HURRICANE (FINALLY) ISAAC

By

 AUGUST 30, 2012

The New Orleans streets are a mess with shredded branches and other debris – roof tiles, broken signs, errant gutters – but the city, I think, so far, came through fine. People know how to handle hurricanes down here. It’s the fucking levee failures that killed our spirit until we got it back.

Isaac was a bear. No steering currents, slow moving (and then it stalled over us), not much of a center, just an ill formed mess of wind and rain that finally got its act together enough to matriculate into a Category 1 hurricane. I stayed home and Malcolm went to a safe house with his client. Winds gusted up to 90 mph, but our house is solid and old and on a ridge. Also Katrina-tested. Our basement’s full of water and some windows on the east side leaked after 12 hours of slanted, needling rain, but I’m good. Our dog Ella’s good, especially in her kennel on the back closed-in porch where she can watch from a tight space.

Squall lines continue to push through, dumping rain and blowing around what’s already on the ground. This morning a violent red storm cell dropped more buckets on us and street-flooded mid-city. There’s a lot to pick up and stuff into Hefty bags but this storm has to leave us alone and move on.

The power’s been out for two days and Entergy just sent a text alert that they are “assessing” when they need to be “restoring.” Malcolm and I carted perishables and frozen food from our fridge to the office downtown, and tonight we have a room at The Roosevelt, (our client), where we’ll have a Sazerac at the Sazerac Bar, and maybe a martini, too, and then we’re going to watch the weather but also the Saints on TV in the A/C. (I hear there’s a convention going on in Tampa. All of our local networks are 24-hour storm, storm, storm and then we lost Cox Cable. A small mercy.  We haven’t had to sit through the fright-show speeches.)

Meanwhile, there are evacuations going on in the fragile coastal areas, and the lake is pushing into La Place and St. Tammany parish – Slidell, Mandeville, Madisonville. Braithwaite – outside of the federal levee system – is under eight feet of water. The Tangipahoa is overflowing and people have been given 90 minutes to evacuate. In Plaquemines, cows stand neck deep in water. These areas are taking a bigger hit from Isaac than they did from Katrina. This part of the country is incomparable, bountiful, but we are easily stranded, living near rivers and lakes, and sticking out into water like we do.


Pia Z. Ehrhardt is the author of FAMOUS FATHERS & OTHER STORIES and a not yet sold novel, JUST LIVE HERE. She lives in New Orleans. More from this author →