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  #1  
Old 10-26-2005, 07:30 AM
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Location: New Orleans, LA
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Smile Katrina escapee's story

In another thread, Botnst expressed delight that I survived the late unpleasantness in New Orleans, and suggested I start a thread to tell my story. Here goes . . .

When, on Saturday night, I found a lot of stores were closed already, I started to think, "Well, maybe I should bug out . . ." But I was reluctant to leave only to sit in traffic. Last year, with Ivan, the second-raters who run the city and the state screamed that the sky was falling, and people sat on the highways for 8 and 12 hours -- all for nothing.

Then Mayor Nagin declared a real, honest-to-Martha mandatory evacuation. My friend Miss Linda and I threw clothes into bags and cats into carriers, and got rolling.

Rolling. Ha. It took us 12 hours to crawl 120 miles, up and through Baton Rouge. Among other discomforts: no place to stop to pee. I finally had to pull to the shoulder, hop out, and take care of business on the far side of the car. Near BR, where we made a pit stop, people were lining up to use any bathroom in a Burger King, no matter what the sign said on the door.

At 10:30 that night I was exhausted. The State Police steered us to a shelter in exciting downtown Erwinville, LA. It was air-conditioned -- almost too much so, when you're trying to sleep on the floor -- and they offered coffee. But they wouldn't let us bring the cats inside, even in their carriers. Fortunately it was cool and rainy outside, so they wouldn't suffocate in the car, and Linda gave them a quick litterbox break. (Just like me on the side of the road, come to think of it.)

Miraculously, the roads were clear at 6:00 am. We hustled out from under the rain clouds and into Texas sunshine, and got to our hotel in College Station in less than 8 hours. I don't know what heaven will be like, but I suspect it'll be a pale imitation after the sheer luxury of a hot shower, a comfortable bed, and a hot dinner. I highly recommend Homewood Suites, by the way; they not only accepted the cats, but they served a full hot breakfast (not just rolls and coffee) 7 days a week and dinner 5 nights a week. It would have been like a vacation, if we hadn't been worrying about our neighborhood back home.

After the hotel, we wound up staying in a two-bedroom house owned by a local church member and businessman near the university. When internet and media sources suggested it was OK to come back and look, we did, and found our places were untouched. Suffused with garbage smells, and the refrigerators needed to be cleaned out, but everything was fine. So we returned, packed, and came back to the swamp.

Impressions since we've been back: So much for the "smaller, gentler" city we were promised. There are fewer people here, but most of them seem to be crammed onto the West Bank, so traffic is no lighter. Every corner has signs saying "We're hiring!", but those jobs don't pay enough to live on -- even if you can find housing. Blue roofs everywhere, thanks to FEMA. Curfew in my area, 2 am to 6 am. And several neighborhoods on the East Bank, though dry now, look as though they'd been bombed.

People here keep making brave sounds like "We're coming back!" and "Mardi Gras in 2006!" Personally, I liken those noises to reassurances from deck officers on the Titanic. Yes, my employer, Tulane University, is coming back, and I don't think they can cut my job (I'm the office manager for a big department with a lot of majors).

But this place is never going to be the same.

(As for MB content, I'll post another thread on how the W202 handled things.)
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-- Paul W. (The Benzadmiral)
('03 Buick Park Avenue, charcoal/cream)
Formerly:
'97 C230, smoke silver/parchment; '86 420SEL, anthracite/light grey; '84 280CE (W123), dark blue/palomino
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  #2  
Old 10-26-2005, 08:11 AM
MedMech
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Its good to hear from you we were concerned about you!!!!!!

Thanks for checking in and telling the story!!
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  #3  
Old 10-26-2005, 09:06 PM
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I took some fairly low altitude photos of Tulane about a week after Katrina. At that time water was curb to curb on Broad but it didn't look like any water went into buildings our the frathouses. On the other side by Loyola, water was a bit deeper but still didn't flood until you got near Napolean, as I recall.
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Old 10-26-2005, 10:35 PM
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Join Date: May 2002
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BA and all,

I have to agree that NOLA will be a long road of recovery. I had a opportunity to visit NOLA twice within a week just last week My first visit to NOLA, I wish it was under better circumstances.

