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The University of Mississippi

Hurricane Katrina

Posted on: August 28th, 2015 by gegero
Photo by UM Communications

Photo by UM Communications

Chan Booker, PY1

Hurricane Katrina was truly an experience that I will never forget. It probably had one of the biggest impacts on my life. Now, 10 years later, there are several events from Hurricane Katrina that I still remember like they happened yesterday. Some of these events were positive, while some of them I wish I could forget.

Hurricane Katrina overall was a very intense situation, but there is one moment that I feel was much more intense than the others. When the floodwaters began to rise, my family had to make a critical decision. At our house, we had several family members over, several cousins, aunts, uncles and even toddlers. In all there were about 12 people at my house during the hurricane. At first, everything was calm, and it just seemed to be another storm that we had seen several times before. Soon after, the floodwaters started rising. After about an hour the floodwaters had risen to a level of about three feet. That was when things started getting intense. My family was stuck between the decision to climb in the attic or attempt to swim out of the house to higher ground. After deliberating, we decided that swimming to higher ground would be the best bet. Somehow I was the leader of the pack. I climbed out of the back window of my parents’ bedroom and led my family to the highway, where the floodwaters had not reached yet. As I was treading through the water I remember being slightly afraid but not panicking. The water was about chest level as I swam through it. In order to get to safety, we had to jump a fence and swim through a huge ditch! It was a very intense moment. All in all, we all made it to safety on the highway. Luckily, a friend that lived down the street was able to salvage one of their cars. They were nice enough to drive us to my grandmother’s house which did not flood. We were extremely blessed during Hurricane Katrina. No one was injured or anything in my family.

After the initial storm hit, everything was basically destroyed. Every house in my entire neighborhood had flooded and no one had anything. I remember waiting in lines to get water and food. One time, we waited in line for 24 hours just to get a generator from Lowe’s. Although there was a lot of chaos going on, I remember everyone in my community having a positive attitude and being upbeat. Everyone helped out where they could. My community really came together after Hurricane Katrina. I remember everyone helping to clean houses, moving tree limbs and assisting in any way they could. Throughout the community people would have big cookouts. Foods like fried catfish and barbecue were served and everyone ate together. My family as a whole definitely came together after Hurricane Katrina. Several family members’ houses were damaged so we all stayed in one house. There were over 25 people living in a three-bedroom house. I don’t remember anyone complaining or being upset; we just did what we had to do. I do remember a lot of laughter, playing games as a huge group and tons of fellowship with my family.

10 years later several things have changed. There are only remnant memories of Hurricane Katrina. My hometown, (Moss Point, MS) has rebuilt since Katrina. We have a new city hall, fire department and several new businesses. Nearly all the residents have rebuilt their homes and things seem to be back to normal. The Mississippi Gulf Coast as a whole is better than ever now. Cities like D’Iberville, Mississippi have drastically developed and have shopping centers and movie theaters. Biloxi has rebuilt all the casinos and has reemerged as one of the best tourist spots on the coast. From a visitor’s perspective, everything would seem normal. However, some things will never be replaced; like the bridge that was destroyed or one of my favorite restaurants, O’Charley’s, that was never rebuilt. Things like that are only distant memories for people that were born and raised on the Gulf Coast. Nowadays, you don’t hear people talking as much about Hurricane Katrina. For some, the events left a bad taste in their mouths. I feel that the events of Hurricane Katrina had mixed outcomes. Some of the events were positive, and as we all know some devastating. One thing is for sure, I will never forget August 29, 2005.