By Rady Ananda
New Orleans has battened down the hatches, filled the gas tanks, and stocked up on survival gear in preparation for Tropical Storm (soon-to-be Hurricane) Isaac, which is expected to make landfall Tuesday afternoon or evening, one day shy of the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Still emotionally shocked from that August 29, 2005 disaster, talk of “the flood” finds its way into the first or second conversation with any local. People are still processing that event, so when Isaac began posing a threat, folks here took it seriously and immediately began preparing.
To get a sense of New Orleans wit, even amid a potentially lethal event, a local radio station (WWOZ 90.7 FM) queued a long set of flood songs on Monday, including Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks. I couldn’t help but enjoy the morbid humor as I drove around town buying supplies.
Those who planned to evacuate have already done so. Most folks are staying, though, despite that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a State of Emergency and has recommended leaving. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu advised folks to leave Monday, or plan on staying for the duration.
I’m pretty sure we’re going to be on mop duty the whole time, which is why I wanted to stay. Some of these windows are old and the landlord didn’t provide us with shutters, plywood or metal sheets to protect them. Tonight I taped X’s on them in case they break. I’ve also stuffed plastic in the cracks and taped that all down, too.
People on the street hammered up huge pieces of metal or wood over their windows, and we exchanged phone numbers. The French Quarter looked like they were prepping for a war Monday morning, but the street musicians were still plying their trade. All the shops are now shuttered or boarded up, as we all sit back in ready mode.
Monday began as a bright sunny day with deep blue skies, soon cut by heavy chemtrail lines. By afternoon we had light blue smeary skies from the artificial cirrus clouds. I guess the powers that be want to dump something on all of us, ensuring that whatever’s up there will come down with the rain.
On Sunday, my roommate and I dropped $200 on supplies, relying on the checklist found in Mat Stein’s When Disaster Strikes. We didn’t get the colloidal silver generator or life jackets, but we do have at least two week’s worth of water and food, along with extra batteries and candles.
Stein recommends life jackets for flooding, reminding us that some folks got trapped in the attic during Katrina. We have access to our roof which won’t require an ax, and our budget was tight so I didn’t bother with life jackets.
I did pick up an Augason Farms survival food kit that lasts 25 years. For $65, I got a two-week supply of dehydrated food (36 meals of 3-4 courses each). It came packaged in a reusable plastic bucket, too. But this will be my food-of-last-resort, given the chemicals they must’ve used to give it that long of a shelf life. We’re eating all the refrigerated goods first, including fresh fruits and veggies – all organic.
Preppers also recommend comfort food. They say it reduces stress to have food you like, whether or not it’s good for you. I broke down and bought donuts and cola, knowing I’ll be consuming sweeteners from genetically modified corn or sugar beets. Oh, well… this is a stressful situation, right?
Fuel is another major focus of survival preparation. The gas lines Sunday night were outrageous, but I got to the cheap station before they ran out. Still, they only had premium left, so I paid $3.95 a gallon. Because of the long lines, we all cooperated with each other to manage the ingress and egress. Nobody was ugly about it; everyone worked together. The folks here are in community survival mode and that behavior is a testament to the goodness of humanity. Self-government is doing just fine.
Even Geico sent me an email asking if I had secured my vehicle, and wishing me safe passage thru the storm. That was sweet of them. I’ve parked my car inside the yard and locked the gate. The most likely damage will be electrical – from the flooding, but at least the car won’t float away. Hopefully the trees will stay rooted and their limbs intact.
They’re predicting 6-12 foot flooding from the storm surge. I have no doubt we’ll see flooding. This entire region is swampland, and we’re in a low-lying area.
Last month, while staying in my car, it flooded 6″ on my street. I nervously watched the water rise, waiting for it to seep in the bottom of the door. Thankfully, it didn’t. But walking thru the hood during a break in the rain, I saw that one of the streets had collapsed when a car tried to drive thru the water. It lost its front axle.
Many of the streets here have a median strip that’s about a foot or two higher than the street. Those medians turn into parking lots, and they were already a third full Sunday night as residents parked for the duration.
A couple months ago, I walked one of the levees that line the Mississippi. I cannot believe the water in Katrina surged through any of these levees – that thing is 15 feet high and 2-3 times as wide. But over 50 levee breaches occurred during Katrina, inundating the city with water. A flood map produced three weeks after Katrina shows that some sections of town still had 15′ of floodwater at that time. It’s hard to fathom how this place must’ve looked.
Nobody expects Isaac to be that bad.
For as long as we have electricity, this is the weblink I’m following to track the storm:
This link has the latest advisories:
As of 2 AM local time (early Tuesday morning), Isaac is less than 150 miles away. We’ve seen none of his rain, but it is windier and colder than usual.