Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The City that Care Forgot

I lived here for over 3 years. So close to the river levy.

When Earl was headed our way in 1998, no one was particularly worried. That was the first year I created a "Hurricane Survival Kit" of flashlights and candles. I was too broke to put much else in it. That year proved to be busy, storm-wise.

Frances was only a tropical storm, but she was scary. I remember seeing news clips of people in canoes just blocks from my house, but being on the river side of town, I was on somewhat higher ground and had no more than mud puddles in my yard.

The levies kept us high-and-dry when Georges came through (though that was a long hot afternoon with no power and no way of knowing that the storm had turned toward Biloxi). The news had been showing the "Worst Case Scenario" animation clips of the city filling up with water for days beforehand. The highest point in town would be 15 feet under water, they said. A coworker told me that it was tradition to keep an axe in one's hurricane kit, in case you were trapped in your attic by rising water and had to chop your way out. I couldn't imagine that much water. My ex-husband and I never evacuated, instead we put a big board over the glass in our front door and drew a protective sigil on it.

Many of my former coworkers live in New Orleans-I hope they are safe. Reports are trickling in through our Intranet... Employees are still unaccounted for, but there's no way of knowing if that is because they are stranded or evacuated. I am hypnotized by the news, and can't stop watching clips of the damage. In one picture, I thought I saw a club I used to frequent, in another a familiar intersection. I think random thoughts like "What happened to all the animals at the zoo?" and "What about the crypts?" They are saying the French Quarter will be spared the greater damage, since it is above sea level (even if only by 5 feet). But I wonder how great will be the loss of the spirit of New Orleans after this?

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