God, am I glad these past couple of weeks are over and that, thanks to Ike's change of heart, we don't have to do it all over again this week.
Our evacu-cation to Atlanta was more evacuation than vacation--Mom and I were too stressed out the first few days to do much other than get increasingly irritated at the coverage provided by the idiots on CNN, followed by mad dashes to the computer to watch live video from WDSU and Fox8 to find out what was really going on.
Saturday was a really bad day, as K called that morning to tell me that he planned to stay, no matter what. That was followed by a day of anxiously watching Gustav's projected path move closer and closer to the city, possibly strengthening to a Category 4 before landfall. Once CNN began covering Ray Nagin saying that Gustav had a 900-mile footprint and was going to be the mother of all storms, my frayed nerves were at their breaking point and it was time for a good cry. All I could think about was the possibility of my house and city being in ruins--for the second time in three years--the next time I saw them and the awfulness of having to go through it all again. Bob Breck made me feel a little bit better when he quickly corrected the fallacy of the 900-mile footprint, but all the same, I was exhausted and scared by that point. When K called at midnight to say that it looked bad and he was going to leave on Sunday morning, I felt relief, but it was mixed with a huge sense of sadness and despair--because that's exactly what happened last time, when Katrina came calling--K left on Sunday morning when it became obvious that there would be little chance of reprieve, and the sense of horrible deja vu was almost too much to bear.
As you all know, by Sunday morning things looked brighter, and K decided to ride it out anyway. Still, we didn't venture far from the television or the computer, always worrying about Gustav making another shift back to the north.
Monday was spent with constant updates from K on the wind, the rain, and the subsequent power failure. There were some tense moments for my mother, as Nick called from Bay St. Louis to say that the water had risen to within 6" of the house and he would call back when the water made it in. (Their house is 15 feet above the ground.) But when we didn't hear back from him for several hours, we took comfort in the fact that hopefully no news was good news, which turned out to be the case--their yard is a mess, but the water stayed out of the house.
By Tuesday, we were finally able to relax, other than wondering when we would be able to go home and being irritated by the constantly mixed signals coming out of the area regarding the ridiculous re-entry "plan."
By Wednesday, K broke down and spent $750 on a generator, which, as Murphy's Law dictates, ensured that our power would be back on within a matter of days rather than weeks. Then I found out about the sewarage system in Jefferson Parish and wondered where in the hell I would go the next day.
On Thursday, Mom and I packed up the car and headed back to Bay St. Louis with E. It took us 10 1/2 hours to make what's normally a 6 1/2-hour trip, but it seems like that was still a helluva lot better than the experiences of those who got stuck in the contra-flow hell of I-59 on the way out of town. As expected, Entergy somehow got wind of the fact that we had put out the money for a generator, so they restored our power around midnight on Thursday.
On Friday, I got in the car with E, after stocking up on groceries at the Waveland Wal-Mart, since the grocery stores in our neighborhood were still closed. I hoped for a quick trip home but should've known that wasn't going to happen. A wreck on the twin spans had traffic backed up for miles, so I decided to head into town on Old Highway 90. I got all the way to the Rigolets bridge, only to find traffic into the city blocked by a lone police officer. East-bound traffic was crossing the bridge, but the cop was turning away anyone trying to head west. I still haven't found out what that was about, as it wasn't reported on WWL. So I got to turn around and retrace my path back to I-12, where I finally made it into the city, three hours after I'd started out, by crossing the causeway.
Ah, home again! Time to relax, no? No. Time to clean out all of the stinking food that sat in our fridge without power for four days. Although K did his best to clean out the freezer, there was still plenty of rancid awfulness left to clean--although he'd transferred everything from the freezer to coolers and then back to the refrigerator once he got the generator, most of the meat was wayyyy past its prime and had begun oozing. (Does anyone know how long it takes to get the smell of spoiled crab out of your refrigerator? Two boxes of Arm & Hammer and four days haven't done it yet, and the smell is still enough to almost knock me over when I open the door.)
On Saturday, I finally got a long day of non-rest and relaxation by thankfully keeping my dental appointment to have my wisdom teeth removed. Although it wasn't fun, the thought of the pain they'd been causing me for the past two weeks continuing on until the dentist's office reopened was even worse. Thank you, nitrous oxide, for making an unpleasant experience a little bit better.
Sunday was spent nauseous. Funny thing about wisdom teeth removal--you don't want to eat, but then when you take the pain medication, which it's recommended you take on a full stomach, you get sick.
Monday was spent trying to catch up on a week's worth of missed work in a day.
And finally, here we are on Tuesday, and things are better and a little more back to normal. Our trash was finally picked up today--for the first time since August 24th. Note to self--fill trash cans with bleach and water upon arriving home to try to get rid of the 800 flies who are feasting on the rancid awfulness of the garbage juice left behind in them.
Ah, the joys of living on the Gulf Coast....