Sunday night, August 28th - My mother and I got to Atlanta on Saturday. It's been a weird day of alternating between pretending that nothing's wrong and wallowing in the deepest depths of fear. We go out for take-out and come back to my sister's house to eat dinner in front of the tv. Of course, we tune into the Weather Channel to see what's going on. The streets are flooding from the rain, and we get the obligatory shot of the latest dumbass that decides his small car will be the car that can make it through the eight feet of water that always accumulates on the portion of I-10 underneath the Metairie railroad tracks in a hard rain. Predictably, he doesn't make it and some other guy races into the frame, wading out through the chest-deep water to save this yahoo that's just driven right into the water. We all laugh, as it's a brief moment of brevity in an otherwise overwhelming night.
Monday, August 29th, around 8:00 a.m. - We're sitting on the floor in my sister's living room, clicking the remote from news channel to news channel, desperate to find out what's going on. We stop on NBC, where Brian Williams is in the Superdome, showing the roof lifting up off of its supports and eventually tearing apart, resulting in a hole where you can see the sky from inside the dome.
Monday, August 29th, around 12:00 p.m. - I'm sitting on my sister's front porch, and my mom comes out to join me. She starts to cry, telling me that she feels incredibly guilty that, from what we've seen on the news, it's likely that my house might be in trouble. I tell her not to worry about it and desperately don't want to be the cause of my mother's pain.
Monday, August 29th, around 2:00 p.m. - God dammit, why won't anyone say anything about what's happening on the Mississippi Gulf Coast? What's going on in Bay St. Louis?
Monday, August 29th, around 6:30 p.m. - The NBC evening news is on. The storm is gone. New Orleans has "dodged a bullet." And I am filled with relief. And then they have a reporter in a helicopter, on the Gulf Coast. And they show Biloxi, and oh God, it's so bad. So bad. Nothing is left. You can't recognize anything. There are shards of what used to be houses and businesses everywhere. And none of us know what to say to my mother, who lives 20 miles from there. Except that maybe it wasn't that bad in Bay St. Louis, even though we know it was. Because that's where the newscasters are saying that the eye made landfall.
Monday, August 29th, around 7:30 p.m. - My mom and I are again sitting on the front porch. This time, I'm the one who's saying I feel so guilty, oh so guilty, knowing that my house has most likely "dodged a bullet" while my mom's house is most likely gone. We sit on the porch and she cries and I am brave, because that's my job, my role in life--to be stoic and to not cause anyone to have to worry about me.
Monday, August 29th, around 10:00 p.m. - We're watching CNN. The anchors in Atlanta seem to be in a bit of disbelief as they go to various reporters dispatched around New Orleans. French Quarter? Check. Everything's A-OK here. Uptown? Check. Dodged a bullet, blah, blah, blah. But then they go to a report from the Ninth Ward and things are bad, oh so bad. The reporter is in tears and the newscasters are in shock. Things are horrible here, simply horrible. People are screaming for help from their rooftops. Dogs are being electrocuted by power lines in the flood waters. It's bad here, oh so bad. And I go on the porch, by myself, and cry and cry and cry. My mother and sister come out to try to comfort me and God, oh God, please just go away, please just go away and let me sob in peace, where I don't have to be strong for anyone. I cannot bear this, people in New Orleans suffering like this. I don't care if my house is okay or not. Just make it stop.
Tuesday, August 30th, around 10:00 a.m. - We're watching CNN. A reporter is cruising down the highway next to my house, in a boat. I go out to my sister's porch and call Allstate. My name is Andrea Meyer. I haven't seen it to verify, but I'm pretty sure my house was totaled in Hurricane Katrina. What do I do to get the claims process started? Then I call Geico. My name is Andrea Meyer. I haven't seen it to verify, but I'm pretty sure my car was totaled in Hurricane Katrina. What do I do to get the claims process started? Calls to the mortgage company and the bank holding the title to my car follow.
Tuesday, August 30th, around 1:00 p.m. - My mother and I sit on the porch together, at peace, sort of. As much peace as you can have, considering the circumstances. We are on equal ground. Both of our houses are most likely totaled. And as sad as that may be, I know it is comforting to us as well, in a weird sort of way. We are on equal footing. We don't have to bear the other's pain while also bearing the survivors' guilt. We are in this together.