The memories. Oh, the memories. Memories I wish I could block out of my subconscious forever and ever, but they refuse to leave.
It's just about been four years since my life was changed by a storm known as Katrina; I wish I could forget, but I can't.
I was living in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the time Katrina roared ashore. I could have gotten to shelter, but not really: I was a poor Cajun woman livin' in the lower Ninth Ward; there was very little in the way of transportation, and it was a dangerous place to live: crime and killings went on just about every night; I was afraid to go out at night. If I did, someone always went with me.
At the time, I was not working. I was barely getting by. I was living on balogna or ham sandwiches, sometimes even just saltine crackers and water: anythin' to get nourishment into my body. The good jobs were elsewhere in The City; it was too far to walk, so I just stayed home and relied on relief agencies to get me through yet another day.
We'd known about The Storm ever since we saw the Weather Channel: TWC kept us informed on her latest position; we took the necessary precautions to protect our lives and property from the storm surge that was surely to follow.
I could have gone to a friend's house to wait out the storm; I then thought it would be better if I stayed home. Big mistake. If that hadn't been the case, maybe I could have ended up unscathed or unaffected (but then again Katrina affected everyone along the Gulf Coast, in particlar, New Orleans, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama, and the Gulfport/Biloxi/Pass Christian areas of Mississippi, who were especially hard hit).
All we could do was wait out the storm when she roared ashore. And pray.
As Sunday evening approached, the weather deterioated. By evening, New Orleans, usually bustling with activitiy, resembled a ghost town: there was nobody to be found. No cars, no people, no animals--nothing. It was chilling, but nothing like what was to come later on that night and early Monday morning.
I was in my little house with a friend, praying to God for Katrina to spare us--or perhaps, veer off unexpectedly in another direction (preferably away from Lousiana, New Orleans). I was never so scared in my life!!
The last thing I remember before my world went black was the lights going out and my friend, screaming: "Look out!! Look out!! Omigod, help us! Look out!"
I was found several days later in the rubble of what had once been my house. Rescue workers said I was alive--but barely. I was in a bad case of shock, and I had serious injuries; I needed immediate medical attention. That I survived was nothing short of a miracle; I found out later that over 1,000 people had perished as a result of Katrina--and many more were still unaccounted for.
It was one of the worst disasters to ever strike the United States ever since the 2001 terrorist attacks of New York City and Washington DC, where nearly 3,000 Americans died.
I have since recovered from my injuries incurred from Katrina; however, my memories still remain as sharp as ever. I can remember every little detail: what I saw, what I smelled, what I heard. It's as though Katrina happened only yesterday; now that Katrina-related stories are being played out on the news as the anniversary approaches, my nightmares, my memories, are only renewed, and I must again deal with the horrific flashbacks.
I haven't slept good for the past week and a half. I am beyond exhausted.
I no longer live in Louisiana. I live in Alaska; have lived here for over a year. I moved to Alaska because I didn't want to have to go through what I experienced in Louisiana ever again. As much as I loved Louisiana, I felt I could no longer live there, not after what Katrina had stolen from me.
Thank God I have Frank to help me get through the memories, but even he doesn't fully understand the magnitude of The Storm or what she did. I have seen things, heard things, smelled things that no human being should ever have to experience, and I still have trouble comprehending the lack of response from the United States or the lack of compassion felt for the victims and their loved ones.
There are still marks of Katrina all over the Gulf Coast, marks that will be around for years to come; the Gulf Coast will never be the same ever again. Many of her people are still displaced or living in new areas (of which I am one); there's doubt that they will ever return home again.
I know I will never forget Katrina; if it were not for her, I would not have a story to tell. She changed my life forever, in ways that I could never even begin to imagine.
And to think that I share one thing in common with a killer storm: my first name. Yes, I am Katrina, but I am seriously thinking of getting my first name changed. I can't live with the memories too much longer: they are eating me alive!
I will go now; I am crying again. Damnit, I hate it when this happens!! Bye now! I will write again another day; now is just not the time!
~Katrina. :( *tears*