Okay, cast of characters for those who don't know me. Dad and Mom (79 and 72 respectively) are still alive. There are six of us "kids" : oldest, middle and youngest sisters and oldest, middle and youngest brothers. All but youngest brother, who is also the youngest, are married with one or more children. I am oldest sister (and the oldest). (It's beginning to sound like one of those nice logic puzzles, but never fear, this is just for orientation.)
Middle sister's family and Mom and Dad all live in Gulfport, not, thankfully, near the gulf. Youngest sister's family lives in Hattiesburg, MS. Oldest and youngest brothers both live in Alabama, youngest is in a nice little house in Birmingham. The middle brother is somewhat reclusive, so he actually is not very involved in this story. So, before Katrina hit, I phoned youngest sister Denise to check that Mom and Dad were with her and not left behind in Gulfport. Middle sister Cindy was in the midwest working on a contract. Her husband and son took refuge up in Northern Mississippi with another relation. And then, not surprisingly, we had phone silence for three days while I worried and fretted. Because we heard that things were not that good even in Hattiesburg. I now have news, even having received an e-mail from Mom, bless her, that they all had to abandon the house in Hattiesburg (not sure when - Tuesday or Wednesday) due to lack of water, power and food. By the way, there were other people sheltering there, too, a total of nine, including a baby. Denise and family and Mom and Dad set out in a 2-car convoy to the youngest brother's house, where my parents have been lodged and it looks like they may be there a while. All three houses are still standing, but damaged. That's "the blue house" that Cindy's husband built for their family, "the duplex" on the same land that he built for our parents and his very aged father (who apparently "rode it out" there and is also OK) and the lovely Victorian house in Hattiesburg that Denise's husband carefully restored. So it looks like Mom and Dad, at least, may be displaced persons for a couple of months at least. For one thing, the hurricane season is only started! Now there's a disquieting thought.
Oh, and. The parents' car died irreparibly just as they got to Birmingham. Still, we are all grateful, knowing it could have been a lot worse. Pray for those still suffering far crueler fates in Louisiana and Mississippi.