That’s a roll of quarters she’ll never forget

Published 12:33 am Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc in Vicksburg. Obviously, we did not see nearly the destruction the Mississippi Gulf Coast or New Orleans experienced, but we had our fair share of uprooted trees and power outages.

I remember limbs and debris were scattered all in the yard. Hubby had a full morning of clean up.  Except for the loss of electricity, my loved ones and I made it through the hurricane force winds with no major issues.

We were the lucky ones, and in the midst of those who had lost so much, I kept my mouth shut rather than complain about having no electricity.

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Prior to and during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, shelters sprung open all across town offering a safe haven for the evacuees, most of whom had arrived with very few belongings. Even in the midst of tragedy, the world kept revolving and dirty laundry still happened.

After a few days without power, my sister-in-law and I decided to visit a laundromat where power had been restored. We wanted to try to put a dent in our mounting laundry.

Until we arrived at the laundromat, we had not thought about all the evacuees needing a place to wash their clothes too. The laundromat was crowded, but my sister-in-law and I bellied our way into the midst of the crowd, found a couple of washers and began taking care of business.

While washing and drying our clothes, we started conversations with the new faces in town, and it was at the laundromat where we became aware of the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina on people’s lives.

We were astounded by listening to the stories told by the evacuees.

As we were listening and folding, a women’s phone rang.

She answered, and within seconds of answering, she seemed to lose control of her legs and her body. She slowly slid down the side of one of the washing machines consumed with emotion and tears.

Obviously, I thought the worst, that something even more tragic than Katrina had happened, but she cried tears of joy.

Her husband was safe. She told us after the call ended that her husband served as a police officer in New Orleans. He had stayed behind to deal with all the chaos, and she had not heard from him in days, wondering whether he was dead or alive. Wow! What some people experienced!

I cannot speak for everyone standing around this overjoyed woman, but for my sister-in-law and me, we share a powerful memory from that day in the laundromat we will never forget.

Before leaving the laundromat, my sister-in-law did something. She gave the woman her last $10 roll of quarters. It may not have been much, but it was her way of saying, “I care.”

Hurricane Katrina forever changed lives and landscapes, but it also churned up the hearts and hands of many.

Life and laundry went on.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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