Thursday, August 30, 2012

Deja Vu: Isaac Stirring Up Memories of Katrina

Mention "Hurricane Katrina" and most people shudder at the memories left by one of the most devastating storms to ever hit land in the southern United States. Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southern Plaquemines Parish, just south of Buras, Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane at 6:10 a.m. central time on the morning of August 29, 2005.  At the time of landfall, Katrina was packing winds of near 125 mph east of its center.  While in the open gulf waters, Katrina had at one time been a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of near 175 mph.  As a huge and strong Cat 3 hurricane, Katrina brought widespread destruction and devastation to areas in several southern states, particularly Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.  It forever changed the lives of many people in the New Orleans and Mississippi gulf coast regions.  

Now, seven years later, on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall, another tropical system is wrecking havoc across Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as portions of Alabama and Florida. Hurricane Isaac made its first landfall at 6:45 p.m. CDT on August 28, 2012 over a small section of land in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph.After re-emerging over gulf waters and creeping along the borders of Louisiana coastline, it made a second landfall at 2:15 a.m. CDT August 29 just west of Port Fourchon, Louisiana.  

As Isaac approached the Louisiana coast, the minds of many residents turned back to the memories of widespread devastation and personal loss experienced from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.   Feelings of anxiety stirred hurried preparations for those in the forecast track of approaching Isaac. My husband and I are among those who vividly remember Katrina.  The days following landfall of Hurricane Katrina include some of the worst moments of our lives.  It is not an experience that we would chose to reclaim.  This past Sunday, when it became likely that Isaac was heading toward us, my husband and I made our final preparations for the storm- we fueled our vehicles, stocked up on canned goods and bottled water, checked our supply of flashlights and batteries, caught up the laundry and more.  We continually watched the news as updates came in regarding the strengthening of the gulf storm.  We hoped and prayed that Isaac would not become another Katrina.  

Though Isaac doesn't compare to the ferocious blow that Katrina dealt, it has still left behind widespread destruction and flooding in its path.  Here, in southern Mississippi, residents have been feeling the effects of Isaac since Wednesday morning, getting worse through Wednesday night, and expecting the severe weather to linger through late today (Thursday) and into tonight.  Since Isaac is such a broad, slow moving storm (moving between five to eight mph), it is continually dumping sheets of rain upon us.  It is predicted that some counties in southern Mississippi will receive up to 18 inches of rain before the system moves out of our area.  Naturally, local schools and several businesses are closed and residents have been advised to stay indoors as much as possible.  There have already been several tornado warnings posted throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Closer to home, tornado warnings have been previously posted in Pearl River, Wayne, and Hancock counties.  Wind gusts here, in Marion County, have been reported at about 35-40 mph.  Several reports of power outages have been posted while power companies are working overtime to restore electricity to local residents.  (Fortunately, we have not lost power yet).  There have been reports of downed trees and power lines and light structural damage throughout the area.  Additionally, Marion County is under a flash flood warning.  Pearl River, which runs through the county, is said to be already at 16.5 feet, while minor flood stage is 17 feet.  

Most recent radar image, 6:05 AM, Thurs, Aug 30, 2012
The above image shows the heavy rain slowly passing through the Columbia area where I reside. Areas to the east including Waynesboro, Leakesville and Wiggins are getting even heavier rain at present.  A friend of mine just posted on facebook that the downtown area of Columbia, including Main Street, is presently flooding.  That is bad news for several businesses located there.  

Downed trees across a vehicle in Columbia- one of the reasons people are encouraged to avoid driving during the storm (fortunately, the driver escaped shaken but unharmed)
Downed tree across a house in Columbia yesterday
Structural damage to a local business on South High School
Avenue in Columbia yesterday evening

Like most others, I will be glad to see the final remnants of Isaac fade away, becoming only a memory in the hurricane history records of the south. Realistically, I know that in the future there will eventually be another  hurricane as deadly as Katrina, but I hope and pray that I nor my loved ones will have to bear witness to such an intense, powerfully gruesome storm again in our life time. One Katrina was enough.  

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