Monday, September 3, 2012

Hurricane Isaac

We lost power sometime in the middle of Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.  We'd put the thermostat on 66 degrees to make the house as cold as we could because we knew we'd lose power and that meant no air conditioning.  We'd spent Tuesday battening down the hatches, in preparation for high winds.  Wednesday, Hurricane Isaac made landfall.  Wind and rain all day long.
Wayne and I played cards and talked and napped.  We had power bars for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Every hurricane season, you know the drill:  buy bread, peanut butter and jelly, tuna fish, Vienna sausage, crackers, chips.  It's either that or wait in line to get MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat).

MRE's are a whole topic in themselves.  I don't think any of us not in the military had ever tasted one before Hurricane Katrina.  They're about 3000 calories each!  During recovery from Katrina, I ate everything in one before I knew that.  When I told Wayne that I was so full, he said, "I guess so - they have 3000 calories.  Those are for soldiers!"  The funny thing about MRE's is that all the entrees taste the same.  My favorite part was the dessert.

 It wasn't too hot in the house yet, so we could sleep all right that night.

When we awoke Thursday, we surveyed the damage.  Not too bad.  Just a lot of tree limbs down.  The fence was leaning more than it had before the storm, but it was still standing.  The backyard was a swimming pool because of all the rain.  We had trouble using cell phones - even texting wasn't working.

Wayne had trouble getting the generator to work.  We'd bought it in 1996 in North Carolina because we'd been through Hurricanes Bertha and Fran.  Our neighbor across the street offered us coffee because he'd gotten his generator working.  Thank God for coffee!   He was so sweet, he even offered to cook us eggs and bacon for breakfast.  He had a gas stove.

We started picking trees limbs up and raking all the leaves and moss from the lawn.  Everyone was out in our neighborhood and checking in with each other to see how they'd done during the storm.  Some people had lost shingles and had major roof damage with leaking.

Wayne was finally able to get through on his cell phone to one of his friends who gave him some ideas about getting the generator started.  Generators are LOUD, but they are necessary if you want any kind of electricity after the storm.  He was able to get it to work, and we gave our next door neighbors an extension cord so they could run their refrigerator and fan.  Usually when there's a hurricane, everyone loses all the food in the refrigerator, and it's a big, stinky mess.  Luckily, that didn't happen this time, mainly because we didn't evacuate.  We had thought we would, but according to the weather reports, Isaac would only be a Category 1 or 2, so we stayed.  The newscasters did say it was slow-moving and there would be a lot of rain.  Isaac was 4/5 the size of Katrina, so it was a big storm.  There was storm surge, too, so lots of homes were flooded in St. John Parish and across the lake.  A levee down in Plaquemines Parish broke, and there was widespread flooding.  Shades of Katrina.

We got all our information from a battery-operated radio that Wayne has had forever.

Mother Nature presented us with a 7th anniversary Katrina present:  Hurricane Isaac.  How ironic is it that Isaac made landfall the same day as Katrina?  I think we will all know the date of August 29th.

I worked in the yard until my legs swelled - knee surgery 6 weeks ago - not exactly the physical therapy I should have been doing.  But I'm glad we worked as hard as we did just to get it done.  I showered and rested the rest of the day.

I had plenty of batteries so I could listen to my book on tape:  The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.  I also used my flashlight to read another book, The Summer Guest.  I felt like a little kid reading by flashlight.

Friday,  we were able to make coffee by unplugging the refrigerator from the generator, just long enough to get the coffee brewing.  Wayne had to service the generator every morning and evening, making sure it had enough oil and gas.  I'm so glad he knows how to do that.  I guess I should learn, too.

Wayne reported for work Friday even though, officially, the state government offices were closed.  That's how it goes.  I decided to start cleaning inside.  I went through different parts of the house and cleaned the kitchen pantries, the utility room counter and drawers, the bathroom closets and drawers.  I had to do something so I wouldn't go crazy.  My cell phone died, so I couldn't reach anyone.  No TV or computer.  I listened to the radio while I cleaned.

