New Orleanians breathed a collective sigh of relief recently as the much-anticipated forecast models shifted Hurricane Ike into Texas. Not that we wish bad things upon most Texans (except for the Dallas Cowboys), but we are still broke and exhausted from our recent Gusta-vacation. Much of south Louisiana is still devastated, and recovery will take a very long time.
However, Ike is proving to be quite the monster in the Gulf. The following is from the blog of Dr. Jeff Masters from Weather Underground:
"Hurricane Ike is closing in on Texas, and stands poised to become one of the most damaging hurricanes of all time. Despite Ike's rated Category 2 strength, the hurricane is much larger and more powerful than Category 5 Katrina or Category 5 Rita. The storm surge from Ike could rival Katrina's, inundating a 200-mile stretch of coast from Galveston to Cameron, Louisiana with waters over 15 feet high. This massive storm surge is due to the exceptional size of Ike."
That's a frightening thing to consider . . . how close New Orleans came to disaster again. Despite the fact that Ike passed more than 200 miles south of us in the Gulf of Mexico, the New Orleans area has been experiencing tropical storm force winds and rain all day. The alley between our house and the neighbors' was flooded this morning. I avoided the side entrance, thinking that I'd keep my feet somewhat dry if I just left through the front door.
That was not the case, as my car was sitting in about three inches of water from the rains, which were starting to pond on both St. Charles and Carrollton this morning. The wind outside still sounds like it's about to tear the roof off my office building in Metairie.
I just spoke with a friend in Houston. They, like many of their neighbors, are staying behind as Ike takes aim at Texas. They might have evacuated had she not just given birth via C-section, and she's just in too much pain to spend hours in a car. So now I have to worry about her as I track Ike's progress across the Gulf.
The National Hurricane Center's site also now shows two areas of disturbed weather that need to be watched. Thankfully, both currently have only a low potential for development.
I'm tired. I'm tired of packing and tired of staying up all night monitoring storms. I'm tired of worrying and stressing and planning. I'm tired of the wind and rain and tornado warnings.
Why do we do it? Why do we risk ruin and despair every year? What makes it worth it? For many people, New Orleans is home. For some, like me, it's my adopted home. So what makes us stay?
Maybe we all love it here.
Or maybe we're all just crazy.