We’ve been without power since Sunday. As I said yesterday, life is very simple now. Breakfast today was cereal with juice. We charged our mobile devices at the neighbor’s porch/local-hangout and swapped rumors about where there might be power, gas or ice. A couple more neighborhoods had power and that kept us all optimistic for a reasonable recovery time.
Today’s hunt was for ice. I joined a neighbor to scout at the Winn Dixie where we’d heard they’d had ice this morning from a guy riding by on a bicycle. The store was long out of ice by the time we arrived, but we enjoyed the AC as we shopped for dry goods. I found a small package of ham and some spicy mustard I could afford to throw away after a couple days so I could make ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch with fresh bananas for dessert. People in the long line outside both area Rouses told us there was no ice there either. Walmart was closed and all the entrances blocked from looters.
We returned home and I threw away spoiling food (for the 3rd day in a row) before making another run for ice after collecting more rumors at the charging station. We ran back to the Winn Dixie having heard they were receiving a shipment at 2pm. Sadly, nothing had arrived and they had no idea when the shipment might actually show. We searched gas stations and convenience stores on our way to the free-ice line at Armstrong Park. Nearly there, we spotted the line at the CBD Rouses carrying bags of ice away. They’d said earlier that the line would take 2 hours but things were clearly moving now so we jumped in and bought 2 bags each for $5 apiece (twice their normal price). Nirvana!
We celebrated with a burger grilled by a local convenience store’s owner. There was actually food all over the city. One restaurant was giving away $50 steaks to grill. Missions and nonprofits set up throughout the city distributing everything from sandwiches to spare ribs. The neighborhood bar grilled burgers and anything else that would spoil.
My husband and I went for a walk, taking in the damage while avoiding fallen tree branches. We passed a bar on St. Charles with AC, cold drinks and lit neon signs. Igor’s was an oasis of refreshment and laughter in a desert spanse of powerlessness.
Our decision of the day was to seek internet on Thursday. I was just about to shower my sweat/sunscreen/bug spray stickiness away when we got a text – there was power in the French Quarter. Curfew was at 8pm and the text came in after 9 but we decided to chance it and make our way toward an air-conditioned night’s sleep.
Only I didn’t sleep. I’m not much for guilt over blessings, but it was hard to sleep knowing our neighbors were still suffering. I’d also finally seen TV and realized we weren’t even the story anymore – Ida had continued her path into Pennsylvania and New York with deadly impact.
Much of the city has been without power for a week. People keep asking how they can help. Everyone in this city has dumped every last morsel of food from their refrigerators. There are few grocery stores open and most of us still have no power but things will improve soon and we’ll all need to refill our fridges. I recommend people donate to Second Harvest which focuses on distributing food. If you’d like to directly help a friend or family member, find out what grocery stores they frequent and send them gift cards. And remember local nonprofits have taken a hit as well. First brought to my attention by my husband, I also support Raintree Children & Family Services, which provides help to local foster children and the families who take them in.
Most of us have been out of work for a week now. Many of us had only just returned to work after a year and a half of COVID affecting tourism and other local industries. New Orleanians are going to need help recovering and appreciate any efforts made on our behalf.