Hurricane Katrina has wreck havoc on mankind and the land. Its' Parish's now underwater.
|"Howard, what's that sound?" Rita said, instinctively hugging her two small children to her breasts.
"Oh Lord, Honey! The levee has broken! Go! Go! We have to get up on the roof. Now!"
Rushing through the house, they tread water up to their ankles, which was rapidly growing. Rita let out a small prayer, "Lord, don't let my babies die. Protect us, Lord. Oh please, protect us!"
By the time they arrived at the attic ladder, the water was up to Rita's thighs. Rita and Howard both had a child in their arms. Howard with a look of sheer determination climbed rapidly up the ladder and deposited his child into the attic. He came half-way back down and grabbed the child Rita had in her arms and took the child on up the ladder, looking back to make sure Rita was okay. The water lapped up to the fourth step of the ladder. The ocean was engulfing their home. Thank the Lord they didn't have any pets. Lady was laid to rest just a few months ago. Oh, Lady. I'm so sorry you're not being able to rest in peace.
Strange, the thoughts that go through your head in an emergency, thought Howard as he slammed the attic door closed and looked for something, anything of some kind of weight to lay on top of the door.
"Ya'll stay over there in that spot away from the door and away from me. I'm gonna to have to break through to the roof, Rita. Just in case we need to go up there."
"Howard, you think the water is going to come up to the attic? You really think it's going to get that high?"
"Rita, we have the Gulf going into Lake Borgne. So there's no telling how high the water's gonna get. It's gonna look like the Gulf of Mexico for miles around. You won't be able to tell the difference." Howard bowed his head staring at the floor. Lord, what are we gonna do? You have to lead us, Lord.
Snapping his head up, he knew it was time to take care of business. He'd have to worry about what happens next when it was time. Not now.
The kids started whimpering, "It's hot, Momma." Bryce whined. "I left Sally, Mommy! Cried the youngest, Cheyanne, who was three.
"I know babies. Just hold on. We'll be okay. Cheyanne, I'm sorry we left Sally behind. We'll have to find you a new Sally, okay Baby?"
Howard found an ax and a step ladder and made his way to a safe spot that he could reach well enough. He swung the ax over and over. Wood splinters flew until he finally saw the grayish black skies. The rain pelted through the hole like bullets.
"Howard! Water is starting to seep through the cracks of the attic door!"
"Find something to cover up with, Rita. It's still bad out there. See if there is any rope that we can tie around each other. Look for old pool floats. Look for anything that you think will help us in case ... in case we go into the water."
Rita stared for a few seconds with disbelief of what she was hearing and what Howard was saying. Then she shook her head as if to shake the bad thoughts out and got to work as quickly as she could. Trying to occupy the kids and keep them from being so scared, she invoked their help, "Kids, you help Mommy look for rope, floats and something to cover our heads with or to wrap around us. But stay close to me, don't wander off."
"Momma! Look, here's two floats! Do you want me to finish blowing them up?"
"Good job, Bryce. Yes, Honey, that will be very helpful."
Rita found an old chest, opening it, she let out a prayer of thanks. Inside was old winter jackets, spreads and even a couple of old stuff animals. "Look Cheyanne, here's a couple of babies. Which one do you want, Honey?"
Cheyanne's eyes grew wide, "I want them both, Mommy!"
Rita knew that she shouldn't let her have them both, but she had an idea. "Bryce, would you mind holding onto one of the teddy bears for Cheyanne?" She knew her seven-year-old wouldn't admit it, but holding onto a stuffed animal would give him a sense of security and peace also. Hell, holding onto a teddy bear right now would probably give me a sense of peace and security.
"Okay Momma, for Cheyanne."
The wind whipped through the attic, bringing with it an eerie sound of moaning as if the earth and sky itself were in mourning for the wreckage it was racking upon men.
The water seeping through the attic was now bowing the attic door just a bit, the water now at a steady stream.
"Howard, I can't find any rope. I'm going to tear these old sheets into strips and we can use them."
Howard returned to his family and helped Rita rip and tie the sheets together.
"Let's stay in the attic as long as we can. It's still pretty bad out there. Hopefully, the rain and wind will be dying down soon. The storm's about over, but with the levee broken, the water is gonna keep rising."
As if on cue, the attic door cracked across the top. Water was now flowing in like a water faucet was tapped into it. The water was warm, but the wind and the rain still gave a chill. An eerie glow lit the attic, as the battery operated lantern's light reflected off of the water's surface. With the rain subsiding outside and the water climbing higher inside, Howard made the decision that it was time to go onto the roof and wait for rescue.
Howard pulled himself up first through the opening, then tied the sheet around his waist, brought each child up, tying the sheet around theirs as he got them through the hole. Next, Rita climbed through. The water in the attic was now flowing through in waves.
Sitting on top of the ridge of the roof, everyone was silent. The ocean lapped against their home, close to the roof's edge. The sky was black, with bright flashes of lightning which seem to cross from one horizon to the next. Their neighborhood was underwater. Flickers of light could be seen in all directions, as families made their way up on their rooftops, just as they did. St. Bernard Parish would never be the same. Hurricane Katrina made sure of that, along with shotty workmanship building the levees.
"Mommy, I'm hungry," Bryce said.
"Me too, Mommy!" Cheyanne whined.
"I know, Babies. But our emergency food is downstairs. It's gone. We'll have to wait for rescue, then we'll get something to eat."
Just about that time a helicopter flew over.
"We're here, we're here!" They all called in unison.
Howard and Rita lifted up the lanterns, though it was daytime, it was still dark as dusk.
The helicopter circled around letting everyone know they were spotted and help would arrive soon.
The family huddled together awaiting rescue. Their home was gone, their emergency food supply is gone, along with everything they owned. They only had what they wore on their backs. But they were alive. What happened next, where they would go and what they would do was beyond thinking about right now. As if Howard and Rita read each other's minds, they looked at each other. Their eyes filled with the night and day's terrors.
Within each other's eyes, they also saw the love and support for each other. A determination which got them through many other hard times. They knew as long as they all had each other, no matter what they would be okay.
The rescue boat arrived with one other couple who was picked up a couple of houses down. As they all got settled onto the boat, Howard looked toward the couple huddled together and asked about the elderly couple which lived next door to the couple,
"Do you know if the Rondelle's are okay?"
The couple just shook their heads and their eyes told Howard all he needed to know. He scooted closer to his family and adjusted the spread over all of their shoulders, trying to keep them in his cocoon of security.