Hurricane Ida visited the Casa de Rurale. She was not happy. We are OK.
Hi, again, Dear Readers:
I’ll make this short–yes, we were in the eventual path of #HurricaneIda. No kidding.
And I will also make this blunt: we are fine, the dogs and cat are fine, the house is fine, and we’ve lost power for an indeterminate amount of time. The only other thing we’ve lost is our tempers, but that’s it. We’re hot and we’re cranky, but we’re not giving up the ship.
Kudos upfront to Banana Rat and The GER for some tech assistance. Very glad they answered when I called.
I had another topic related to the last two, but I wasn’t feeling well the prior week, so I procrastinated a bit. Then Ida blew through I’ll try to get that post to you as soon as I can, it’s delicious.
Good News: Cookbooks And Music
Additionally, I have two new cookbooks to tell you about soon: a new vegetarian cookbook from Emilie Bailey (The Texas Granola Girl) and Giada de Laurentiis’ latest on health and wellness. The Kindle version of Emilie’s book is released today, and the paperback should be out on September 21st.
Even if you’re not vegetarian, there is some good food here. If you like tofu and edamame, there are several recipes for those as well. (Not me, I’m allergic.) I plan to start trying some of them soon, especially since we’ve been handed a carton of eggs from someone’s local hatchery. Giada’s book isn’t entirely vegetarian, although there are some soy-based recipes as well. These reviews will be published when I can.
Do you like music? Here’s a little good news for fans of the group ABBA—they’re back. No kidding, and it’s all very 21st Century, complete with a hologram live performance. The members are still around but aren’t going to perform together onstage except as avatars. There’s a new album, too, called Voyage, due out in November. Two fantastic new tunes:
Are already available for download on iTunes and Amazon immediately. (I listened to them on the official ABBA YouTube channel last night.) The live concerts will take place in London, which means to go is a road trip. Fingers crossed.
We could all use some good news right now, yes?
Both in coastal Texas and in south Louisiana, you always pay attention to any activity in the Gulf of Mexico. At one point there were three “invests,” and one of them became #HurricaneIda. As it passed over Cuba and into the middle of the Gulf, we paid a little more attention. At that point, it could come this way, go to Texas, or even Mexico. Ike was another hurricane we weren’t sure about until the last minute, just like Harvey did four years ago. I was in Louisiana for both of those, so I guess the karma caught up with me. (Next week makes five years since I reluctantly moved here.)
When it became obvious that Hurricane Ida was coming towards Louisiana, we started prepping and did a bit of “panic buying.” I say that facetiously, but you know people do that, especially in the last 18 months. We watched and began to “batten down the hatches.” I was washing dishes and clothes, trying to tidy up as much as I could. BF went to work, and like the last time, came home and swung into action.
Buddhist friends OR and DM asked me to put the Zello walkie-talkie app on my phone. I already had it, but now we’re connected there. I’m also connected to our next-door neighbor, RW, and we can use it anytime we need to. OR and her family evacuated to Memphis, returning Thursday. School is canceled until. . .whenever.
BF likes to watch WAFB in Baton Rouge. In the front of the house is an over-the-air antenna connected to his TV. Mine in the back has an indoor antenna as well as a Roku streaming device. (We don’t have cable.) I ran WAFB on both TVs so that we could watch Hurrican Ida coverage matter what. I put WAFB’s app on my Roku so BF can watch the news if he misses it live. With apps for Roku and other stations on my iPhone, it’s also available there.
There are multiple free news channels on Roku for watching the news all over the US, like NewsOn and Haystack. I can catch the Houston news whenever I want and sometimes do. Watching the BBC or SkyNews wouldn’t have helped us at all. Running the stream on my TV in the back of the house was a great idea because BF could watch it when the antenna wasn’t working well. He made himself very comfy on the futon during those periods.
Arrival: Hurricane Ida
We watched as Hurricane Ida made landfall in Grand Isle, and every community she touched. Houma. Jean Baptiste. Eventually, scraping the metropolitan New Orleans area.
Baton Rouge was the original big city for Hurricane Ida to slam into. Eventually, Baton Rouge began experiencing damage, and every place in between. Although Baton Rouge was making preparations, it’s New Orleans that is usually impacted. The City of Baton Rouge and all the associated parishes are not really ready for a hurricane. Mayor-President of Baton Rouge Sharon Weston Broome was on TV frequently, telling everyone what the city was doing to prepare.
It looked like New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell was caught short. New Orleans has something called “contraflow,” which means they open up both sides of the Interstate to go one way–OUT. Specifically, out west, as in “head to Texas.” But apparently, they didn’t act fast enough to get that in place, so there was no contraflow.
