“I thought I might lose a few shingles and maybe some trees, but I was shocked to see water come up through my commode and tub. In one hour, the water rose 8 ft. As I swam to my attic, I saw the refrigerator float past. And yet, 45 minutes later, almost all the water had drained out.”
“I had to swim back down because I saw that the refrigerator was across the kitchen door and I’d be trapped in the house if I didn’t float it to the side,” said Madeline. When she got to her driveway, there was nothing left – even her car had floated away.
For two days she lived in her driveway because there was no place to go. As she struggled to cope with her losses, she learned of others on the street behind who had perished during the storm.
Not only did Madeline lose her home; her husband, a truck driver, chose not to return. He divorced her shortly afterward. “I felt I had nothing left, so I wrote letters, closed out my accounts and lined up a bunch of pills.”
Madeline sought help.
“We go through life with a flashlight and my flashlight went dim,” she explained. “Counseling gave me new batteries to help me walk around the dark places and potholes of life”.
For 2 months, Madeline lived with her sister in the Delta region of Mississippi. While she was warmly welcomed by the community there, she felt that she needed to return home to Bay St Louis/Waveland.
She has lived in a trailer since her return, and works as a greeter at the local WalMart. “It is the perfect job for me! Every week I see people who are here as volunteers and I thank them for the work that they do. I also see people who are in a similar place as I was and they have no one else to talk to. I have encouraged them to get help.” “One visitor asked me if I knew any heroes, and I took him to the center of the store and pointed around – here are your heroes – we survived, we lived and we’re going to do it again tomorrow!”