Treme ends before anybody in it has to deal with the dread, with the gun-shyness, with the anxiety that paralyzes us even now.
It had us consulting our weather reports daily and paying close attention to those trade winds originating off Africa’s western coast for fear that they’d get organized and start heading towards the Gulf. They’ve been likened to a revolver that reloads itself at the beginning of June, those suspect winds – but it’s a game of hurricane roulette that’s being played…and we don’t know how many bullets will be fired, where, when, and who they’ll hit, and how much damage they’ll do. It’s a constant, paranoid wait on a drive-by on a global scale – a drive-by that may never come until the next summer…or the next….
So you’ve got yourself hooked on NOAA’s website and others like Weather Underground, or you’re addicted to the weather radio with its robotic voices telling you about anything that stirs in the airspace of the greater New Orleans area. You fret over the water temperature of the Gulf and would dump it full of blocks of ice if you could. Hurricane tracking maps are stuck to the doors of fridges all over the place – since Nash Roberts doesn’t have his magic markers, you have pencils and the Doppler Radar on the news.
You consult the Weather Channel and are seriously concerned when Jim Cantore starts showing up, because that man’s presence means trouble’s coming.
You fret over the levees not being right; there just hasn’t been enough time to get them up to 100-year flood or however-the-hell-many-year storm standards, and you know, deep down, the aim ought to be higher on the flood protection for the area. The wetlands and barrier islands are nonexistent or getting there. There were two to three storms capable of major mayhem that wreaked havoc in the same year. Is it really too much to expect that the federal government do better to help prevent this crap from happening again? Apparently, it is. So you worry.
The hurricane survival guides are your gospels. The daily and the weekly papers as well as all the local periodicals and news programs have lists, lists, and more lists of what to do, because, even if you escape flooding, the winds could still rip your home open, so by God, send your irreplaceable pictures and items of sentimental value with people who are leaving if you aren’t going to. Make multiple copies of those papers that show you had a life that was similar to what every hardworking American had before you have to fight tooth and nail to get that life, or something like it, back again. Preserve those papers any way you can – send ’em to a salt mine if you can. Seal everything of value in Ziplocs. Ziplocs are your friends. Plan plan plan and plan some more – plan your evacuation route, even, to the nth degree, even though you might be panicked out of your gourd – plan because you’re likely to be panicked out of your gourd. Empty your fridge before you leave, fill that gas tank, and turn off those gas lines. Take your newly microchipped pets with you – you have microchipped them, right?? The discussions across the neighbors’ gates are of where to go if you are ever, oh-please-no, permanently banished from the city by joblessness, nature, and just general incompetence once again – Canada or France for my neighbors, Chicago for us…but they’re evacuations, not complete relocations, right?
If you decide to stay for another one, there’s the suggestions to invest in stocked storm pantries complete with enough potable water for a few days courtesy of guides such as The Storm Gourmet and Apocalypse Chow! No tape, plywood – but if you’re too cheap for plywood, use the blue painter’s tape. Get batteries – if you haven’t already bought stock in Duracell once you had children with toys that beeped, whistled, and talked back, now’s the time. Generators are nifty, but are usually only good for 24 hours and are prime fodder for thieves if you do end up leaving and can’t take the thing with you. Charge that cell phone and remember that texting always gets through when your voice can’t.
Then again, you’re better off getting out of Dodge when the time comes, by way of the back roads – because the authorities are not at their best when the winds top 75+ miles per hour, pass on through, and leave those guys with a mess they are still unprepared for.
And that’s just what we can try to do to keep our heads on before anything comes our way.
This will be our fifth hurricane season since 2005. The anxiety has lessened somewhat because we already had the big gun shoot another one our way in 2008 and the eye turned, leaving us with only some relatively mild winds, some “tidal sloshing” in the canals, and some bureaucratic incompetence to deal with, which sure beat what we’re still dealing with after 8/29/2005. Unless you were stuck on I-59, the exodus from New Orleans was, surprisingly, survivable that time. Exhale, everybody.
“Prepare, but don’t panic” was a little easier to take after that.
But in 2006? The panic could be enough to have one climbing the down-to-the-studs insides of one’s house. Think you’d had it up to your eyeballs with fighting every insurance company and governmental assistance program in your personal-yet-communal campaign to rebuild after the Federal Flood? Did’ja feel stabilized by those serotonin reuptake inhibitors coursing through your body when your already-fragile emotions couldn’t take it any longer? Well, welcome to the first hurricane season after it all.
Nature doesn’t care what sorts of messes you have weighing you down. It’s going to do what it has always done in the Gulf. And even though you always had it in the back of your head every time you spoke of the potential for hurricane parties and your resolve never to leave in the face of something like that before 2005, the very real possibility of a storm doing once again what it did is now front and center in your thoughts.
What do you do to survive that?
It’s a good question.
Go ‘head, gimme your answers in the comments. ‘Cause I don’t know about you, but having the hurricane sword of Damocles hanging over our heads while an oil geyser is still trashing the Gulf has got me jittery like that all over again. Just sayin’.