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Hurricane Gustav New Orleans 2008
August 4 2009

I’m in the Superior Grill in the heart of New Orleans drinking a Margarita and eating brisket tacos. The waiter informs me that Superior Grill is famous for its Mexican food. I haven’t eaten all day so his friendly speech is wasted on me. I’m starving and would eat anything.

This is a big, noisy place with plenty of Old Mexico ambiance. The lady across the way has had too many Margaritas and is cackling like a hen. “I’m trying to work here, lady, so shut up!” is what I’m thinking. But I simply glance over and smile at her like she’s a lunatic. Ever get that smile from someone?

I got to quit work early today because of Hurricane Ike. The outer rain bands moved on shore here in Louisiana early this morning and it began to rain so hard you couldn’t see anything. We had some 40 mile per hour winds as well.

By the time I completed my first inspection, the roads were covered with water. My applicant says, “It’s the Gulf of Mexico. It’ll get higher as the day goes by. I’d get back to civilization if I were you.”

Did I mention that the area I’m working is down on east Chef Menteur Highway? It’s one of those low-lying coastal areas they tell you about. It floods real easy. Instead of taking the guy’s advice, I drove down to my next inspection. This was a tall, elegant mansion-like home that backed right up to the Gulf.

“We hadn’t had a hurricane in 20 years,” the guy told me while we were walking around, “till Katrina. And now this.”

“Have you heard of “Global Warming?” I asked him.

“I can’t sell my house for market value right now.”

“Whatever,” I thought.

Yesterday I inspected a sinking house boat. It was right at the end of nowhere. I was so far out in the swamps that they were still watching “I Love Lucy” reruns and thinking the show was still running.

This guy met me on the highway and I followed him down to his boat. It was a very old, mostly worn out shrimp boat.

“I didn’t realize you lived on a boat,” I told him as we walked toward it.

“It’s on my application,” he says.

I looked and sure enough, it was.

Oh look! Here comes a very skinny woman with pink hair. The waiter is showing her to a table in the next room where they’re having some sort of celebration.

Oh yeah, back to my story. The Shrimp Boat Captain says, “I hope you’re an out doorsy type of girl because there’s no way on board her.”

“How are you getting on board?” I asked.

“Lemme go see if I can find a board or something.”

This guy knew I was coming all day and he knew I would have to get on board his shrimp boat in order to inspect it. So I mumbled to myself the whole time he was gone about how ignorant some applicants can be.

He returned with a 2 by 6 and laid it on top of the plank that was already there, but busted. “Look! It will hold me!” he shouts. He could see how unhappy I was. “But if you’re at all uncomfortable, I won’t ask you to go on board.”

I started unloading all the stuff in my pockets…keys, cell phone. I laid my computer down on the ground and handed the guy my camera. “The only way you’re gonna get any federal assistance is if I go on board and do a proper inspection of your boat.”

He nodded. “I really appreciate this ma’am. It’s not as dangerous as it looks…really! I’ll help you get across.”

The whole time I’m crossing his make-shift gang plank, I’m mumbling to myself, “Why am I doing this? What is wrong with me? I had a perfectly good day job that I loved. What kind of sick person would leave a normal, happy life to do this shit?”

Hold on a minute…the waiter is coming this way…he’s saying something about Happy Hour and how the Margaritas are about to go to half price. Whoopee!!!

Okay, I finally got on board this worn out shrimp boat…I’ve got photos to prove it….and the guy says, “The reason I need federal assistance is that my boat is sinking.”

I cocked my head and got a bit stressed. “Sinking?”

“Yeah, come here and look down below. It’s full of water.” I followed him over to this trap door that led below. “We can go down there if you like so you can see where the water is coming in,” he says.

“No thanks! I’ll just take your word for it.”

I snapped a couple of pics and asked him a few questions and was more than ready to get off his sinking shrimp boat.

“Shrimping is all I’ve ever done,” he says to me as I’m leaving.

“How do I get back to I-10?”

“Just take this road here till you get to the bridge and then go under it and take a left. You’ll get right back on the highway going west to New Orleans.”

He made it sound so simple. I knew there had to be a catch. I drove and drove down highway 90 and finally saw a sign that said, “MISSISSIPPI STATE LINE – 15 MILES”.

“Damn! I hate when that happens,” I muttered.

What this guy failed to tell me was that I should take a right on 190 and THAT was the highway that went right to I-10.

So it was already dark by the time I was crossing the 10 mile bridge that spans Lake Ponchartrain. And I really don’t like crossing that bridge at night. It’s too narrow. One false move and you’re swimming with the fishes.

Anyway, I got home very late and tired and dirty and hungry. So that was my day. How was yours?

BTW, you’ll be seeing quite a few lost, confused evacuees in your area this weekend from Hurricane Ike. Be nice to them. They probably won’t have homes to go back to after Ike makes landfall in south Texas. If you live in Dallas, put away all your lawn furniture and misc outside stuff.

Ike is supposed to reach Dallas as a strong tropical storm or even a category one hurricane. Expect high winds and heavy rain.

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  "Thanks for that reality bit." - Stan, August 4 2009 - reply

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