Thursday, March 10, 2011

How it All Started - Part One

Hello, blog readers. Today I will share with you the story of how Daniel and I met...and it's pretty awesome, if I say so myself!

Late August, 2005: I am in my last semester at Belhaven University (then College). It's been a long college journey of 4-1/2 years for me because I double-majored. Belhaven is in Jackson, MS, a 3-hour drive inland from the coast. We hear there's a hurricane coming, and it's going to be a big one, but no one is sure exactly where it's going to hit. Now, having grown up on the coast of MS, I've lived through my share of hurricanes. Heck, at my house in Long Beach, my family even had plywood boards cut to fit each window of the house, and brackets that would hold them in place! I wasn't too worried.

August 28th, 2005: Katrina hits. Three hours inland, we are stuck in our dorms as the storm rages around us. The school forbids anyone to leave their buildings. There are people in the stairwells playing guitars and singing. A day into it, a few of my friends and I are restless, and decide we're going to leave the building anyway, so we do, and head out for a walk. The tall pine trees are beautiful, and as we look at all the downed branches in the rain, I'm reminded of their shallow root systems to be able to tolerate Mississippi weather, and how this makes them fall over much easier. Later on, I found out a lady in the neighborhood died when a tree fell on her through her house. As we walk, we come upon what looks like a naked, curled up rat lying in a puddle in the rain. At first we think it is dead, then we realize it isn't! It's a baby squirrel. My friends laugh at my change, from the initial "eww, gross!" to picking up this baby and carrying it back to the dorms with us. During the course of the storm, I hear that some close family friends, the Wilcoxes, who live on the coast have gone to a coliseum for shelter, later I hear that the shelter collapsed and killed many people. I pray my friends are safe. My suite-mate who was also one of my best friends from high school still lives on the coast. She knows her parents came up to Jackson for the storm, but she's still worried about her home down there. I put a lot of hope for our survival in this baby squirrel. We name him Luther.

August 29th, 2005: Of course by now, we are without power. We will remain so for a week. The storm is pretty much over, and Jackson is picking up the pieces. Luther made it through the night. We had made a warm nest for him in a poptarts box, and after scouring the dorm, came up with an eyedropper to give him water every hour or two through the night. We find a friend who's dad has raised flying squirrels, and they give us a recipe for replacement milk, using evaporated milk and egg whites. We decide to head to the store. Driving there is like making our way through a labyrinth, because every street we would normally go down would eventually have a fallen tree and we'd have to turn on a different one. But eventually we make it. The store has no power, and is ridiculously busy. They can only take cash transactions because their credit card machines are down. Thankfully, they haven't run out of ice yet. But they are out of eggs. We buy the evaporated milk anyway, figuring it's better than nothing. Belhaven cancels all classes until power returns. All students are encouraged to go home if they can, and go to someone else's home if they can't. Most people leave, as there is no power, and no air conditioning in Mississippi in August is nothing short of miserable. We hear of a lady in the neighborhood who raises baby squirrels, and decide that we will see if she will take Luther, as we know we are ill-equipped to care for him much longer. We walk him down there, and she takes him!

August 30th, 2005: We are tired of staying around with no a/c, but my family in Madison is without power as well, and worse, without plumbing, as their sewage lift system is electric. My roommate's family is too far away in North Carolina, but we hear that her boyfriend's family, about an hour north, has just gotten power, and hence, a/c back! So my roommate, her boyfriend, my suitemate and I all head up to Kosciusko, Mississippi.

A few days later: I find out that the Wilcoxes, who had been planning to take shelter in the coliseum that collapsed actually wound up staying with my parents during the storm, and were safe. They headed back down to assess their damages as soon as the storm stopped raging. My suitemate got news from her neighbors on the coast that her entire bedroom was ripped off their house. She also had promised to take care of someone's fish on our hall, so she wants to head back to Jackson and be with her family. I don't want to leave the cold a/c, but I tell her that if my parents had gotten power back, I'd go with her. I called my parents, and they'd had power for about 2 hours, so I pack my bags and we head back to Jackson.

That night, the Wilcoxes' oldest daughter Rachel shows up with her husband John and John's brother Daniel on their way down to the coast to help her family with the cleanup and to bring gasoline and fresh water. There is a curfew instated that no one can go down to the coast after dark because it's too dangerous in the dark. The three of them had driven in from Tulsa, and needed a place to stay in Jackson, so Rachel said, "Hey, I know a place! My parents actually stayed with them during Katrina." So they pull up in the driveway, and after a bit of shuffling around, we all find a place to sleep.

To Be Continued...

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