Like many Gulf Coast residents, Linda Holley, 59, and her 64-year-old husband, Mike, decided to stay home when Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005. The couple, who attend First Assembly of God in Gulfport, Miss., had been through hurricanes before and thought they could safely ride out the storm along with their 37-year-old son, Tom. Linda Holley recently shared their story with TodayÕs Pentecostal Evangel Staff Writer Christina Quick.
tpe: When did you realize you were in trouble?
HOLLEY: The power went off early that morning and tornadoes were forming all around us. The storm was blowing shingles off the roof and blowing out windows that we had covered. Then the water started rising. We decided we needed to get out, but by that time the water was so high we felt it would be unsafe to leave.
tpe: What did you do when you realized you were basically trapped?
HOLLEY: Our son swam next door to his house and found some life jackets. We put those on and waited. By late that afternoon, we were all sopping wet, and the water was deep. We had a fireplace with about a 2-foot hearth on it, and thatÕs where I stood as water lapped in through the windows. We just kept praying for the waves and wind to stop.
tpe: How were you able to leave the house?
HOLLEY: Just before nightfall, we saw the wind change and the water recede enough for us to swim over the gate and start walking down our street. We decided we would walk across town to my 82-year-old motherÕs house because I really wanted to check on her. As we started wading down the main road in front of our house, the wind was blowing so hard we could barely stand up.
tpe: What was the most frightening moment?
HOLLEY: We needed to cross a flooded bridge to get to my motherÕs. We locked arms and started across, but the water just picked us up and carried us away. My husband was pushing me and I was pushing him as we helped each other fight against the current. We were being carried sideways toward the bayou. We had to fight hard to stay on the road as we were swept several hundred feet across the bridge.
When we finally got our feet on solid ground, we knew we would be OK. Someone picked us up on the road after that and drove us to my motherÕs house. We were thrilled to see that she was fine and that God had protected her.
tpe: How did your faith in God help you cope with the ordeal?
HOLLEY: If I hadnÕt had Jesus I donÕt know how we could have done it. We talked to God the whole time and He gave us such peace. While we were in the house, a table would float by that had cake and crackers on it and we would say, ÒHey, pass me another piece of that cake.Ó We were losing our home, we were in a dangerous situation, but we kept our sense of humor and we were never in a panic.
tpe: Did the experience change you in any way?
HOLLEY: ItÕs drawn me closer to God and anchored me more in Him. I see the mercy and grace that God has given us and the ways He has helped us in all of this. IÕm not upset with God about anything thatÕs happened. I know He is sovereign and does all things well.