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Follow-Up From Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida is over, but the work is ongoing.

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Hi, again, Dear Readers:

I realized it’s been a month since my last post, and thought I should give an update. Hurricane Ida is a 2021 memory, but she left a trail of destruction from Grand Isle all the way up through the New York State area. Places like La Place, which are closer to the coast, had considerable damage and are still trying to recover. La Place is still without power, last I heard.

Let’s procrastinate a little with an afternoon cuppa and I’ll fill you in on everything. BTW, BF knows this to be true:

ImageOfGremlinsNoCoffee

Stolen from a Facebook group called COFFEE!! COFFEE!! COFFEE!!

That’s why he taught me how to use the camping stove.

The Return Of Electricity

Funny how you don’t think about it until you don’t have it. That’s true of most things, right?

Our power went down at 8:30 pm Sunday, August 29th, and returned on Tuesday, September 14th about 2:30 pm. And we were the lucky ones.

BF had an older generator already, and we were gifted a new one–no kidding. It’s a long story, but it’s a smaller model that uses less fuel than the bigger one, which now needs a new carburetor. BF plans to fix that in the near future, preferably before the next winter storm.

Others didn’t get their power back until after we did, depending on where they are located. St. Tammany Parish doesn’t have Entergy, but their power company is smaller, so they were back a week later. But nearby Albany, where two of our Buddhist friends live, have something else called DEMCO, and I don’t know if they have power back yet or not. I’m guessing they do, but I forgot to ask.

Ida left flooding nearly everywhere, although we didn’t have that problem. We ventured out to Hammond once or twice and visited the Rouses, which we knew was open.

Floor fan in Rouses

This was in the frozen food area.

Either the frozen food thawed without power and the floor was wet, or the store took on water–we didn’t ask, and we were happy Rouse’s was OPEN. Then we saw more keto foods:

I haven’t tried that yet, nor this:

Plantain pasta. What will they think of next?

Getting Generator Fuel

We were fortunate that we had the money to keep that generator filled–and even more fortunate for the new and more efficient generator. BF had a tangle of electrical cords everywhere, and I was afraid to touch it. However, he had nearly everything running except the HVAC, which is a central unit. What we did have running was: 

  • Kitchen refrigerator
  • Big chest freezer
  • TV (as needed)
  • Fans of all types
  • Portable air conditioner unit
  • Internet router and my work laptop (on a surge protector, of course)
  • Lamps
  • Other small things as needed–microwave, toaster oven, etc.

 

But being out of power for two weeks was. . .expensive. BF had some help with that at work, for which we are also thankful, and other than the cold showers, it was almost normal.  He was also working overtime, which helped. In addition to the extra money, I reminded him that his customers needed him and were counting on him. They were very glad to see him after the storm.

We drove once more north to Mississippi to get more fuel and took neighbor TT with us for a supply run. He doesn’t have a generator, but he does have a stove that runs on natural gas, so he can cook food and boil water for coffee. We only went to McComb this time, and there were no lines. But that Walmart had a lot of empty shelves around. The employees said that they were meeting plenty of people from “south of the border” like us.

Trees And Other Damage

Ida downed trees that are still everywhere, and people who want it are getting free firewood. But there are also contracted arborists coming through cutting and trimming as well. Translation: these are guys in bucket trucks, just like the utility folks, but they have chainsaws and things.

I forgot that I’d let the pit bull out when I approached the crew asking about their work. He came tearing out into the street and ran up to one guy who just looked down and stared at him. The man had no fear. I’m guessing he’s a “dog whisperer” like BF is. Of course, after sniffing the man, the pit bull was upset that he just walked off without playing with him.

They were very nice despite the pit bull puppy and cut down one large hanging branch for us. It broke off and fell only a few feet before catching on another branch. It was quickly cut and fell to the ground and won’t be touching power lines anymore. That guy was swinging the chainsaw like a sword!

House Damage

We know multiple people who have had various degrees of damage to their property, from a few shingles to full-blown destruction. BF is a big fan of the metal roof on the house.

“Car Guy” friend JJ also had a tree fall on her garage, but her place is otherwise livable if I understand her social media posts.

BF has started to cut some of the wood that Ida knocked over in front of the property but hasn’t finished. There’s one uprooted tree across the street that we need to borrow a tractor to drag over so he can cut it, eventually. He wants to put a wood stove in the living room in anticipation of winter. As so soon as he can get to cutting all that wood and making a place for it behind the house, we’ll have firewood.

How We Stayed Cool

BF’s Dad’s house, until last year, had one window air conditioner unit downstairs until his sister and brother-in-law added a second on the first floor. No AC in the upstairs bedrooms, but they had one of these window fans:

Holmes Dual 8" Blade Twin Window Fan with LED One Touch Thermostat Control

Electric window fan from Holmes. You can use one fan for intake and one for exhaust.

I remembered it a few days after the storm. We went over and borrowed it and put it in the bedroom–ahhhhh. It’s not “air conditioner cool,” but we could sleep a little. We also hit Target and got the last one available. One sat in the living room window with a box fan for the dogs. The other sat in the bedroom window. Both ran as long as the generator did. Ours will also be deployed occasionally as an exhaust fan for the kitchen.

