Onward to the ATL tomorrow. Spent the evening packing up clothes for me and clothes and toys for E, as well as making a list of things for K to pack up later on in the weekend if things look bad. After packing only 3 pairs of shorts and some t-shirts when leaving for Katrina, which didn't come in real handy 3+ months later in winter in Atlanta, I had to restrain myself from throwing everything I own into my suitcase. Luckily, I really don't love most of my clothes that much. As those of you who know me will agree, high fashion isn't nearly as important to me as comfy.
Even though they're still predicting that Gustav will hit us, I don't really believe it yet. Yes, I went around the house and looked every room up and down, trying to decide what things I would really, really miss if they were gone--needless to say, the list is relatively small, as we've only had three years to re-accumulate things.
Jesus--and tomorrow is the three-year anniversary. Driving to Atlanta, hoping a hurricane doesn't make landfall this weekend, is really not how I wanted to spend the anniversary. But, c'est la vie--that's life in New Orleans. So, I'll drive to Bay St. Louis tomorrow, pick up my mother, and we'll head off to Atlanta again--just as we did three years ago. My stepfather, who is staying behind for now, better not make any jokes this time around about tying himself to the house supports if the flooding get bad. It wasn't funny three years ago, and it isn't funny now. One bonus--my mom has agreed that we can leave her paid-for car in BSL this time around, rather than leaving my I-still-owe-more-than-insurance-will-pay-for-it-car, which is what we did last time. (Yes, in hindsight, a stupid move--but who knew Katrina would have that massive surge?)
After an evening of switching back and forth between the local news, to see the latest hurricane track, and CNN/MSNBC, to watch the democratic convention (Geauxbama!), I'm still not sure how I feel. This still has the feel of unreality to it (is that a word)? Walking around my house, cataloguing the things I'd hate to lose, made me feel a little anxious, but we've been there, done that, so I keep telling myself that if we lose all of our stuff again, we'll survive. My furniture? Who cares? The large framed portrait of E when she was a baby? It would break my heart to lose that. And on and on and on....
We are so far out from this storm and so many things could happen between now and Monday. I certainly don't wish this storm on anyone else, but at the same time, I just want it to go away. It's too soon. New Orleans is still broken--we can't do this again. Not now. Not yet.
So, a few thoughts as I wait for Barack to speak:
Will my garbage cans, which the garbage men seemed to miss emptying today, become missiles if Gustav comes this way? And do I really like the alternative, of my husband having to store 3 stinking cans of garbage inside our house?
Will we regret not boarding up our windows? When the greatest risk is flood, it seems kinda pointless.
Will the greatest risk be flood again? Or, if we continue to be forecast as being on the northeast quadrant, will wind be the bigger threat?
Where to put stuff that we want to keep safe? Do we put it in the attic, where it will be safe from flooding? If we do, will Murphy's law go into effect and rip the roof off, blowing everything in the attic away, as K and I laughed about earlier?
Will my husband be safe if he stays? Will our cellphones work this time?
Will my husband finally have a use for the gigantic garbage bag full of corks that he's been collecting for the past three years? I keep teasing him that maybe some day, he can use them to make a life raft.
Will the two FEMA trailers still on our street, one three houses down and one directly across the street, end up in our yard? In our house?
Should I take some winter clothes to Atlanta, just in case?
Should I take my resume to Atlanta, just in case?
Which of my daughter's treasured possessions do I let her take, and which do I make her leave behind? I told her that she could take 3 stuffed animals with her. Right now, bunny, panda and seal are in the lead, with scary pink-and-green monster and kitty running a close second. How do I explain it to her if none of her other toys make it?
Hurricane evacuation officially sucks. As Mark said, we pay a price for living here. In my mind, I still feel that this will be just another close call for New Orleans and that those of us who leave will be able to go home again on Wednesday, at the latest. But in my heart, after going through this before, I feel a little bit sick inside, thinking about the never-ending what-ifs.
Keep New Orleans in your hearts. Keep the MS Gulf Coast in your hearts. Keep the victims of Hurricane Katrina in your hearts. We're not ready for this again. Not now. Not yet.