Friday, September 23, 2005

Rita, Rita, Rita

I've had little time to post the last few days. Seems like everyone in the state is actually trying to prepare for Rita and we have been backing up data from all the public agencies who are in the potential strike zone.

Housekeeping - Those of you who know my Mom lives in Lafayette will be happy to know that we had her come up to Baton Rouge on Tuesday just in case. Lafayette is set to get some of the hurricane force winds and will probably be OK but why take chances.

Earlier this week we did some of our own housekeeping as well. Making sure the gas cans were filled and the few batteries we were low on were restocked. We also decided to add another 7 gallons of water to the mix since we figured someone else would be at the house at some point.

Today has been an odd day. The wind started early this morning along with the drizzle. We went ahead and put in all the items on the patio that we had finally put out last weekend. Good thing the garage is still clean. Most of the day has had strong gusts of wind with some rain. Around 2:00pm the rain really started pouring. I drove home and had to stop several times due the amount of rain coming in at a 90 degree angle and various puddles. The ditches, bayous and drains are full but no signs of flooding yet.

There was a tornado spotted in Ascension Parish so Rochelle and the kids spent a brief period of time in the master bedroom closet while it passed. Fortunately, it didn't make it to Prairieville. There are other parishes where tornados have been spotted. Most of Baton Rouge still has power. We have flickered but nothing serious.

I just received word from my Cousin and Aunt in Lafayette that the wind and rain has bee going nuts since about 2:00pm. No power loss yet but they expect to. Like many people they purchased a generator and window unit air-conditioner. Since the temp hit 100 degrees this week, an AC is important.

I have contacts in Lake Charles/Calcasieu Parish and they are fine thus far. They have planned for the worst. I'll keep up with them this weekend and update everyone. Cameron Parish is right on the LA-TX border and was just about wiped out after hurricane Audrey. They actually evacuated on Wednesday. When I say evacuated, I mean that the public offices packed up computers and file cabinets. They learned their lesson after Audrey wiped out about 50% of the population.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Gun Shy

Time to take a break from the Katrina aftermath and talk about the new kid on the block - Rita. Everyone that borders the Gulf has been keeping an eye on this one. This morning the so called experts stated that it would be Texas bound. I'm sure the refugees in Houston do not find much amusement in this. People forget that not too many years ago Houston had massive flooding as a result of storms.

By this evening, Rita made a slight adjustment north making it possible to hit Louisiana east of Lake Charles. The Walmarts are already out of bottled water on Monday! Everyone is still gun shy from the last storm, this will cause panic. Most people still have plenty of supplies but stocking up on a few extra batteries, gas and water are always a good idea. Realize that with all cities, towns, villages in Louisiana having extra people in them, the strain on resources will be magnified. Most people I have spoken with that are west of Baton Rouge, are keeping and eye and getting ready to clear out on Wednesday.

This is a balancing act between doing what is prudent and not panicking and causing a rush on supplies and the roads unnecessarily. Gas prices are running under $2.49/gallon on average. Stores finally have gas cans and generators back in stock. Shoring up resources is one thing but if stores are in short supply of water and canned goods already, it will be a mess by Wednesday. You would think by now most people keep this stuff on hand but obviously not.

One huge concern with be the Greater New Orleans area. They have stopped letting people back into New Orleans but people are still free to go into Jefferson Parish. I have no reports of how many people are back in Kenner, Metairie, Harahan and River Ridge but everyone I know that did not have flood damage is back. Many of the people who did have flood damage are back but staying with others. If New Orleans has to evacuate, 2 routes are not available. Both of these are 4 lane highways (with contra-flow enabled). If I were there, I would get out on Tuesday before the crowds. There is no school in session until October 3rd and most jobs will let you off for emergency. Again - one thing to stay in a city with a few extra people, it is another thing to stay in a city with 2 levee breaches held back by sand bags and 2 routes of escape not available. Life is full of risks but certain risks aren't worth taking even if they do cleanse the gene pool.