Tuesday, August 30, 2005

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, a category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, came ashore near the border between Louisiana and Mississippi. Prior to the storm most of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, was evacuated, but a number of people unable to leave the city took shelter in various places there, including the Superdome, a covered stadium normally reserved for professional athletic events.

By August 30, 2005, the toll this storm took on the Gulf shore communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama began to be apparent. In the mid-morning hours of that Tuesday the death toll rose in short order from 55 to 80, and the streets of the storied party city of New Orleans, at first thought to have been spared the worst of the storm's fury, were slowly filling with floodwaters seeping out of Lake Ponchartrain.

As a child I experienced a different kind of storm -- the massive tornado outbreak of April 3/4, 1974. On that single day at least 300 tornadoes, many of them in the F-4 and F-5 range on the Fujita Scale of Tornado Intensity, ravaged a zone stretching from northern Alabama through northern Ohio -- my own family home was narrowly missed by an F-3 twister that brought widespread destruction to the suburbs in the southeastern neighborhoods of my hometown.

I realized at least 20 years later just what an impact that single day in April had on my life, and that the story of that day was important to me, needed to be told. The story of the weeks after the twisters with no electricity, cooking supper on Coleman stoves on the front porch, even the story of the hour after the storm, when I looked up to see the steel-gray clouds sweeping away at impossible speeds, revealing a few minutes of crystalline blue sky before yet another storm's wrath barrelled in from the southwest.

This blog's purpose is to give voice to those who survived Hurricane Katrina and other storms like her. Stories of storms past and present are welcome.

As the blogger I will function as an amanuensis -- one who "takes dictation or copies manuscripts." I blog, myself, and at least two of my blogs are very popular, but because of the purpose I have set for this particular weblog, I don't feel my identity is important. My own weblogs will not be referenced here or linked.

The way I will be an amanuensis is by soliciting your stories. The method I have chosen to use at first is e-mail. The e-mail address reserved for correspondence and entry material for this weblog is the following: voiceofthestorm5000@yahoo.com.

A large number of people who might have stories of contact with this storm and its aftermath have no internet connection at this moment, but there are probably enough to begin this endeavor. And while this blog begins by seeking stories specific to Katrina, having survived that storm, lost something or even someone to that storm, I felt this journal might have longer life if I made it clear that all stories of survival, hope, even tragedy, from storms past and future are also welcomed.

Submissions to the e-mail address above will be edited for grammar and spelling. I may at times respond to submissions with requests for additional information and clarification. You, the submitter, may remain as anonymous as you like -- it must be made clear as part of your submission how much or how little you would like the readers to know about you.

A secondary source of stories can be the comments for any post, however I would prefer e-mail if your story is lengthy.

I will not respond to requests for personal information about myself or queries to the e-mail provided directed at determining my identity. If you think you know who I am, feel free to e-mail my personal e-mail address, if you believe you know it, to ask, and I will consider telling you. It isn't my intention to be mysterious; I just feel the telling of these stories from The Storm is far more important than knowing who I am or promoting myself in some manner. Make no mistake; I'm not that altruistic -- in my other blogging endeavors I am anything but shy about getting my name 'out there.' But humanity's bewildering, and often terrifying encounters with the implacable forces of nature lend themselves to narrative, and also call for, in my opinion, an effort to preserve the recollections of victims in whatever way possible. The advent of blogging, of "citizen" journalism, provides something many who shared the experience of that massive outbreak in April of 1974 never had -- a place to give voice to the experience, to the fear, to the grief, and even sometimes in the midst of disaster, the joy.

It is my hope that no one will think their story too insignificant to offer, and that I will do your words, your memories, justice.

Again, the e-mail address to submit your stories from The Storm -- voiceofthestorm5000@yahoo.com.

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