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Aftermath

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

I'm tired.  I would like a shower.  I would like a full meal.  I miss my home and I miss my cats.

Unable to stand the humid, sticky heat, I have opted to spend my 12 hours off the clock here in my office - where there is a/c and Internet.  Baret goes home; we don't get to see much of each other as we both go into work - in separate buildings - at 6pm for 12 hour shifts.

There is a lot of damage here in Baton Rouge - worse than Katrina, even worse than Andrew back in 1992.  Millions are without power.  Some parishes may not have power again for 4-6 weeks.  Can you imagine?

I yearn for life to go back to semi-normal, and yet I see the threat of Ike out there in the ocean waters and fear for the worst.

Thank you for all your support, thought, and prayers.  We are safe, our loved ones are safe, and no one has suffered any property loss.  Now we are just trying to survive without power and basic necessities in the grueling, miserable August Louisian heat.

Windy, Rainy, but Still Here

Monday, September 1st, 2008

We've lost power twice so far, but luckily it's come back on.  We're seeing strong winds and some stronger gusts and lots of rain.  Other than that, not much else to report.

Gustav made landfall about 45 minutes ago and we're expecting things to get stronger in the next hour or two.  I'm good as long as we have power (and Internet!).

If able, I'll post more as the storm's eye heads on toward us.

Gustav Churns Towards Us as Cat 3 Hurricane

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

If you look at the NEXRAD radar at Weather Underground (best weather site online, imo), you can see that we're just starting to see bands of rain - the outlying strips of Gustav making itself known - coming ashore.

Here in Baton Rouge, the weather is calm...very cloudy, slightly dark, and with intermittent sprinkles.  I started my first 12-hour shift about 30 minutes ago, and traffic was light getting here - though there were a lot of people in store parking lots making last minute supply stops.

There's not really any wind, except a weird breeze that you barely feel - otherwise the air - to me, at least - has this "pregnant" feel to it, a certain electricity as well...something is coming, and that much is obvious.

It makes me wonder how my grandfather's family knew a hurricane was on its way.  Living at a time when there was no television, and quite possibly not a radio they could afford on their small, farm home, they had to judge the threat of such a storm coming by changes in nature around them, and the weather itself.  I wonder what signs someone such as my great-grandfather, and his father before him, looked to as portents that a hurricane was eminent.

I've no word on how the evacuations are going in New Orleans, though something I read online said that they were more than 500 buses short.  I don't know if that's true or not, but it is a sobering thought.

I'll update as more happens...for now it's the "calm before the storm".  We should start seeing rain and some wind as the hours pass, but I don't expect to start seeing any hurricane-type activity until more into Monday itself.  I'll be off at 6am, and hope it isn't storming too badly for that early morning drive home.

Grand Isle Residents Get Out

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

One of the always-worst hit areas of any hurricane is the coastal town of Grand Isle, Louisiana.  I wanted to share this interview with Chief Dubois and Mayor Carmadelle from that area to give you an example of how hard an area can be hit - and (to lighten the mood a bit) - share with you what one of the true Cajun accents sounds like (i.e. what you hear in the movies, is not).

Go to this page, and click the first video link, Grand Isle Preps (10pm Update).

Especially note the Chief's and Mayor's manner of saying "tings" rather than "things".  In Cajun French, as in French, there is no "th" sound and Cajun French-speaking or heavily accented Cajuns will never pronounce the "th" on their words - mostly because they cannot.

My grandmother, who learned English in grade school, went to her grave never being able to pronounce a "th" sound and her accent was not even that strong (at least, not to my ear).  As children, we always got a thrill out of trying to make her say "Thumbalina"  - and erupting into giggles when she could only say "Tumbalina".

Just a little Cajun-accent lesson for you, folks, and trying to lighten the mood - as none of us truly feel very chipper right now in southern Louisiana.  I'll be back with more later.

Storm Limbo

Friday, August 29th, 2008

I've been wanting to get on here and update everyone on the insanity that has descended on the southern portion of Louisiana as it lies in the path of Hurricane Gustav.  While everyone would like to keep hopes high and believe it will not hit us, Hurricane Katrina taught us all a very important lesson about waiting 'til the last minute and hoping for the best.

In light of past mistakes, it goes without saying that the State of Louisiana doesn't screw around these days when a potential hurricane threat is eminent.  My office, which - without saying too much - is an agency within in part of the main hub of emergency preparedness, has been running like a kicked beehive since Wednesday.  The stress level is high, and everyone is determined this time to get it right.

Baret went on call last night, and will be working 12-hour shifts (6pm-6am) until sometime after the storm has passed (and depending on how long recovery efforts take).  I begin a similar schedule on Monday, 6pm-6am, providing i.t. support for a small command center that will be located here in our office.  While I'm frustrated that this all falls on a long holiday for me (I was going to have Monday, Labor Day, and Tuesday off), I am trying to stay positive - there are many more people that much more to fear at this point.

New Orleans will likely began official evacuations this weekend, and Contraflow will be started Saturday or Sunday; depending on Gustav's speed.

Though Gustav will be a weaker storm than Katrina, I do worry more for Baton Rouge this time around.  When Katrina hit, Baton Rouge was on her west side.  With hurricanes, everything to the east of its center gets the most damage and devastating effects.  If Gustav continues on the course it seems to be taking, B.R. will be on the east side of this hurricane and will suffer higher winds, more rain, and possible tornadoes.

Right now we are in what I call "storm limbo" - most of the preparations have been made and the initial scramble is over...now we sit and wait.  While the rest of the world goes with their lives - probably not even knowing about any hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico - we all sit in "limbo"; worrying about our loved ones and property, preparing to evacuate, or stocking up on supplies.  Life takes on a strange feeling, as everything is now focused on that storm system in the Gulf and little else.  It's almost surreal.

As I did with Katrina, I will post updates here as they happen and as the storm moves in.  Landfall will be sometime mid- to late-Monday or on Tuesday, from the last I checked (which has been some time).  Please keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers, especially those in New Orleans and further south as well as lower Mississippi, which is also just beginning full recovery from the devastation of Katrina.