First, thank you to everyone that expressed concern for me, and New Orleans in general, when Isaac blew through last week. It was a crazy week that was full of firsts.
I experienced my first hurricane evacuation. When we thought that the storm was going to hit Alabama or Mississippi, most people in the city had decided to stay. Then, it turned toward New Orleans and we all had to make decisions about what to do. Something that a lot of people that have never lived in the area don't know is that there is something about moving to New Orleans that makes a person think "I will not be moved" when they know that a hurricane is coming. I have that spirit in me, but I have a stronger love of electricity. So, while I admire those who were brave enough to stay in New Orleans and deal with power outages and dangerous weather, I know my limits. My roommates and I got out of town and away from the storm. (Really, I can't go long with A/C before I'm too crabby to be around.) We left Monday night after we all got off work and didn't return until Friday afternoon when we were fairly certain that our apartment had reliable power.
I experienced my first truly frightening voicemail. While our apartment did well within the protection of the storm wall, one of my friends did not fair as well. They had a house in one of the towns that you probably saw covered in water on the TV. When I woke up Wednesday morning, I had a voicemail from my friend that they left at 3:30 in the morning telling me that water was coming in their house and that they were driving to higher ground. They asked that I let others know so that they could pray. Nothing describes the feeling of not knowing if someone that you care about is safe or not. Through a series of calls and text messages, I learned that my friend was safe and, later that day, that they were rescued by the National Guard. The house ended up getting 13 feet of water, but I still thank God that material possessions were all that were lost.
I am experiencing my first cleanup. It's an experience living in a city after a major natural disaster. Even though our apartment had power, most of the city did not have it until this week. I have dealt with downed branches in the road and broken traffic lights. (You haven't experienced a four-way stop until you've done it at a major intersection in New Orleans.) I'm trying to do my part to return things back to normal by cleaning up and going back to work at one of the only restaurants that opened the day after the storm. I'll continue to do my best to be a source of support for those who are physically and emotionally exhausted from seeing their lives turned upside down in a few short hours.