During the next several weeks, lots of little life things occurred.
I fought with my bosses over leaving Mississippi and going to Houston with the rest of my unit. I finally got them to send me a laptop and all the accoutrements so I could work from my uncle’s house until we could find housing elsewhere.
We discovered we had an office located in Flowood, MS and convinced the powers that be that it would be cheaper to rent an apartment for myself and my mom (we both worked for the same insurance company) to live in until the office in Metairie opened up again. After that, if we couldn’t come home, the insurance would pay for the apartment.
I worried about light of my life and school.
See, she was supposed to have started kindergarten the day after Katrina hit.
Can you guess what happened?
Yeah, she didn’t start school on time.
We moved to Flowood the last week of September. We had a nice little 2-bedroom apartment in a safe complex that was literally within walking distance of the office we were going to work in. We were 3 miles from light of my life’s school. Due to my Katrina circumstances, I got free after school care for light of my life. We got a $25 gift certificate from Kroger to go towards school supplies. People in the office we were working out of brought us some cold weather clothes. While we were still up at my grandmother’s, we got Red Cross assistance, which was about $800+ to use at Wal-Mart. We purchased sheets, air mattresses, cold weather clothes (all we had was summer clothing and it gets chilly in September), utensils, dishes, toiletries, toys, books, chairs, I managed to have enough left over to get a TV for the apartment. Between my mom’s money (about $600 or so) and mine, we had enough to make a dent in furnishing the apartment.
During all this time, however, we still had not gotten a chance to get back down to New Orleans to check on our house. While were busy trying to build a new temporary life in Flowood, we still had MAJOR unfinished business in New Orleans.
We still had no clue for what waited us when we got home.
We were going to go down to New Orleans the weekend before we moved to Flowood, but we were told by our esteemed (insert sarcasm here, please) mayor that certain zip codes would not be allowed back at this time due to the impending Hurricane Rita.
So, we wait…again…to get our first glimpse of home.
Finally, finally, on the first weekend in October, we got a chance to do a look and leave.
This basically meant that we got to go to our houses during daylight hours (there was a strict curfew in the city at this time), look at the damages and then leave. We were not allowed to stay for any reason.
Not that you would have wanted to, anyway.
Since we didn’t know what to expect, we got our rubber boots (for some reason, we thought to evacuate with them…go figure), tons and tons of garbage bags (remember, we had 2 refrigerators that had been sitting for over a month in tropical heat w/no electricity), flashlights, the special masks you were supposed to use to protect against inhaling mold spores, gloves, cleaning material to get any spills, my camera to record damages, etc…..
I made the decision to bring light of my life with us on this trip.
I know, I know…..horrible, horrible mommy.
But, I know my child. I know how she is. I know that if she wanted to see first hand the damages, it would be o.k.
We drove back to the city. We were going to stay with some friends of ours that lived in a surrounding city (these same friends are the ones who are with us right now due to Gustav).
We entered the outskirts of Kenner and then got into the suburbs. We hadn’t even gotten into New Orleans yet and I was already crying buckets.
The devastation was horrendous in just Kenner alone. Piles and piles and piles of debris and trash and yuck were EVERYWHERE! Baby cribs littered the streets, wet sodden clothes overflowed Hefty bags, the stench of rotted food was in the air.
It looked like a third world country.
And we hadn’t even gotten into New Orleans yet.
To be continued….
Monday, September 1, 2008