Advertisement
  1. Local Weather

Reporter finds Southern kindness while covering Hurricane Isaac

Brittany Alana Davis and Rhonda Gamble at an American Legion branch in Waveland, Miss. Gamble provided Davis refuge and shrimp Creole during Hurricane Isaac.
Brittany Alana Davis and Rhonda Gamble at an American Legion branch in Waveland, Miss. Gamble provided Davis refuge and shrimp Creole during Hurricane Isaac.
Published Aug. 31, 2012

WAVELAND, Miss.

As Hurricane Isaac swept through coastal Mississippi Wednesday night, I sat at Rhonda Gamble's dining room table trying hard to ignore the smell of spicy shrimp Creole.

My stomach felt empty after a day of hurricane reporting. And as Gamble chopped celery, bell pepper and onions — the trinity of Creole cooking — I ached to finish my story so I could eat.

"I'm done!" I announced, as I sent the story to my editor.

"Then you're ready for shrimp Creole?" asked Gamble, who I'd met only hours before. "I also made apricot nectar cake."

That was the start of a cozy evening in Waveland, about 40 miles east of New Orleans. Storm flooding prevented me from returning to my hotel, and Gamble gave me pajamas, a toothbrush and a fresh towel.

We watched the Republican National Convention as we talked politics, family and hurricanes.

In Waveland, they know a thing or two about hurricanes.

This 6,500-person town was ground zero for Hurricane Katrina, and for Isaac, which this week flooded local roads and toppled street signs.

It's a place where everybody knows each other's business, and "if they don't, they make it up," Gamble said.

They also help each other, especially during storms. Lucky for me, that kindness extends to strangers.

Gamble, 54, and her husband Jay had spotted me that afternoon — soaked and somewhat alarmed — at Scafidi's Wheel-In diner, the only place open during the storm.

"I knew you weren't from around he-yah," she later teased, with her New Orleans drawl. "You looked like you could use some help."

Her instincts were right. Minutes earlier, I'd survived a harrowing clash with Isaac.

In search of a good story, I was making my way toward the neighboring town of Pass Christian, which suffered devastating floods during Katrina.

I began to have second thoughts as I climbed the 85-foot Bay St. Louis Bridge, the wind battering my rented Nissan Armada. As the bridge descended, I slammed on my brakes and cursed.

The St. Louis Bay sprayed violently in the air as it engulfed the road. I couldn't reverse because I was exiting a bridge, but I also couldn't drive into the rushing water. It was a flash flood.

I shifted the SUV into 4-wheel drive, catapulted over the median and forced myself to breathe as I drove back over the bridge. I stepped into the diner to slow my beating heart.

In a stroke of serendipity, that's where I met Gamble.

"You're welcome back here anytime," she said, as she hugged me good night. "The door is always open."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A pedestrian walks through deep snow after an overnight snowfall, Monday, in Marlborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes) [BILL SIKES  |  AP]
    The nor’easter could drop 10 to 20 inches of snow by Tuesday morning from Pennsylvania to Maine, forecasters said.
  2. Ebony Fisher, 26, braves the cold weather while walking to work in downtown Tampa in this 2018 photo. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
    The weather will drop into the low-40s and high-30s in some areas at night.
  3. Hurricane Dorian left homes in ruin in the Bahamas. [FERNANDO LLANO  |  AP]
    The season’s strongest storm, Hurricane Dorian, had Florida in sight but turned north before making landfall. The storm decimated the Bahamas.
  4. A woman carries an umbrella while walking in the rain in San Francisco, Tuesday. Northern California and southern Oregon residents are bracing for a 'bomb cyclone' that's expected at one of the busiest travel times of the year. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) [JEFF CHIU  |  AP]
    The system could mean disappointment for fans of the larger-than-life balloons flown at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
  5. Temperatures are expected to rise throughout the rest of the week, but a cold front should move in over the weekend bringing lows to the mid-50s. [Brandon Meyer]
    Temperatures should rise throughout the week, but they won’t stay that way for long.
  6. The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center shows the storm moving toward the northeast out to sea. [National Hurricane Center]
    An early morning advisory shows the storm turning toward the northeast.
  7. Tropical storm Sebastien has developed in the Atlantic and now has an 80 percent chance of turning into a tropical cyclone. [National Hurricane Center] [National Hurricane Center]
    Forecasters with the National Weather Service do not expect the storm to threaten land.
  8. Forecasters with the National Weather Service estimate that the system has a 50-percent chance of developing into a tropical or sub-tropical depression during the next 48 hours. [National Weather Service]
    Forecasters with the National Weather Service expect the system to develop into a depression by mid-week.
  9. Maintainers prepare KC-135s refueling planes to be evacuated from MacDill Air Force Base in August. A new study predicts MacDill and other Florida bases will experience a sharp rise in the number of days when the heat index tops 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making it unsafe to be outside for extended periods. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    MacDill Air Force Base is predicted to see big increases in days the heat index tops 100 degrees.
  10. An arctic blast will chill the eastern U.S. this week and send temperatures in Florida well below normal on Wednesday. [National Weather Service]
    Tampa Bay might not freeze this week, but we’ll get the coldest temperatures of the season so far as they dip well below normal.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement