Saturday, September 13, 2008

I just had to get the following out of my head. I hope I'm just panicking, but all observable evidence suggests that I have good reason.

It's 10pm in south Louisiana. Hurricane Ike made landfall at 3:20AM this morning at Galveston/Houston, some 500 miles away. Ike is now somewhere in north Texas & Oklahoma if not further.

Yet somehow, Ike's storm surge CONTINUES TO RISE slightly in parts of coastal Louisiana this evening, or at best have held steady since early AM yesterday. It's not just the coast either; water is inching towards homes in non-coastal parishes. I don't ever remember this happening before and everyone from Cameron Parish on the west end of LA to Plaquemines Parish on the east end of LA is saying the flooding this time is worse than Rita's surge in 2005. There's no more time for restoration studies or planning. We are literally washing away down here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

On The Road Again

Like nearly 2 million fellow Louisianians, I participated our new age tradition of getting the hell out of dodge before Gustav before completing a few minor rituals that accompany getting ready for storms:
  • Hitting at least 5 stores to stock up on beer, liquor, food, water, batteries, cat food, cat litter, paper towels, styrofoam ice chests, medicine, beer, liquor, heavy duty gloves for post-storm clean up, flashlights, beer, liquor, transmission fluid, motor oil, beer, and liquor
  • Spending about 4 hours on the Internet and phone with 3 relatives and 4 rental car companies and 1 bank executive figuring out how my non-driving, non-credit-card-owning grandparents could rent a car for them and a relative willing to drive them in a day and age when apparently good ole American cash is no longer good enough for conducting good ole American lifesaving business
  • 2 hours on the phone and Internet trying to find a hotel that takes pets
  • Washing 4 loads of laundry and packing some of it (hey, I was without a dryer for a few weeks so I was a bit behind, OK?!)
  • Trying not to get too stressed out
  • Helping a friend board up windows and move stuff out of her basement
  • 2 trips to the gas station
  • Checking the weather forecasts 40-50 times a day
  • Securing a few outdoor items to keep them from flying away
  • Planning my contraflow evacuation route and devising alternate routes to avoid that pesky problem of ending up in Florida instead of Texas
  • Accepting that I'd be driving to Texas without that much needed front end alignment after pulling up to Firestone and not even being able to find a parking spot
  • Gathering up papers needed to work on a manuscript due August 30th (LOL-- yeah like THAT happened)
  • Backing up important computer files on my flash drive
  • Checking in with relatives and friends to find out if, when they were leaving and devising alternate plans of communication for when cell phones would inevitably become useless
  • Washing the dishes in the sink so they wouldn't mold and smell up the place
  • Taking out all the trash in the house
  • Throwing away all food in the fridge that would spoil after losing electricity
  • Packing the car at 4:30AM with part of my stockpile detailed in bullet #1, important briefcase of important papers already packed and ready to go at moment's notice, shrimp boots I believe are given to every male born in south Louisiana at birth, first aid kit, CDs for the drive (even though I know I'm going to listen to news radio damn near the whole way), family photos that post-Katrina wisdom dictates are no longer safe left at home on top of an 8-foot high bookshelf, strategically placed cat food, water, litter, & cat toys (before realizing my cats were planning a hunger-drinking-pooping-playing strike to protest the interruption of their livelihoods);
  • Helping the friend I tailed to Shreveport pack her car at 6AM; aaaaaand...
  • Playing that fun game with my employer of Do I Have to Go to Work? When Do I Need to be Back? How will I know I need to be back? Hell, I Just Hope to Have a Damn Job a Week from Today
You know, it's quite amazing there aren't more tragedies on the road when 2 million sleep deprived people are driving for their lives. Then again, who had the energy for road rage?

Once I settled into my comfortable, spacious hotel room in Dallas (ever thankful and knowledgeable of the fact that many of us were living without that luxury and reminiscing on my own lack of such accommodations during Katrina), I realized that I needed this vacation. Gee, I wonder why.

One thing about disasters is that they do bring us together. Especially when Louisianians outnumber Texans on Texas highways and essentially commandeer their hotels for a week or 4. I imagine the same applied in every state below the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Rockies. Prompted by my formidable friend who runs New Orleans: A Labor of Love (still bringing folks here to rebuild from Katrina, by the way) to get off my ass and do something while in exile, here are a few pics of fellow citizens I got to know while away. I don't even know the last names of these families, yet I'm still thinking of them and hoping & praying that things work out for the best for them.

Algiers, Avondale, & Harvey, Louisiana

Cut Off, Louisiana (a.k.a. down da bah-yoh)

Church Point, Louisiana (outside of Lafayette)

Beau-Barack & Bella-Michelle hanging out in Dallas, TX during Gustav

Cats don't much care for evacuating either

John McCain - Lost in Space