It’s now 3 months, and 13 days since Katrina, I do believe.

Something like that. I’ve been so swamped… so snowed under by just… life – that I haven’t really had a chance to share anything about it, save for a couple posts.

First, the actual hurricane itself. I watched the vast majority of it from outside in it. I was on my front porch until the eye of the storm passed over, here in Gulfport. After it did … I walked in it, up to Perkinston, which is… let’s see what Mapquest tells me.

25.79 miles. Now, although that’s quite a walk, think about when I walked it. The wind had died down to about 50-60mph when I started, but it was still raining pretty heavily. I started at about 12:30/1:00 pm, and got there about 7:30, I think. Not bad for that far, really. That wind, though. Walking in that is NOT easy.

Anyway, back to my impressions.

During the hurricane, it was an adventure. The kind of adventure guys really do like, and don’t really care if anyone thinks they’re crazy for liking. The wind made the house shudder, and shake. The trees’ branches were snapping off right and left, making an awful racket. The rain was driving so hard that it really was painful, when it hit you. Small objects were flying past you at 70+ mph – and all you could do was hold on. I’ll confess – I loved it.

I’m not crazy. I’m a typical guy, I think. I never felt like I was in *real* danger. But I knew I could have been. Adrenaline makes you feel like a million bucks. It’s that feeling you get when you take a curve a hair too fast in a sports car, and get dangerously close to spinning out of it – but you don’t. Your heart races, your blood is pumping so loud in your ears… and you feel alive. Okay, maybe I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie.

Mostly, though, I was in awe of the display of God’s might. Not that this was a “judgment”, or anything. Just the fact that God’s creation is so breathtakingly powerful, and knowing that God created it. If this storm is this powerful… and God made it… what must God be like?

I spent a good bit of the time curled up on the porch, head on my knees, tears in my eyes, and my heart in my throat. I wasn’t scared. I don’t think i was ever scared once, to be honest. It was too freaking cool. I was praising God, all by myself. Just me, and God, in the middle of this mighty storm – and I was singing. Brokenly, but I was singing. It was that awesome. It’s truly an experience I really don’t quite know how to share. God was just… there. He was with me. I’m not going to say I felt His “special hand of protection on me” – although it may well have been. I just know God was present, because His children can always feel it. I can’t explain it any other way.

I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t even worried. I was awestruck by how unbelievably magnificent a thing that His power had wrought. I can’t really say I’d still say the same, had I sustained more damage. We had almost nothing damaged at all. All I know is – that hurricane, from the inside, was quite possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I couldn’t help but fall down and praise. I just couldn’t. I hadn’t told anyone this story yet – not really. Bethany heard it, sort of. I don’t know if I got it across very well to her at the time. It seemed a bit odd a thing to share, really. It’s what happened, though. In the wake of all the devastation, all the pain, and all the loss – I almost feel bad saying I think it was so neat. The actual storm WAS neat. What it did wasn’t so neat. The storm itself… I have never seen anything like it, and likely never will again.

I got to sit and watch the ENTIRE thing from a dry place, I was safe, and I praised God.

After the hurricane? Well, I can’t say I didn’t think a lot of that was cool, too. I saw the best and worst of people. Down here, I think it was way, way, way more of the best. So many people went out of their way to be friendly, courteous, and to help one another. The churches, and the Christians were absolutely magnificent in their response. The love you saw everywhere was palpable. Bethany’s family were all great to me, and I got to know them all so much better.

So much destruction, but so much love on display. Mississippi is one of the most heavily Christian states of the Union. You could tell, folks. “They will know you are Christians by your love” isn’t just a saying. I saw it. I lived it. It was absolutely awesome, folks.

In the months to follow, as tempers started wearing thin, utilities were still not all up yet, and the FEMA craze hit… it went downhill. Traffic began to get crazy, as the Coast’s population virtually doubled with relief workers and contractors. Lines, the destruction, and just general stress took it’s toll on everyone.

I’d like to make a general note about FEMA, and the outside monetary aid.

First: FEMA was never, and is never, going to save everyone. FEMA is totally, utterly, irrelevant. I don’t think that the people with signs out saying “where are you, FEMA?” really understood what they were doing. They just made me shake my head. Why do you think FEMA is going to save you from whatever position you’re in? I have friends, and family, who have lost everything. They didn’t count on FEMA to save them. They talked to their insurance companies, and started plans to rebuild almost immediately – whether they got their insurance money back, or not. Insurance companies don’t make money by paying you, either, incidentally. Almost without exception, the insurance companies have tried to screw over their policyholders. A few exceptions, but very few that I’ve talked to. I install garage doors. I talk to every single homeowner I put a door in for about their insurance, at some point. Trust me… I hear this a lot.

I just don’t get that “save me, faceless government bureaucrat!” concept. Or the people with signs on their fence: “Why do you keep passing me, Cable One! I want my cable NOW!”

I mean, really. If I were them… they’d be the last person in the county to get cable. Phone, power… same sort of thing. Like I said earlier. The best, and the worst.

As far as jobs go? There’s more jobs here than people. At my work, there is now only 1 regular employee that has been there longer than me. One. The two supervisors, and the office manager have all been there for a decade or so – and they don’t count 😀 But, there’s only *one* other employee that was here before the storm hit. One. The company employs about 15-20 people, and they have an atrocious turnover rate. Not because of anything they do. It’s because of how many jobs there are, right now. You know what the most common thing I’ve heard is? “It’s nothing special to have a job, right now. Everyone is so starving for people that I could get a job in 5 minutes of walking out of here.”

Sad thing is – they’re right. Unemployment should not exist, right now. Every place I know has a hiring sign out. Going through people like that is killer on the experienced help, though. You have to train someone else every week, just about.

I hate to sound too whiny. Work, if you’re in any sort of construction field, is absolutely, positively insanely busy. There aren’t enough people, there isn’t enough hours in the day, and everyone’s cranky. I’ll leave it at that, I guess.

We have Samaritan’s Purse Canada living at our church, and helping all over the Coast. I’ve been married since Katrina. Life, overall, is good. Busy, but good. That’s about all I see, looking back. Life, even with Katrina, is still good. It’s good because our God is so good to us.
You can take that to the bank. He provides all of our needs, and He shows us things in the most surprising of circumstances.

As I heard in church the other day, in a testimony from a woman who lost everything she owned – “the name of the Lord is still higher than the name of Katrina.”

Amen, sister. Amen.