Just a few scant days ago, on the news, there were a few people who were actually packing up and moving "outa Dodge" for the rainmaker, named Fay. True, the tropical storm had taken some lives, but for our area, it didn't appear that the storm was going to be all that alarming. Well, we were all keeping our eye on 'her', but when she finally got here, all she did here in our little town, was rain heavily and blow a little bit. I guess we were 'lucky', but it got everyone's collective adrenlin up, enough to make sure we were ready in case, in the future, somewhere down the road, 'the big one hit'. Before everybody got a chance to 'high five' one another about their successful 'practice run' with Fay, there came on the news a sudden awareness of some'one' more ominous lurking in the Carribean, who could very well be headed our way, on the heels of Fay. No breather in between...the 'further down the road' was already upon us.
We don't like the looks of the track of this 'Gustav'. It appears that it will enter the Gulf of Mexico and build into some kind of monster headed directly in our direction. Ok, now what to do...now what to do? Make sure important things are packed and ready to go, in case. But if I've already been through this before in the last seven years that I've lived in the New Orleans area, how many times have those folks who've lived here all their lives been through it? And now, they are asking one another in hushed tones, "What are you gonna do?" Some say, "Just ride it out...we are staying home, as usual". Some make a grimace and say in an almost whisper, "I don't know". Then to lighten the mood, it's always, "Heck...we don't even know if it's even going to come this way; you just never know".
I know one thing. I always get more upset and frightened if I listen to the Weather Channel. During the hurricane season, I've kept the tuner glued to the Weather Channel, and have always taken what they've been reporting seriously, and couldn't figure out why everyone around me were just taking the whole thing as business as usual. Well, about four years ago, I packed important papers, memorabilia, food stuffs, etc., etc. and waited to see what to do. Finally, at one point, Jim Cantore and his staff, were practically yelling into their microphones, to the people who lived in our area, "Evacuate...evacuate NOW!" Then as time wore on, they'd invoke the name of the Lord into the mix, "In the Name of God, you people don't know what you are dealing with...get out and get out NOW!!!" So I took SparkyBear and left town around three o'clock in the morning for....well, I didn't know where I was headed. Cappy said not to just go to family, who also live along the coast; what good would that do...go north...wayyyy north. So SparkyBear and I did. All the way I could almost feel the hot wind of the hurricane breathing down my neck...I was terrified. Along the way, when I'd pull in for gas, I was amazed that the stations were still open, and even more amazed at the calm demeanor of the people who worked there. "Hurricane? There's a hurricane coming? Really." Even when I told them how bad it was supposed to be, they were still unruffled. I wondered how they had gotten that way; so complacent. When I got into northern Texas, tho, I had a very hard time finding a place to stay; all the rooms having been booked up by other people who were running from the storm. Finally, I found a room at a hotel in a little town called Gilmer, TX for SparkyBear and me. I was also worried about having passed up Cappy's relatives...their towns...on the way to my safe haven. What about them??? Shame set in. I prayed that they would all be alright, and forgive me for deserting them like that.
When I unpacked in the hotel room and turned on the Weather Channel to watch, with anticipated horror and dread, all the devastation wiping out the area around our home and surrounding area, I was downright shocked! And angry and felt betrayed in the mix. There, on the screen, were Jim Cantore and others from their network, wearing blue slickers, out in the hurricane, laughing and playing; frolicking, one of them grabbing their crotch and doing the Michael Jackson 'moonwalk' in the high winds, having the times of their lives, practically doing cartwheels in the surf along the water's edge. There they were, having scared everybody else out of town, having a big old wonderful time in the deserted cities. Like the hurricane was a piece of cake...nothing to have feared at all. All that was lacking was for them to be looking into the camera and telling those, like myself, who were now sitting in hotel rooms, far away from home, "Gotcha!!! AHHHHAAAAAHHAAAA!!" So not much for that 'storm'. From that, I understood how that many years of that kind of dirty trick; crying "Wolf"...year after year, could make the public grow complacent. "Hurricane's coming? Big deal".
August 29, 2005. Hurricane's coming? Big Deal....what's her name? Katrina? No big whoop. Well, finally, the local media and public officials got involved and ordered mandatory evacuations; however, as Mr. (Mayor) Nagin says, "opportunists" decided to stay and take advantage of the situation, by looting the deserted city. But, too, there were those who had no way to get out of the city. The buses, who were supposed to bring people out, to safety, were never used. One of the bus drivers, when interviewed later, said, "Mayor Nagin said for everybody to get out of the city, so we did"...leaving their buses and people they were supposed to transport, sitting right where they were. The helpless victims sitting right there, alongside the 'opportunists', in the "soup bowl" that is New Orleans. I, on the other hand, got 'fooled' again into getting the heck out of town, mostly because a young woman we knew, had no way to get to her family in Utah, so I drove us to Texas, again. The hotel room that was reserved for us, was given to the first person who stopped in and asked "Ah-beed" for it, so on we drove til we got to Dallas, where another room that was reserved for us, was actually ready for us. (The young lady's step-father had some clout, so he was the one who reserved it, in 'stone' for us...God Bless him...I was exhausted from driving the whole way in one day).
From that hotel room, we watched the ridiculous Weather Channel doofuses, once again playing patty-cakes, or whatever out in the rain in New Orleans. Grrrrr. They got me again. The City of New Orleans and surrounding area had survived Katrina, but it was the levee which broke that flooded the City and killed so many people. There is much that has been said about all that ad infinitum. I do hope that the people, in the states to the east of New Orleans had evacuated, because it was there, indeed, along the coast that the real damage was done by Katrina, herself. Just terrible devastation. But we didn't hear much about them. We didn't hear much about the other loss of life and property that took place all along the southern reaches of Louisiana, either. The good and honest and hardworking people, who didn't wait on FEMA for anything, but pulled themselves and others up by their own bootstraps. The real people of Louisiana. (I'd better leave this all alone).
So, here we are again. The Weather Channel is about making me sick. They had gotten folks all upset about little Fay...at least she was little when she got to us. Now they are working themselves up into another lather over Gustav, probably wondering which blue rain slicker to wear, getting all packed, tuning up their voices to go singing and dancing in the rain.
This morning, the mail lady asked me...and my son, Thom, who is sitting safely up in western NY, asked me, "What are you going to do?" I said, "I don't know". And I don't. I asked the mail lady what she's going to do and she said she didn't know, either. I know I don't have faith in the danged ol' Weather Channel. I know Whom to put my faith and trust in, tho'. As for that Jim Cantore, he can go on out in the middle of the hurricane and let his smile be his umbrella. I hope he gets a pocketful of liquid sunshine and a snootful of it, too. Grrrrrr.