Sunday, September 2, 2012

Safe and Sound

Hurricane Isaac battered us, but left us with no damage or floodwater in the house, for which we are truly grateful. We had sustained winds of 70 mph for several hours, and the storm hammered us for 2 days - it just.wouldn't.leave. We feared that the 15-20" of rain we received would overwhelm the pumping system and the waters would rise into the house, but we were glad to see them recede just in time. So many others were not so lucky.

Our power went out at 7pm Tuesday night, and wasn't restored until 8pm Friday night. All the contents of our refrigerator/freezer and our upright freezer perished. We don't own a generator - all we could do was open the windows (after the strong winds passed and died down to a "mere" 40-50 mph) and try to sleep in the heat and humidity (no such luck). We heard the "thunk" of small limbs and seed pods from the magnolia trees hitting the roof sporadically, and each time I worried that one would crash through a window, or take off shingles, but they all bounced off harmlessly.

Usually (if there is any "usually" with a force of nature) hurricanes move through fairly quickly, traveling at a good speed - so while they wreak havoc and leave damage in their wake, they LEAVE. This storm moved at a ridiculously slow pace of 6-8 mph - a runner with a good pair of shoes could have outrun it. Because it stuck around, it dumped much more rain, and delivered many more hours of strong winds than expected. Local levees (as opposed to the federal levee system, which is newly strengthened and held very well) overtopped and failed, flooding lower coastal parishes with storm surge. Swelling rivers rose over their banks and overwhelmed dams, sending rapidly rising water onto property and into homes.

Our area is safely inside the federal levees, so we weren't in danger of flash-flooding. The storm was forecast to "only" strengthen to a Category 1 - meaning sustained winds of 74-95 mph. We've historically "sheltered-in-place" for such storms, only leaving for the ones forecast to hit us at Category 2 or above. When we leave, we go to my sister's house in Hammond, which is northwest of here, about an hour's drive under normal circumstances. She lives in the country, on high ground, so there's no danger of flooding, and she has a generator to supply enough electricity to run the refrigerator, fans, and a small window air conditioning unit. That's where we sheltered for Hurricane Katrina (coincidentally EXACTLY 7 years before this storm, to the date).

We opted to stay home this time, and regretted it. We didn't feel that we were in danger of life and limb, and hoped to mitigate any possible flooding damage by being in place with mops and buckets. It's such an inconvenience to evacuate - packing up everything we'll need for ourselves and the cats (and evacuating them is an issue in itself - they are terrified during the journey and frightened in their "prison" at my sister's house). But we underestimated the stress levels we'd all experience from the hours and hours of howling winds with a storm that refused to leave, and the misery of the heat and humidity for such a sustained period of time.  Sleep was only possible for minutes at a time. The power company was unable to work on restoration of service until the winds died down below 30 mph, and did I mention that the storm just.wouldn't.leave??? As I write this, much of our area is still without power, and they only expect to have 70% restored by Monday 9/3.

I couldn't spin or knit or weave - the heat and dampness made touching wool or yarn uncomfortable. I did read 3 books on my iPhone Kindle app - I didn't need a flashlight because it's backlit, and the phone was easy to keep charged via the big battery I have for the miniSpinner (since I couldn't use it for spinning).

SO. Lesson learned. From now on, we're leaving for any tropical/hurricane storm that heads our way... and as soon as we can get all our 'ducks in a row' (job sorted, house sold) we'll be leaving permanently for my beloved mountains.


  1. Glad you've survived this one relatively fine. I was thinking about you, I actually thought any more of this will "flood you into the mountains" rather sooner than later. Hears for doing that in your own fine time! Thanks for the heads up, I hope you can play with wool again soon - keeps everybody in better spirits!

  2. So glad you survived the blast, Debbie! Was thinking about you...Jeanne

  3. Oh my, oh my. What an ordeal. I lived along the gulf coast for a number of years but never even had it bad enough to face the decision of whether to stay or evacuate. So glad everything is okay.


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