Denise Etheridge Column Teaser

My husband and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary on Sunday.

I remember the day of our wedding well, but not every anniversary makes a mark on my memory.

Over the past decade, we usually eat out or take in a movie on Aug. 29 each year. Sunday it was lunch at a Mexican restaurant, and an evening walk with the dog along the trails at Turner Lake Park in Covington. In these chaotic times we live in, low key and relaxed celebrations are fine with us.

When Frank served in the military, we were often apart on anniversaries … and birthdays and holidays. That’s when I would receive the most fabulous flowers, no matter where my hubby was deployed. (I count my blessings that he always returned home from those missions.)

We’ve also experienced anniversaries when one or both of us were ill. In 1998, I was sick as a dog with food poisoning from bad shrimp. On that anniversary Frank put a beautiful arrangement of flowers on the bureau in the bedroom, a bucket by the side of the bed, and a tray of ginger ale, saltine crackers and broth on the nightstand. He’s still the best in sickness and in health.

Fortunately, we’ve never experienced real crises on a wedding anniversary.

On Sunday, Hurricane Ida slammed into the Louisiana coast, echoing the day 16 years ago when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and other communities up and down the Gulf Coast.

I don’t remember what we did for our anniversary in 2005; I do, however, remember being glued to the television and witnessing the catastrophe of human suffering unfold.

There were scenes of people desperately clinging to rooftops. Thousands of New Orleans residents who could not evacuate took shelter at the superdome. That situation rapidly deteriorated and people endured a public health crisis in the very place they sought refuge. Wicked and wretched individuals preyed on the misfortune of their neighbors, looting businesses and vacant homes.

The cyclone named Katrina breached levees and caused the deaths of around 1,200 people. The storm wreaked havoc along the Gulf Coast, costing $106 billion in damage and spawning 62 tornadoes in eight states.

I’m sure this is an anniversary many along the Gulf Coast did not want to relive. Only time will tell what impacts Ida will have made.

As I write this, search and rescue operations are underway and recovery efforts are set to go into high gear. Hospitals in Louisiana are operating on backup generators, their staffs overwhelmed with caring for COVID-19 patients. Heaven bless our health care workers who continue to put their patients first, despite a deadly pandemic and storm surges.

By press time, our area will have already felt some effects from Ida, as it would have pushed inland bringing rain and strong winds to Mississippi, Tennessee and north Georgia.

My daughter and son-in-law, who live in Mobile, Alabama, called Monday morning with a safety update on their situation. They spent half the night in the bathroom as spin-off tornadoes were reported moving through their area. I’m relieved they suffered no injury or substantial damage. (However, the fact they remain unvaccinated for the coronavirus still causes me deep concern.)

Hurricane season is officially from June 1 to Nov. 30, though today’s storms can arrive early or late, like inconsiderate guests. I only hope that more people heed warnings issued by emergency management officials and evacuate when the next unwelcome guest blows into the Gulf’s warm waters.

Denise Etheridge is a staff writer for The

Walton Tribune. Her email address is

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