Today was our first full day at home since we evacuated from Gustav on August 30. The first good news I heard was that sewerage services in Jefferson Parish Westbank were restored. I was able to spend much of the day cleaning (you need water to clean!) – scrubbing down the refrigerator and freezer (we lost all of our food) as well as cleaning the rest of the kitchen – the microwave, the stove, and organizing the pantry. Here is a picture of our fridge now. It looks brand spanking new again!
My husband went to the store to restock our fridge but the grocery store still didn’t have fresh food – no perishables. Our lunch consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, and and wings we microwaved. He did manage to find grapes!
While I cleaned the house, my husband and stepdad went downtown to the Saints Game. The New Orleans Saints played the Tampa Buccaneers and won! 24-20. It was a spirited win and the city needed that bit of good cheer.
After cleaning, I went outside to survey and document the damage to our property. A crepe myrtle was uprooted, we lost two window shutters, a ten foot section of the fence blew out, tree debris was scattered every where, and the ceiling of our patio is coming down from water damage to the roof. Inside, we were surprised to discover that the laminate floor in the living room is damaged. It is buckling in several places due to the extreme humidity (being without electricity I presume). Here is a picture of the fence we share with our neighbor.
This is a section of our patio that is coming down. We have to wait for an adjuster to look at it before we can do anything.
My next door neighbor had to cut off several limbs from our crepe myrtle to prevent it from damaging his roof and his car. We will have to cut it down soon, before another storm approaches. This is tree debris from our neighbor’s house and our house.
After Antonio came home from the game, he went to work clearing the debris from the front yard. We still haven’t cleaned up the backyard yet. There is a ton of debris there.
Then Chef Josie (my mom) called and invited us to a homecoming dinner. She said that my brother would be coming home (for the first time in over a week) and bringing some officers with him. She cooked a down-home spread of swiss steak, green beans and potatoes, corn, homemade macaroni and cheese, and garlic bread.
When my brother, Gary, came in, only one officer accompanied him. Her name is Aline. Gary and Aline are part of the ERT (Emergency Response Team) at the Louisiana Medical Center of New Orleans (formerly Charity Hospital). Here is a picture of Gary and Aline enjoying dinner (their first home-cooked meal in a while)!
They worked 24/7 during Gustav, for 8 days straight. He and Aline told me some stories about what their duties entailed. At first, they had 2 hours on and 2 hours off shifts. They barely got any sleep. They had to patrol on foot outside the hospital in the sweltering heat wearing nearly 50 lbs. of tactical gear, including a rifle. The ERT has been beefed up since Katrina. The hospital did not want another post-Katrina type scenario to occur in the event of another hurricane.
FEMA provided them with “EverSafe Meals” (MREs). Salt water activates a chemical pack that heats the food. The pack included a box of water, an energy bar, trail mix, M&Ms, and utensils. This pack you see is chili. The meal heats up inside the yellow sealed plastic bag.
This is what the chili looks like all cooked up. Thanks for the demo, Gary.
When they could sleep, they had inflatable single (very thin) air mattresses that, when deflated, are no larger than a normal sleeping bag. They placed their air mattresses on small hospital cots.
Gary’s children, Jourdan (10), Camrynn (9), Ashlynn (7), and Jasmynn (6) were excited to see their daddy again, after being separated from him for over a week. He is a single father so the children evacuated with us while he had to stay to “serve and protect.” Here is the family together again.
Eliana has school in the morning and Antonio has to return to work. Life will resume as normal. Well, as normal as can be. Today, Governor Bobby Jindal declared another state of emergency for Louisiana in anticipation of Hurricane Ike’s appearance in the Gulf. We have to prepare for another storm and another possible evacuation. I am not even unpacking! Tonight, we tried to make hotel reservations to no avail. It seems that hotels within a 3-6 hour radius of New Orleans are booked. There are many evacuees who have not yet been able to return home. We will see what Ike decides to do and make plans accordingly.
Today, we clean up, repair, and recover. Tomorrow, we hope for the best.
Until next time…