Tuesday, September 02, 2008

On Relief and Not Being Ready for "Re-Entry"

About five beers in, and after hearing at least a dozen erroneous references to "levee overtopping in the Lower Ninth Ward" by reporters on CNN, I cooked up some evacuation steaks, had a silent dinner with my family, and went to bed before nine-thirty. I slept for twelve hours, woke up, slept long enough to have a dream about struggling to synchronize swim, and got up, feeling much, much, more human today.

By now it's clear that the city avoided the worst. We still don't know exactly what has happened to our house, but we feel largely relieved about the impact Gustav had on New Orleans. Simon says he hopes the only result is that the wind pulled down the dead limbs from our backyard live oak--the ones that have been tangled up in themselves ever since Katrina. I joked that I hoped it mowed our lawn, too.

We have heard from several friends, and it seems that this storm has inspired a lot of writing... from Ken Foster, another resident of Holy Cross, comes this story in the St. Louis Beacon. Two friends blogged: Tara Jill Ciccarone began this Gustav-blog (from the city, itself), and our neighbor Ariane (who's pictured helping us board up in a previous entry) posted these thoughts on her friend's blog. In fact, there's a whole wonderful network of New Orleans bloggers, many of whom have been sending regular and blessedly accurate accounts via Twitter. I learned about this Gustav-related entry from another New Orleans blogger via those Twitter posts...

I've been grateful for the comments from some BBC-viewers on this blog. I love my mom, and all, but it's much easier to devote time to the sometimes-difficult task of writing when it's more than just your mom reading. So thank you for the well-wishes, all!

Today we have heard this good news from a friend who stayed:

"All -

I made a trip down to Holy Cross this morning (stayed in town during the storm) and am happy to report that the neighbor is in good shape.

Some limbs down, a lot of leaves and debris. But no trees fell on houses.

The only damage I saw was a collapsed house in the 4900 block of Burgundy - it had been framed but was not clad. There was another in the 700 block of Flood which had been framed and not clad and collapsed. Another house in the 700 block of Flood - a cottage near the corner of Burgundy on a big lot - looked like the side wall had fallen

I checked on the houses of Greta Gladney, PRC, Sarah Debacher and Simon hand, Ken Foster, David Whaley, Ann Schexsnyder, Katie and Jason, Rashida Ferdinand, John Washington, Emil Dumesnil, MArna, David Fields, Kevin Mercadel and did not see problems anywhere."

The mayor has asked that no one return yet, and while I hear from our friend Terrence (via text message) that he's "going crazy" and "can't wait to go home," we feel very much like we can wait on the re-entry. The prospect of returning to a house with no power or air-conditioning is bad enough, but we also have to unpack our belongings, re-hang our art, and re-enter our real lives. We're not ready to do any of this right now. We both feel like yesterday was a week ago, and two days ago, a lifetime. And--like someone who's lived a lifetime--we feel tired, tired, tired. We want rocking chairs and beers. We want more time to recover (emotionally) from the evacuation, even though we evidently will not need to repair any real physical damage. Luckily neither Simon nor I have to return to work until Monday. Luckily we have a comfortable and free place to stay. So we plan to take at least another day to repair our fragile nerves before making the trek back home.

Today I stayed away from the internet and the TV, which helped. I spent time holding and rocking my six-month-old nephew. I napped with my cats. I allowed myself to believe that we were a-okay because I really, really needed to feel that way for a moment. And then, when I logged on and learned from Stephanie that we really are, I was mightily relieved.

Off to bed. I'm not setting no stinkin' alarm. I'll re-enter this evacuation phase when my body and dreaming head are good and ready. Until then, good night...

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