Monday, September 01, 2008

NOLA meets Gustav

24 hours ago, all the citizens of New Orleans were facing their worst nightmare ever since surviving Katrina: another major hurricane making landfall in our city. This time, it was a he and he was called Gustav. On Saturday night, major Ray Nagin gave a press conference announcing the mandatory evacuation. It scared the crap out of me and I could feel my stomach falling. At the time, Gustav was a category 4 hurricane, killed over 90 people in Cuba and decimated it. He said Gustav was about 900 miles in diameter and was the "storm of the century". I know I was not alone thinking that New Orleans was going to be under water again and totally creamed. It was a horrible, horrible thought that I thought maybe I was dreaming.

I had heard from most of my friends in some way about where they were and if they left. Two friends of ours stayed in town. One was holed up with what he said was "a month worth of food and loads of ammo" with his buddy a few blocks from our house, and the other in Harahan with his family who owns a hardware store out there. They stayed to be part of the first reponse team. Knowing that, I felt a little bit of comfort.

All day yesterday I was glued to my laptop. We are in Memphis and here we do not have fast internet nor cable tv, so finding information was incredibly slow and tedious, especially since there were many people online trying to do the same thing as me. Last night was a long night and restless one. Though I slept, my thoughts were on the storm, on our house and on our city and my dreams reflected my worries.

This morning I awoke and still bleary eyed, opened up my laptop to find out the latest. To my relief, Gustav had weakened to a Category 2 when it hit Cocodrie and quickly went to a category 1 not long after. If it was not for this, we would have likely seem more widespread flooding, more damage and more problems no doubt. By some miracle, the levees held together for the most part in the city and wind damage was reported to be minimal. Power was even on in parts of the city! It was even reported that Houma was spared on the most part so the good news continued. The state and city-wide response and preparation to Gustav has been remarkable. I am wholly blown away by how organized everything has been and I'm sure I am not alone in feeling real elation and pride in our state, state officials, city leaders and police department, national guards and citizens for it.

As far as specific details about our house, I do not know yet, but I do know that our neighborhood for the most part held together, so I feel really good about it. Hey, what's another roof? We've only done it 4 times since Katrina we practically have a routine!

My prayers and thoughts are with Grand Isle, Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish who took a big hit. Plaquemines Parish is having a hard time right now too. Information is still coming in from other towns and Parishes who took a beating and my heart goes out. Somehow, going through this together not only as a city but as a state makes me feel closer to the citizens of Louisiana.

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