Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Third Birthday, Katrina! Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

Before we could get any more news, the power went out at my grandmother’s house.

Yeah, someone was laughing at us. I just know it.

Several phone calls later, we determined that the power was up and running in town which was about 8 miles away.

After sitting and stewing and panicking, we got our stuff together, left light of my life with my grandmother and aunt and headed to the library to use their computers.

When we get there, we find out that their system is down.

Argggghhhhh!!!!

We went home and listened to a battery operated radio and heard all sorts of atrocious things that were happening. It was chaotic and noisy and useless and misleading.

It was frustrating.

And, the whole time, I CAN’T REACT!!! I have to be “on” for my daughter.

We tried calling everyone we knew. The lines were so busy we couldn’t get through to anyone and no one could get through to us.

I didn’t know the whereabouts of my friends or co-workers or anything. I didn’t know the status of my house. I didn’t even know if I had a house to go home to. I didn’t know if all of my daughter’s pictures were ruined, or if my couch had floated off down the street or if my daughter’s brand new Barbie house that I had just built for her was ruined. I didn’t know if that snow white neighborhood cat had drowned or if any of my neighbors had stayed behind to ride it out and were now dead or barely surviving.

I didn’t know ANYTHING. And it was FRUSTRATING!

And I couldn’t react.

Later on Monday, we heard from my uncle who said he had power and cable up at his house. We headed over there and watched any cable news station we could find. We were literally sitting on the edge of his leather couch just trying not to scream or cry or throw things at the PURE LACK of information the media seemed to have.

Now, I know I can’t blame them entirely, but in this day and age where you can speak to someone in Japan and it sounds like they’re in the next room or you can download an entire movie in minutes off the internet, it seemed improbable that these people couldn’t get ANY information to the public.

At this point, really, my days started to run together.

During the next couple of days, we were able to ascertain that it seemed our little block did get about 3 feet of water but not as bad as what we were hearing what other neighborhoods were getting.

On one of those days, we heard from my aunt and discovered that their street had 9 feet of water. And their house was only 3-4 feet off the ground. In short, they lost pretty much everything.

Again, hers is not my story to tell.

We heard on the TV that there was a website you could go to and you could see ariel shots of your house or neighborhood. We wrote down the site and headed to the library. Lo and behold, they were right. We were able to actually FIND OUR HOUSE on the Internet! How cool! We could see someone’s VW bug parked on the street in front of the park right by the house. We could ACTUALLY SEE the top of the VW. We knew then that our house wasn’t under water. It did look like there was a tree down on the roof, but we couldn’t tell for certain.

However, I lived on the bottom half of the duplex. Which means, if water got into our house, everything in my house was pretty much ruined. Even if it was only a foot of water.

How did I know this? Because we had been hearing that we were not going to be allowed back in to the house until the waters receded.

Think about it. Weeks of standing water + tropical heat + no power = a big old mildew-y mess of proportions like you’ve never seen.

And I didn’t have flood insurance. My renters insurance didn’t cover flood and my mom’s homeowners insurance didn’t cover MY contents.

The next couple of days were filled with listening to my gorgeous new boyfriend (shut up, I know he’s gay, still…) Anderson Cooper and the horrifying and extremely unqualified Nancy Grace go on and on and on and on and on and on about the tragedy.

It was enough to make my ears bleed. But, like a car wreck, you couldn’t help but watch. We were watching to get a glimpse of familiar sites while others in the family were watching to just watch.

We finally got through to my incredibly wonderful neighbors. They had evacuated to a Podunk little town in LA and rode out the storm in a cabin.

All entrances to the city were blocked but my neighbor managed to sneak in and got all the way to our block. The last couple of blocks, he had to walk because it was too deep to drive the car.

He said when he got there, he could immediately see that our houses hadn’t been breached.

WHEW!!!!!!!!!

However, EVERYTHING in the sheds and in our laundry room were gone. My little Geo Storm was flooded and nasty and smelly. He lost the ‘stang he was rebuilding for his son.

Our neighbors on the corner got hit the hardest. They had a slab foundation and got 4 feet of water in their house (our street sloped downwards as you got closer to the park).

We were spared mostly because our houses were off the ground about 3 ½ feet. We missed getting water in our house by 6 inches.

Our neighbor was only able to do a look and see. He walked around both properties and verified that no windows were broken and looters had not broken in.

He said that he had never seen the city so quiet and still and empty. It broke his heart.

To be continued...

Later,

13 really cool people who give a rat's patootie:

Middle Aged Woman

The not being able to react? Would just about kill me.

Maggie, Dammit

I'm just now getting caught up on this series.

I can't imagine how awful it was to be feeling all those things.

I can't imagine how awful it was to be feeling all those things and be unable to react.

I can't imagine how awful it feels today to watch what's coming, to relieve it all.

I'm thinking of you.

sassy stephanie

I can't imagine. Or having to relive this all.

AFRo

Mama Dawg - I want to know how you are handling the news of Gustav. Does it make you sick all over again, as far as the emotions that you felt as you were going through this nightmare?

You really are a good writer... your story continues to bring chillbumps and tears to my eyes.

Insane Mama

Mama Dawg... My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

I couldn't imagine NOT reacting, you did a very good job of controlling yourself.

Kat

I know what you mean about having to remain calm and put up a front for the well being of your children. Good for you for doing that for your daughter. How are both of you dealing with Gustav? Know we are thinking of you!

jenboglass

I can't imagine feeling so helpless. Wow. It sounds like you held yourself together very well.

Trooper Thorn

What was worse Mama D: not knowing anything, or not being able to do anything about it?

Your writing is so compelling.

Rhea

Wait, Anderson Cooper is gay?! He's sooo cute!!! Damnit.

This is such an eery story. I can't imagine not getting much info, worrying about your stuff, your neighbors, your LIFE. And having to act brace in front of your daughter. That's tough.

I'm so glad you got out ok and were safe.

Rhea

BTW, in regards to Gustav right now. I have family in Baton Rouge and we tried to fly my 75 yr old grandmother out yesterday...she's refusing to leave though, because her husband is near death in hospice.

She just had knee surgery and lives alone right now!! My aunt and uncle (her daughter) were going to stop by and help her out a little, but I'm worried about her on her own. So much can go wrong and Gustav is headed right for them.

Lisa

Pregnancy hormones at work....I'm teary eyed reading your posts about Katrina.

AC is gay? Doesn't matter. I like watching his TV reports. And he's not bad on the eyesther.

Captain Dumbass

A few years back a forest fire passed through the small town my mom lives in. The town was evacuated but the government councillors decided it would be better if they didn't tell people what had happened to the town. Not sure how the hell they came to that conclusion. My stepfather's brother eventually took his boat upriver and into the town to see what was going on. Luckily no one in the family lost their homes, but the not knowing was terrible.

Melissa B.

Hope everything turns out for you this time around! Gustav seems to be bearing down on NOLA, and I think my heart will break if that beautiful city gets wrecked again!

Quick question: I just received a Bloggy Award that has your name on it. Or, at least it says, "www.mamadawg.com". I tried entering that url and came up with nothing. So, the question is: Did you originate the Kick-Ass Blogger Award? I'm a reporter at heart, and just was curious!

Here's hoping you stay dry in the next 24 hours!

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