Sep 1, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

     After two beers and a tylenol I took a nap as Gustav was positioned 365 miles out in the gulf inching its way inland. Outside on the highways, contra-flow had begun directing people on the interstate highways east, west and north but I preemptively hate long lines, so I decided to get half-way inebriated and wait until evening, my only concern was the curfew. Police and military warned citizens that they would arrest anyone loitering in the streets. I did not want the experience of a Crescent city cop car chasing me out of the city. Nor did I want to go to Angola. Mayor Nagin reported at a news conference that anyone still in the streets after nightfall would be arrested and sent to general population in Angola.For a half-second, I planned to ride out the storm at a bar that was still open in the French Quarter. Several folks decided to have a drink and evade the police. It would have been a great way to make a political statement to join the ragged community in the middle of the city with the rest of us beer guzzlers. But, I got scared. I woke up after my head stopped spinning at 7:00. The city had already issued a curfew and the local radio commentators were saying it was the last clarion call to leave so I knew I had to get out of the city or risk being stuck in my home during the duration of the storm. So, when I pulled myself out of bed and sobered up I emptied my refrigerator (eggs, two steak filets, hamburger patties and a pumpkin pie; I had drank all the beer) and stuffed a backpack with the laptop and three changes of clothes. I double locked my doors. The other tenant across from me had already left the city that afternoon and my landlord had called me in the morning announcing he and his cats departure. He had boarded up his windows and suggested I put my bicycle and patio table inside.
     I left the city at 8:00 in the evening. There were fire trucks and police cars patrolling the streets with sirens blaring. Civilian cars were few in number. I planned on going east to meet my mother in Pensacola, Florida. To manage this I had to go through Slidell to avoid the contra-flow forcing motorists going north so I bypassed that snag by taking highway 90 and returned to the interstate in Mississippi. The trip was uneventful. I was glad I waited to leave to avoid the mass number of people who had evacuated. I arrived in Pensacola at midnight. I had a late Waffle House dinner on Pine Forest avenue in Pensacola. One of the men having a coffee told me he did not want to leave his home in Bay Saint Louis because he was afraid looters were out and robbing. “Really?” I asked. “Yeah, I am a red neck and I have a sign from Katrina that reads, ‘You Loot, We Shoot’ and I want to sit on my porch with my shotgun!”
Made it here in Pensacola. My host cooked scrambled eggs and bacon and we are watching the local news reports on a DirectTV WDSU simulcast. A first responder is reporting waves lapping over the industrial canal levee. Apparently there is a ship and a barge loose. But I don’t think that is confirmed. The eye wall has careened between Houma and New Orleans. Tornado watches are in effect. Here in Pensacola it is gusty and with consistent bands of rain passing over us.

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