Traffic on I-10 was, indeed, backed up for hundreds of miles as people went to Texas, as we saw on TV and online. If we were going to Texas, we would be heading on every back road we could find on Google Maps! Hopefully, we would end up in New Waverly or even Huntsville, WAY above Houston. Or Lufkin, even.
Then the news became serious: that track taking it to Baton Rouge was moving eastward. Right between Baton Rouge and. . .Hammond.
Ida’s Change Of Plans
The storm passed right over our little town and literally over the house as a Category 2.
I chanted for two hours on Sunday for the protection of everyone here, to be free from damage, and to keep our power. I got two of the three. Guess which one I didn’t get?
The howling winds started early and got stronger with each passing minute. We took the dogs out but they weren’t having any of that. Every time the power blipped, I said, “stop it!” I wanted the universe to know I wanted that power ON and left ON.
At 8:30, all the power went down completely. Everywhere. We then deployed the generator, candles, flashlights, and every other emergency “thing” we have.
We went to bed and had a hard time sleeping because of things outside knocking around, including trees that were coming down hard and fast. BF anticipates the winds were faster than anyone realized.
The Morning After
If you’d have told me I’d one day buy a pair of Muck Boots, I’d tell you that you were nuts. I wear heels, right? Not in more than five years. I only know about them because of the “American Duchess,” who went on a very rainy official visit to New Zealand with her new husband the Prince right after their royal wedding.
We already had some considerable rain this year, and I felt like it was time for me to have a pair of my own. Lucky me, I found this pair on sale at our local Tractor Supply–for 75% off. BF also has a similar (and less expensive) pair from Tractor Supply. Since then I have been very happy I bought them.
As you might imagine, we took considerable damage with a Hurricane Ida as a Category 2 storm. We’re about two or three hours from Grand Isle, so it did lose strength as it went. But there was still plenty of damage this far north.
Scenes like these were all over, and I sent five of my pictures to WAFB. I don’t know if they published them or not, but our town was mentioned in an article on the damage in Tangipahoa Parish.
No cell phone service anywhere for about half a day. The Boy, who works with BF, was working another job getting cell phone towers back online in Jackson, MS. I hope they paid him well. For a time, we were literally stuck at home with no way out. Mail service was suspended on Saturday.
We could only make phone calls with the Internet router plugged into the generator (with a surge protector, of course.) I used my “business phone” MagicJack number to make phone calls on my iPhone with the MagicJack app. It’s getting better. (I’ve stopped working on my other website for a bit.)
Once we could get out, we did a little driving, partly to get to his father’s house just two miles away.
Our house is fine, and so are our neighbors, but we can’t say that about others.
Neighbors With Tractors
After Hurricane Ida began heading north, the air was still and quiet for a while. A few hours after dawn, we started to hear noises. It was a bunch of folks who live around here and own tractors, bulldozers, and other heavy equipment, and chainsaws. They went buzz-sawing through the trees and debris on the roads to make them passable. Not clearing them, just passable, and moving the big stuff to the side of the road.
The big issue is power lines–all of them are down, frayed, and sitting around everywhere. These wonderful folks just drove around and doing what people do in these situations.
In order to get his Dad’s place, we had to go the long way around via the freeway because the two-mile stretch was blocked by the fallen trees and branches. We talked to many people and BF seemed to know all of them. At one point he got out and joined them, leaving me in the vehicle.
He grabbed a chainsaw and got to work with anyone who asked. BF was in his element, that’s for sure!
On Wednesday, the DOTD came through and cleared the big trees, and on Thursday, they did more clearing.
The Louisiana National Guard Activates
Right before Hurricane Ida landed, The National Guard was activated, and according to this article in Time magazine, that activation consists of:
- 4,900 Guard personnel
- 195 high-water vehicles
- 73 rescue boats
- 34 helicopters
More were being added by local and state agencies.
Well, we saw them out clearing the interstate freeway:
What did BF have to say about this? “Oh, yeah, I used to do that when I was in the Guard. Directed traffic once in Slidell in deep water. Drove over a guy’s Miata in a vehicle. He was furious.”
Well, of course, he was. Why did you drive over the man’s car, dear? “It was underwater and I couldn’t see it.”
I can’t even imagine.
BF In Action
It wasn’t too long ago that we were experiencing that big winter freeze. Except for the temperature, we’re experiencing much the same thing now, except for no air conditioning and 80-degree temps. It’s a little cooler at night.
If you remember the picture of BF cooking on the camping stove in a hoodie, well, I’ve got a new one:
He decided to move the stove into the living room because it’s a bit easier to manage on the big table with the bottle on it. I don’t mind. Behind him to the left, you can see the fancy-dancy Snap-On flashlights that will light up an entire room nicely.
