The power went out Sunday afternoon as the Cat 4 winds of Hurricane Ida bashed the Louisiana coastline. I’ll admit the storm had been scary at times as we waited in candlelight, gusts ripping at rooftops and bending trees to breaking. It was very noisy until late into the night.
Monday morning we looked around, checking out damage in the French Quarter and later on Magazine Street uptown and through Central City (PHOTOS BELOW). There were broken windows, tumbled bricks, and scattered roof tiles but the historic district had withstood the storm well, just as it had in Katrina. Our 300-year-old city was built to withstand a lot of abuse. And the levees held.
The beginning of the day was mostly about refrigerators. For a variety of reasons, we emptied quite a few. So much had to be thrown away. I got nervous wondering when food might become a problem for us if the power outage went on for weeks. A neighborhood bar collected food to redistribute to neighbors so we dropped surplus there then, blessed with a gas stove, I cooked some frozen pasta and added olives. It’s a dish we often enjoy so the meal felt kinda normal.
A lot of the day was about charging mobile devices. Again, we were blessed. A neighbor with a small generator came to us (for the first time) looking for an outdoor extension cord. She was trying to run a line to her front porch so people could charge things on a surge protector strip. It didn’t take her long to find one and we were all in business. Though the city had no power, we had water for cooling showers and we had text messaging. Those of us with service offered our phones to those without.
The news about power was getting worse as reports spread of the main transmitter to the entire city going down. We had to consider the possibility that we might end up having to leave town. That meant finding a car that could safely travel some distance and had a full tank of gas – which was scarce as most everything was closed. Again, we were blessed to have a car available to us if we could manually open and close the garage door. We took turns pulling on the long loop of chain wrapped around a crank above us. The other would manually lift the door to speed the process. It took some time (and muscles) and left us sticky with sweat, so the car air conditioning felt amazing.
We spent the evening hanging out with neighbors outside the local bar or on each other’s porches. For a moment, it was like COVID had never happened. We were all gathering again. It was nice. Then I made more pasta with olives for supper (adding too much cayenne to the red sauce in the dark), washed dishes by candlelight and sat them in the dishwasher to dry.
The evening ended with a cooling shower to wash away the day’s sweat, sunscreen, and bug spray. We’d all heard that the people of Jefferson Parrish had dry taps so we all felt blessed to have running water – and no boil advisory! (So far).
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