Posted by: Andrea | May 10, 2007

Tropical Storm Andrea weakens

Looks like that’s all she wrote….

Subtropical Depression Andrea weakened during much of Thursday and will have little to no impact on the Southeast coast from this point on. Andrea has maximum sustained winds of near 35 mph and it will continue to weaken. The storm was drifting south about 95 miles north-northeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. The center of Andrea is forecast to remain offshore and will likely dissipate to a remnant low by tonight or Friday morning.

Glad it didn’t do any damage. Having lived through the aftermath of Katrina, I can only say, that no one deserves to go through that. Not ever. I think that everyone who endured Katrina will long be scarred by its effects. Every time I hear a helicopter overhead, I think of those people stranded on rooftops in New Orleans. Hundreds of rescue missions daily, flying over our damaged, unelectrified homes. Each time I drive into the Target parking lot, I recall the numerous trips to get MRE’s, water and tarps. It still brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. All those wonderful “Army men” (as Alex calls them) the National Guard from every state, the Red Cross volunteers, the complete strangers that offered a hand. It was unreal. Surreal. Ultra-surreal.

Living on the coast, I’ve gotten used to hurricanes, tropical storms and the like being a part of our lives. That was, until Katina. She changed everything in so many ways. Prior to Katrina, each year we’d all take note of the beginning of hurricane season. I’d pick up a few supplies to have on hand, nothing major, some extra batteries, that sort of thing. Evacuating was our bag. It was kind of an art form, with 2 dogs, 2 cats, and child in tow. As long as we were past the contraflow points before it went into effect, and the roads were closed, we were golden. So we thought. Oh, we sure thought we were so smart. Ashton would get on the phone with his contacts at state police to find out what time contraflow began, and I would gather the travel necessities we would need for a couple of days. A well-oiled machine. One of us would run though the house with the camcorder and quickly tape our belongings. The pets were prepped, cat-carriers, dog leashes, food, water, yada-yada-yada. Alex played. Ashton would secure the yard. I’d grab a few important papers. You know, like they tell us, and toss some work files into my laptop bag and off we’d go.

One year we didn’t leave on schedule, and so we were forced to sit in those lines of traffic, 90 degrees at night, and hope our car wouldn’t run out of gas. I think that was Ivan. Oh it was awful, waiting to go nowhere. We didn’t let that happen again. We sure were so smart this time.

We even headed a different direction for Katrina. We went west. Off to Houston. Past contraflow with a few minutes to spare. Not hardly a soul on the road to Baton Rouge. Made it to Texas in record-time. In fact, when we got to Houston, we were hit by a massive rainstorm. Texas-sized rainstorm. Poured down so hard, the wind bending the trees. We sat in our car for an hour at the hotel before braving it in downpour that hadn’t let up yet. We kept asking ourselves if the storm had sped up and headed toward Texas. It was so bad we were sure it was a Katrina band or something. But no, turned out just to be a Texas-sized rainstorm.

We were thrilled with our choice of hotel, our room clean and nice. Our pets very welcomed under the circumstances. Plenty of NOLA neighbors at the hotel. Each chance meeting and chat brought the usual questions and knowing looks. “Where are you from? How about that storm? Hope she goes somewhere else, not that we want someone else getting it but just not us again, hey?”

And then it turned August 29, 2005.

The lights went out. Our reservation was up. And Katrina had yet to make landfall.

We drove to San Antonio. Unbeknown to us, we vacated our room as we were told we couldn’t stay. No rooms at the inn. Gave it the college-try, not a single room left in Houston 2 days after we arrived. Closest thing available was SA. So we drove. Drove all day and didn’t have any news to speak of until we hit the hotel around 5pm.

Ah relief. Looks like NOLA was spared. A little water, no electricity, but looks like the city survived. I remember seeing the delivery man from La Madeline’s in the Quarter on the news, getting rid of the pastries that would spoil without refrigeration. He carried my favorites, strawberry napoleons. He was happy, foreign, and didn’t think it would be too long before the refrigerators would be on again, but better to share the tasty morsels, than have them spoil. And good news, no water in the French Quarter, no flooding.

It wasn’t until we announced we were from New Orleans on a Riverwalk boat tour that we found out how devastating things had turned. There was a long silence after a quick “oh” by some of the other passengers. I tried not to stay glued to the news. It’s not healthy for the little ones, they say. So we went sight-seeing. Wanted to try some touristy things. Hadn’t ever been to San Antonio and I wanted to make the best of it. I had no idea how sour things had turned.

The looting. The disgraces. The man-made suffering. All on national television for the world to see. Oh, how ashamed I was to be ‘from’ there. And then it dawned on me, what about my house. What about my town? Not a word, not a single peep about the Northshore in the news. What was going on there. Oh gawwwd. No news is the worst. If nothing is coming out of our area, it must really be bad, I thought. Ashton’s last communication with the Parish President was hectic, as you can imagine, and sounded normal under the circumstances. But that was before the storm. Now there was nothing. We couldn’t even call each other on our cell phones.

I could no longer keep away from the news. I had to see what was happening. I am self-proclaimed news-junkie. So back to the hotel we went, and firmly stayed planted in front of the t.v. for quite some time.

I guess it was Wednesday or Thursday before we got word that our house had made it through the storm. I began surfing the net for any tidbit of information that would shed light on the conditions in our subdivision. Ashton finally got through to someone at the state police and they checked on our house. Everything looked A-OK. Such a relief.

By this time, the whole city of New Orleans had unraveled. People were dying on rooftops, and in the convention center. Our illustrious mayor was hiding in the bathroom of his highfalutin hotel. And we still had not heard from Ashton’s father, who stayed in Diamondhead and rode out the storm. I continued to surf anxiously and tirelessly through the night to gather any info on what happened to them. I finally found a post on one website. It was not much to go by, no last names, and mere vague references, but it was enough for me to wake Ashton, who was a mess by this point, and tell him I thought his father was ok. It wasn’t until the following week, when we were in Atlanta, that we got confirmation of this. And yes, the post was in reference to him.

We stayed with my best friend from high school in Atlanta, until the newspaper needed Ashton back, and our electricity was on. We were so lucky to have their family take us in. It was a time I’ll never forget. Almost normal. While in the back of our minds, uncertainty prevailed. Would we have a job to go back to? Was it worth going back? Where should we go? What should we do?

We had all but made our decision to stay in Atlanta when Ashton’s paper got back up and running. He returned to his post. And Alex’s school re-opened by the end of September. Normalcy crept in, in very low doses.

That was a year and a half ago. Now we hear more about the ‘road home’ than about ‘getting out’ Living in the recovery zone has not been easy. Crooked contractors, belligerent insurance adjusters, crime, crime, crime. FEMA, the other four-letter word. Trailers burning to the ground. Not enough trailers, too many of the wrong variety sitting in Arkansas. Who needs a trailer in Arkansas?!

Ahh, it all comes full circle. It always will.

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