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2005 was the hardest year for my family and I. Being a little girl and losing the world you once knew is something you can’t quite grasp unless you’ve lived it. I remember we were sitting in the living room watching the news the night before Katrina hit. We were honestly contemplating staying and riding it out because they only classified it as a category two hurricane... good thing we left! I remember mom'soms boyfriend at the time screwing big wooden planks on the front and back door just for support even though we didn’t think we’d need it. I remember packing up my mom's Honda Pilot with a bag of clothes for only a few days.
We were on the road ready to go somewhere, anywhere but where we were. We were indeed at a dead stop on the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge (the only way in and out of the city) for 14 long hours! I remember having to go pee in an empty bottle because we were trapped on a bridge surrounded by water while expecting a hurricane. If that doesn’t have anxiety-ridden written all over it than I don’t know what does. I remember arriving in a small town in Florida and us grabbing a room for the night. That was the longest sleepless night of my life... we had the news playing in the background for HOURS just trying to get some sort of update of our home town.
It was dinner time and I just recall hearing my mom break down into tears because she knew something I hadn’t. Katrina was now a category five storm, coming to take anything in her way and not look back on it. It was roughly a week before we were allowed back into the city and when we got to our neighborhood, we had to park a few blocks away and walk the rest because trees were laying in the road blocking us in. My mom insisted we stay outside, and while sitting on the front porch now mourning my old life a reporter starts taking our photograph, as if we weren’t going through enough at the moment?! There were trees upside down in our once ocean blue swimming pool, water lines going to the ceiling of the first level of the home, and my artwork from a child blowing in the wind down the street.
Our house was two blocks from one of the main levee breaks, need I say more? So what do you do in that situation? You have nothing but what you came with and everything you once had is now either lost or covered in mold and water damaged... So we get back in the car and our new journey begins to set off to find a new life somewhere... where did we end up? South city Chicago Heights, where my great grandmother and great aunt reside. Not the best environment for three small girls, but we sure made it work. Now when I look back on Katrina, I look at it as a blessing, as a lesson. Because who knows where I would be if it wouldn’t had happened whether that’s good or bad I’ll never know. 14 years later and I’m still struggling with some PTSD of loss, material items, and depression. But regardless of the negative effects of Katrina it still came with a lot of good. After living in Chicago for two years, we ended up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I was able to truly establish myself and make a strong circle of people I trusted as friends. Long story short, you have to count your blessings. Things could have gone a lot worse for me and my family, yeah we lost everything. But we never lost each other...