Maggie’s Story

This is (a part of) Maggie’s Story. She told us this over coffee and beignets, as we were working on the insulation. We stood in her new living room, and listened.

The Mud

“In the days after the storm, I started goin’ through stuff. You know, FEMA said if you weren’t there whenever they came to deliver your trailer, they’d give it to somebody else. So I came here. And the mud lay this thick [indicates about a half foot], and the flies; oh, those flies. Because by then, all our food had started rottin’. You know, everything in your pantry and your refrigerator was there in that mud. And the fish too. There used to be a shrimpin’ factory up the road – it all washed all over us.

“It was all there in that mud, and after a week and a half of this, there were flies, and maggots, too. But they said we had to clean it up. So I put my rubber gloves on, and took my glasses off, and started cleaning it up. I figured what you can’t see can’t hurt ya!

Cleaning Up

“Finally, when the water came back on, it was just a trickle. It took me ten minutes to fill a bucket! So I filled it, and went slippin an’ slidin’ over and tossed that water onto my floor, washin’ out that mud. Oh it was caked by then, but with the water, it was so slippery. And the flies!

“My son, Scottie, he loves the Nebraska Cornhuskers. A few years ago, someone got him a Cornhusker hat. I mean, it was a huge corn on toppa his head. He loved it. He wore it around town every Saturday the Cornhuskers played. Well, one of the first days, I found that hat in the mud. Later, I cleaned it up and gave it back to him. He loves that hat.

Evacuating

“Before the storm hit, my son convinced me not to stay here but to go see my daughter in Kentucky. So we got in my truck with our lunches and two bottles of water. We started drivin’ and it took us two hours to get to Pensacola – that’s 20 miles away! And then we saw a sign that the interstate would be closed, and so was the other one. So we turned around and went to my son’s house in Ocean Springs [another Gulf Coast community].

“Well, their fridge just had a little fast food in there. So we filled the tubs with water and we stayed with him. At least he was on higher ground. But they had nothin’ there, and weren’t ready for us either.

My House

“After the storm hit, we went to check out my place – to get the food, water, and maybe even to all go back there. Well, we couldn’t get through one street because there was a house smack in the middle of it. We didn’t know that was even possible! So we turned ’round and finally made it to the end o’ this street. I couldn’t see the house because these big trees had fallen down. My son got out the truck and I said: “stay in – the wires.. you’ll get electrocuted.” He said: “I’m fine mama.” Well, he was gone for what seemed like two hours, and I tell ya, that was the longest. I was beside myself, thinkin’ he got electrocuted and not knowin’ what to do because I couldn’t follow him. I could get electrocuted and then what would happen to Scottie?

“But then I glimpsed the top of my roof through all these trees, and counted this tree [points] and that one, and that one…! My son then showed back up too, and I thought we were spared. The trees hadn’t hit my home, and Steve was alive. “We won’t be cookin’ in there, mama. It’s all pretty messed up.” He didn’t wanna tell me.

Gettin’ Food

“So we still needed food. My husband, he was a vet before he passed, so we decided to go to the base and go to the commissary there. All our stores were closed. We still didn’t know what had happened. We didn’t know water could do this. So we drove, and after two hours we finally made it. We kept havin’ to turn ’round because the roads were blocked by everything: roofs, houses, trees, boats, trucks.

“So I pull out my ID and the boy, with his big M-22 gun or whatever he had, he asked what I was there for. So I told him we’re just getting some groceries at the commissary – Katrina hit us pretty good and we don’t have food. He looked at me for a second before he said: ‘I’m so sorry ma’m, but we have nothin’ here; we’re devastated too.’ Well, that’s how that went.

Losing My House

“You know, everyone kept telling me I wouldn’t be able to save my house. But I knew I would – deep down. I kept cleanin’ it and prayin’ and walkin’ through that mud. But slowly I think I began to realize that I wouldn’t be able to keep it. You see, one day I made it up to the attic. And my old house, oh it was beautiful. It was built in 1920. You know, they made good houses back then. Nothin’ like this [points around]. Everything was trees, and thick, and solid. My beam in my attic was a tree, this thick [indicates about 10 inches].

“Well, I got up to my attic and I saw that beam. And there was a crack. All… the… way… up… it. I think that’s when I knew. [starts tearing up]. I was just cryin’ every day in those days. But not anymore, just sometimes now.

“Anyway, this new house will be beautiful. Scottie’s gonna love it. Did you see the paint colors I picked out?”

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1 Comment

  1. boven said,

    March 1, 2007 at 2:45 am

    I love this story – can i link to it on my blog?


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