Hurricane hunter deals with aftermath of Katrina

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
  • Air Force Print News
When asked how he wishes he could spend his weekends, the man gets a wistful look in his eyes and says he would love to sit down and watch television.

Unfortunately, this is a luxury that Master Sgt. Dan Peters, an Air Reserve Technician with Air Force Reserve Command's 403rd Wing here, is not able to enjoy now. With his house heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the instrument and flight controls craftsman spends every spare minute he has putting his home back together.

"It has been an overwhelming process," Sergeant Peters said. "There was so much damage we didn't even know where to start."

The sergeant, his wife, Renee, and son, Travis, attempted to evacuate to Florida when the storm hit. The heavy traffic made travel nearly impossible and they settled on staying with his sister about an hour away.

The journey back home after the storm was a long one and required multiple detours for the family. When he was finally able to see the state of his house, the sergeant said his heart sank.

The damage included two feet of water throughout the house. A tree fell on the roof directly above the bathroom, completely destroying that room. The sergeant said his lawn looked like a war zone. It was covered with debris and no grass was visible.

To make matters worse a nearby treatment plant leaked sewage into the water, giving his house a foul smell. Sergeant Peters was forced to throw out his carpets and all of his furniture. He tore out all the sheetrock and insulation and used about two cases of bleach to clean the house and rid it of the mold that threatened to take over.

There was also a small element of people who tried to profit from the crisis by looting. This forced Sergeant Peters to sleep on a mattress in his living room with a rifle by his side.

However, the majority of the people along the Gulf Coast came together and helped each other.

The NCO said the help he has received from others has renewed his faith in humanity. He was especially grateful to his sister Air Force Reserve units that made donations and pitched in on the rebuilding effort during long weekends.

Now almost a year later his wife is nervous about the possibility of another storm hitting the area.

"Physically, I'm ready," she said. "But mentally, I don't think I can go through this again."

His original goal of June to finish rebuilding has come and gone. It has been a longer process than he first estimated. He admits he does not have the expertise in rebuilding a house and has been learning the process as he goes. He now hopes to finish repairs by the holidays.

The sergeant said he was grateful that he was able to be home with his family when the storm hit, which was not the case for all of his coworkers. He also said that even though he suffered a lot of damage to his house, that others lost even more, and he was thankful to still have his family.

"I could not have got through this without my wife.  She has kept me motivated," Sergeant Peters said. "You just have to take things day by day and go from there."