say be thankful you have a place to stay, water, sewer, and electricity, along with free WIFI. There is news on the Internet and the radio. You don’t have to “see” it, too.

Most of the damage around the campground has been cleaned up, and roofs are slowly being fixed around the neighborhood. Some homes will have to be rebuilt as the flood damage and destruction is just too much, but they are few close to us.

Hurricane Rita brought torrential rains but lasting only brief periods of time. The wind kicked up a bit, but nothing damaging, though the electricity has been going on and off for two days – but it has been going on and off for weeks since Hurricane Katrina. The fear is that the wind will bring down damaged tree limbs that are stuck up in the trees, causing more roof damage and crunching mobile homes and trailers.

So we are safe for now, and watching the news along with everyone else. Our stress level is eternally high, and rarely lowers, but we’re fine.

Thanks for worrying.

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