The power came back on at 6:15 pm today, which was wonderful. So nice to have air conditioning and a working washing machine. And internet. Oh, sweet internet... So that makes 2 1/2 days without power which, all things considered, isn't that bad an ordeal. The worst part was trying to sleep. Tuesday night when the storm hit, I didn't put my earplugs in because I wanted to hear it if something hit the fan (so to speak). I got very little sleep as I kept waking up at every little noise and the wind was howling around the house. At around 6am I woke up to discover the electricity had gone out (thank goodness for cell phones and battery-powered wall clocks).
Wednesday was spent mostly reading with the cats and obsessively making rounds of the apartment checking for leaks. My landlord set up the generator late in the day and I got out the really long extension cord to run around the house and into my front living room window (the only one in my apartment that a) has a screen that opens and b) is protected by the deep porch. I plugged in the refrigerator, torchiere lamp on a long cord that I carried from room to room like a lantern, and my cell phone charger. Later I plugged in the modem and router, but the cable was down so I unplugged them again and plugged in my big box fan.
The wind was howling down the length of Carrollton avenue and I went out on the porch to watch the trees dancing. The huge old oak in front of the house is an impressive sight when the big limbs start moving, but I was never in fear that they would break. Some trees just as large and old lost that battle and I saw their enormous fallen bulks spanning streets or slotted neatly between houses when I finally ventured out today. The palm trees shook and bent and tossed their crowns and rained fronds down over the roads and neutral grounds and the street became a stream covered in leaves. It was a kind of fairy tale transformation of the familiar into the strange--full of the eerie light of the storm and the sound of the wind in the trees and the rain, and nowhere a car or electric light or man-made sound. The direction of the wind and the break provided by the house and bamboo stand next door made it possible to stay on the porch and feel only the lightest of breezes. I opened the window onto the porch all the way to help with the stuffiness and stillness of the air in the apartment, but without another window open there was only the slightest effect.
My landlord (A) and his wife (D) and three sons went out and played in the water and waded in the stream down to the corner in each direction and back. They reported deep lakes over the sidewalks and reveled in the rain, which had quieted in a lull between storm bands. I was glad I had moved the Camry I'm trying to sell onto the neutral ground, to a spot carefully chosen to be out of the path of any large tree or limb and in an area I knew wouldn't turn to swampy mud. I kept an eye on it throughout and it made it through beautifully. The Prius I parked in the driveway between my landlord's car and truck where it accumulated some leaves but nothing more. Higher ground at exactly sea level.
The water in the street subsided a bit and during one of the longer lulls the intrepid thewronghands
came over and spent some time hanging out and being gracious about the lack of a/c. It was really nice to see them, especially as my ability to go out and seek out social encounters was at a low point. They headed off on their rounds and I went back to my book.
Wednesday night passed much like the previous night, but without the comfort of air conditioning and the ceiling fan. The generator was turned off at midnight and the still, muggy air became quickly oppressive. It was hard to sleep and the wind and the rain, now coming from the opposite direction, rattled the windows and shook the house. It was the hardest night to get through. I eventually slept, but woke up frequently. There were occasional mysterious crashes that shook me out of bed to make more rounds of window checking. Thank goodness for preparation and a good supply of batteries for the flashlights.
Thursday it was clear the worst had passed, and the landlord's family were all out cleaning up the yard and putting things to rights, even when the rain would start up again. They shamed me into doing a modicum of straightening in my own room, putting away things I'd allowed to pile up for months. It's still a disaster, but less so. When I got too hot I sat and drank ice water and read again. At one point I went out to see if the Camry would start (it had needed a jump in order to move it to the neutral ground in the first place) and the battery was dead, dead, dead. I could have called AAA at that point, but figured they were probably busy with more urgent calls.
