Excerpt from “In the Wake of Katrina”

  • “In the Wake of Katrina” first appeared in MindFire: Revisited

For three days, my family was dead.

This is how nightmares occur:  your blackest doubts and fears fester, then swell unchecked, until they overwhelm reality.

For three days I had lost my mother, my great aunt, all my cousins, my wife’s mother and father, her sisters, brothers, their spouses, and their children.  Those beautiful children, some the same ages as my own.  It made me furious that they all chose to remain behind to ride out Hurricane Katrina.  It’s one thing to be a stubborn old ass, good for a joke and a Southern pride redneck moment, but it is another thing to place innocent children at risk.  Why did they do that?

I stared at the TV in a horror-stricken, mindless way like I had that morning of September 11.  It was a living nightmare.  I called but all the lines were down and there was no answer.  I called again every few minutes, thinking maybe this time.  Maybe my mother would answer.  She didn’t.  Last year I lost my father to cigarettes.  Did I just lose her also?

For three days I couldn’t sleep and I watched as images began to filter in about New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  The images confirmed my worst fears — the Coast was gone.  The first aerial shots of the beach front region, about a mile wide strip of condominiums, restaurants, casinos, and businesses, looked as if it had been erased by God.  The rest of the towns were collapsed piles of rubble left around the watermark of the 35-feet plus storm surge.  I learn that Gulfport is perhaps the hardest hit city of all.

My family lived there.