And I have been hoping for the best and not preparing at all. The latest email hurricane alert I received today places the storm at a direct hit for where I live. No kidding. I just read that email, and my head is spinning.
My heart is skipping beats. My breath is coming in irregular spurts. My eyes are twitching. My stomach is twisting up. Sounds like a good case of panic.
And I was the one who has been avoiding panic. I hate panic.
My husband is out on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico. I don’t know if they will let him off in time to come help me secure things. How much can you secure for a direct hit?
Readers, the only time I wish I had a safehouse somewhere else is when a hurricane gets into the Gulf of Mexico and they say it’s headed for Louisiana.
We live about 70 miles southwest of New Orleans, where they are already in a panic due to fresh memories of Katrina. Many of them still have not recovered. It’s too early to panic. I don’t want to panic.
I look around my Rita-damaged home at the few things still here that hold sentimental value. Should I take photos of them and let it all go easily? What do things matter if we have our lives?
Mandatory evacuation is the norm here. Whenever a hurricane of any size threatens us within 150 miles, we have to lock up our homes and leave. If the storm makes landfall close to our coastal zone, we worry about what we will come home to–depending on whether we are on the high wind side or the high water side determines the damage we might suffer.
We were on the high wind side for Katrina, suffering minor roof damage.
We were on the high water side for Rita, and suffered flooding in our home, which is four feet off the ground; and our home was looted. We had no idea that a Category 3 hurricane that made landfall 180 west of our home would shove that much water up into our houses. We only evacuated to a town about 30 miles north of here, taking only necessities, never thinking I needed to take my old jewelry box–thinking we’d be home the next day.
That was not the case. We weren’t allowed to come back for three days, and then the water was still so high only those with trucks or SUV’s with large tires could make it down. That is a story for another time. I only relate this little bit here so you can understand the uncertainties that “mandatory evacuation” brings.
Once we leave, we have no idea what we will be coming home to. Hurricanes can stall out, they can slow down, or they can gain strength and speed, and change direction.
My heart goes out to the brave people who have gone back to the New Orleans area to repair and rebuild. My heart also goes out to the people all along the Mississippi Gulf coast who lost everything and went back. My heart goes out to the bayou people, my neighbors, who are so tenacious they always come back in their boots with their mops and buckets of bleach, not waiting on any help from the government.
Yes, we choose to come back and live here, but you must realize something: we have not always been so vulnerable to storm surge. The coastline that has protected us for years has now eroded so terribly, that there is no healthy marsh between us and the now non-existent barrier islands that used to protect us.
Again, America, I ask you. What will it take before lawmakers across the nation take notice of all that coastal Louisiana has sacrificed to help fuel this nation and offer compensation in the form of every dollar needed and every law altered in order to repair this broken coast?
Friends, I pray no one must suffer from this hurricane.