Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hurricane Katrina - Our Story - Part 2

On Monday it is a wait and see game as news coverage is scarce at first. We initially think all is generally ok in New Orleans. (I mean not what it would ultimately turn into.) Ya know, normal storm damage. By Monday night we start to see photos of houses cut in half by pine trees from our area. The photos of extensive tree damage start to frighten us. We are scouring NOLA forums looking for info about our neighborhood and our house. We find a woman who posts that she is going the next day to our street to check her parents house. We give her our house address and she promises to check our house and report back to us when she returns to Baton Rouge and can get internet again. So we wait. I am sick to my stomach.

Hubby is consumed with work. His vacation has turned into running things from our hotel while his boss (at the time) tries to figure out what to do. We think we are going back soon - until the flooding of New Orleans starts.

On Tuesday we got the email. I actually was the first to read it. I remember checking my email and seeing the woman from the forum's email in my inbox. I started shaking. I just knew it was not going to be good. By this time I had seen way to many photos with trees on houses from our area to think that my very wooded lot was spared from having any fall. And so many are very close to our house.

I opened the email. I remember it being about two lines of text that said our house had a tree on it and she was sorry about our lose. WHAT? What does that mean I yelled out loud. Hubby read it. He got angry. He said how could someone write that and not explain in more detail. Was the whole house destroyed? Did it look like those houses cut in half? I quivered with fear and thought the worse. I didn't cry. Just stood stunned and silent. Hubby furiously wrote back as nicely as he could muster to please give more details. She said she wasn't going back until the next day and would take another look and pictures and email them to us. So again we waited. . .

Feeling helpless we walked down to the hotel restaurant. We went in silence. The entire hotel staff knew where we were from and were always asking if we heard anything yet. As we walked to the restaurant I couldn't look up and make eye contact out of fear of them asking. We slid into a booth by the window overlooking the beach. I looked out towards the water and spotted my 2.5 year old daughter romping around with my parents. I started to sob. The waiter walked up and handed us the menus, saw me crying and knew. He said simply, "I'm sorry" and walked away. He must have told others as the manager came by and told us that we could stay at the hotel as long we needed. He then brought us iced teas. I don't recall ordering or eating.

In the meantime, we had a lot of preparations and decisions to make. By now we know there is no returning home. We don't know where hubby will be going to work yet. We don't know when we can even go to our house. Entire area closed. We don't even know what is wrong with it. We have dogs in Tallahassee with a friend who also needs to go wherever my husband goes. So again we wait for direction from Scott's boss on where they will go. That will determine where I and My Girl will go. If his business goes to Dallas, I will go with him and we will stay with his parents. If the busineess goes to the other two city options then I will drive home with my parents from VA and stay with them until further notice. So I can't cancel my flight or change it yet. We decided to at least stay at the hotel a few more days. That was the only certain we had in our life at that time.

On Wednesday, no email with pictures came. The woman sent a message that there were 2trees on our house. One on the left side. One on the right side. Looks bad. She had a difficult time getting to our house to see it. What? Can't get to our house? We sighed. Ok. Still don't know how bad, but at least that is a bit more info. At that point we would take anything. We appreciate her efforts. We feel bad about our initial anger. In retrospect, how could one not feel so emotional?

Hubby's boss decides on Dallas. Good. Now we can move forward with whatever plans.

First problem. We are in VA. Dogs are in FL. Gotta get all of us to Dallas. Can't fly to FL, get dogs and drive to Dallas. NO GAS ANYWHERE between Tallahassee and Dallas. Friend evac'd with dogs in Tallahasee can't get gas to take on road with him. Can't even find gas cans. He is sending his wife and kids to Philadelphia to his mother's house.

What to do? My best friend, Jen, has been in contact with me telling me to tell her how she can help. I call her and ask a favor you can only ask on a best friend. I ask her to drive 5 hrs one way to pick up my dogs and keep them at her house for an undetermined amount of time. She agrees immediately. Her husband? Not so hot on the idea. She doesn't care.

But first, I must find a kennel to keep them at overnight since our friend must leave Tallahasee on Thursday and Jen can't get to the dogs until Friday. I google kennels in the area. Call and explain the situation of one person dropping and another picking up. She asks if they have shot records. I freeze. I think, "Please don't let this one thing ruin what is turning into a feasible plan!" I say no and explain where we are at and where we live and that our vet is not even open or in town to fax records. She kindly apologizes and says not to worry about records. They will take the dogs and just keep them together in a kennel seperate from all the others. I breathe a sign of relief. One problem down. Many more to go . . .

