Katrina Wedding - Sample Chapters

August 28th, 2005
Gulfport, Mississippi

I tossed my suitcase atop my bed and it landed with a bounce. My beachfront apartment in Gulfport, Mississippi was in a flood-prone area that was under mandatory evacuation orders, and I had to get packed and on the road. I filled the suitcase with a few day’s worth of clothes, including one pair of shoes, plus a few odds and ends that I could fit inside: a book, some DVDs, my Nintendo Game Boy, a cherished knife my cousin had given me, and my Walther P22 pistol that I kept under the bed. Road trip essentials.

My cell phone rang. It was Christy, my fiancée.

“Are you ready to go yet?” she asked.

“Almost. I’m packing a few things for the trip,” I told her.

“Everybody is on their way over here right now.” She was calling from her parents’ home on the east side of Gulfport, which was a ten minute drive from my apartment complex named Water’s Edge III.

“I’m leaving in two minutes,” I said. “I love you.”

“I love you, too. Be careful.”

I ended the call and slid the phone into my pocket.

After adding one last t-shirt, a birthday present from two weeks prior, my suitcase was almost full. I did a quick survey of my bedroom to see if there was anything else I needed to take. I wanted to bring it all with me, but there was not time. My computer, guitars, and books all had to stay. The last thing I took from the bedroom was my digital camera.

With my suitcase in one hand and my camera in the other, I walked through the living room of my apartment. I was almost to the front door when I realized that things might not be the same when I returned. The roof could be heavily damaged or even gone. Someone could break in and rob me. Windows could be broken and water damage could have been everywhere. At that moment, I realized the need to take photos for insurance purposes. I had a renter’s insurance policy with USAA and had always hoped that it wouldn’t be needed, but having that policy helped reduce my anxiety about the impending hurricane.

I set the suitcase down by the front door and went back to the bedroom to take photos of everything in my closet, all the stuff on my bookshelf and dresser, and all the equipment on my computer desk. If there was anything of value in that room, I made sure it was within the frame of those few shots. I then went into the living room and took photos of the furniture, my entertainment system, and my shelf full of movies. Finally, I took a few photos of the kitchen to show my dining table and some of the appliances.

Content with having my bases covered, I put the camera back into its case and walked out the front door. I took one last look around as I locked the door behind me. I would never have expected it to be the last time I’d ever see the place. It was my first apartment.

The parking lot of my complex was mostly deserted. A few people were packing their vehicles, but most of the residents had already left. The Water’s Edge III apartments were located right off the beach in one of the lowest lying flood areas on the coast. With all the projected flood warnings from Katrina, it was virtually guaranteed that the complex would flood, but there was no way of knowing to what extent.

Rather than take the beach to Christy’s house, I drove up nearby Courthouse Road to see if any gas stations were still open. All I needed was a few gallons to top off the tank. I should have bought some earlier but never got around to it. Luckily, I found a station and all they had left was premium, so I paid a little extra for my procrastination.

When a storm is approaching, one of the first things people say to do is make sure to fill up your gas tanks because you don’t know when it might be available again if the power is knocked out.

I left the gas station and turned onto Pass Road, which is about a mile inland and runs parallel to the beach. A few minutes later, I turned the corner onto Christy’s street and saw her three sisters and two of her four uncles lined up outside the house in five different vehicles along with their respective husbands, wives, and children. My future wife comes from a very large family. Everyone was anxious to get on the road because the traffic was going to be hell.

Hurricane Katrina was coming right for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and I was evacuating to Destin, Florida with my fiancée and future in-laws. The storm was predicted to move ashore later that night and batter the coastline throughout the morning of August 29th.

What’s weird was it only drizzled a little that morning while we were preparing to leave. I would have thought a devastating hurricaneless than a day away would have pushed out some heavy rain.

We expected to be gone overnight and then come back the next evening to clean up the mess.

We expected too much.


Where to buy Katrina Wedding:

The ebook is currently available at Amazon.com for Kindle readers, Barnes & Noble for Nook readers, iTunes Bookstore for Apple iPhone/iPod/iPad users, and Smashwords.

The printed book is now available from Amazon.com, Lulu.com, or direct from the author. It is also available in the following stores along the Mississippi gulf coast: Bay Books in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi Made Mississippi Proud in Gulfport, and Landers Fine Art and Framing in Gulfport.

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If you have any questions or comments, please email bill@wfulks.com.