I woke up about 5:30AM the next morning feeling much refreshed. I washed up, put on coffee, and got on-line to chat with my wife. Winnie came on line right at 6:00AM and I filled her in on everything that had happened the last three days. I told her about Brenda and her home town, that she had driven me home, and that I was letting her stay with me until she was able to go home herself.
We had been chatting about one hour when Brenda came out. I offered her some coffee and invited her to “meet my wife.” Brenda sat down at the computer and introduced herself. Then Winnie made me proud. Her first words to Brenda were; “thank you for helping my husband. Are you hungry? Tell my husband to make you some food.” They chatted a few more minutes and I agreed with Winnie that Brenda and I needed food. I told Winnie I’d chat at our regular evening time and disconnected.
I made a big breakfast for us and we talked for a while, then I needed to put the house back in order. Brenda got herself dressed and used my computer and phone for personal business while I took down the plywood window covers, uncovered my furniture, and got the house back together.
I was low on food as I hadn’t done my regular grocery shopping the previous weekend. So after I finished with the house Brenda drove me to the local grocery store. She offered to share on groceries but I wouldn’t let her, explaining I would have needed to shop anyway. We actually got into a bit of fun role-playing of grocery shopping like a “normal married couple.”
Back home after shopping Beth and another neighbor Tom wandered over. The four of us spent the afternoon sitting around the picnic table on my back porch talking. Brenda shared about herself what she’d already told me at the Red Cross shelter. Beth and Tom confirmed that Ivan was nothing for Gautier. All Gautier had experienced was a lot of wind and rain, about like a typical Mississippi mid-summer thunderstorm. The town hadn’t even lost power. I caught some good-natured teasing about running from safety into danger and how they’d do the opposite from me in the next hurricane.
Later some other friends dropped by to check up on me. They had also evacuated for the storm, staying at a motel in Montgomery and returned the previous evening, but they didn’t have my level of adventures. I introduced Brenda and we talked some more. By now Brenda had mentally accepted that her home might be gone and she was thinking out loud about what she should do. She admitted that without her home and job she had no ties to Orange Beach. My friends, to their great credit, offered to help her out should she chose to resettle in the Gautier area.
At 6:00PM I got back online again with Winnie and we chatted for a few minutes as I told her about my day. Then I excused myself explaining that I needed to make dinner. I had planned out a big dinner with a nice bottle of wine as celebration of surviving Hurricane Ivan and the Red Cross shelter. Brenda helped set the table while I cooked. We ate out on my back porch again enjoying the night air. It was a beautiful Mississippi evening and neither one of us wanted to go back inside, so after we finished eating we stayed outside drinking wine and talking.