Shone (I): "The wind was blowin' so hard, we thought those kids was gonna get blowed out the attic."

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DSCN1117, originally uploaded by BenTG.

I interviewed Shone in her East Biloxi apartment on Elmira Dr, which had some relatively minor water damage during Katrina. During the hurricane, however, Shone was at her mother’s house*, in the East Biloxi neighborhood known as The Point. Local writer, Linda Saxon Nix, explains that The Point is

the peninsula that juts out between the Back Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, where Biloxi was first settled and where Old Biloxi is located… “The Point” is where our seafood industry started, and where all of the seafood factories were until casinos came in and took their places, and where a few still are located if they are still standing.

Shone had her six children—ages two, three, four, six, thirteen, and sixteen—with her at her mother’s house. Also with them were one of Shone’s sisters, age thirty-four; two of shone’s nephews, ages four and six; and Shone’s friend, age twenty-eight. Shone is thirty-two years old. This excerpt from her story begins on Monday morning, August 29, 2005.

I got up around 6:30 or 7:00 and I went into the bathroom to take a bath, and I was in there for like twenty minutes, and when I came out, it was a mess . That’s how quick it came. That’s how quick the storm came. And my mom was standin’ there, and she was like, I think y’all, I think you need to come to the living room. We all need to be in one room. And we all went in the living room and set down.

One of my kids was looking out the window and she was like, the yard next door is flooded. So we got up and looked out the window, and it was flooded, but my mom said it always happens. Then about five minutes later, my other daughter say, ginny, it’s water on the floor of the kitchen. And she [Shone’s mother] said, it always happens, it does that. That door leaks. Just a matter of seconds, my other daughter got up off the floor and said ginny, I don’t think so. There was water runnin’ under the TV. It was pushin’ the TV to the couch. That’s how quick the water was comin’ in.

By this time we thought it would be safer if we took the kids back to the back room and start puttin’ em up on the washer and dryer. While we was back there, I was sittin’ on the couch. The water was comin’ up on my legs. And it looked like the house was gettin’ ready to flip over. So my sister was like, I think we need to get these kids to the attic. So we all started passin’ the kids to get them to the attic. We got ’em up in the attic. By this time, one side of the house blew out. That’s what made the house level back and not flip over.

And I had all my kids in the attic. My sister was in the attic and my friend was in the attic. But one of my kids didn’t go up. The sixteen year old didn’t go up. I didn’t go up, and my mom didn’t go up. And the only reason why my mom didn’t go up ’cause she didn’t want to leave me down there. But I’m six foot. That water was to my chest in the bottom of the house.

So we waded around in that water. We was listenin’ to the radio, hopin’ that it would go out. And me bein’ hystericcal, I could hear some screamin’, and I was like, Mama. I said, there’s somebody outside screamin’, and she was like no, it was just your imagination. She was like, you havin’ one of your attacks. I said, no, I could hear ’em screamin’. And one of those little kids said, I hear a cat outside. That’s how I knew I wasn’t goin’ crazy.

Come to find out it was two little girls who drowned in their front yard.

So we just sat around and sat around. The wind was blowin’ so hard, we thought those kids was gonna get blowed out the attic. My sister tried to kick the front of the house out. She was like, it’s a boat outside. We gonna try to make to this boat. My mama was like, no, we don’t need to separate. If we do, somethin’s gonna happen. So waited and waited, waited. Finally that water started goin’ out.

It took about two hours for it to go out. When it all went out, everybody was just relieved and drained. But it took two hours for that water to go out of there.

And we opened the door, and the house was in the next yard. The porch was way over there with a boat on it.

The whole house, the whole house. A three bedroom house. It floated to the next yard. That’s the only thing that kept us from floating down the street was the next house. It pushed up against that.

I don’t ever want to go through that again. Never.

*The link does not reflect the actual street location of Shone’s mother’s home. The red marker is meant only as a reference point, to indicate the general area of the neighborhood.

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Nothing like this has ever happened in America

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DSCN0863.JPG, originally uploaded by BenTG.

Carland Baker, Sr. on the site of his former townhouse, Longwood Apartments, 2012 2nd St, Long Beach, MS.

“Nothing like this has ever happened in America. I mean, to have a house completely wiped off the foundation. You don’t even see a refrigerator. You don’t see a stove. You don’t see a bathtub. It’s a clean, level slate. It’s just unbelievable. And everybody now is walking around traumatized. Because they can’t believe it.” (Gayle Tart, attorney and resident of Gulfport, MS)

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