Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hurricane Update

Communication and electricity are still challenges in New Orleans, but overall we weathered just fine, cozy in fact. No electricity at our house, but no damage either. Because we have a gas stove and water heater, we have hot food and hot showers! Kerosene lanterns and plenty of books to read. We turn on the generator a few hours a day, mostly to run fans and the refrigerator, although we keep most perishables on ice. A few grocery stores are opening here and there, but close early. I was able to use an ATM, my cell phone gets good coverage again, and today I found an Internet cafe.

My plans to evacuate changed at the last minute. It was a high-stress moment, exacerbated by our braying mayor alarming the nation, and us. We took the well-informed advice of an extremely capable and well prepared couple who invited us to ride out the storm in their historic Uptown mansion, which is built on natural high ground and has withstood a century and a half of hurricanes. It was the right choice. We were very safe the entire time. We grilled salmon on the BBQ, swam in the pool during high wind, and talked. An occasional Valium relieved the boredom.

A few things we learned: Turn off television news and scoff at anything said by our mayor. We went to the National Hurricane Center website instead, and got a very different story about Gustav. We decided to trust the scientists and not the politicians. We also learned to have ample chocolate on hand, red wine, and to never share towels.

Yesterday I moved back into our house. All's fine. Bunch of broken branches and leaves to clean, but that's it. I'm happy to be home, despite the lack of power. I have a lot of reflect about, and the enforced downtime is good. Also I'm enjoying the novel, The Master and Margarita.

New Orleans was spared much worse damage, although that Industrial Canal over-topping gave us a scare. I love the spirit of community here, and of course, the bars are packed. Ostensibly there's a curfew at sundown, but last night you wouldn't know it. Locals who rode out the storm were in the French Quarter last night in full force, celebrating our survival and unique way of life.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes, concerned text messages, and the occasional phone calls that got thru. The offers of money were very generous, and contact from the outside world was comforting.

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