October 28, 2005 | Mark Paradies

News from a Katrina Survivor

To: Mark Paradies

From: Linda Unger

Subject: Cheryl T story for e-Newsletter

Mark, Cheryl said ok for us to use the story below and that we can leave their names in it.


Mark, please share the following with our e-Newsletter friends. A friend and client, Cheryl T, lives in Pascagoula and sent me the 3 e-mails below in response to my queries about how her family made it through Katrina. Cheryl’s story puts such human touch on the reality of the nightmare that so many people went through. I think our readers that were, like me, glued to the TV can appreciate a story from a real survivor. I asked her to let me share it and she said OK.



My home was a mess, the bottom floor was flooded up to ~ 4.5 ft. It was yucky, stinky, silty muddy, salty water. I will never forget the look of it as it began coming into my backyard. Oh, yeah, we had stayed home cause we didn’t have a place to go and felt that the winds would be manageable. They weren’t predicting the storm surge to be as big as it was. It must have been 20 ft here at our beach. The beach homes are gone and the street behind was severely damaged by the beach-front homes slamming into them. It really looks awful. Makes me want to cry when I see it. 90% of Pascagoula homes got wet.

As the water began rising around the house, it stayed out until it reached about 3ft. George was going through the house throwing stuff on the furniture, bed etc and I had gathered up medicines, money, important papers etc. Then three of our windows blew out and the water rushed in. We sought refuge upstairs and prayed for the water to stop rising. It took about 40 minutes for the water to stop rising, then 4 hours or so for it to recede. It is odd to see your furniture and stuff floating in your house. We found some stuff in the backyard that had floated out the window.

All of our cars went under, even the old truck. We will try to save the old truck but the rest are already gone. As the cars went under the car alarms went off, the trunks opened and the horns honked. That was kind of funny.

We were without wheels for a few weeks, then we got one rental. After we had settled with the car insurance we went and bought three cars in one day. I am driving another 1999 Bravada, George has a 2001 Pathfinder and Katie got an Infinity I30. Katie had just started college the week before, luckily none of her stuff was ruined at the dorm. Also none of the kids or Mama’s stuff was ruined at home since their bedrooms are upstairs. I will be getting all new stuff. What a way to clean my closet!

We are currently living in the upstairs of the house. Mama went to Arkansas until things are better, Callie went to Arkansas for 3 weeks, she is back now since school will be starting on the 6th. I just had a call from FEMA and we are in the works for a trailer in a couple of weeks. Hope we get it before we do sheetrock work. I have a plumber coming tomorrow to upgrade our fittings. We had flood insurance so we should come out OK. So many in our neighborhood did not have flood. The house has been stripped of sheetrock (from bottom to ~ 5 ft up), insulation, cabinets, flooring, etc. We had a company come in and put blowers and dehumidifiers in it to prevent mold.

Well, I will send another status in a few weeks. Thanks for thinking of us.


Second email Status Update:

Thanks for the prayers, we really did need them. We are all safe but the house was flooded with 4.5 ft of muddy, silty filthy water. 90% of Pascagoula got wet. We had stayed and when the water was rising on the outside of the house we able to get some stuff up off the floor. Then windows burst and we headed upstairs to continue praying for the water to stop rising. It was very scary.

We are supposed to get walls back today! The sheetrock was delivered last Friday and they should hang it today. We have been ready for it two weeks but had to fire the first contractor cause he couldn’t keep his word (they all have more work than they know what to do with). Anyway, after we get it hung and finished, we will be priming and painting it. Then I have flooring contractors lined up and also a new HVAC unit. Then we will have to have all the windows changed, doors etc, molding and trim put up, carpet (last), all new appliances, new cabinets, and counter tops, etc. It will be a long time before we are normal again. The silver lining is that we did have flood insurance and I will be able to redesign my 1st floor! What a way to do it though!

Take care,


Third email Status Update:

Linda, We still don’t have the walls finished yet. They are still being floated out (I have learned a lot about how a house is built). We have a general contractor estimating finishing the work on the house. It sure would be easier??dealing with the same person on the rest of it. Maybe we will??have the house back??early in 2006. ??

We??haven’t seen the FEMA trailer either! Imagine that. My 7 year neighbor told me her Mom was making her Halloween costume and she was going to be a FEMA trailer. George told her ” Well, I guess no one will be able to see you!” She was too young to get it, but we had a good laugh about it.


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