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Katrina Taught Me: Always Carry Cash

I learned this hard lesson during Katrina and her aftermath. I always kept $200 or $300 in cash, just in case of an emergency. Well, Katrina was an emergency like no other. We had no structural damage to our home, only lost power, but life without power for a couple of weeks can turn into chaos. I stood in line at our local Walmart to try and get a few items to carry through until we had power, only to be shocked as I got closer to the front door to see a large sign that said CASH ONLY – NO CHECKS NO CREDIT OR DEBIT CARDS.

At the time, they would only let a few people go in and everybody had to wait outside in the smoldering heat and you could smell the rotting of produce coming from the dumpsters at the back of the store. Luckily, I took a chance and drove to Baton Rouge and found a Walmart that was still accepting credit and debit cards, etc., and was able to gather enough supplies to make it through. But the next day all of that shut down, as well. And not only could you not get food, but you could not buy gas because the pumps were shut down and only a select few were still working just for law enforcement only.

And I guess one of the things we take for granted is our phones and guess what, no phone service of any kind. Towers were down everywhere. Even law enforcement could not communicate with each other or other agencies. My daughter was nine months pregnant and went into labor and my husband, who was a deputy sheriff, had to drive to another city to see if the hospital was even up and running. Good thing because my granddaughter was born just a few days after the storm. We did not own a generator, never needed one, until that summer but were able to purchase one so that we could at least have our refrigerator running. A lot has changed for us since that horrible two weeks without just necessities. We have a generator that supplies our entire house with electricity and we always keep enough cash to sustain us for at least a month. And, very important, especially for women because most of us run our gas tanks until it’s nothing but fumes, always keep your tanks full of gas. Sorry I rambled, but Katrina taught us a lot about being prepared for the worst and we never want to go through that again.


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