Surviving Ike

My in-laws have found out that their home in Galveston is relatively damage-free. That’s wonderful news. They haven’t been able to see it yet, but a friend stopped by to check on it for them.

I can only stop to think, though, that they are starting down a long and arduous road. It’s been over three years since Katrina, and we still haven’t finished our journey to recovery.

It’s a life-changing event, and it takes a lot of adjustment.

Here are some of the things they can expect right away, when they’re able to return to the island:

20050912210047_hur-20d-050911-7877 First, the entire area will be permeated for months with the wonderful fragrance they’ll never forget: eau de stinky fridge. It’s impossible to describe and impossible to forget.

Stores — those that open — will have limited inventory and limited hours. The sound of generators will rumble constantly. Greeting a friend will change from "How are you doing?" to "How did you do?" Flat tires will become a way of life. Road signs will sprout up everywhere advertising semi-legal contractors using unskilled workers. Long-term plans will become meaningless, and it will become an effort just to make it through the day.

Having relatively little damage is good news, but it comes with a price: survivor’s guilt. There’s no such thing as “we’re all in the same boat”, because we’re not. Some people have lost everything. Some people can’t even find the street they lived on, because all the landmarks are gone. Some people will live in FEMA trailers for months or years, while others can sleep in their own homes.

Sometimes after Katrina, when the stress of everyday life in this war-zone was getting us down, we would think about our friends and neighbors who had lost everything. How could we feel sorry for our own situation when others were much worse? What was so special about us, and not-so-special about them? What did they do to deserve this? Why did we deserve to be spared? The guilt of being the lucky ones then just added to our stress, and it became a whirlpool of depression, fed by ever increasing guilt.

A sad looking abandoned dog looks out from his cage in an animal shelter during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
We tried to compensate by volunteering. Julie’s job no longer existed, so she spent many long hours working with Noah’s Wish, an animal rescue organization. I still had to work, so I did some publicity and fund-raising for them when I could.

Of course, seeing all the animals that were lost, abandoned, or just left behind didn’t help our stress levels any. (Please, take your pets with you when you evacuate!)

But they’ll get through it. It won’t be easy, but they’ll get through it. Then they’ll wall off those memories like we did, and carry on with their lives.

Good luck. You’ll need it. Just don’t feel guilty about it.

Pet Rescue

Disaster Relief Fund 2008_1221591859527I just donated to the Humane Society of the United States Disaster Relief Fund.

After Katrina, I saw this time and time again. People evacuated, leaving their pets behind to fend for themselves.

I just can’t understand that.

ike18 Owning a pet is more than just owning a possession. It’s a responsibility to care for that animal, to protect it, to commit yourself to the partnership you agreed to.

And yet, even after all the horror stories after Katrina, many pets were still abandoned during Hurricane Ike.  They were left in locked houses to drown or left roaming outside to be swept away.

2860805582_272ccaf775 Why do these people even own animals, if they care so little for them?

Luckily, there are some extraordinary people around who respond to emergencies like Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike to save the animals that have been left behind. Most are volunteers, taking time away from their jobs and families to save as many lost pets as they can.

Thank you, to the animal rescue workers of the Humane Society of the United States, Noah’s Wish, The North Shore Animal League, and all the other agencies who have committed to rescuing abandoned animals.

Please make a donation to help these folks out. And if you ever have to evacuate, take your pets with you!

More info about how you should take care of your pets and informations about upright vacuum for pet haira and more, by following the link source

Closed stores and empty shelves

Things are better now. Things always get better. Most of the time.

It was a major pain in the butt to evacuate, and it’s going to have to be a pretty severe storm barreling down on us to do it again. Gustav didn’t cause any damage at all to us, although a friend of mine has a tree through her roof.

We lost power for about three days, so we had to throw out all the food from our refrigerator and freezer. We had food to eat when we came back, but it was hurricane food (crackers, peanut butter, old MREs, bottled water, etc.).

photoThe worst part, though, is the closed stores and empty shelves in the stores that actually are open. Yes, it was annoying when we needed something (like real food), but even worse was the memories it brought back.

Memories of Katrina. It was not a pleasant time.

Here we go again

Three years ago today, I was sitting at my Mom’s house in Texas, eyes glued to CNN, watching them describe the destruction happening to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. I remember distinctly one weatherman saying "Whoops, we just lost Slidell" during a live report.  Of course, he meant the weather feed, but it was not a great thing to hear.

Today, I find myself packing for another evacuation. I’ve been ordered to evacuate at 7 am tomorrow morning; the entire hospital where I work is going. Gustav is on his way.

This is not good for my continued mental health.

20060219193917_signsofkatrinaAs a tribute to the events of three years ago, I offer my slideshow of images taken of the Signs of Katrina.