On August 29, as Katrina bore down on the Gulf Coast, I sent an email to a client of mine who lives in Biloxi, inquiring as to his well-being, and saying I’d send up a little prayer for his safety and that of his family, which includes a wife and 2 kids.
Yesterday morning, I was going to do a monologue for my radio show about setting priorities in our busy lives. It was probably useful for people to hear, and I will most likely use it next week, but I have to say, it isn’t anything terribly special. So right before the 5 AM show, I went down into my office to get my email, and found the following (name changed to protect privacy):
“What ever you did in that little prayer it worked. Just a mile south there
is total decimation. Sad stories of families who perished. One was a Air
Force Sergeant and his wife was found dead in the debris. When they looked
for their children they could not find them, a few days later they found
them dead in the trees near their house. My father had to go into his attic
to escape the rising water. I am very lucky considering all the people I
know who don't even have a house to go back too. My cousins live in north
Biloxi about a quarter mile from back bay, they all lived as a family
community and all their houses took up a city block. I went there and all
you see is the great oak trees, green grass, many clothes in the trees and
cleared city block, you see slabs and concrete pillars where houses once
stood. Way back north of their block you see the debris which was once
their house. It is really awful, it's like we live in a third world country,
having to forage for food, water and ice. I just got electricity back at my
house. I had some wind damage to my roof, down trees and fence. The water
came within a foot of my house. My sister had roof damage with water in her
house. My brother had roof damage because 5 trees hit his house causing
roof damage. The pictures and film on TV don't do it justice, seeing it up
close you see just pure decimation. One street I went down to get to my
cousins community there was debris stacked 15 feet high on both sides of the
street. Many of these homes in this neighborhood over a hundred years old
were destroyed. My great Grandfather built 8 of these houses in the early
19 hundred's and now they are gone. They stood after hurricane Camille (Also
a category 5 hurricane), but now there is no recognition of them. I am
housing some of my family, I am also trying to help my 77 year father
rebuild his life back. When you look you just don't know where to start.
His house still has mud and gunk in it. We salvaged a few things but left
the rest. He also lost both of his cars. He has a limited income, he did
have flood insurance but not enough to rebuild his house. We need to clean
everything out but the odor is so bad. I know I am rambling, sorry, it's a
lot to take in. I sometimes have survivors guilt. I'll make it and our
family will rebuild, we have our chin up and we're not going to let this
storm take our spirit, we will build stronger and better than ever before.
"Smith's never Quit". If you are interested I will send you pictures.”
What a lesson in priorities! Family, home, community. Much better than what I wrote.
And it just goes to show how closely connected we all are. Although at an energy level, we’re all one, it’s hard to remember that sometimes. But I am ONE person away from this disaster, and if you don’t personally know anyone there, you are now TWO people away from it. It’s no longer 6 degrees of separation — it’s 2, or maybe 3. So we need to support our extended family.
I’ve written back to Mr. Smith, asking for photos, and asking if there’s anything we can do from a distance that is not already being done. I’ll let you know what I hear. And if you haven’t made a donation to the charitable organizations that are working in the Gulf Coast, please do give what you can. I did.