Survival Stories

Eagle Point Roof
The first week I was here I rode an ERV through Eagle Point, a wealthy community with large estates and homes. The storm surge really whomped the area and many of the homes were severely damaged, along with lots of trees down and cars destroyed. An Austrian man from that area invited us out of the ERV to tour his property and hear his story.

His yard looked pretty good, all things considered, which he explained by saying that he had spent all his time since the storm cleaning up. (In typical Germanic fashion, he was making order out of chaos. And was quite disparaging of the continuing state of disrepair of his neighbors’ yards.) He showed us a small pile of possessions outside his bungalow: a table, a small dresser, a few metal plates. These were all that he was able to save after the storm went through.

The storm surge brought a 12-foot wall of water, which swept through his area, mowing down everything in its path. He had taken refuge in his house and was carried out through the windows, but was able to grab ahold of his roof to save himself. He used a tire which floated by to rescue one of his neighbors and bring her back to the “safety” of his roof.

Another neighbor’s dog was carried by and he grabbed it by the scruff of its neck. He was able to fling the dog onto the roof, though he says it scratched up his arm pretty bad as it desperately tried to find purchase up there.

After the surge passed, he looked around (from his vantage point of the roof) and all he saw was water in every direction. It was like being in the middle of the ocean, with waves and everything.

At that point, he used the telephone wires attached to the roof to pull himself along until he reached the front of the yard (which was also completely underwater). From there, he hailed the husband of the woman he had saved, who rowed by in a boat and picked him and his wife (and the dog) up.

The surge went down after about six hours, leaving debris everywhere. The Austrian man said the neighbors with the dog had evacuated before the storm, leaving the dog behind; and that they never came back. So now he’s got a new pet — which he doesn’t seem particularly excited about.

P.S. Another rumor going around the communities is that an elderly woman survived the storm and was helped to her roof to await rescue after the storm surge. When she looked around and saw all the water everywhere, she had a heart attack and died on the spot.

* * *

Long Beach Floor
The storm wrecked tens of thousands of roofs — there’ll be employment for roofers in this region for years to come. But one of our “clients” — a young red-headed kid of about 14 — lost his floor in the storm. His house is raised off the ground, and the wind from the hurricane came in from underneath and completely ripped out the floor. When his family first returned to the house to check it out, the kid was the first person through the door. He stepped on the floor and fell right through. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt, but now everyone in his family is staying in a FEMA-supplied trailer in their front yard.

* * *

Image hosted by Photobucket.comExpatriate Heartbreak
Another of our Long Beach clients is a British woman who married a Mississippian and settled here over forty years ago. She still has a delightful British accent with a slight Southern lilt to it. (The two accents aren’t as dissimilar as you would think.) Sadly, her husband died three weeks after the hurricane, and now in order to get insurance coverage and other protection, she needs to go back to her extremely damaged house to find various papers. Talk about adding insult to injury. But in good British fashion, she’s keeping a stiff upper lip. Despite it all, she’s unfailingly cheerful and upbeat. She even made us homemade ghost lollipops for Halloween.

* * *

The Cats of Route 90
A couple times during our re-supply period along Route 90 we’ve run across an elderly woman in her car. She lives a block in from the ocean, and has been relocated while they get the area back into some semblance of normal. Her house is structurally sound but has no services, and all her possessions were ruined by the storm surge. When she evacuated, she was forced to leave her four cats behind. Somehow, they survived and are still hanging around the house. The woman drives in every day to bring food for the kitties.

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About joshcomix
Brooklyn-based cartoonist specializing in nonfiction comics about topics like Hurricane Katrina, the media, travel, and finance.

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