Saturday, September 13, 2008

Gustav, and now Hurricane Ike

Greetings y'all!

Man ... things change faster than I can write this blog and get it out! This is my third re-write.

We just got the word to pack up, cease our relief efforts for Hurricane Gustav, head home, and then prepare to get redeployed to Texas to work Hurricane Ike. Being as how we are from Jacksonville, FL and would basically have to pass back through New Orleans to get out to Texas, we are going to stay put for at least a few days and see what happens. (As a postscript, Deb just got the call. We should be on the road to Texas on Monday morning, but as of now we don't know where).

Deb and I arrived in New Orleans on Friday. When we arrived in New Orleans the first residents were just being allowed to return and most of the city was without power.

Since then we have been working out of Red Cross evacuation shelters in LaFourche Parish , Louisiana, registering folks for FEMA assistance and making referrals to other agencies. Heat, flies, long hours, lack of power, really slow Internet connections ... the National Guard is in charge of these towns and there is a curfew after dark. You know ... the usual disaster relief things.

We have been among folks that have lost their homes and, in many cases, have emergency medical needs that require assistance. Yet I was seeing a certain dignity that, how can I say this ... I don't see on the Internet or in the outside world lately. When you are with people who are philosophical about not having a home any more that puts things into perspective.

We were seeing more damage from Gustav than perhaps we would have expected and were getting plenty of claims.

We have had the Wanderlodge parked at a really nice, hidden away RV park only 2 blocks from the French Quarter for the last several days. The only problem with that scenario is that we've been doing a 60 mile daily commute into the heart of LaFourche Parish for the last week and other than having some WONDERFUL dinners we really haven't had an opportunity to sight see and party much in New Orleans.

Perhaps now we will have at least a few days off and then we can get caught up.

We've been working between 10 and 14 hour days since we got here. Like many of these things, Deb and I trained for over a year for one speciality and got sent into the field to do something completely different. Deb spent one night sleeping in her car because of the conditions. So it hasn't been all fun and games.

I am keeping a more detailed log but don't expect to publish that until our commitment is over with, which could be several more months. Or we could get sent home tomorrow - we are at the mercy of several companies that divide up this work with FEMA. The name of the game is to get in, get the work done, and then get out. Flexibility is the key.

Southern Louisiana is charming, and Deb and I vowed to return once they get back on their feet. We spent most of our time in the little town of LaRose, near Cut Off, Louisiana, and these towns are built along a canal. You've got ship building and commercial fishin', lots of Cajun folks that still speak with a strong French dialect, Vietnamese that settled in following the Viet Nam War, and quite a few Spanish-speaking folks from Mexico. So I figure that Deb (who was born in Tennessee) and myself (who was born in Kentucky) would fit in well - no one speaks standard English down there.

Seriously, we heard that, a bit further south from where we were, there were plenty of RV'ers hanging at fish camps and fishin' and that sounds like a ton of fun.

As I write this we've had high winds in New Orleans and high winds and rising waters in Southern Louisiana, but nothing like what they had in Texas when Ike went ashore last night.

Our satellite TV antenna got blown over and we are just now getting the Weather Channel on our now kidney bean shaped antenna but it looks like Galveston and Houston got hit pretty hard. So I expect that we will be in New Orleans for another day or two before we head to Texas.

Time to clean up and do the laundry!


Snooks said...

Welcome to New Orleans John, and you to Deb... Thanks for all the help ... my husband and I subscribe to your yahoo group, to get a chuckle.

We live in Metairie, about 5 miles from the French Quarter.

You must try Port of Call on Esplanade before you leave,their steaks & burgers are most excellent...
and a Monsoon is always a drink to remember.
Best Regards!
Mimi Wilder

Captiva/Pat said...

Those are some really good things you and Deb are doing down there. I'm sure it has to be rough, mentally and physically. Good luck to both of you!

I actually stayed in LaRose one time while waiting for DH to finish work on the boat he was on at the time. The place was called "The Apple Inn". I have no idea if it's still there or not.

Yep, DH worked right there in LaFourche Parish. Or should I say he worked *out* of there. When he was still a boat captain. So, I know that area of LA pretty well.

I am from TN also and I loved that part of LA. People are so friendly and nice down there.

Well Godspeed, you two, and don't forget to stop and have a little fun in the middle of all that work!