GUSTAV THREATENS - I'm doing laundry.
Alright, so apparently this storm is coming for my fair state... but guess what, I'm non-plussed. After going through the last five days filled with violent post traumatic stressful flashbacks, group therapy consumption and actually considering not staying for the "Mother of All Storms" - I am back where I knew I would be the whole time and really not at all that concerned for a rehashing of events from three years ago. I think Gustav is fizzling out... probably hit only as a Cat-and-a-half. Maybe two.
However, I am prepared. Cell phone, camera, generator, twitter, coca-cola ham, guns, coffee, a couple of cases of MRE's left over from the last event, and most of a case of Havana Club Rum (Siete Anos) that I smuggled in from a sailboat race to Mexico. My one concern is again for internet connection. I'm on a DSL line now, which is good because cable goes out whenever a crow sneezes in China and DSL has its own power source - but it is still a weakness.
Have no fear though my texting skills are even now far superior to where they were those first nights of Katrina. I even use punctuation.
Now I'm not really being nonchalant about this storm who's name apparently means "Staff of the Gods". With only about a month left on the reconstruction of the house in Lakeview before I can move back in, I'm pretty sickened to think that something could happen to it. For instance my stupid FEMA trailer out in the front yard getting hustled into the air by a strong feeder band and then dropped right through the new drywalls. That would suck. Tornados are also problematic.
I'm fairly certain that this will be a serious rain event, so street flooding in the chronic areas and streets will happen, but the house is five feet off the ground. Flooding was never a monster problem until Katrina. I also think the new gates at the mouths of the outfall canals that breached and drowned New Orleans will hold. There really shouldn't be a new need to print up sixteen thousand bumper stickers that say, "Army Corps of Engineers - We Put the Lake in Lakeview." Notice I only said New Orleans... because if that happens again, I'm afraid my city may very well be roped off before Obama sets foot in the Oval Office.
Issues for catastrophic flooding lie in the other Federally forgotten people and areas of this state where the White House lingers over drawings for levees and rebuilt wetlands. Why does that even matter you may ask? I answer, check your gasoline prices a week from now. Port Fourchon, which may be ground zero for the eye of Gustav, is where nearly 40% of this nations fuel comes through. Oh yeah, and Louisiana refines like 30% of all that liquid that gets most everyone to work.
Ok, enough ranting. Today I boarded up the house in Lakeview and then went for a nice leisurely drive through the city. It was pretty much me, the NOPD and National Guardsmen. Very quiet, and it brought back too many memories. Houses and businesses boarded up, leaves blowing into the empty streets, humvees, soldiers with M-16s on a few corners, skies filled with Blackhawks, reporters interviewing reporters - I kept wondering where the buses the cops commandeered and spray painted NOPD on to identify them were, the broken out store windows, the de facto military base at Audubon Zoo. All of it. It really creeped me out.
It's not that a day doesn't go by that I don't have a quick memory about something on some random corner from Katrina. A smell, a dark stretch of road where the streetlights are still out. But then, oh yeah, all I need to do to understand that Katrina still ain't over is to look at my FEMA trailer, the water lines that still reside on houses down the street from me, the fact that all of my immediate neighbors houses have been bulldozed and are now idle and empty lots.
But then you realize how much has come back. The spirit and heart of all New Orleanians who have returned, the young minds who have migrated to my city to help her renew herself, the open businesses, the fact that 47% of my neighbors in Lakeview have returned and have re-planted their gardens - it all helps.
Maybe that's partly why I don't feel overly concerned for this storm.
I think these New Orleanians, these Americans, have fought far too hard and straight into the heart of gross odds to rebuild a way of life for it to be so simply snatched away from us...
Well, the first feeder bands should be coming through shortly. Until then.