These past 3-4 days on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it has been very quiet, mostly sunny, very humid, with folks here going on with their lives, and not saying too much about Hurricane GUSTAV anymore, except to say that the coast here was fortunate, this time.
There continues to be heard a number of expressions of relief here that the Mississippi coast is still pretty much intact, unlike the first days after Katrina three years ago. Sadly, the same cannot be said for our neighbors to the west, in coastal Louisiana. We wish them Godspeed, and send them our thoughts and prayers.
In the back of most everyone’s mind, though, is a bit of interest about the storms churning around out in the Atlantic, coming off the coast of Africa, more specifically, Hurricane IKE.
As is normal at this stage, though, so much of IKE’s near future is unknown, because of all the variables that can and will interact with it during the next five days of its journey in the Atlantic.
That interest was heightened some late this afternoon when the National Hurricane Center released its latest models of IKE and its potential tracks, several of which have IKE passing between the southern tip of Florida and Cuba, entering the Gulf by next Wednesday.
Eeeee-yeah! That sort of got a lot of people’s attention here abouts, especially the blue and red models, which rather project a possible landfall on the Mississippi coast.
Again, it is way too early in the tracking process to begin to worry about a landfall here, but it is lurking out there, as a possibility.
And, I, for one, having just experienced my first hurricane, up front and close, am paying attention.
On the campus of the Center, we continue to pick up debris after GUSTAV, and wind down from many of the preparation and implementation procedures that took place before, during and after the hurricane, to protect our clients and the campus.
The clients are all back in their cottages again, with the final buses arriving from our sister institutions to the north who hosted them, bringing them home on Wednesday afternoon.
While working in some of the cottages yesterday and today, I had the opportunity to ask several of the clients if they were glad to be back home. The almost unanimous responses were: “Oh, yes, I’m glad,” or some variation of that. Some enjoyed their bus trips, and some didn’t, it turns out.
Members of our direct care, dietary, professional and education staff, nursing and supervisors, who accompanied and cared for the clients while they were away, also returned home after spending several very long days and nights with the clients at the several locations of safe harbor.
Once the clients were all safely squared away in their cottages with rested staff to care for them, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, the first order of business for most of the evacuation staff was sleep! Which most of them did not get much of during their evacuation experiences. I can vouch for that feeling, not getting much sleep over the weekend myself. Just a little too much anxiety, I guess, from a hurricane first-timer.
Needless-to-say, plans are on the table and ready to activate for the next client evacuation, if that need comes to be, either in a week, or at some other time in this hurricane season, which is now in its most active phase.
When Ray and I brought home all the equipment, soiled bedding, floor matts and client duffel bags from the STF last Tuesday and Wednesday, we left the 20 air mattresses there for our staff, just in case they might be needed for another evacuation in the near future. One less truckload of stuff we will need to haul up there. The STF building where our 42 special needs clients were housed last weekend, is all cleaned and ready to go.
Most of our Center staff who evacuated away from the area with their families ahead of GUSTAV, are also now back at work on the campus, too. Our branch office for Early Childhood Intervention (EIP), over in Bay St. Louis, has been closed, and all the staff, equipment, supplies and records have been redeployed to an area in one of the buildings at the Center campus, after the EIP office in the Bay, experienced about 20 inches of murky storm surge water during GUSTAV.
Speaking as a first-hand, first-time observer of the hurricane operations procedures during GUSTAV carried out by Center leaders and staff, I have to give them all high marks for their efficiency, dedication and determination to keep our clients and campus safe during this hurricane exposure. I hope they all gave themselves high marks and a pat on the back, too, for a job well done!
Now, we’ll see what next week may hold for us, as these roller coaster ‘waves’ from the African coast keep chugging and churning our way.
Sincere thanks, again, to all of you out there, for standing with us in spirit, thought and prayer during the stressful Hurricane Gustav experience of this past weekend. It is most appreciated!
Until the next Mississippi Gulf Coast Hurricane Update (if one is needed)…