We now have two of the big flashlights, because he bought one for me, too. Why does Amy need a huge Snap-On flashlight that doubles as a heavy projectile? “Because you keep asking to use mine.” The cleaner one belongs to me.
And because BF is a smarty-pants, he decided to stop by the local National Guard armory and ask for this:
Why did we need this? “I just thought I’d ask and see if they’d let me have one.”
I posted the pic on Facebook, and Boeing Brother BO said that he had some at the shelter during Hurricane Harvey–and they weren’t bad, he said.
BF also stood in line for ice, water, and food from the National Guard to pass along to an elderly married couple he knows, and TT up the street.
Whenever we open this military “meal kit,” I’ll take pictures for a future blog post.
Obviously, our generator is deployed and is keeping things sort of afloat. The fridge, freezer, and occasionally the living room TV run nicely. We just have to keep putting petrol in it. Last time we drove 170 miles round trip to get more, and we’re looking at another “date night road trip” to get more soon.
The Rotera tealight holders have also come in handy:
We have plenty of bottles of propane for the stove, and we’re not using it all day long. Just for cooking and to boil water for coffee. So glad I have French press pots around.
BF’s sister did an IKEA run in Atlanta for me and brought three more Roteras for us, plus a few other things. We’d planned this before Ida had her eye on the Louisiana coast.
Washing Dishes By Hand
Ok, as you might imagine, I’m not using our wonderful countertop dishwasher right now. But there’s another reason for it, not Hurricane Ida. Sure, I can hook it up to the generator, but on Saturday afternoon, it began to leak. Seriously. All over the place. First, it soaked a dishtowel, then an “emergency towel” (old ones you keep around for that sort of thing), and then part of a second emergency towel.
I texted BF and told him. We’re not happy. When he got home, we put the flashlight inside it and quickly found the problem: the gasket is damaged. So it’s a simple replacement part, we hope. The Karma of Spare Parts is back.
Figured that a Monday morning call to Goldstar would lead to a quick and easy repair. Nope. Right now we’re too busy taking care of everyday life with a generator. So. . .maybe in a couple of weeks.
Helping Ida’s Victims
No, I didn’t mean me directly. Well, if you have a magic wand or a sonic screwdriver that will restore power to all of us, sure, get in touch. FedEx came through the other day.
If you’re thinking about donating for immediate Hurricane Ida relief, Mercy Chefs is now on the ground in several Louisiana cities and serving hot, fresh meals to people. I’ve donated to them before, and will probably do so again soon. We missed them over the weekend, unfortunately. I wanted to do a blog post on their operations.
Their motto is “Just Go And Feed People,” and that’s exactly what they do. They’re a faith-based nonprofit with volunteers who staff professional mobile kitchens. When Hurricane Ida took aim, they made plans to move in. They take these “food trucks” into disaster zones and make hot, fresh meals for people who can’t cook for themselves. Mercy Chefs also supplies hot meals to first responders and volunteers.
Their locations are posted on their social media channels. I mentioned that I would look them up if they came up this way, like Tangipahoa Parish, and they told me to do just that. So if we can go see them, there’s definitely a blog post coming.
The Louisiana Cajun Navy is also deploying to rescue and assist people. I just realized that they are located in Hammond, just south of here.
Other organizations like the Salvation Army and The Red Cross are also accepting donations, I think, but they don’t come this far north.
More As Things Get Better
Make no mistake–Hurricane Ida did considerable damage to south Louisiana, and not just New Orleans.
Right now, Entergy–the electric provider for New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and this area–has utility workers from all over the US scattered through every affected area. We’ve seen them all over the place. During a supply run to Hammond on Saturday–Target, Rouse’s, Winn-Dixie, and Walmart are open there–we passed three utility trucks from ConEdison out of New York.
They’ve published their current estimates for return to power on their website which was updated today. Entergy’s current estimate for our area, Tangipahoa and St. Helena parishes is ten days away–September 17th. This does not fill me with hope. We’re sick of cold showers! But we keep going and I keep chanting because we can’t do much else, except keeping the generator fueled and running.
Other than being a bit cranky, BF and I are OK, as are our neighbors. However, many people aren’t–his brother’s house took some serious damage and will take some time to repair. We do realize that we’re fortunate and that the Casa de Rurale withstood winds that may have been as high as 100 MPH. So as we take care of day-to-day tasks, we also help others best we can.
It may be a couple of weeks before you hear from me again, but I’ll update whenever I’m able. Please keep an eye out on the Gulf.