Wayne came home that night with Popeye's fried chicken.  Best fried chicken ever!  Not technically, but just a nice change from what we'd been eating.

Saturday, he went back to work, and I tackled the garage.  Wayne's very picky about me cleaning the garage, because he says that's his territory.  I'd told him I would just do the corner by the door in the garage.  I started early in the morning, which for anyone who knows me is unusual because since I've retired, I keep vampire hours.  But without electricity, I was up with the chickens.  And earlier was better because the heat became worse as the day progressed.

After a few hours, I was dripping with sweat.    I was satisfied with what I'd accomplished in the corner of the garage.  I went to take a shower.  The water was cold enough to stop your heart.  I told myself it was like jumping into a pool.  Aghhhhhh!

I figured out how to charge my cell phone by taking out the lamp plug from the power strip attached to the generator.  I don't know why I hadn't thought of that before.  Simple things become complicated during storms.

Back to reading the rest of the day.  The heat just seemed to get worse, even with the fan blowing on me.  I'd been OK with the heat the previous days because it rained off and on every day, and it was cloudy.  Saturday, no rain and very sunny.  The cats just laid around, hardly moving.  Walter was having anxiety.  I could tell because he was chewing everything.

Even standing directly in front of the fan, I could not cool off.  My head started throbbing, and I felt like it would explode.  Wayne called me to tell me that some friends of ours had gotten electricity the day before and had invited us for dinner.  Oh, yes!

I left about 7:30 to drive to their house.  It was a little scary because the lights were out and lots of businesses hadn't gotten electricity back.  That meant no stop lights.  I'd already gotten rear-ended Monday during the evacuation traffic, so I was a bit skittish about driving, although it was nice having the car air conditioner blowing on me.  People actually seemed to be pretty orderly when stopping at the "unlit" stop light and taking their turn to go.  At first, I couldn't understand why the street was so full of traffic, but then I realized it was because the stop lights weren't working.

I got to our friends' house and was so happy.  Wayne arrived a short while later, and we ate dinner.  Dianne had lots of vegetables with the chicken, which was wonderful.  During hurricanes, you don't exactly eat vegetables.  You're eating tons of carbs.  Not the best time to be on diet.  So I was thankful to be eating vegetables.

While we were with our friends, Wayne got a call on his cell phone.  It was our neighbor telling us we had electricity!  She didn't say that actually:  she said we had air conditioning.  When you live in the humid, muggy, hot south, you come to appreciate air conditioning.  I did a happy dance, and after thanking our gracious friends, we left and drove home.

Thank God for air conditioning!  It had been 86 degrees in the house that day.  As soon as we turned on the thermostat, we started to feel the house cooling down.  How wonderful to be in a cool house.  We both slept well that night.

Sunday, Wayne had to report for work again.  this is exactly what he had to do during Katrina.  I went to church - they hadn't gotten power back yet, but they had a generator and ran a fan.  Everyone asked the same question: "Do you have power yet?"  Some people never lost power!  Don't know how the power grid works.

After church, I started doing laundry.  Lots of it.  The week of no air conditioning had made everything in the house damp - even the tile floor was wet from condensation.  It was like living at the beach without the waves.  And I made lots of phone calls  - checking in with friends and relatives to let them know we were OK.  I was able to get on the computer and connect with people and find out what they'd experienced.

It's Labor Day - September 3rd.  This is the one year anniversary of the day I retired.  Life is good.  Even with three surgeries this past year and Hurricane Isaac.

Wayne had to work today, too.  I gave Walter a bath.  And I did more laundry.  The washing machine and dryer have been going almost the whole day.  The house is starting to feel better.

Wayne came home with ground meat.  After a storm, you never know what you'll be able to get at the store.  It was wonderful to eat spaghetti with meat sauce tonight.

I put in the last batch of laundry and am getting ready to take my shower - in hot water, not bracingly cold!

I think all of us who've experienced hurricanes are so grateful for things that we so often take for granted:  food, air conditioning, telephones, gasoline, dry homes, safety.

Jesus said for us not to worry about tomorrow because you just don't know what the day will bring but He'll provide.  I have to remember that.

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