Jen and her hubby drive to get the dogs. When they arrive both dogs had been nicely groomed by the kennel. No charge. They stop half way home at a waterfront restaurant that they have frequented in the past when scuba diving in the area. The waitress finds out the mission they are on and tells them they can bring the dogs out on the restaurant patio while they eat. So they take her up on the offer. The dogs lay at their feet and sleep. Jen's hubby is amazed at how well behaved they are and admits to her that he was not hot on the idea of a 10hour round trip to get them but he prayed to God how he could help the people of New Orleans and got the answer that he needed to do his part by helping us and this was how. He knew we would do the same for them.

That was Sept 4th. They kept the dogs until Nov. 11th.

Continue to Part 3

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What's in your favorites? Part 3

I haven't done this in awhile. Thought it was time.

Here are a few choice links from my Favorites list in my browser:

Cliff's Crib - if you aren't reading this blog you should be! Well written. 9th ward resident. Add it to your blog roll.

Michael Guidry Studio - The guy has some incredible local art! He is my friend Laura's brother. I also like the fact that his dog is named Mugsy and that was my dad's beloved dog's name growing up. I know, who cares, but . . . anyway.

Geocaching St. Tammany - Haven't tried it yet myself, but hope to one day. Gotta score a cheap handheld GPS. Check this site for geocaching in your area.

Wal-mart Free Samples - hit this site occasionally to sign up for free samples of detergent, hair products, toothpaste, etc.

Glassy Buttons - Create your own buttons on this website. Play around with it. View your button as you play! Fun!

Monday, September 22, 2008

What I learned this week

So I lied. I feel like writing again. Trying to wind down from a night of intense web work and just started thinking (it's 12:15am). One can always think better in complete silence. Doesn't happen unless all are asleep in this household.

So I was thinking about my day, the week, etc. Here is what I learned.

1. Victoria Secret is funding my panty collection. They just keep sending me these cards for a free panty. Pratically every other month. They really want me to use the coupon on there for $10 off a free bra, but I hate to tell them I ain't buyin' no bra for awhile. Times are tough Vicki. Bras from your store are PURE luxury. But, hey, keep sending me those free panty cards. Hubby likes them too!

2. I haven't met a Blue Bell I didn't like. Up north we don't have Blue Bell Ice Cream. So when my neighbor suggested I try it when we moved here I hit the jackpot! The kids and I had Extreme Chocolate tonight. I am particularly found of Banana Pudding and Banana Split. My girl likes to go for Mint Chocolate Chip. Hubby likes plain Vanilla. I just think they are all phenomenal. OH! We tried Snickerdoodle last week. Yummy!

3. Just when you think you know someone, you find out you really don't. And something happens between you that will change your relationship forever. And you suddenly look back at your past times together and realize that maybe you just ignored that part of the person or simply shrugged it off. In retrospect it seems so apparent. Was I naive, oblivious, dupped or just being ole' me and giving everyone the benefit of the doubt?

4. Now is the time to Christmas shop. Everything seems to be on clearance everywhere. Holiday merchandise prep has started. They are clearancing the shelves for all the new shiney holiday stuff. I picked up a huge victorian doll dressed so gaudy I could puke for my daughter. She spotted it at K-Mart and about died because I wouldn't buy it for her. Se actually had tears and claimed her extreme love for this doll. I made mental note to return to pick up this hideous doll for her for Christmas. It was a whopping $7.00 on clearance. Yup, it was that bad that it was on the clearance rack. I have a feeling though it may be her favorite gift this year. Two years ago it was the singing rudolph from my sister-in-law. Of all the things!

5. Everyone was right when they said, "Have another child and give your daughter a playmate" when I complained how she would never leave me alone and always needed my attention. My 2 year old has reached a point now where he is fun for my 5 year old to play with. He worships her and follows her in any activity she wants to do. He is a perfect playmate for her because he does what she says. They are so cute together. It is like a whole new feeling for me as a mom to watch my kids play together so well. I never really gave it much thought when I was pregnant or when he was little. But it is pretty darn cool. Sibling love!

6. If I stay up any later I will be a bad mom tomorrow! So off to bed I go. Goodnight

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Taking a siesta

I haven't done much writing here. I know.

I need to finish my 3rd anniversary Katrina story. I know.

But, all I can say is there is a lot swirling in my head and it is getting in the way.

