The following three posts compose a timeline of the days leading up to the Hurricane Katrina evacuation through the Sunday after the storm. I wanted to put down a brief record of these 10 days that changed my life forever. Katrina is always with me and always will be. In these lists, my focus is on the events and sequence rather than exact times. These are not intended to be lilting prose. I hope to post additional entries in the future that delve deeper into the emotions I felt during the Katrina event and the implications these feelings had on my life. Maybe the future posts will be more artfully done.
Friday, Aug. 26, 2005
- Left New Orleans around 3 p.m. headed for Diamondhead, Miss. We planned to stay at my in-laws home there. Saturday I had a 7 a.m. interview and photo shoot scheduled with a Richard Cowart in Picayune, Miss., who was working on the seminary’s Bradbury piano.
- We first heard Hurricane Katrina could head toward New Orleans on LifeSongs 89.1 FM radio as we pull away from our campus apartment (Apt. 206, Farnsworth).
Saturday, Aug. 27, 2005
- I traveled from Diamondhead to Picayune and met with Cowart (lots of photos and interview notes).
- I headed back to Diamondhead and secured the Oglesbee place (my in-laws were living in Hickory at the time). Before tropical storms and hurricanes, loose items in the yard must be stored or these will become wind-guided missiles.
- On the way back to New Orleans (a 50-minute drive) I received the call from Chris Friedman, NOBTS facilities VP at the time. The seminary had called for a mandatory evacuation. As PR director I had to notify the local media.
- I went to the PR office and made the media contacts, secured the office and headed home by about 12:30 p.m.
- Kimberly and I packed and watched the TV news conferences about the storm. I will say this: the city was taking this storm serious – more serious than any other storm since I had been around. We had a near miss with Ivan one year before. That time I stayed on campus to provide news and photo coverage. Nothing happened – the storm hit Alabama and Florida. This time Kimberly convinced me to leave. What a good wife!
- We left about 3:30-3:45 p.m.
- It was a long slow ride on I-10 East toward the Twin Spans bridges at Slidell. Contraflow (all lanes dedicated one direction – AWAY) kicked in about 4:30 p.m. as we reached the Twin Spans.
- After Slidell, we drove north on I-59 in what is usually the southbound lanes (all four lanes were headed north). We made a great time!
- Somewhere north of Poplarville, Miss., contraflow ended.
- Finally, we reached my in-laws home in Hickory, Miss. We would ride it out there. Hickory is three hours north of New Orleans – we didn’t think there would be much to ride out.
Sunday, Aug. 28, 2005
- We went to Sunday morning worship services at Hickory Baptist Church.
- That day I monitored the news. I kept hoping to see Katrina take the eastward turn that Ivan took. I really hope the storm would just fall apart – I didn’t want anyone to face this storm. It was clear this was a massive storm. That day out in the Gulf hurricane hunters took some of the highest intensity readings ever – Katrina was big and power – a Category 5 storm.
- I worked on a few paragraphs for the Baptist Press. The graphs focused on the seminary preparation, the team that stayed and the historic evacuation called by N.O. Mayor C. Ray Nagin.
- We went to Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church in Meridian, Miss., for Sunday night services. This was the church we attended when I worked at The Meridian Star newspaper. This is the church that commissioned us for US/C-2 mission service in 1997 – we love these people.
- When we got home from church I called Chris Friedman. Things were already getting rough in New Orleans.
- That night I prayed for the safety of Chris and his crew. I also prayed for the large number of residents who had stayed to ride out the storm.