Sunday, September 07, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig!

We’re home, we’re safe, our houses made it through the storm in great shape, and so did our city. Here are a few of the moments from this past week that I’ll always remember:

*Caught in evacuation traffic at 1:00am on Sunday morning and admiring the way the wet blacktop reflects the miles and miles of brake lights ahead of me as I listen to the Moody Blues singing Traveling Eternity’s Road

*Waking up early Sunday morning to go get gas for our generator, only to discover that all the gas stations in the area are sold out and closed. Oh, dear.

*Watching the pine trees around the lake house thrash wildly back and forth as the hurricane rolls over us on Monday morning and thinking, We should have had some of these suckers cut down.

*Listening to a continuous bombardment of broken limbs from said pine trees crashing down on the roof and thinking…but I already said that.

*Losing power at midday and thinking, We don’t have any gas for our generator.

*Spending days playing Charades, Clue, Scrabble, and Crazy 8s in a futile attempt to keep my electronics-deprived daughter from unraveling, and thinking, Why didn’t anyone tell me a hurricane can take 48 hours to pass?

*Emerging into a shattered world to spend five hours driving around looking for gas and ice, and finding neither. (This includes three hours spent parked in 95 degree heat in a line at a open station, only to be told when we are the fourth car from the pumps that they just ran out of gas.)

*Finding an open hardware store, to be told that since they don’t have power, we can only come in and shop if we have 1) our own flashlight, and 2) cash. (We have both, and buy lamp oil and batteries).

*Driving up to a little town in the middle of nowhere in Mississippi and scoring both gas and ice. (Only, since there is a limit on the amount of gas each customer is allowed, we are only able to fill our cars, not our generator’s gas cans. Good thing we got the lamp oil and batteries.)

*Watching the rising sun spill across the mirror-like surface of the lake while cooking pancakes on a camp stove on the front porch.

*Hearing that our house in New Orleans survived the storm with nothing worse than a downed fence and a refrigerator full of spoiled food, and that the power is finally back on. We’re going home.

*Feeling a zing of joy as I turn from I55 onto I10 and see that sign that says “New Orleans.”

*Listening to my next-door neighbor (who is in law enforcement) tell us about his hurricane experiences, then watching him pull an M16 and an AK 47 out of his car and carry them into his house.

Ironically, given Hurricane Gustav’s final path, our lake house actually got hit harder by the storm than the house we evacuated.

Thanks to everyone who wished us well. It’s wonderful to be home (and to take a hot shower). But I'm not unpacking. Have you seen some of the projected paths for Hurricane Ike?


Friday, August 29, 2008

Headin' for High Ground

We're in the last stages of boarding up the house and hauling what's movable from the first floor up to the second. Then it's off to the lake house with seven cats for a fun-filled weekend of wind and rain and high anxiety. 'Till next week.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fay and the Faint-hearted

It doesn’t help that we’re just days away from the three-year anniversary of Katrina. But the truth is, no one with hurricane-induced posttraumatic stress syndrome should send their youngest child to college in Florida.

Fay isn’t a hurricane yet, but they expect it to turn into one before it comes ashore. The path has been vibrating back and forth across the western coast of Florida, with landfall expected close enough to my daughter’s college that they’re ordering an evacuation. That means they close the campus, and where the students go and how they get there is up to them.

“Keep yourself safe,” I tell my daughter in one of the thousand phone calls I’ve made to Florida in the last 48 hours.

Her response is predictable. “I can’t believe you said that. It’s just a little Category 1. I went through Katrina, remember?”

Like I could possibly have forgotten? I say, “It’s not the hurricane I’m worried about; it’s the evacuation traffic.”

“Oh. I’ll be careful.”

But I lied, of course. I am worried about the evacuation traffic, but I’m also worried about falling trees and rampaging storm surges and roving lawless gangs and all the other nasties that come with hurricanes.

I’m really great at worrying. Unfortunately, from here, it’s all I can do.

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