I am deployed with the US Army Corp of Engineers in Beaumont Texas on a "blue roof" mission. When Wilma's course was uncertain I had an opportunity on the 20th to go home to Jacksonville, FL to make sure my family and property was safe and secure if Wilma decided to track north and northeast with a exit through Jax. On my drive back to Jax I met a colleague stationed on our Gen Grear's command boat at the district office in NOLA. I can't remember the road leading to the boat, maybe River Road or Carrolton Anyhow I got kind of lost once I left I-10 and Carrolton and was easily disoriented due to the lack of street signs The brief drive to the boat showed huge amounts of destruction. For my exit out of NOLA after lunch I decided to take a "tour" and drive along Lakeshore and then try to take 90 into Miss. No luck there as the bridges were turned around and no power to bring them back into alignment. The drive on 90 and then 10 up to Slidell was characterized by So many flooded cars, homes, businesses and destruction in general. I was awe struck.

I then drove to Waveland, MS and was even further surprised by an even greater level of destruction. By then it was nightfall and I decided to drive to Pensacola for a motel stop. Sleep was difficult that night for what I had seen that day. Tears were nearly flowing. Keep in mind this is after seeing similar yet somewhat less severe damage in SE TX for about 2 weeks straight.

Ironically on my drive back to TX on the 24th the only rooms available were at the Ramada Inn in the FQ at Bourban and Toulouse. They were literally the only rooms available along the 10 corridor from Biloxi to Houston. I had a decent dinner at The Redfish Grill and a great nights sleep. On the way out I drove the cbd abd the Garden district area. Ouch, lots of visible scarring. I truly hope life gets better. Although I don't think NOLA normalcy will return in anyones near future.

Back at work today for a full day and it seems as the days go by and the program obtains more public awareness the more requests we see. Its good to see the word is getting out but it just continues to show how bad SE TX was really hit. As far north as Jasper and beyond, into China, Vidor is hosed, Port Arthur, the Groves, Neches and a host of other communities will never be the same. Beaumont was hit hard but it seems as it is the major community in the area it has the ability to absorb the hits and deal with the issues a little better than the rest.

I have a huge desire to go back and help with Wilma as Broward is an old stomping ground of mine and I have many friends affected by that particular storm. For now I'll have to stay in TX and do what I can.

Please help in any way that you can. Whether money or volunteering in some form or fashion. I'm sure it would be appreciated from SE TX to the Keys.

Sorry for the ramble. Its been the first real moment with some time to free flow with my thoughts and such. Its truly an experience that I will never forget.
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  #5  
Old 10-27-2005, 07:23 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: New Orleans, LA
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Red face Thanks

. . . for the thoughts and info, Neumann.

As it happened, on our recon mission to NO to see if our condos were OK, we drove through a lot of towns that had been hit by Rita. Power out everywhere; no traffic lights, so we had to treat each intersection like a 4-way stop; roofs and gas station pump shelters ripped off. A Waffle House * in Beaumont had power and was doing a land office business, but Port Arthur, Lake Charles, LA, and east almost to Lafayette was swarming with repair trucks -- and had no gas to sell. If I'd still been driving the 126, we'd have been in bad shape for fuel.

It comes down to this. I want to go live somewhere where summer doesn't last 8 damn months, and where this sort of thing doesn't happen. I'm thinking Albuquerque, or maybe Pittsburgh. (I'm not kidding about Pittsburgh. I liked what I saw of it while I was there about 4 years ago.)


* Why is it that almost *every* exit from the I-10 in LA has a Waffle House? Do they spring up overnight, like mushrooms? Do they breed like fruit flies?
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-- Paul W. (The Benzadmiral)
('03 Buick Park Avenue, charcoal/cream)
Formerly:
'97 C230, smoke silver/parchment; '86 420SEL, anthracite/light grey; '84 280CE (W123), dark blue/palomino
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