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.
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.
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...
Sunday, August 31, 2008