Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My Nieghbors Are Vampires

Folks, sorry for the lack of posts today but it was a busy day. I started out with a warm feeling in the middle of the night. Actually, it was late in the early morning. No stars last night. You would think with the lack of light that you could see the stars but there were nothing but clouds. Still, without the sounds of the neighborhood, you would think it would be peaceful. Instead you heard the sound of generators all night and day. Look, I'm not trying to endorse a product, but you need to understand a few things about generators. Price and watts are what most people shop for. Granted, these are important features, but quality of power, noise and gas consumption are equally important. I use a Honda EU2000i. I don't need more power than 2000 watts. It runs a window unit AC at night and keeps the refrigerators nice and cool during the day. I can't hear my own generator in my bedroom, but I can hear my neighbors. It's also light enough (52 lbs) that my wife can set it up. More importantly, it runs most of the day on a gallon of gas. It can run the AC unit for about 6 hours. Hence the reason it was warm when I woke up. The AC had kicked off. I filled the tank and managed to sleep for another hour. 2 gallons of gas per day. My neighbors filled up their tank 4 times. My brother in-law used 4 gallons, every 8 hours. Yes, the Honda's cost more, but when there is no gas and you actually want to sleep, the money is worth every penny, err dollar.

I started early to get a chainsaw from a friend. I don't have trees on my property, which is why I don't own a chainsaw. Unfortunately, my back neighbor's tree decided to pay a visit. Since we were expecting 6 inches of rain, I decided it would be best to remove it from the drainage ditch. It took me a while to get over to my friends house. The back way out of the neighborhood was blocked. It wasn't until I made it out on one of the main highways that I realized how bad other had it. There were 5 houses in a row that each had a tree crash through the roof. One was so bad, I was concerned someone had been hurt. Fortunately everyone was OK.

Next I noticed not one traffic light had power. My true test of how bad the storm was is to see if Walmart or McDonald's are open. Neither were. People were reasonably polite and all seemed to understand the concept of a 4-way stop. It's strange, but this was one of the first things I learned in drivers ed, but most people can't manage a stop light that is out. They can't manage giving you change either. Order something at a fast food restaurant for $5.23 and give them $10.28. See what happens.

On the way over, I couldn't believe the amount of trees and signs that were down. On the way back, I stopped at my brother-in-laws house. Since he has Nextel, the phones didn't work. He was fine but had some serious roof issues. I told him I had plenty of tarps and that I would be back after cutting some trees. By the time I was back a nice neighbor had come with a chainsaw and cleared most of the Oak tree blocking the street out of the way. There were stories of neighbors coming out of their houses to help clear the debris. I was excited as I took my borrowed chainsaw and began cutting the tree out of the ditch. Not one neighbor. Not even the ones whose backyard it was actually in. They watched as me and my wife and kids hauled everything out. It was at this point that my wife mentioned that she had finally identified the strangeness she couldn't put her finger on. They were vampires. Remember, the picking up of garbage cans and other items in the middle of the night in a previous post. I told her I would take it under consideration but felt she was onto something.

It was at this point, I realized that in a crisis there were two types of people. I have a friend who likes to point out that everyone only has two types of people in there examples. While I usually consider other points of view, in this case, there really are only two types of people. There are those who realize we are in a crisis and fix there own issues and help other people and those who can't cope and stay in their own world. Sometime they interact with you to get some additional information or help from you, but for the most part they are useless in a crisis.

I left to help my brother-in-law and put tarps up over his roof. I'm adding tarps to my emergency prepared list. Probably not something if you live in earthquake country, but if you live anywhere that wind, rain or ice can occur, get some. Also have some wood - 2x4s work but 1x4 are perfectly acceptable. Have some nails that will go through the wood and your roof. I camp a lot and have many different sizes. They sure came in handy today. Since there were no stores open, I realized these were valuable commodities. They are cheap and you can use them for many other purposes. Go out and get some today.

When I dropped off the chainsaw I noticed that there were no lights on and that people were getting ruder. I found 2 gas stations open (must have generators) and long lines (200+ cars). I didn't bother stopping, as I didn't need the gas and figured if someone was willing to wait that long, they must really need it. There were no stores open.

One thing I noticed and discussed with several people was the fact that hurricanes ignore the bell curve and other patterns of grouping as far as damage goes. It is not a matter of "that neighborhood was damaged". You can have 100 houses with damage and 1 that has nothing or you can have the converse. We were lucky, many people in our neighborhood were not. One house I saw had a chimney impailed in a patio cover.

I'm going to get some scoop on Baton Rouge recovery and power tomorrow. Lafourche Parish opened this afternoon, but Terrebonne remains closed. We never got the 6 inches of rain, 1/2 maybe.

We grilled a nice dinner outside. A cool wind was blowing. After the sun had set stars started to come out. As dusk was becoming dark, I saw two bats darting around. My wife stated "see, I rest my case".


Anonymous said...

WHEN are we going to get power
MR.Know it allllllllll.....
signed someone who knows you

Anonymous said...

Ich ben ein vampire. This is as funny as a storm-torn aftermath story can be. Thanks for keeping us La. ex-pats informed.
Saul, you can rest assured that if I were there I would come out and help you with the debris.

As long as it was dark...

Paul said...

Anonymous - depends where you live. The range is any day to 14 days from now.