That evening was lovely and clear and I went out onto the back patio and joined A & D and the kids in a game of cards by candle and torch light. They had just gotten a beautiful and sweet ginger tabby kitten and had it playing in the garden around us. The game was frequently interrupted by the toddler coming by and wanting to grab everything on the table, but it was a nice, relaxing evening. I had planned on dinner with thewronghands
after she finished the fitness portion of the evening, but neither of us knew what was in store for her when she agreed to go out on a run with the Hash House Harriers. A nice 4 mile run through the city--that should take about an hour... Hahaha. Not when it's through storm water and up levees and through dense woods and brush along the river and weaving through darkened neighborhoods dodging downed trees and power lines. When she did make it back to her phone and got in touch dinner was really not an option. I only teased her a little about making me worry that she was dead in a ditch, and then I went inside and made myself a salad followed by a bowl of ice cream.
She and project_mayhem
came by early this morning and kindly gave the Camry a jump so I could move it off the neutral ground before the tow trucks got to it. Not having access to the news meant I had no idea when the city would lift the permission to park there and on my way out to the car to wait I saw a squadron of tow trucks headed down the street. I still haven't watched or listened to the news despite having had the power on for a whole 5 hours.
Today was the kind of relaxed, laid-back day I enjoy when a friend comes in from out of town and there's no particular plan. The airport reopened this morning and thewronghands
' plane was due to leave on schedule, so we had most of the day to just do whatever we wanted. First order was checking my email on her laptop, followed by breakfast. In a city with massive power outages, that can be a challenge. I didn't want to go down to the quarter for breakfast as I assumed it would be mobbed, so we headed off down Magazine. Almost everything was closed and some streets were blocked by trees. We saw a sign for the Laurel Bakery and headed there, but they had only croissants, bagels, and biscuits. A biscuit for me and a can of orangina for thewronghands
and we continued the quest. The first open restaurant we saw was Slim Goodies Diner and we pulled over. There we were offered the dazzling choice of scrambled eggs with bacon and hash browns or scrambled eggs with bacon and pancakes. We both opted for the scrambled eggs with hash browns, no bacon, and it was delicious and the server delightful.
After giving up our seats to some of the waiting throng, we headed down to the quarter and stopped at the French Market when I saw people I knew set up. A pleasant time was spent walking the market and talking to people and finding out who had power and who didn't and talking about the whole event. Eventually we headed out of the quarter and up to Bayou St. John where we discovered the Parkway Bakery and Tavern not only had no power but had a downed awning and some other wind damage that I hope was minimal. On to the lakefront where we hiked up the levee and looked at the remaining pools of water from the storm surge, then back along the bayou where we saw egrets and Muscovy ducks (we had to look them up--they are very weird looking and seem like a cross-breed between ducks and geese; we were calling them deese gucks). By this time lunch was in order and after reconnoitering Oak street and finding nothing open, we headed down St. Charles (with a detour for fallen trees) and found ourselves at the restaurant on the corner of Napoleon and St. Charles that opened where Copeland's had been before The Storm. (Yes, I've forgotten the name.) Their power was out, too, but they were serving a limited menu which included catfish po-boys and catfish with etouffee. This was an acceptable thing and lunch was delicious. I was an evil person and suggested Sucre for desert, as we had noted it was open when we drove past earlier. We both had small cups of gelato that we couldn't finish, but oh, was it good, and they had air-conditioning! We arrived at the perfect time, just before the rush of mothers with their small children in tow.
Sadly, at that point I had to drive thewronghands
out to Elmwood to connect with her ride to the airport. It was a truly delightful day and a wide range of topics were discussed. I feel enormously fortunate to have had so much time with her--usually her schedule is packed tight with activities but the hurricane forced her to do an unfamiliar thing and just relax. Ha!
When I got home the power was still out and I was ready for a nap. But then the phone rang and a text from my room-mate came in, and in the middle of measuring the kitchen drawer for her the power came back on. Every since it's been laundry and catching up on internet stuff and now writing this post which has to be one of the longest ones I think I've ever written. Suddenly it's almost midnight, and I am working in the market tomorrow.
So there you are, all caught up on my little slice of this particular storm. Friends in outlying areas didn't fare as well, but that's their story. I'll most likely turn the television on for a bit before bed and see what the news has to say. Goodnight, everyone, and thanks for your words of concern through all this.