Shortly after the storm died down, we ventured outside to see the damage. The yard was a mess and a lot of shingles were missing from one side of the roof, but the house had no structural damage.

Limb and trees were down everywhere. Shingles littered the front yard. Plant debris, leaves, and grass, covered the house under the carport. One tree was blocking the driveway. The storm also took down a huge old oak tree across the street. Up the highway, I could see more downed trees and a tangled mess of power lines.

Just before dark Kimberly’s uncle and cousin, came by with a chainsaw. They cut up the downed tree in the yard and we moved branches. Soon the driveway was cleared.

We still knew very little of what was going on in New Orleans. We had been busy doing battle with the elements. The Meridian media outlets were focused on the problems there. Hickory and Meridian had been hit harder than anyone expected.

Kimberly’s parents had a small black and white battery-operated TV set – it picked up one channel. Thousands of people were stuck at the Superdome. People were hurting, some were dying. The footage of the looting brought both heartbreak and anger. Our city was descending into chaos.

I can’t remember when I heard about the levee failures in New Orleans (I believe it was Monday night). The news hurt. Just like a hard punch in the stomach. I knew that many more people would die and that our lives were about to change. There would be no quick return.

We were exhausted from our day of battle and we had no power so we went to bed early. Even with all the windows open, it was hot, humid and still.

I was too keyed up to sleep so I laid in the bed listening to the radio with headphones. I think Kimberly slept a little.

That night Mississippi Public Radio reporters were on the Gulf Coast interviewing survivors and describing the devastation. Each person related a scary tale of wind and water. The stories and the sounds were surreal.

Before I could get to sleep, the wind picked up again. First, it was a gentle breeze, then the curtains began to stretch out at a 45-degree angle. The cool air felt good.

The wind speed increased and the curtains began to whip. Soon the rain came and the roof began leaking again. The bucket brigade rushed into action. More mopping.

Apparently, the storm’s eye had opened wide after landfall. The hours of stillness must have been the remnants of the eye. During our second round of the storm, we were hit by the back side of the storm.

The storm blew and blew. Then it was still. It had been a long day. When my head hit the pillow this time … I slept.

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