August 24th 1992, 4 months pregnant and living aboard our sailboat, the “ANNA B” in the Bahamas, my husband, dog and I experienced Hurricane Andrew. I was given the choice to fly to Miami to weather out the storm, but decided we’d stay together in his office on Paradise Island (where my husband worked). Little did I know at the time what a good decision that would be. Two weeks later while flying north to see my family I got to see Miami and its environs…shattered.
A move to the Mississippi Gulf Coast the following year and Hurricane Georges affected our lives on Sept. 1998. Georges was a Cat3 and left behind a less widespread, but nevertheless, heartbreaking path of destruction.
Many times over the years we evacuated for one storm or another but nothing serious, and we suffered only minor damage to our home and to our psyches.
In August of 2005, just 8 weeks after completing my first 8 rounds of tough chemotherapy for breast cancer and 1 month to the day prior to having lost my Mom to breast cancer, chaos struck.
Hurricane Katrina was Biloxi bound and we weren’t taking any chances. We packed up our two English Springer Spaniels, one cat, one Betta fish (named “Lucky”), my then 12 year old daughter and headed to the nearest place we could get a hotel room, Tallahassee, Florida. What would normally be a 4 hour trip, took us 8 hours due to the massive amounts of people evacuating.
The next day it was evident we wouldn’t be returning home for a long time… six weeks to be exact. But we were the lucky ones…so much loss of life and so much loss in general…horrible scenes we were to see even upon our return. We rented a place by the beach, volunteered at the Red Cross Center and I began my new chemotherapy at an oncologist’s office that was kind enough to take me on with no medical records. It was the strangest of times…sad, scary, horrifying…but we were safe and together.
Today, August 25th, 2012, just 4 days before the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I sit here reminiscing about storms passed and the one called Isaac just heading our way and I am anxious. I know we’ve been through worse, its just that the memories come back to roost.
So my friends all the way from Florida to New Orleans, I’m thinking of you all and praying that we will all come out of this storm, intact and unscathed.
If you are displaced due to any natural disaster during treatment for cancer here are links for helpful tips.