Jennifer's Journal


Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Katrina has come and gone, and while many have had catastrophic losses, we were virtually untouched here in what you might call the "cuff" of the boot that is Louisiana.  Two days of gray, roiling skies with gusting wind, a few scattered leaves and sprinkles of rain, and that's it.  To say we're grateful would be an understatement, since we know many who are without power or water, or else can't get home to find out if they have a house left.  And the flooding in New Orleans is simply stunning in its tragedy.  We're also waiting to hear what happened on the Louisiana barrier island of Grand Isle which caught the edge of the hurricane's eye.
Previous hurricane's were mentioned over and over on the weather channel during the past few days.  One of these was Hurricane Camille which came ashore at Biloxi in 1969.  A friend of mine was a newspaper reporter covering the story at the time.  She asked me to collaborate with her on a fiction tale about it, a mystery-suspense tale.  I took her research and basic story outline and wrote a novel that was published by Ace Books in 1973 as Storm at Midnight.  Since the editor wanted to preserve the impression, peculiar to books of this sort, that the story was a personal experience (as if!), we were asked to supply a pen-name rather than use the double byline that had been on the manuscript.  The book came out then as being by Elizabeth Trehearne.  Still, it featured a storm surge which washed through the bottom floors of beach front houses, stranding people on the upper floors, much as Katrina did this weekend.
Another book I wrote featuring a hurricane was Midnight Waltz, a large portion of which was set on Isle Derniere, or Last Island.  This place was once a barrier island off the southwest coast of the state, one famous in the 1850s for its huge resort hotel and the many summer cottages of those seeking ocean breezes as an escape from the heat and pestilence of New Orleans.  A playground of Louisiana and Mississippi plantation society as well, it was known as "Little Deauville" for it's round of parties, dancing and gaming.  On August 10, 1856, at the height of the summer season with thousands in residence, a hurricane struck the island, including a storm surge which completely washed over it, destroying everything in its path and turning it into the forlorn sand spit that it is today.  Only a few people survived, and these only because of the heroic action of a steamboat captain who grounded his vessel on the island (being unable to dock normally) and took survivors on board.  Though this hurricane had no name, it was long known as one of the most destructive ever to hit the Louisiana coastline.  Until now.     


Anonymous Sue from Tampa said...

Hurricane Katrina is as devastating in her destruction as she is humbling in her power. I only hope that no more lives are lost. Watching the news, I am also saddened to see that not all of the destruction is due to the storm; looters are already ransacking the city. Sometimes when disaster strikes people pull together, forgetting their own problems in an effort to help others. Sometimes not. S*I*G*H.
Thank Goodness you are all right.

7:06 PM  
Blogger sue said...

Jennifer so glad to hear that you came out of the storm fine
But my heart goes out to every one else.

7:00 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Blake said...

Thanks to both you, Sue in Tampa and also Sue on the other coast, for the kind thoughts. I appreciate them.

What's happening in New Orleans just now is a tragedy of unimaginable proportions, from the people who are dying in hot, stuffy attics while waiting for rescue to the desperation--or desperate greed--which sends people out onto the hot, muddy steets to loot and destroy. At least the eyes of the world are upon them.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Temperley said...

I am also glad to see that you've come through relatively unscathed! And geeze louise, you had me recalling Midnight Waltz(my favorite book) the moment before I read it. It's a bit scary...

4:34 AM  

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