Friday, August 31, 2012

Seventh Anniversary of Katrina, spending time in same place,

 Who would have ever thought I would be sitting in my cabin in Pearl River, LA without electricity listening to a hand held radio hoping a storm passes over fast. Not another hurricane on the seventh anniversary of Katrina? Here I was by myself this time, not intending to leave but more prepared then ever to sit out this storm. I did and it was nothing like before, more of a nuisance then disaster here for me but not for many others. I am 30 feet above sea level here. Big issue is wind toppling over trees, and how long we go without electricity. Electricity that powers food storage, climate controlled comfort, news reporting, social net working, cell phones, and so much of our current life in 2012. Funny how boring it gets with no TV or internet. No ability to "Google" important things like how to flush a toilet without flowing water. A few "old fashion" gadgets though were really helpful. A small "transistor" radio running off a small battery, an oil lamp whose wick sits in oil and broadcasts a bright light. And cans of beans and franks. The wet heat was an issue. After a few hours without climate control I smelled like a old worn out mule which still did not keep the pesky mosquito away. I kept the doors open to have air flow but somehow the bugs could find whatever skin I had exposed, mostly around my eyes. Bug spray wore off after an hour or so, body odor stayed for days. I think BO that repels humans is what attracts the bugs. My first bath was in a five gallon plastic bucket filled with fresh rain water. The most pleasurable memory from those days. Cooling, cleaning, smell removal with anti odor soap. Outside of course with shorts on. As if anyone would be able to see me on my back porch.  A propane grill allowed me to make hot tea, cooked beans and franks. Food was never a problem. Enough drinking water, can goods for a week. Rain water for other cleaning. Lots of rain water. Many uses discovered for rain water collected in tubs from bath to flushing the toilet. I did it, survived at home again through a storm. Few issues, few flash backs, a different storm, a better prepared survivor.

 Listening to the small radio, same station I listen to during Katrina, we all realized several recurring problems. Some big ones, some just plain nuisances. The nuisances are people out sight seeing during a storm. Bad idea, dangerous and could result in harm to yourself or emergency people. Cars going down flooded streets pushing water in homes. Real stupid to harm a neighbor like that and grounds for arrest. Inpatients  complaining, when we should be calm and helping out neighbors.

 The big issues ignoring official declarations to evacuate. Too many people stay in places where water can drown, isolate, and just hurt them. If you can see the lake out your window or a canal or bayou connected to the lake, move to higher ground. If you are behind a levee in a flood plain most likely it is risky to stay for a storm bringing 6 to 20 feet of tidal surge. With each storm in my life I moved to slightly higher spots until I am now 30 feet above sea level. No levee, no water body within miles and a planed escape route to even higher ground. Still if I am told to voluntarily evacuate I am gone, no need to tell me more then once. I learned this as an 18 year old in Betsy trying to drive my old grandmother to a shelter spot during storm winds at night.  never again I promised myself. I will leave early and in day light. For most storms I have left early and gone far. Issac was one of the few exceptions but I know where I am and the issues here after Katrina. Why people feel they need to stay in low areas when for sure it will flood I do not understand. Why we allow homes to be built in flood plains and then tax payers must 'bail out" the areas after floods I do not understand. Stop building where each year you flood, move, get to a higher spot. Fishing villages excepted but those people must realize they will flood and live with it. No reason for me to pay to ring them with a levee. If you choose to live in a swamp live with what the swamp demands. If you live on a barrier island know it will flood and maybe washed away. Live where you want but accept what living there will do to you and your property. Seems some people want to live in a swamp then complain about water and the bugs they share space with.

 I am sorry for the loss of property and life from this storm but seems a lot of it was totally avoidable by simply being smart about how and where we live.