This story was eventually going to make it out in the blog, and the time is more appropriate now than ever.
Three years ago we were still living in New Orleans and riding out Katrina (August 29, 2005) in the Biscuit Palace which is located in the heart of the French Quarter. The “Palace” is still owned and operated by Clayton and Jeannette Boyer, my in-laws and it has a long history of surviving storms. Built in the 1800’s this thick brick structure has survived many weather events.
Long story short we rode out Katrina in the “Palace” and then went back to our house on the Westbank of New Orleans the day after the storm, and lived there for five more days with no electricity. We finally evacuated 5 days after Katrina and drove 17 hours to Sevierville, TN where we lived for just about a month out of a single hotel room. We finally returned to New Orleans on October 2, 2005 and stayed in New Orleans until we sold our house in January, 2006 and moved to Wake Forest, NC where we now live.
Three years later today and Gustav; my parents evacuated this morning and left their home in New Orleans Westbank at 8:30 am CDT and have gotten as far as Natchitoches, LA by 3:00 pm CDT and are on their way to Texas with 2 cats and 2 dogs. The Boyers still have not left, but plan to evacuate either tonight or early tomorrow morning, still up in the air for them even with mandatory evacuations issued at 8:00 am this morning for all of New Orleans.
The Westbank only got minor damage during Katrina being on the west side of the eye of the storm, however with Gustav the same area will now be on the east side of the storm eye which is the worse side. Only time will tell if this area gets more damage this time around. It had minor wind and no water damage in 2005, but 2008 is a different Hurricane with a different path.
If you have never lived through a hurricane you have no idea what it is like to experience the fear, terror and unknown. When we lived there for the 5 days after Katrina we felt like we lived in another country and cut off from civilization, no phone lines, no electricity, no cell phones, total isolation and no law or order, I supposed like the wild west in the 1800’s. Scary times and something we never wanted to have to live through again. I was like Rambo and in survival mode, my son who was 10 years old at the time would follow me around the neighborhood with his BB-gun for protection while we scoped out the area for other folks who braved out the storm, but after 5 days of living like a refugee we decided to get out of Dodge! In the interest of safety and mental health Monique and I decided it was best to leave and by 7:30 PM on September 2, 2005 we packed up the car and truck and drove all night. An amazing weight was lifted off my shoulders during that drive, a feeling of relief, as I am sure that those who have evacuated today must feel the same, and tired too!
So, what do you eat and what do you cook during survival mode in the aftermath of a hurricane. You know I had to interject something about food in the CCR blog! We used our camping stove and camping equipment for cooking, we also had limited use of a generator that would run for 8 hours a day to ration the fuel and to at least keep the fridge cool but not really cold. Mostly cooked out of canned food and using up perishable items, but when you are in survival mode you don’t really get hungry much with being nervous and fighting for your life. In the constant 90’s degree heat and 100% humidity all you wanted to do was drink cold refreshing water and eat light cold foods. Cooking was really minimal because it also created heat, coffee in the morning in the old stove top camp percolator was a must however!
My sister Wanda who lives in California had just been visiting my parents last week and originally had a scheduled flight out of New Orleans for today (Sunday), but she moved it up and she and her son flew out on Friday evening. She met two of the Neville Brothers Art and Aaron at Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans for the United Airlines flight to LA, the brothers were also on there way to Palm Springs for a gig. A recent email contained the attached photo, it is a real neat treat to see her in the photo with the Neville Brothers!
Our continued thoughts and prayers are with those who live in and around the Gulf Coast Regions, and our hopes for safe evacuations for all who are still on the road today and tomorrow.