Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina Aftermath pt. 1

I finally got power back last night, but no internet connection. I’m typing this up in Word and I’m going to post it whenever I get a connection I may only have a minute or two to post. I have my life, my house, my air conditioner, my refrigerator, and a job, so I’m in excellent condition compared to some. The last few days have been the longest hottest ever. I had a few minutes on connectivity yesterday at work, but our network bridge got fried, so I have to wait for a new one. So I’ll give y’all the run down on a few things I saw.

I don’t live in Baton Rouge anymore. I live in Prairieville which is in Ascension Parish. It’s about 20 minutes SE of Baton Rouge. I think Prairieville got hit a little harder than Baton Rouge. There isn’t utter destruction in either place, but Prairieville lost an astonishing number of trees, roots and all, many of which either landed in the roads or on houses. A lot of gas stations lost canopies. Huge numbers of people still down have power because of all the trees and power lines down. It’s also sort of a rural area so there are a lot of people who live in mobile homes and a lot of those sustained quite a bit of damage. The one closest to use lost all it’s skirting and it’s parking canopy and front porch. We didn’t have any damage other than one shingle, my parent’s house is fine, my sister’s apartment was fine in fact they were at LSU during the storm and they were the idiots that we’re out driving around in the middle of it, my grandparent’s lost their parking shed.

The storm itself was pretty crazy. There’s just really no way to even describe it other than it was just wild. I was ok during most of it. There was a period of time around 12:30 Monday afternoon that was really frightening, because I really thought we were about to lose the roof. We didn’t get a whole lot of rain, the ditch didn’t even fill up. It was mainly just all the wind. I haven’t looked up any of the wind speeds, but the trees were bending so far over it was just so amazing that there were any that survived it.

I saw a lot of people wondering why more people didn’t evacuate. There are a lot of reasons. First, so many people have weathered so many of these storms that they figured this one was going to be just like all the others. Remember that on Sunday night at midnight it was still a Cat 3. Secondly, so many people just can’t afford to evacuate. It’s not just the initial trip out. It’s staying several days somewhere (now months), eating every meal out, and not being able to work that whole time so no income. A lot of places can’t/aren’t taking credit cards so you have to rely on cash only. Third, many shelters/hotels don’t take pets, some people will just not abandon their animals. Also, people have property that they will not leave unattended, their houses, their boats, whatever and as y’all have seen, they have good cause, to be protective of them with all the looting going on. (One of the guys that works for us live near the Hammond area and his house is running on a generator and he’s had 4 people try to steal it, he’s been having to sleep on his porch with a shotgun) And lastly and probably the main issue, is that we’ve had so many false alarms. They’ll call for an evacuation and then the storm won’t come or it’ll come and it’s no big deal.

As to what’s going on now, it’s insane. Baton Rouge’s population has about doubled. All these people are going to be here for months. The estimate right now for people getting back into New Orleans is Christmas. The hospitals are overflowing. The PMAC and several other buildings at LSU have been converted to triage centers. The gas stations are nearly all out of gas. The lines for gas at stations that do have it are extremely long. Traffic is so bad. Trips that normally take about 30 minutes are averaging about an hour and a half. All the schools and universities in New Orleans are pretty much destroyed so they’re trying to get all these kids enrolled in the Baton Rouge and Ascension Parish schools. Fortunately, there’s just as many teachers displaced and out of work. Now, they’re trying to figure out where to put these kids and how to transport them. James has been putting in a lot of hours trying to work on the logistics.

There are just so many people here who have lost everything. They’re walking around with only the clothes on their back and that’s all they have. There’s a lot of people here that are opening their homes and taking in families. There are so many churches that are taking in people and feeding them. We’re going to be in this situation for many many months. So many people need help. If you can make any donations to the Red Cross (please specify the NOLA fund) or the Salvation Army is doing great work or I know there are a lot of smaller organizations that are accepting donations, I’m sure they can be found online. STORMAID is one that the local radio stations are talking about.

I don’t even want to address what’s going on in and around the Superdome. I can’t even bear to think about what those children in there are going through.

I’ve heard a lot of people wondering about whether or not Mardi Gras is going to happen. My guess would be no. I would imagine that all the floats are currently under water. The hotels have a great deal of damage. So if it does happen, it’ll probably be sort of an impromptu sort of thing with local people. If they don’t let people in until after Christmas they’ll only have like a month or two to prepare and I’m sure that’ll be one of the last things on their mind. However, I’d expect that the parades that take place in other cities might happen.

Anyway, obviously I’m bored and rambling. It was rather pleasing to know that we didn’t really go crazy without the TV. I read 3 books: The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner, Memorial Day by Vince Flynn, and Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I started a cross stitch project Tis the Season and I’m almost done with it. James, the psycho, spent a lot of time exercising. It’s like 100 degrees and we’re all suffering through the heat and he’s on the stair climber. Once the storm passed we set up the kid’s pool in the garage, which was cooler, and we spent a lot of time there. Also by being in the garage, I didn’t have to face the house, which was in complete and utter disarray. We lost all the perishable food. The freezer was melting so there was water all over the kitchen even with the towels soaking it up. I couldn’t vacuum and there was stuff like Goldfish and Banana Nut Bread all over the floor. I even braved Wal-Mart to look for one of those new Swiffer carpet cleaners. We had all the windows and doors open to catch any breeze (there was none) so bugs were getting all in the house. Eva has a bug problem so she’d start screaming every time she saw a bug. It’s love bug season so those things are everywhere….why didn’t they get blown away??

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