The Leather Oaks Garden -- Katrina ! !
Downed Trees and 'Done' Fish, but who's complaining?
This Page Created on February 5th, 2008
Katrina? What's a Katrina?One of the most difficult destinations to reach on Government Orders is Thule Air Base, Greenland. We'd had this trip on the books for almost 16 months. The first attempt to get there had been scrubbed when someone pointed out that the highest recorded winds on the planet have been measured in Greenland. Well, maybe they were green winds. Anyway, the satellite terminal antenna dome wasn't certified for THAT much wind, so they postponed the trip.
August 24th, 2005, despite the fact there was already this big hurricane heading into the Gulf, I was heading North! This photo was taken a couple of days later, across the dirt avenue from my luxurious Government Quarters.
Weather begins falling apart fast at Thule. By Monday morning, there was snow, freezing temperatures and 50 knot winds. Actually, except for climbing on the roof of the satellite terminal, that weather felt pretty good. Then I got to the Club that night and saw the news reports from the Gulf Coast.
| It took two weeks to get home. The first weekend, my Commander said that I should come no further than Baltimore. Finally, I got in touch with my sister in Notasulga AL. She met me at Montgomery Airport, and I spent the next ten days being her "live-in gardener."
Finally, Gulfport's airport reopened to routine flights, and I got home two weeks to the day after Katrina. Here's what the taxi driver and I saw as we pulled in front of my yard.
The photo links to another page of damage photos.
|Actually, my place came out very well, considering what neighbors only a block away experienced. The first order of business was to remove the debris from four or five downed trees. Despite every one missing both my house and garage, they did enough mischief on their way down that even removing them took some care! This photo taken from my Tower Room reveals that despite all the desolation, there was still an awful lot of standing green stuff, too! And two Live Oaks did stay upright despite temptations to the contrary. The linked page shows some of the early removal progress.|
I wish I could say that the very first thing I did was begin restoring my pond! Alas, my boss had other plans: Despite all the destruction, with everyone having more than humanly possible to deal with at home, he wanted us all at the office. Well, actually, that was pretty nice, since we had power and Air Conditioning. A friend loaned me a generator, so I had running water, and a refrigerator. When the power did come back on, really just three days after I returned, I went in a chill down mode for the first weekend.|
It took an exhausting day and then some, hauling innumerable cartloads of dead vegetation, to get down to the pond's surface. While no salt water had invaded it, alas three weeks with no oxygen and a foot-high blanket of debris caused the demise of all of my fish. The photo at right shows the result of my work. The link takes you on a time line as Nature begins its own repairs.
|We ended up removing the roots of all the downed trees save the big Live Oak out front. Once the holes were filled in, then other projects could begin. Our Governor had insisted that everything be built back "bigger and better". I took that to include my Schematic Stream, which had perhaps made its point. In the rebuild, I not only added more cascades, but re-set the kidney pond fully into the ground. That allowed the other pondlets to hug the slope's contours more naturallly. Unfortunately, I wasn't as thorough in documenting the process on the restoral, but the link will take you to the essentials.|
|The Leather Oaks Pond's recovery was most rewarding. In a surprisingly few months, the plants came back as if a Category Four hurricane was just a trifling inconvenience to them. This photo was made barely 30 days after the debris was removed and everything cut off at the waterline! There were some setbacks, but see for yourself at the link.|
| One of the strangest things, and an apparent near miss, was the large amount of gray clay brought to the surface near the Live Oak closest to Rubber Creek. Since there was no sign that the water rose anywhere near that high, we figure it had to have been wind whipping the poor tree around. It does have a more decided tilt than formerly, of course towards my house!
There was no way I was removing my best remaining shade tree, though, so we looked to see what had to be done. It took several cart loads of dirt to fill in the void left around the tree's base.
The clay had also messed up Season's Springs, though: unless I wanted the whole pond to turn gray, the primary water source of the Rubber Creek would be empty.
My Pond Society friend Roy redesigned the Rubber Creek headwaters, adding an additional liner and a whole bunch of rocks. We probably have one of the few above-the-ground springs in South Mississippi!
|Spring 2006 arrived! And with it a lot of refreshing vegetation. Maybe I could have done with a few less elephant's ears, but I just left them alone for the time being. As you can tell, the Leather Oaks Memorial Bell Tower was unaffected by all of the excitement.|
|The Southwest corner of my lot is really the least changed since I bought the place over a dozen years ago. So, it looks a little more unkempt than usual. I'm sure the next time you see it, things will be better!|