What a difference a day makes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Sunday news shows said eye of Hurricane Katrina was like the eye of a monster; Mississippi and Louisiana have a date with devastation; and New Orleans is a city under.

Statements like these made me feel the same anxiety that I felt a couple of years ago when Hurricane Isabel was threatening to hit the Hampton Roads area. This anxiety caused me to send up a prayer of protection for the millions of people who would be affected by Katrina and a prayer of thanks for us in the Hampton Roads who would not feel the effects.

I had the privilege of traveling to New Orleans, La.; Biloxi, Miss.; and Atlanta, Ga.; in 2003 and thought that New Orleans was one of the most fun places with the friendliest people of all the places that I had ever visited. Walking down Bourbon Street and seeing the people in balconies throw leis around people’s shoulders as they walked, one knew how glad they were to have tourists visit their city. New Orleans is also the home of the Mardi Gras and I will always remember when we visited gift shops leading to Bourbon Street, the paraphernalia and souvenirs of the event were colorful and on display in almost every souvenir shop.

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The beautiful area of the unique above-ground burial cemeteries was also interesting.

I wondered how long it would take to rebuild a city that always had so much to offer to tourists. The city is now hidden under of water from the storm surge and breeched levies and I am wondering will the people of that area be able to restore the resting places of their loved ones?

Put yourself in their place. On Sunday, long lines of traffic were seen leaving the area following a hurricane evacuation route. Those who could not leave the city because they were too sick or had no transportation or nowhere else to go had to find a way to reach the Superdome, which served as a last resort. During the storm holes were blown in the roof that caused it to leak and now they have to deal with a damp and wet location until they can be evacuated to other areas.

Those who left the area may not be able to return for weeks and people in the Superdome didn’t know how long they have to remain there. In addition many of these people will likely be homeless.

People could only take a limited number of belongings in cars and vans and those in the Superdome were also limited in what they could take.

Can you imagine the bathroom accommodations and simple things like taking sponge baths, brushing your teeth and a change of clothing in a place that is housing thousands of people? Also, there is no power, air conditioning and limited lighting, which can also cause tempers to flare up.

In Katrina’s wake people are coming out with horrible stories about how they were personally affected. Many lost their lives riding out the storm in residences and businesses because they refused to evacuate and some are still waiting to be rescued in attics and on roofs. Katrina is said to be one of the most damaging storms to ever hit the U.S.

My prayer is that the people affected by this storm will soon have their lives restored to a normal level. I also hope that officials study this devastation; and if a similar storm occurs in the future, be better prepared to deal with it.

What a difference a day makes. The difference this horrible event made was catastrophic destruction; hard to believe with a name as beautiful as Katrina.

Evelyn Wall is a retired News-Herald reporter and regular columnist.