Friday, September 16, 2005.
11:00 AM (Lunch Break)
Ashlee sent me another great presentation. Available directly:
Turn up the volume.
I went out for a drive this morning to see what was going on in the area. The Shell station was open in my neighborhood, so I bought gas. Only paid $2.45 a gallon! Whooo hooo! The Winn Dixie is open, but I didn't need food, so I drove out to the National Guard Station and they gave me water, MREs, and baby wipes. They were out of diapers. Bummer. I talked to some of the guys for awhile and thanked them for their service. They were all very friendly and personable.
I drove out to Virginia's day care Prime Step, but there was nobody there. I want to get her back to school and back to normal as soon as possible. I heard a report that it had a foot of water in it, but I don't know if that's true. I didn't see a water line on the building. The car lot down the street is lower, but none of the cars took water, so I don't know what to think. The buildings in the area are good and bad. Prime Step seems to have done better than most.
I drove out to our old house in Metairie on Arlene street. The trees had fallen on the house, and I suspect that there was at least a few inches of water inside. Nobody was there, though, so I didn't stop to check. It looked livable. The trees didn't do that much damage to the roof.
Metairie is very torn up, though. Harahan looks normal by comparison. It really hurt me to see so many big trees totally down. I drove out to check on the shooting range, and that looks OK, but nobody was there either. I came back down to Jefferson Highway and noticed that the McDonald's was open! I got lunch. French fries make everything better.
I got home just in time to meet the roofing contractor - Greg from Landrew Brothers. He swore that I'd have a crew tomorrow, so I signed the contract. The estimate for the patch job is 750 to 1500. Ouch. I hope the insurance company is going to cover that. If not, I hope FEMA does. If not...well...then not.
I'm going to do a little more cleanup in the house today. It's only very slightly musty in here anymore, and coming back to normal. I might even get to work on finishing Virginia's bedroom, which I was working on when all of this happened.
Jack and Virginia met with their insurance adjuster today and then came over to the house to spend the night. I kept working in the back yard trying to clean up, and I hired some of the neighborhood boys to put things into piles for later disposal. Good workers, those boys, and I paid 'em 4 dollars more than I said I would because of the job they did. I worked on cleaning up the front yard, and I pulled the plants away from the house, drug some of the smaller branches out to the street, and watered all of my plants. The yard still looks like hell... I went over to my other neighbor's house - Tony and Pat - and watered all of his plants and hosed off his driveway. I was really worried for those folks. They're both in their 70's and care for their 40 year old son who has Downs Syndrome. Tony told me that they were going to stay at the Fairmont hotel in New Orleans for the storm. They like to do that because the hotel is very strong, and indeed it survived Hurricane Katrina quite nicely. The news I had from the Fairmont, though, was that everyone had been put out on the street on the third day and sent to the Convention Center - which was a really bad place to be - and I feared for their lives.
My neighbor Karen came over to the fence and we had a nice talk. Her house has tarps all over it, and most of her shingles are still in my front yard. Her house wasn't in very bad shape and quite livable. She needed a new roof anyway. Her place in Mississippi is totally gone, though. Nothing left of it. Neither of the insurance companies want to pay, so they squabble about what is wind and what is water - and how can you tell if the house is gone? She'll need a lawyer before it's all over. While my back was turned, Tony and Pat came home!
I went over and knocked on the door and talked to Pat, and then to Tony. It seems that they did, indeed, go to the Fairmont and stayed on the 4th floor. After the storm, the power was out, but the generators were working, so they kept lights in the lobby and dining room. Since they couldn't keep refrigeration forever, the hotel started feeding everyone for free! Tony wanted to get his car and go home, but the police weren't letting anyone leave. And then the levee broke. The next morning there was 4 feet of water in the street. Eventually the generators gave out, and nobody could stay at the hotel with no power, water, or other services. The management put everyone out in the street, just like the news report said. Fortunately, the hotel had two small shuttle vans and they loaded up the folks with medical and other problems - one lady in a wheelchair - and they were told to go west. Tony said it was very hard to watch all the friends they had made at the hotel - some folks from Europe on their honeymoon, for instance - carrying their luggage over their heads, wading through waist deep water, on their way to the Convention Center...
The driver didn't really know where to go, so they tried to go to the Westbank - which believe it or not, you actually have to drive east to reach - and they were turned back. Finally someone on the van told the driver how to go, and they got out. They got bussed to Baton Rouge, and they were going to be put in one of the shelters there. Tony refused to go into the shelter, though, and a kind stranger let Tony use his cell phone to call one of Pat's relatives in Baton Rouge, who came and got them. They were treated really well, and Pat's family threw their son (Anthony) his birthday party there. One of the cousins drove them home today. Easy as pie.
We had a good long talk, and Tony didn't fail to let me know that half of my shingles are in his back yard. I told him I'd get them cleaned out...
I noticed some more damage today. My back door is out of whack, and you can actually see light coming in from where the panel is fractured. Water blew in under the door and the floor is still swollen.
Either from the water under the door or the freezer melt - or both - the floor in the kitchen was both disgusting and the linoleum tiles had shifted. The floor is swollen and buckled underneath. When you walk on it, you can really feel it. The floor is actually supposed to be white, so that should give you an idea of how funky the floor is at this point. I got it all cleaned up and white and shiny again.
Dinner tonight was MREs. I gave Virginia the lesson on how to heat one and she had vegetarian pasta. I had the curry chicken, which is pretty good except that it has mushrooms in it. The rice pilaf is vile.
After dinner, it started to drizzle a little, and I started to worry. Then it started to rain. Then it started to really rain, and I scrambled to put buckets and pans in the attic to catch the water. Unfortunately, I don't have that many buckets, pans or pots. I must have 25 receptacles in my attic, and it just isn't enough.
Water started coming through the ceiling in the kitchen. See how nice and white the floor is? Alas... I put pans on the 'fridge, pans on the floor, and towels under everything.
And then... Remember the little patch of paint that had fallen off the ceiling in the dining room?
Alas... I like waterfalls. I didn't really want one in my dining room. The roofers are a day late...