I’d never seen one of these before until I saw it at their Dad’s place upstairs when we were taking care of the cat. Highly recommended to keep around for such emergencies, and kitchens without exhausts.

We were also loaned a Hisense 6500 BTU standing portable air conditioner and dehumidifier, but BF didn’t want to put it in the bedroom. So it stayed by my desk and cooled me and the dogs during the day. (This is the closest I can find to it on Amazon.) I returned it to the owner a week later. We do plan to purchase a window unit AC sometime between now and next spring.

An Organized Home (I Wish)

If you’ve never heard of Marie Kondo, she’s a Japanese “organizing consultant,” according to Wikipedia. She has a strong following worldwide. Kondo’s “thing” is to embrace minimalism, or getting rid of most of your things. One of her catchphrases is something about “only keep things that spark joy.” Her website also sells pricey things designed to “spark joy,” like this linen robe for $195 or this $45 bamboo silk sleep mask.

Obviously, this lady hasn’t been around the US much. A generator doesn’t “spark joy” for me, but the power it makes certainly does. Generator’s a keeper, thanks. That other rubbish, not so much.

I’m still trying to catch up on the house stuff. I haven’t been able to get back to the usual dance with the mop on Saturday. No sewing in over a month, either–not so much as a repair. We didn’t open the box of “rations,” and will likely store that for another day. They are made to last forever.

Getting Back To Normal After Ida

Or, well, whatever passes for normal, right? The mail re-started about 10 days or so after they’d stopped delivering. Very glad I signed up for the Post Office’s Informed Delivery service, where you can see greyscale images of your stuff in an email before it arrives, as well as track packages. I paid the water bill long before I got the physical card in the mail by going into my online bank account and requesting a “courtesy check.” Many banks offer that service now–they print the check and mail it for you, and you can forget about it.

I mentioned in the last post that I needed to review the new vegetarian keto cookbook by Emilie Bailey. Well, there’s a story to tell on that.

Because I agreed to be a reviewer, I received a digital copy first, and then the publisher sent a paperback copy. Well. . .that was the Friday before Ida landed. I looked over the digital copy before my last post, which is how I can tell you about it. I was also asked to provide an editorial review for Amazon–no kidding.

Screenshot of Amazon editorial review

That’s me!!

Emilie asked, and I was happy to do that for her.

Where’s The Book?

For a week, I kept seeing a note from UPS about trying to deliver a package to me, and it was from some company with the name “transportation” in the name, from Memphis. The original delivery date was the Tuesday after the storm hit–when trucks of all kinds were having difficulty getting supplies into these areas. What the heck is it?

I asked BF if he ordered any car parts to be shipped here. He does that sometimes, and I have UPS My Choice set up to tell me when to expect something to our address. His response: “No, those packages are your thing.” That’s no help.

I emailed the lady at Callisto, and she said she did send it UPS. Mystery solved, I know what it is. Finally, a week after it the originally scheduled delivery, UPS finally made it here and dropped it off.

I’ve made three recipes so far and have *not* been disappointed. I want to make more of them and try them out on BF. We’re not going vegetarian, but if it’s tasty, there’s nothing wrong with having it with meat or something. The first thing I made was the dairy-free “Frozen Hot Chocolate” recipe from the book and cornered BF to try a sip. Well, I like it, and I’ll tell you more about it in the blog for review.

Keto Ingredients

We did find some new keto-friendly ingredients in Rouses:

Riced Cauliflower in Rouse's

Found this, on the shelf, not frozen.

And this product, which I’ve only seen in Emilie’s books:

Hearts of Palm pasta

Can’t wait to try it–keto and vegetarian

Make no mistake–BF will not be trying this, ever. It’s one of those things I make for myself when he’s working late. If he’s home, I’ll make the regular spaghetti that he’s used to having.

Hoping everyone is well and getting back to life after Hurricane Ida came here and Hurricane Nicholas visited Galveston, Houston, and the GER’s home in Texas.

Happy Dining!

Picture of Hurricane Ida
The Hurricane Ida Adventure

Hurricane Ida visited the Casa de Rurale. She was not happy. We are OK.

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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.

Picture of Hurricane Ida

There she is.

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 ABBAthey’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?

Gulf Activity

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.

News Coverage

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.

Uprooted tree on the side of the road

This is a common sight right now.

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.

Road with downed tree and lady on bike with GoPro on helmet

We weren’t the only ones looking to see what happened. This lady was, too–with a GoPro camera on her helmet. See that downed tree up ahead?

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.

Sawed-off downed tree

The neighbors got to this one.

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.

BF walking towards people working

There he goes, off to help. He’s a sweetie.

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:

Deployed National Guard members on freeway clearing debris.

We didn’t stop to chat, we kept going.

 

Second picture of National Guard members

We were driving too fast for a good pic.

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:

BF cooking during Hurricane Ida on the camp stove

He’s at it again!!! Making bacon and eggs, one of the things BF does the best.

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:

Box of Meals Ready To Eat (MRE) before Hurricane Ida

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.

Deploying Equipment

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:

IKEA Rotero tealight candles

Right next to the flashlight.

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.

 

 

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