This election has me really thinking and talking and reading. I think I can't write because I am trying to make sense of everything in my head. Words usually come after the storm. And in Katrina's case, I am still trying to get those words out . . .

So I am taking a siesta for now. Have been for a few days. Sorry if I am disappointing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Political Questions, Neutral Forum


A few posts back I posted my Political Challenge to encourage all sides to NICELY post their opinions on the presendential candidates. I am still looking for more takers on this and am adding more questions after this post. So please click on the link above and participate. If you have already participated, please add another comment to answer the newest questions if you'd like!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Gustav Evac = 10 day Vacation

Tonight we returned home from our Gustav evacuation to Dallas that turned into a 10 day unplanned vacation.

We normally head to Dallas for evacuations. (3 since we have lived here) This time, I left town a bit early to beat the rush and since it was a long weekend I figured what the heck just go and if it doesn't come near us I will return home on Labor Day.

Unfortunately, Gustav came close enough to us to knock down two pine trees in the back and take out our power. Now, if you are not from this area I am not talking about an evergreen. I am talking about a 100-200 foot tall pine tree. The kind that can slice a house in half completely if it lands on it at just the right angle. We had 4 hit our house during Katrina causing $50,000 in damage. This time the trees did not hit our house and luckily not our neighbors either. One took out a section of the back fence and another crushed the neighbors carport.

So since life was not back to normal immediately after the storm (no power #1 reason) we decided to stay until the power came back on at home. Well, that happened day 2 after the the storm. At that point I found out that the schools weren't reopening until tomorrow (the 8th) so I decided to stay a few extra days. Besides, hubby was out of town so why rush to get home?

I found out that my friend Beatriz whom I used to work with at US Steel in Pittsburgh recently moved to Dallas. So on my 9th wedding anniversary (sept 4th) she and I met up at Chuck E Cheese to catch up. Hubby thought that was a funny place to celebrate our anniversary but heck he was in New York on business. Second best option, spend it with a friend! Yes, Chuck E Cheese was my idea. A strategic one I might add. I invested $10 in tokens for the two kids and sent them off to play while her and I found a booth centrally located so we could keep an eye on them and spent the next 3 hours catching up!

Beatriz is one of those friends whom I miss and everytime I see her it is like we have never been apart. You know the type? Just like old times as soon as you see each other. She is from Mexico City and we met at US Steel. We hit it off immediately and spent a lot of time together before I had kids. She moved back to Mexico shortly after my daughter was born. She recently returned to the states and now is in Dallas much to my delight! Now I can see her when I go to visit the in-laws! Once while living in Mexico and visiting the states on business she made a stop in New Orleans to see me. I took her around the french quarter and we had a grand time. She says now that she is closer she will be down to visit again! Yippeee! It is good to have friends like her. . . .

I also had the opportunity to spend two nights with my good friend Liz whom I went to Ohio University with. We lived together our senior year but met our sophmore year. She is a New Englander whom now lives in Dallas too. She has a little girl and my kids just loved hanging out at her house. Her hubby went out of town this weekend and we had in impromptu girls weekend with the kids. We organized her kitchen and daughter's room, went to the park, cooked mexican and watermelon margaritas, watched movies, drank beer and coffee on her back deck (not at the same time!) and just hung out with the kids! It is so nice to just relax and enjoy an old friend with no schedule! Again, one of those friends you just love to have!

Well, now we are home. The drive with the kids was fine both ways. Took hubby's car this time instead of my Yukon. Kinda small and crampy but that baby can fly! Had to restrict the kids on messy foods and drinks in the car since it has off white leather (ugh!) and he is picky about his car. Anyway, the kids managed to not drive me crazy even though I was with them alone both ways (9+ hours!). They are at the ages now that they can kinda entertain each other. Didn't even take the DVD with us this time. It's Broken :-(

I did witness a lot of hurricane/wind damage on 190 between Opelousas and Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge apparently took a beating too as many business signs were down and many businesses closed. Some had power, some didn't. I saw tons of electrical company trucks caravaning around. Some working along my route. Others in route to their next job. We tried to stop at McDonald's in Baton Rouge for the bathroom but the inside was closed and there was a sign that said they were only serving a few items off their menu. Also, as far north as Natchitoches had damage. We stopped at the welcome center there and they were giving out bottled water because they were on a boil order and they had several trees blown over.

So hopefully, we are not hitting the road again later this week for Ike. If so, I might just have to burn me a Tina Turner cd for the drive!

UPDATE: Read Nolanotes's post on Gustav's damage