Katrina+4 years

2009 August 29
by Don Hammack

Here’s are crappy things about Hurricane Katrina:

  1. I lost my house. Yeah, pretty crappy. It happened to lots of us. It’s no fun. I’ve got a slab in West Gulfport that’s not much fun to look at. It’s a hassle to pay taxes on, keep the grass knocked down. I should probably sell the lot, but the house was my grandmother’s and there’s an emotional attachment. I think selling it would help me, and my folks. Rip the bandage off finally. But I haven’t seriously entertained that thought.
  2. I’ve had nine different addresses (I think) since then. Luckily, I think I can unpack my boxes and stay awhile at this place. At least, once we get the floors down.
  3. My parents lived in a FEMA trailer for far too long. I’m thankful I never did it. It would have helped some on the monetary front, but I could afford not to. Without even counting formaldehyde, that’s a crappy way to live.
  4. We’ve all spent the last four years looking at Katrina+1 week, Katrina+1 month, Katrina+1 year, etc. Carla and I have moved from Gulfport to Biloxi, and I don’t drive along U.S. 90 as much as I used to. I think there’s gotta be significant psychological scarring from that daily “Oh, remember when that was there?” as you pass vacant lot after vacant lot.
  5. There’s the psychological scarring. My mom grew up in Gulfport. Her family lost five houses in Hurricane Camille in 1969. (We got off easy this time, losing two outright and “only” gutting one other. Yay.) I was 2 years old when it hit, so I could never judge it, but everybody always said my grandmother was never the same after Camille. I know I’m not the same as I was before Katrina. I’m quicker to anger, for which I’m sorry to all. I’m working on that, but not always doing very well.

Here is a good thing about Hurricane Katrina:

  1. I’ve got lots of good friends. I got a lot of stuff after the storm from friends I know and didn’t know I had. Carla doesn’t understand the emotional attachment to clothing from the Katrina Closet at work sent by folks around the country, but it’s hard for me to give it away. I know I should. I had friends send me care packages of clothes and music. I stayed with a bunch of different people immediately after the storm. So many great friends for whom I’ll never be able to do enough to repay them.

Here is a great thing about Hurricane Katrina:

  1. Carla. I never would have met if it wasn’t for the storm. My schedule changed at work, my circle of friends shifted slightly and *bang* I met her. She makes me happy. I think I make her happy (except for that area where her neatness meets my sloppiness, but I’ve made serious progress there).I was asked moments after the paper won the Pulitzer about my feelings. That was a hard day for me. We earned that award, and I’ve never been more proud professionally. But winning that award was not worth it. Not worth the pain I suffered, much less worth the pain multiplied by the hundreds of thousands affected by the storm, many who lost way more than I did. Lives lost, houses destroyed, possessions lost, minds affected. Not worth it at all.But, if somebody told me on Aug. 28, 2005, that Hurricane Katrina would wipe out my home and only my home, nobody else’s, that my friends and family would be OK physically, but I’d get to meet Carla. Would I take that deal?In a heartbeat. Something great did come from Katrina, and it helps make living with all the crap easier.
9 Responses leave one →
  1. 2009 August 29
    Christine permalink

    Love ya.

  2. 2009 August 29

    beautifully written, Don. Especially the part about Carla!

  3. 2009 August 29
    judy permalink

    could you put this to song? Carla….. what a guy!!!

  4. 2009 August 29
    Robin Barnett permalink

    Well said and wonderfully heart-felt! It’s a difficult thing to live through for us all but it is also quite comforting to know there are others to share it with you. Thanks!

  5. 2009 August 29
    Tony D permalink

    Those of us on the “outside” can only imagine how lives across the coast were truly impacted. Your perspective is greatly appreciated….

  6. 2009 August 30
    Tammy Trice permalink

    WOW, DH! This brought tears to my eyes. She is lucky to have such a wonderful man. Of all the bad, came the best! I am SO happy for both of you.

  7. 2009 August 30
    Tammy Riser permalink

    Oh Don! Carla is very lucky to have a man that loves her the way you do. I’m predicting a happy life for the two of you.

  8. 2009 August 31
    John permalink

    glad to find your site, Don… nice post

  9. 2013 May 1
    Margaret permalink

    Just reading this all these years later. Excellent. What a talent you are!

    P.S. I’m quicker to anger too. That hit home for me. I’m still working on that one.

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