Thursday, September 22, 2005

That was then, this is now

A tale of two shitties

It looks like Hurricane Rita is going to hit my city, albeit just with its far-right perimeter. From all accounts, that would appear to be a Category 2 breeze--about the same as what we had with Hurricane Lili in 2002.

During Hurricane Lili, we stayed here at my parents' house. This is likely where we will continue to be, given that as of this writing we haven't made the move to leave. At 7 p.m. tonight, I could have sworn we were leaving the area for good. We were all packing and securing items, and there was talk of heading to my uncle's house in Arkansas. Also hinted at was a trip to my other uncle's house in Baton Rouge. But at some point during the night, everyone just went to bed. They said they "wanted to see in what direction the storm would turn." Nice going, guys.

So why haven't I taken any action on my own, independent of my parents and siblings? Several reasons. First off, I no longer have my own transportation; on Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m., my truck conked out on Highway 90 near Baldwin, some 50-odd miles from my house. It needs a motor transplant, and I'm not doing that. Second, I was hoping against hope that my trip to Minneapolis to catch the Saints game and Second City was still possible (which, as of now, is canceled). Third, I figured I'd stay with my family. Fourth, I really don't have much say among said family. So there you go.

But I'm just fine with staying here, to be honest. During Hurricane Lili, we stayed at our house and the worst that happened was that we lost our power for close to five days. Oh, and that a massive oak in our backyard nearly fell on our house. But that tree's gone now! Now all we have are several pine and oak trees around our front yard. Following our date with Lili, our neighborhood was a mess of tangled branches and clogged gutters. We spent our humid evenings walking outdoors in an eerily unlit neighborhood, and our nights reading by dim light or by playing games. And you haven't lived until you have taken a bath or a shower with freezing-cold water. When you're done, you really feel clean because you take on an oddly antiseptic scent (not unlike that of medicated dandruff shampoo). You also feel like the hardest ass in the world for going through that.

Though Lafayette expected a hard hit from Lili (and wasn't disappointed), the city adapted impressingly quickly. In fact, I distinctly recall that my parents and sister were able to drive to Baton Rouge that Saturday to watch the much-hyped LSU-UL Lafayette football game. I stayed behind, briefly visiting Barnes and Noble for the air conditioning before a city-mandated curfew forced me home. I then sat home alone in a pitch-black and quiet house, listening via radio as my cousin's football team crushed mine, 48-0. It was sitting there, lonely, sweaty and feeling defeated, where I wondered if I could ever feel any worse. I wish I didn't now know the answer to that.

My neighborhood was one of the last to get its power back. I biked through the adjoining neighborhoods and noticed that they all had their power on; it was like we were in a bubble. My aunt and uncle lived in one of those power-blessed neighborhoods, and they invited us over that Sunday to watch the Saints defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 32-29. That was the beginning of the healing, and the first time in several days that I really felt that everything was returning to normal (make your own Saints-winning joke here).

One of the funnier things about Hurricane Lili was that it fell straight on UL Lafayette's first-ever Fall Break, which fell on Wednesday through Sunday. So I didn't miss a day of school. Good times. When I think about how Hurricane Rita has similarly ruined my vacation, and with basically the same expected force as Lili, I wonder if the two events aren't strikingly parallel. Speaking for Lafayette at least, we weathered that storm relatively well.

I wish the same for everyone else who must endure the worst of Rita. I'm pulling for all of you.


Flamingo Jones said...

I'm so sorry about everything.

Nick said...


You'll be fine in Lafayette. I'm staying here with my parents and my fiance and little girl. She had to come here b/c she lives in Iota and that's to close to the hurricane's path. We got a couple of butane tanks, and I got my 20 guage, aka Looter Shooter. Actually, the gun is more for possible snakes when were get back to her trailer in a few days, but, whatever the circumstances.

But look, yall stay dry. Later.

Michael said...

My sister and mom are just south of you in New Siberia--there's a shelter at an elementary school, but they told me they'll go over to a friend's house on slightly higher ground.

Mom was around for Audrey and said the property didn't flood then, so here's hoping for the best.

And sorry about your truck--it wasn't a Ford Ranger, was it? They're noted for having motors die on them.

Ian McGibboney said...

No, Michael, it was a 1993 Chevy S-10 out of which I eeked six-and-a-half good years. I replaced so many parts on it over the years (sometimes twice) that it was practically a new engine. Alas, nothing lasts forever.

Also, "New Siberia" is right. But not quite as true as the "Bald" in Baldwin.

Grady Roy said...

Good piece Ian.