Saturday, August 30, 2008

Here We Go Again

We in Louisiana have been tracking Hurricane Gustav for days now. It seemed for quite a while that the storm would reach landfall at the southcentral part of the state. The most recent hurricane models indicate that it's not as far west of New Orleans as we in the N.O. area would like.

It's so disheartening because there are so many areas in New Orleans - and probably on the Gulf Coast in general - that have not fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina 3 years and 1 day ago. Locally we see it in the papers and on the news "so and so is finally moving back in to their newly renovated home following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina." Let's hope that welcome mat isn't temporary.

My area is ordering a mandatory evacutation tomorrow morning and "contraflow" will start at 4:00 a.m. Do you know what contraflow is? It's the opening both sides of the interstate but with traffic flowing in only one direction. Have you ever driven on the "wrong" side of the interstate? Okay, have you ever tried it sober? (Just kidding. I haven't either, but it has to be a strange sensation which is why we're hoping to avoid it by leaving at 2:30 a.m....driving on the "right" side of the road.)

We took the middle seat out of the minivan (hubby says it would only cost "a couple hundred dollars" to replace said seat if it's destroy at our home - yeah, right.) This will allow us more room for our treasures and our pets. I don't really think of myself as a materialistic person. Sure, I like my stuff, but there aren't many things that I consider truly important. Still, it's hard to condense the personal treasures of a family of five into a minivan.

Still, I remind my kids that we're so blessed that this is a hurricane. We have forecast models and tracking. We have advance notice. Something that victims of tornadoes or fires don't have. However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sad about the things I'm leaving behind. Somewhere in this house is a locked wooden box (key long misplaced) with love letters written by Dear Hubby when were first dating. I left the collage my mother sent me a few years back of my family - photos of my grandparents on both sides, me, my sister and my folks, a photo of my side of the family at my wedding, baby photos of the kids. If the worst case scenario happens, I hope she'll be able to create another.

So what did I take? Hmmm. My treasures? My fine jewelry (it doesn't take up much space), the jewelry I sell in my Etsy shop (in the off chance I sell something, I can ship it from Tennessee), the calendar, which includes important phones numbers. My bill paying stuff, including check book, and account numbers for nearly everything. A few irreplaceable photos. Several CD-roms of my digital photos and other files that are stored on my computer. Medications for Dear Hubby and Son #1 (fortunately, we're up to date on the prescription refills).

Oh, and heart worm/flea preventative for the dogs - because it cost more than most of Dear Hubby's meds combined. I brought 3 precious toys (a teddy bear that I ordered from Avon a few years back with a clear pocket for a photo - the boys when Son #3 was a baby, "Sheila" a stuffed dog I got for my very first Christmas, and "Spot" another stuffed dog that my sister and I bickered about for 20 years - he was my wedding gift from my sister. He's butt-ugly, but I treasure him. Because I WON!!! hee hee!).

The kids packed a few stuffed animals each, Son #1 packed several thick books (um, they sell books in Tennessee, y'know). We did let them take their video game systems. I don't know whether we'll let them plug it in at the hotel, but it's important to them and comforting to know they have it (even thought those things can be easily replaced)

We removed all moveable , potentially projectile objects from the yard and put them in the garage. Earlier today, Dear Hubby saw a couple that used to live down the street from us. They were nightmare neighbors (I don't have the energy to find the original blog posts now, but if you want to learn more about them check my posts from 2005).

Long story short: mom bought the house, listed daughter and son-in-law as 1% owners. Deal was daughter, son-in-law and kids would live in house and pay rent to the mom. They reneged. Daughter ran off with another man, briefly brought the boyfriend home (one big happy family - not!). Eventually daughter moved out and mother sued to buy out their share of the house and have them removed from the title and evicted (mom ended up with the two youngest grandkids). Mom has been renting the house to a nice family for the past 8 mos.

Well, today, daughter and son-in-law were seen walking up and down the street. They stopped in front of their old house, then the cop's house next door, then our house. Dear Hubby was in the back yard, but made it a point of waving to them over the gate so they'd know they were seen. I don't want to falsely point the finger at anyone, but Dear Hubby (former cop) got the sense that they may have been 'casing the neighborhood' to see who was still here and who evacuated. The cop next door will obviously be deployed for emergency service and therefore away from his house for several days (his house was mysteriously broken in to a few years ago, too). The son-in-law has two arrests for breaking and entering.

Maybe they were just being nostalgic for the good old days when they lived in our neighborhood, but it's annoying enough to leave your home because of a dangerous hurricane. Now we have to worry about our house being looted while we're gone. Sheesh. Fortunately I believe in karma.

So what have I learned since last time I evacuated (for Katrina)? Here are some tips:

  • Take all of the stuff in your freezer and place it in a trash bag. Twist it closed, then place it in another trash bag and seal. Place this back into the freezer.
  • Do the same thing for the contents of the refrigerator.
  • Fill a pitcher with ice cubes and put it in the freezer.
  • Leave and don't look back.

When you return home, check the freezer first. If the pitcher contains ice cubes, congratulations! Your electricity wasn't out very long, if at all. The contents of your fridge/freezer are safe.

If the pitcher contains a since pitcher-shaped chunk of ice (or worse, water), then simply take the pre-bagged contents of the fridge/freezer, place them in the trash can, put it out by the curb. And hope the streets are clear enough that the garbage guy can pick it up within the next month.

At least you'll have likely saved your appliances from the stench of rotting frozen pizza, frozen broccoli and the 29 lb turkey.

Sorry this post is so long and disjointed. Trying to get a lot of thoughts down before we hit the road in two hours or so. I'm not sure how soon I'll be able to post again. Keep us in your thoughts.


Sue said...

Elle, saying prayers that you and your family remain safe and out of harm's way.

If there's anything I can do from here in CT, please let me know.

Shionge said...

Hey Elle, I read about the evacuation going on now in New Orlean and that it is going to reach your safe my dear friend and stay calm.

I'll be thinking about you and your family as I imagine the planning the trip to get out as quickly as possible.

Once safe my dear friend.

Jenmomof4 said...

I will be thinking of you! IF you have access to a computer keep us updated.

I hope the boys enjoy the hotel!

Shionge said...

Hey...just thinking about you and your family Elle, hope all is fine and well.

take care

Lisa R said...

Thanks, sue, shionge, and jen. We returned last night and began cleaning up this morning. Fortunately no damage to the house, just a lot of branches, debris, etc. to clean from the yard.