Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Aftermath

Here's the last one, glad everybody made it through ok!
Monday 7:22 AM

This part of the cycle is over.

We lost water pressure at 7:00 AM on Monday morning. Hugh had just finished his shower and had plugged the bath tub to fill it up to use as a reserve water supply (for doing things like flushing toilets). Unfortunately we did not get a tub full but we could cross our fingers and hope.

We lost electricity at 7:30 AM.

We regained water pressure at about 9:00 Am. We are not sure exactly when that was because we were sitting out on the front porch, in an area protected from the direction of the wind flow, watching the wind and rain blow through the neighborhood. There wasn't much else to do.

We were not aware that the valve in the bathtub had been left open until we found water on the floor of the bathroom. Too late at that point. As it turned out, we would not lose water again during the storm. We really didn't even need the reserve supply.

Bean and Liz, our neighbors across the street, lost two trees in their front yard. One of them broke the top half away and left one part of the trunk. The other just leaned over until it was pretty much on the ground.

There were a few trees down further up the block.

Other than that there was not a lot of damage in our immediate area. Much less than Katrina three years ago (almost to the day). Lots of branches down and of course skads of leaves and wind driven debris on the ground. No where near as much roof damage as Katrina. On the other had most of the roofs have been replaced within the last three years (as a result of Katrina) and maybe that had something to do with it.

Our back yard, which seems to be the low point of the four adjacent lots, filled up with water, which was no surprise. It does that every time it rains here. Which it does often. This time it put about a half inch of water on the floor of the shop. That happens once or twice a year even without hurricanes.

By Monday night it was pretty much over. Except for a few wind gust and the rain. It rained all day Tuesday. We spent a lot of time on the front porch with our books and coffee cups.

We had thought far enough ahead to make sure we had a couple of bottles of gas for the grille. It has a side burner which is handy for making coffee and stuff like that.
We also have a small portable generator which we sometimes take to the track to run power tools. It comes in handy to run the refrigerator, electric coffee pot, and a couple of lights. Power outages in this area are not unusual either.

Mostly it was hot and sticky. Even with the breeze, for a couple of days after the storm it was hot. We had temperatures as high as eighty degrees at six o'clock in the morning. Even cold showers were welcome after the shock of that first breath taking step under the water.

Wednesday the neighbors began to come home. That's when the fun began.

I saw people going into neighbors yards to rake up leaves and bag them so that it would not be so bad a return for people coming back. With more people retuning, we began to hear more and more generators crank up as the machine crazy Coonasses in the area got down to the business for getting back to normal. Grilles were brought out and Wednesday night at least ten families were fed a hot meal of chicken, home made Italian or Deer sausages, pork chops, steaks, potato salad laced with Fennel, steamed broccoli and what ever else any one had that was threatening to go bad from an unprotected freezer or refrigerator. Naturally, all of that had to be washed down with cold beer. Cajuns don't just make do, they make a party. Parties like this happen in the driveway so that every one can see them and join if they happen to be going by. They will actually go out and flag you in off the street.

Thursday was spent cleaning up. Chain saws appeared and Beans trees were cut up and stacked at the curb to be picked up by the trash collectors. Stacks of bagged leaves and debris began to line the curbs. We borrowed Snake's bilge pump and began to drain the back yard. Liz, Bean's wife, decided she wanted to get rid of all the trees in the front yard and so Bean and Snake ( Cajuns absolutely love nicknames and everybody has at least one. They even use mine from when I was a kid which no one but my brother remembered ) cut down the remaining tree and added it to the firewood stack at the curb. They don't have a fire place. If they did it would have been split and stacked behind the garage to dry.

Thursday nights dinner was in Bean's driveway. It had two new dishes I had never encountered. One was called Pastalya. Essentially it is jambalaya but cooked with pasta. rather than rice. The other was butter beans and shrimp and it will become a staple for me. It's some kind of good. As with most Cajun dishes it starts with a Roux, a light golden one, to which gets added butter beans and river shrimp. If you don't happen to have any of the small tender fresh water river shrimp you can use regular bay shrimp but you will have to cut them in smaller pieces.

Right now we are waiting for the trash pick up crews to come. there are at least twelve bags of leaves waiting for them at our curb well as a pile of cut up tree limbs.. It is mostly oak leaves which is interesting. We don't have any oak trees in our yard. I hope they get here before the end of the week.

Of coarse the city of Laplace was closed. Winn Dixie and Home Depot were the first stores to reopen on Thursday.

At home depot there were three lines, one for portable air conditioners, one for portable generators and a third for general merchandise like rakes, hoes, chain saws etc.

At Winn Dixie there was a line half way around the store waiting to get in to search the already bare shelves. The fresh produce and meat departments were closed. They didn't get fresh eggs, milk or bread until Friday.

The electrical power came back on Friday at about three thirty in the afternoon. With in two hours we also regained cable and internet access.

We like to share so sent Hanna up the east coast. Now we are tracking Hurricane Ike. It is currently passing over Cuba and is expected to turn up into the Gulf of Mexico. If it follows the predicted track as well as Gustave did, it would hit here next weekend.

This week I will change the oil in the generator and revisit all the preparatory steps we made last. I just hope the stores get some trucks in in time to replenish some of the supplies we used up in Gustave.

It has been an interesting week.


Almost Here

Installment Number 3
6:30 AM Sept. 1, 2008

It is gusty and wet. Isn't that a surprise. We do have tornado alerts occasionally.

Gustave is still slightly off shore and expected to make landfall sometime this morning. Probably within the next two hours. It has weakened but is hanging on.

All of our neighbors have bailed. We will be the only occupied house on either side of the street for a half dozen homes in either direction.

The television people have been going crazy trying to find something to talk about since yesterday. They are providing twenty four hour coverage on an event that only needs to be checked every four to six hours to see a change. It gets boring pretty quick.

I'll keep sending as long as I can. Louisiana Light and Power usually fails when we have heaving rain. They take vacations when real storms show up.


Second Installment

Here's the next in the series.

Aug. 31, 2008

We have been busy clearing up[ loose debris in the yard, fastening down blow able items, boarding windows etc. The race cars are covered and the tarps bungied down.

The stores in the area have mostly closed as people have started to bail out. Gas is in very short supply and folks are having to go to several stations before they find any. We all filled up late last week knowing this would happen.

We have laid in our supplies of drinking water, candles, batteries, working portable radios, flashlights, extra coffee supplies, canned goods, butane stoves, charcoal grilles, and filled butane bottles.

Many of the parishes in New Orleans area have issued mandatory evacuation notices.

We will continue to keep you posted as long as we can.


Gustave Is Coming

I thought you might find it interesting to read a sting of emails that Pop sent over the last few days.

Since it has become traditional for my brother to give me hurricanes for my birthday I am preparing for this years gifts.

Right now the plans are for Hugh, Rusty and I to ride Gustave out here. It's too early to tell about Hanna and her little sister yet.

Last time (Katrina) the number of cursing bands of looters in vans and trucks were prominent enough around here to make it seem like a good idea to be around (and preferably armed). We will be doing it again this time.

It looks like Gustave might just come up the gulf and hit slightly west of us, but it is a hurricane and therefore not totally predictable.

All the same we will try to keep you informed and up too date as much as possible.

Just in case, my cell phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX. The house number is XXX-XXX-XXXX.

If the electricity is out the chances are that both of these numbers will be out also but what they heck, it never hurts to try them anyway.

Here we go............cross your fingers