Thursday, September 01, 2005

Lagniappe: Katrina Recovery - First off, we are all fine in the immediate Huck family. We have also heard from most of the extended family, and everyone appears to be fine. Once my wife and I realized that the storm track wasn't likely to change and that Katrina was growing in intensity, we prepared the house for the worst, packed up what we could of valuables, secured what we could, and left for my parents house across the lake in Abita Springs.

At my parents house were my family (wife and two daughters), my brother's family (wife and two children), my two sisters and their families (husbands and children), my paternal grandmother, and a family friend whose husband was away overseas.

One of my brothers who is a Jesuit stayed in New Orleans at the Jesuit residence at Jesuit High School, a solid structure with four floors. We have heard from him and he is fine. He is now out of New Orleans and is being bussed to his community residence in Grand Coteaux, Louisiana, which is near to Lafayette.

Being in Abita Springs was not much better than being on the southshore given that we were about 15 miles west of the eye wall of the hurricane. We spent a very scary couple of hours during the storm's worst; but my parents' house and the convoy of vehicles as well as all of the vital equipment necessary for survival were unscathed.

We prayed about 5 rosaries as a family over a period of 12-18 hours and we are all convinced that God had a hand in keeping us safe.

Thank God my dad is a self-sufficient type, because his house was well prepared. Even though we lost power, phone service, and cell phone service, we turned out all right. My parents house has a 20KW generator fueled by a large propane tank, which had almost 75 gallons of propane fuel in it. It wasn't filled to capacity, but it was more than enough for what we needed.

As for running water, my parents have their own well system, the pump of which runs as long as we have generated power. The house is also equipped with a septic tank and waste disposal system which means that we are able to flush toilets and drain sinks and tubs. And we are stocked with plenty of food. We also have a couple of 5KW gas generators which we use to keep the refrigerator on when we turn off the main generator to conserve our propane fuel.

We have five vehichles at our disposal: two cars and three pickup trucks. All the gass tanks are full and we have about 40 gallons of gasoline in containers in reserve.

Today, Thursday, our ground telephone service has been restored, which allows us to call out anywhere except in the Greater New Orleans area. For this reason, I am also able to make this posting.

Once we realized the extent of the damage and the long time for the recovery, we sent the wives and kids up to family and relatives in various parts of the country. For my family's part, the wife and kids are safely in South Carolina at my Mother-in-Law's house. I was able to speak with them this morning and we are thinking about an intermediate term plan for survival there -- schools for the kids, insurance claims, temporary jobs, etc.

I have still not seen my house in New Orleans and I have yet to see any aerial photographs of my neighborhood. I live in the Fountainbleau area of New Orleans -- very near to the Notre Dame seminary about a half mile off of Carrollton Ave. on Pine Street. If anyone knows what the situation on the ground is in that area, please leave me a note in the comments section.

My area generally does not flood during normal circumstances. We didn't get any water during Hurricane Lily, for instance. In fact, it didn't even rise above the curb suring that srorm. But Katrina is another thing altogether. And I suspect that a part of my house is underwater.

Providing that there has been minimal damage to the house from the winds and falling trees (which is a big assumption since my house was surrounded by some very big, heavy trees), we should be o.k. as far as the flooding is concerned. The good thing about my house is that the main living area was about 9 feet off the ground. Our bottom floor, which served as a basement of sorts, is probably flooded, but I have no idea how high. Even the bottom floor is about 2-3 feet up from the street level, but that probably means very little.

I don't know quite what to say anymore. It is just so emotionally draining and overwhelming. And to hear the stories of looting is almost enough to turn me into a "shoot-to-kill" vigilante justice advocate. (Just kidding!!). Seriously, though, it has been very disheartening to hear of the looting.

But it is true. The devastation is immense. Orders of magnitude above anything anyone anywhere could ever conceive of. And the emotional and psychological trauma done to people, even people from New Orleans who are watching the scenes from a comfortable hotel room or relative/friend's home far away, will require attention and care.

It is just unbelievably sad and stressful.

But, we aren't giving up. We have hope.

I said in my previous post that we were ready for Katrina and that she should bring it on. Well, she brought it on and it brought us to our knees; but I stand by my positive, challenging tone. We'll beat her yet! Thanks for your prayers. I'll keep you updated as I can.


oyster said...

Very glad to hear that you are safe. We live(d) in the Fountainebleau area near Nashville and are similarly interested as to how the neighborhood faired.

God bless you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jimmy- It's Kate Schuenke. So glad I found you and I am so happy you and yours are okay. I have and will continue to pray for all of you. Once again, I am SO RELIEVED that you are okay!!! May God continue to bless and keep you. abrazos...

Julie Palmer said...

Jimmy -
So glad you and Michele, Daisy & Ella Rose are safe and sound. Glad to hear your entire family made it safely thru the storm. If there is anything we can do please don't hesitate to let us know. And you're always welcome to stay with us in Boston if you're in the neighborhood!
Good-Luck with everything and please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

thank goodness you all are okay! I've been thinking of you and the family - the whole family! and am so happy to hear that you all are safe.
Erica Roggeveen

Anonymous said...

I am a friend of Michele's from high school and she came to visit me in March in VA. Please let her know that we are praying for your family. I am so glad that you all are safe.
Meredith Johnson