The only time I can recall when I really wasn't myself was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Even though we weren't trapped like so many, it was such a frightening time, not knowing what was going on or what we would be going back to.
As with every other evacuation, we all planned for maybe three days away from home and had packed accordingly. Boy, were we wrong! We never expected what really happened. Although I certainly got off easy in comparison to others, it was quite a while before I knew that.
The abridged version is that I evacuated with some family members to a cousin's house in TX and then (because of the number of people who turned up) moved on to her beach house in another part of the state, having to follow the news on a tiny battery-operated TV until we could pirate cable from a neighbor to keep us informed until getting cable installed. With phone lines being tied up and then out of commission, trying to reach family to let them know we were OK was a nightmare, and it was even longer before I could locate and get in touch with my employer.
Those weeks were filled with fear and dread, not knowing what was to come. Did I have an apartment to go back to? A car? Any of my belongings? An office? What about my friends and other family members in the area? Did anyone I know get stuck in the City? Did they survive? What about those who sneaked back in to take stock and see what they could salvage – were they OK? What kind of nightmare were they walking into?
It was the one time in my life when I felt completely out of control. I was living in someone else's house, driving someone else's car(s), getting shafted by not only FEMA but the Red Cross, couldn't access my own bank account, so I was living off a credit card, had to evacuate yet again because of Hurricane Rita. You name it – if it could go wrong, it did!
I'm usually a roll with the punches kind of person, but jumping from car to car, state to state, motel to motel, finding out I had to give up my job because it had relocated and I had neither the means to get to it nor a place to live if I did really took a toll. Then we were finally able to get back into the city and I found I still couldn't access my bank account. Because of the potential for fraud, you had to go to your home branch so they could physically identify you, but mine was still closed, and I was never actually in the bank for anyone to recognize me; I always used an ATM. I couldn't even get to my money to move out of state or to buy a new car (having carpooled, mine was left behind on "higher ground" but didn't make it).
I could go on for hours about the whole ordeal, but like I said, it was pretty much a cake walk for me in comparison to what others suffered, so as out of control and "not myself" as I felt, I can't even begin to imagine what they went through!
Then, on the back of all that, I moved to NY and was faced with the reality of my Dad's decline into Alzheimer's, then his death (thankfully not due to the Alzheimer's), and what seemed like an endless parade of deaths that whole next year, followed by the economy tanking, etc. It was a pretty rough time. Hopefully I'll never have occasion to feel quite that untethered again.
That's the root end of the big tree that was standing in my front yard when I left. Behind the chain-link fence is a beautiful, 2-mile around park. That was my side yard. Not sure if you can make out that mess in the background, but when I got back to town, I found that they were using the park as a big wood chipper for debris. That's the beginning of a ginormous wood pile. It already covered a baseball and soccer field and was more than ten feet high. I was told at the other end of town were similar piles, but of garbage. I suppose I lucked out being on this end.
Found a shot of the park from the other side - this might give you a better idea of how massive it was ... and they were just getting started. I did a hit and run - went back as soon as we were allowed, rented yet another vehicle, packed up what I could salvage, and left.
The strange thing is that to this day, whenever I got "home" to Massachusetts for a visit, on my way past Albany when leaving New York, there is a trailer lot that makes my skin crawl. All I can think of is the trailers people were living in after the hurricane, so it brings it up all over again. It's gotten to where if someone calls me while I'm driving, I'll say "I just passed Katrinaville," or "I haven't hit Katrinaville yet," and they'll know where I am along the way.
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Janine ~ http://www.janinehuldie.com