One man's experience

Chickasaw Journal

Friday 23 December 2005, 6:13 pm

By Pat Burgess, Chickasaw Journal

Rod Scheidel decided he would stay in Bay St. Louis in their townhouse and ride out the storm to protect their possessions if the worse happened.

"I will never forget the howling sound of the wind and of trees snapping," Scheidel said, "I hear it in my sleep." After the wind stopped, the water came. Scheidel had weathered many storms before, but the area had never flooded.

"I expected the wind, but not the water," said Scheidel, "it was coming from the back from Waveland and from the front from the beach. "I knew I was in trouble when the streets began flooding. Water was coming into the house from under the door."

Eventually the water receded. When it was safe to go outside, 90 percent of the buildings were gone. "There was a one-and-a-half to two-block strip of houses left," said Scheidel. "We were saved by the seawall, but all around was devastation, mud and debris."

There was no communication. Phone lines and cell towers were blown away. It would be a long two-week wait before help came to the area. "The neighbors and I sat on the corner of our street day after day waiting for help to come," said Scheidel.

"The first help we received was from churches. I don't know what we would have done without them. They were wonderful."

By this time, the house they previously shared was reeking with mold and mildew. There was no electricity. The Red Cross provided tents. The family slept outside in the tents for almost two months, fighting flies and mosquitoes.

They received their food from make-shift food distributors set up in parking lots. They protected their salvaged belongings while waiting for further assistance.

Then came Hurricane Rita ...