Thursday, September 1, 2005

Fielder’s Choice
By Barry Burleson

Stormy night

It’s 10:10 Monday night..

We’re in the downstairs den of our house – just regained electricity after about a two and half hour outage.

We had turned to candles and flash lights. We gathered in Emma’s room downstairs and had some family time with snacks and a movie on Pam’s laptop computer (battery charged).

The tall pine trees out back are rocking, in stages. The rainfall is continuous and extremely heavy. It’s scary, but nothing like what other parts of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama have experienced earlier today.

We occasionally hear pine cones and small pieces of limbs hit the side of the house.

I just went upstairs and looked outside. Our portable basketball goal is down across the driveway.

I called the Holly Springs Fire Station earlier, not any major damage reported yet, just power outages and a few trees down.

The kids fell asleep early.

Pam and I will likely wait Hurricane Katrina out for a while.

TV just reported approximately 50 deaths in Harrison County, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. About 200,000 in Mississippi are without power.

Damage in the entire Coast region may reach $25 billion.

A report just said about 200 trees are down in Monroe County (Aberdeen area) where we lived for eight years.

I just talked with my sister Gayla over in Alabama. My mom just arrived at her house for the night. The center of the storm surge is near Columbus and appears headed for their community near Hamilton, Ala. Winds are at approximately 60 mph near Columbus. The storm is moving at 22 mph.

Laurel, a good city in south Mississippi where we spent two years, was hit hard earlier in the day.

Jackson had lots of damage. Pam’s sister, Pat, lives in nearby Clinton. She called to say a tree had blown down on her house, and rain water was pouring inside. She was at a neighbor’s.

It was hard focusing on work Monday. We constantly checked for weather updates, as we produced the Pigeon Roost News and the second section of The South Reporter.

My thoughts were with my many newspaper friends along the Coast - in Biloxi, Ocean Springs, Bay St. Louis, Picayune and so forth.

The Mississippi Press Association sent an e-mail - its offices in Jackson closing about noon on Monday due to potential storm dangers.

Most schools in Mississippi were to be closed on Tuesday due to the hurricane.

Its path of strong winds and heavy rain will continue through the New England states. Its devastation will continue but hopefully weaken.

Thank goodness, better weather is on the horizon for us - sunshine and better temperatures Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

We saw pictures of rain washing away I-10 near Mobile, Ala., a hole in the roof of the Superdome as thousands were inside safe from the dangerous storm, a person’s car being washed away on a New Orleans street with someone trying to save the driver, a man being rescued from his roof, water covering beautiful homes along Biloxi’s coast.

We’re fortunate here. And our prayers need to be for those not so fortunate, after Hurricane Katrina’s wrath. The death numbers will likely continue to rise. The damage estimates will keep going up, too.

It’s 10:45 p.m. The electricity just went off again. Good night.

It’s 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. Electricity is on at home and the office. I just drove around Holly Springs briefly, taking some photographs of downed trees. Some other pictures are coming in via e-mail.

We’re lucky here, compared to others.

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