Ridin’ the Storm Out
This is my father-in-law with Ruby and Georgia on Day 4 of evacuation.
When I wrote two weeks ago about the prospect of a “hurrication,” I certainly didn’t anticipate that a full week later I’d still be evacuated. In fact, as of the Monday morning before Isaac, I really didn’t want to leave at all. I have become one of those New Orleanians who feels ill at ease anywhere farther afield than Jefferson Parish, and I really thought the storm would just blow on through and we’d lose power for a day at most. But there was the baby, of course, and no need to take unnecessary risks, so my husband and I decided to pack up the girls and head to his family home in Amite.
Before we got on the road, I stopped off at Rite Aid (it still makes me twitch, just a little bit, to call it that instead of K&B) to get some essentials for Ruby for the car trip and the days to follow. I will be 32 in a matter of mere days, and yet I still cannot ever anticipate that I will need a shopping cart -- “I’m just getting a few things,” I always think -- and so I found myself standing in the checkout line with my arms overflowing with a deck of cards, a box of crayons, a pack of markers, a My Little Pony coloring book, two princess puzzles, a travel game of Hungry Hungry Hippos and a Barbie.
The woman in front of me had a shopping cart, and in the spirit of generosity that always pervades this city but is even more pronounced in the heady days just before a storm, she turned to me and said, “Oh, honey, put some of that stuff down in my cart.”
I thanked her -- and then realized that her entire cart was filled with Butterfingers and Miller High Life.
“I want your evacuation plan,” I told her. “If I didn’t have kids, my evacuation plan would totally be Butterfingers and beer.”
“Oh, no, I’ve been there,” she said. “But my kids are grown now, so I get to do what I want.”
But my kids are not grown -- not even close -- and so I just wished her luck, paid for my things, drove home and loaded everyone in the car.
Amite was a wonderful haven for us: We had a generator, a wide variety of high-quality alcoholic beverages, great food we’d salvaged from our freezer back home and fabulous company.
But by Day 3, Ruby had done all the puzzles, colored all the books, fed the very hungry hippos, watched all the DVDs and cheated shamelessly at Slapjack, and we were in a house full of beautiful antiques, so I basically said, “Be careful!” and “Walk please!” and “Stop climbing the four-poster bed!” on an endless loop all day long. In short, our patience was running thin.
“This vacation is horrible!” Ruby screamed at me in a fit of pique. “We should’ve gone to the beach!”
I couldn’t really argue. As evacuations go, it was terrific. But as vacations go, well, yeah, we would’ve had more fun at the beach.
We finally got our power back late Saturday night and headed gratefully home to settle down to the tasks of cleaning up the front porch, restocking the fridge, getting the backyard set back up -- the same things the rest of the city was doing, more or less. We were extremely lucky to have not had any damage, but as far as I’m concerned, we are even luckier to live here in the first place.
Anyone else got a good evacuation story to share?