I should have known when Jim Cantore and crew from The Weather Channel showed up at my work to ride out Katrina, we were gonna be in for it...

The Armed Forces Retirement Home-Gulfport was designed to take sustained 200 mph winds. I volunteered to be on Hurricane Team 1 (Rideout) so my family would be allowed to shelter there. Thank God we did...

http://www.afrh.gov/DWP/afrh/gulfport/afrhgulfport.htm



Some of the bad news -

· The Home was heavily damaged by over 25' storm surge. We took 2 feet of water on the 1st floor of the Home. Everything in the boiler room (2 CentraVacs, 3 Ray-Paks, 1 Hurst boiler, the MCC and all the 480 breakers, etc) was submerged under 9 feet of water. Half the cooling tower is missing. The water tower blew over. 5 base housing units, a wood hobby shop, a poolside cabana and several other buildings have totally vanished, all other outlying buildings on campus took anywhere from 3-6 feet of water and are skeletons... The surge that came into the building was a putrid mixture of sewage from our destroyed lift station, the grease trap, tidal surge and other various chemicals...

· We lost our '99 Yukon parked at the Home when the surge came. Vehicles of all types remain stacked like pancakes in the parking lots and halfway over the fence...

· All staff (130+) was put on 60 days admin leave (layed off) until a decision is made whether or not to re-open the Home... The concensus is 50/50 chance of survival, at best... My boss had just told me about a week prior to Katrina that they had plans to promote me to Work Leader for my shop...

· Both our rental homes took significant damage - a 100 ft pine tree created a 10'x20' skylight in the living room of one house and the winds removed a 15'x30' section of shingles and tar paper down to the decking on the other. Both houses have about 150 sf of dropped sheetrock ceiling, ruined carpet, etc...

· The local economy has virtually ceased. For example, my brother in law is a dentist. A slab where his office once was is all that remains. No building, no dental equipment, no patients needing any work for the foreseeable future. Hundreds of businesses all along the Coast are in the same predicament...

· My other brother in law took 5 feet of water in his house. His FEMA trailer arrives tomorrow. The house will be bulldozed.


Some of the good news -

· My family, friends and coworkers are all alive and well
· My personal residence had no damage whatsoever - (1/4 mile from the Gulf Coast)
· My '91 Silverado flooded, but still runs (for now)...
· The outpouring of support that we have personally received continues to amaze us - we are overflowing with food, water and God's blessings. We actually feel guilty - several people I personally know have only the clothes on their backs....
· My good friend Ed at Virginia Refrigeration hired me the same day I got laid off from the AFRH-G with a temporary job rebuilding the Commissary at the Navy Base in Gulfport...

Last week, when there was no water or power, I recycled some clothes 2 or 3 days, to make sure I didn't run out. I didn't leave the house without my .38, 5 or 6 MRE's, some canned fruit and trail mix bars, 5 gallons of gas, a case of water and my Igloo cooler half full of bagged ice... I saw looting in broad daylight...

This week, I could start leaving the gas can at home...

All in all, though, my family and I are truly blessed, no doubt about it. For some reason, God continues to watch over me, even after all the bad things I've done in my life (I had time to reflect while hunkering down in the halls of the Home with my wife and kids listening to hurricane-proof windows being blown out)...

This is my small little world right now. I know there's much more devastation out there, but my brain cannot process any more - we are hurricaned-out.

As we transition from out-and-out survival mode to recovery mode, we wonder what the future holds for us. Job? Not sure. Economy? Iffy, sloooow to recover. Sell our house and move? We want to, but property values have surely plummeted - we'd be upside-down.

We'll get to shop for a new vehicle - that'll be fun. Maybe we'll go to Mobile or someplace where they actually have a functioning restaurant and grab a decent meal...

Pictures @ 11...