We are as ready as we’ll be. We have water, food, treats. The cats are fine. We have taken extra precautions with the house – closing the shutters and putting up some boards because it’s easy and it means we are less likely to deal with broken windows. We have what we need to be ok in an extended power outage.
We are, as the authorities say, “sheltering in place.” And now, just waiting. Yesterday I was up at 6:00 a.m. going to the grocery store and getting gas and running last-minute errands around town. This morning we were up early securing the house and yard before the rains begin. It’s already plenty breezy out there.
Even though Isaac is not a major hurricane it still has the potential to do damage with wind and rain – or with those tornadoes that develop around the wind bands. And it is headed straight to us. Plus the seven-year anniversary of Katrina is tomorrow, and that adds an additional layer of complicated emotions and memories.
Waiting for a hurricane is sort of a Louisiana version of a snow day. Schools are closed. Most people don’t have to work, although we did get mail today. But it’s not really like a snow day. Rather than watching downy flakes accumulate in the yard, you watch these satellite images of this giant weather system headed for your city. There’s more of a sense of potential doom. The knowledge that a microburst could flatten your house or rip off your roof or knock the tree into your bedroom. The anticipation of sleeping poorly while the winds howl. The wondering what plants are going to survive and what’s going to be on the ground in the morning.
I’m hunkered in the house for the day. I haven’t gone out to see what stores might still be open. I know the ice cream shop in our neighborhood was having a big sale last night in anticipation of power outages, and I’m sure there are plenty of bars around town that are open – several in the French Quarter boast having no keys to their places because they never close!
Some of my friends have evacuated, but most have stayed this time. There wasn’t a mandatory evacuation, and our general rule of thumb is to stay in place for a Category 1 or 2 and to leave for a 3, 4, or 5, or if the mayor asks residents to leave. Evacuating has its own share of ups and downs – sometimes it can feel a little bit like a vacation if nothing goes wrong at home, but it can be complicated getting it together to leave, and since Katrina it never feels like a vacation, really. I recently wrote an article with ten evacuation tips - you can check it out here.
It’s a relief that we aren’t evacuating this time – no crying cats, no sitting in traffic for eighteen hours, no loading the car to the gills with mementos and keepsakes and important papers, but it still doesn’t feel great. While I’ve been writing this it’s rained and stopped and rained and stopped, and the winds have picked up and died down a half-dozen times. And the worst is still hours and hours away.
It’s time to just do our best to relax and be ok with the waiting. If you’re in the hurricane’s path, I hope you’re safe and well and that all is fine in the morning!