Saturday, September 13, 2008

All storms are different . . .

Terrebonne Parish took a direct hit from Gustav causing 100% loss of power and wind damage to homes and businesses. There was, however, virtually no flooding.

Ike hit Galveston. But because of the trajectory and storm surge dynamics, we got hit again. Early estimates are that 10,000 homes have been flooded in Terrebonne Parish alone. (my apartment was spared) Not to mention that the sustained 40-50 mph winds with gusts up to 60 knocked out power for many again and hampered recovery efforts.

I assume everyone knows that the Louisiana marshes and wetlands are eroding at an alarming rate. Since the Mississippi River no longer is allowed to flood the wetlands with the tons of silt it now carries into the gulf, those silts no longer rebuild the coastal marshes. The natural protection they provide is virtually gone. I've seen it in my lifetime. Vast marshes of my youth are now open water.

I'm afraid it's time for drastic measures. Either we allow the Mississippi to change course as it now would without our levees, or allow controlled flooding to allow the silts to rebuild the marsh, or implement some other erosion aversion plan without which it may be time for a methodical withdrawal from South Louisiana.

Problematic because most domestic oil, natural gas, and seafood comes from Louisiana. Sidenote: Yes, we fish right next to oil platforms and capped wells and pump stations and all other structures dotted across the marshes. The fish love them.

Many people ask: Why live there? Move.

This is not as easy as it seems. What are homeowners to do with a home they can't sell, but still owe on? They can't default on their mortgage and buy a house somewhere else.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm back . . .

Just got power (and internet) yesterday. That makes 10 days without power. Although I only had to endure 2.

Evacuated Friday August 29th. Spent 4 nights in a cabin in Gatlinburg. 1 night in a seedy motel in Tuscaloosa. 2 nights at my sister's house (they got power before I did.). 1 night at my cousin's house (had it all to myself). 1 miserable night in my apartment with no power - Keep in mind the low for the night was 82 degrees and 90% humidity.

We weren't allowed to return to our parish until Friday the 5th. A curfew was in effect until yesterday. No one allowed outside after 8:00.

Our parish is pretty much devastated. No flooding, though, because of the dynamics of the storm causing the storm surge to only reach 9 ft.

Most stores, including Wal-Mart are still closing at 6 p.m. making it difficult to replace all the food in every one's refrigerator which was lost due to the extended power outages. Not to mention the shelves are not exactly full. The supermarkets are only letting a few people in at a time due to the lack of staff. All I've eaten for the past few days are MREs. Which are pretty good, by the way. I finally made it inside a store today. Dollar General. I now have a bottle of mustard and ketchup in my fridge. Freezer is still empty. Excuse me, I still get emotional thinking of the approximately $150 in food I had to throw away.

The long lines at gas stations have finally ended. There are still long lines at the relief distribution centers.

Several out of state church groups are in town giving away hot meals. I don't have any hard numbers, but they seem to out perform FEMA every time. I don't remember them all, but the Arkansas Baptist Convention set up in the middle of town cooking food. The Mormons are giving out hygiene and clean up kits. Many others.

The state, under new governor Bobby Jindal, did a great job in not waiting for FEMA this time. They can mobilize faster and more efficiently than FEMA, although it was expensive.

One example: During a crisis, emergency commercial generators are needed to power hospitals, gas stations, grocery stores, etc. Instead of waiting for FEMA to approve leases for generators, which would have taken time for red tape, the governor authorized the purchase of needed generators to the tune of 20 million bucks. He's hoping to get reimbursed. But if not, we've got them for the next one.

Well, that's the highlights.

Oh, one more thing, I've had a horrible cold (or something) for the last 4 days and counting.

Almost final tally of my financial losses: $1000.00 and counting. I also missed a week of work.

Well, I gotta go, my MRE is almost ready.