Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Isaac Experience

The following are notes I kept in a notebook while power was unreliable.

Isaac Day 1
Date: 8/28/2012

3:52pm: We haven't had any rain; just clouds and gusts. Now the electricity just popped off. I had hopped to clean off all the open Firefox tabs before that happened. Oh well, it's not too hot yet.

4:35pm: Raining finally.

5:20pm: Electricity back!

5:40pm: Electricity off again.

5:41pm: Electric back on again. Going to turn on the computer so I can turn it off normally.

7:00pm: Watching the news while I have power. Isaac may not push through until Thursday and the track is projected through Baton Rouge. I may not get back to work until next Tuesday (unless they take Labor Day holiday from us).

Isaac's landfall is official. Hammond is reporting 33mph winds, but I'm still seeing gusts. Still not much rain. It will probably pick up tonight through tomorrow morning. If the storm heads to Baton Rouge, Hammond will end up in northeast quadrant. I think Tangipahoa is under tornado watch too.

8:30pm: The electricity keeps flicking on and off, so I've gotten ready for bed and turned on the radio. I'd like to stay awake for the 10pm advisory update, but that depends on the electric and if I can stay awake.

Isaac Day 2
Date: 8/29/2012

6:44am: Power went out and stayed out around 1am. Isaac shifted back onto water and made a second landfall over Port Fouchon at 2:15am. The eye is still south of Houma and the storm has slowed down.

Mustard decided he was hungry at 5am, which is late for when I normally feed him. But that killed my sleep until the sun was up plan when he knocked my Maglite flashlight onto the metal pan of the portable AC unit. I thought something had punched through the roof!

I've opened the doors to get some air flow and a gust blew out my hurricane lamp. The rain is steady drizzling. We haven't lost any trees yet.

7:00am: The national media thinks New Orleans is under water again. Not true. And I can't answer any emails from worried friends. The levee that broke was a community one (not built by the Army Corps of Engineers) in Braithwaite, which is rural community along the Mississippi River.

7:23am: Isaac has stalled out again. Damn. Somebody go give it a push.

10:00am: The rain shifts from a drizzle to a steady harder one, but never as hard as thunderstorms usually get. I miss looking at radar screens to see how big this squall is.

1:33pm: Wind gust really slammed through. Wish I knew better where the storm is. The press conference said the eye won't reach Baton Rouge until tonight or tomorrow.

6:00pm: Went to my parents' and caught up on TV news coverage since they have a generator. Isaac still isn't moving and then we'll have to worry about rising rivers. LaPlace is flooding, Plaquemines is flooding, Lafourche Parish is flooding, Slidell is flooding, and New Orleans is fine.

As of 4pm, DOI hasn't updated COOP. My excuse is Jindal said to stay put, which he did in the last news conference I saw. Isaac's broken eye has reached Baton Rouge. But we are still getting pounded by bands.

My roof keeps rattling. I think it's loose on the edge, but I can't see it blowing. I wait on the porch to see it move and nothing happens.

6:43pm: Uncle Scott found the loose tin. We've tied it down and maybe I can get a new roof now. The problem is my hurricane deductible in $1102.00 that I don't have, and should I put a new roof when I want to tear off half the house and rebuild it?

8:00pm: Heading to bed for some reading. The awful streetlight that shines in my bedroom windows went out!

Isaac Day 3
Date: 8/30/2012

Midnight: Woke up, rain is hitting the south side of the house. That means the wind has shifted.

3:00am: Woke up again, still raining. Hwy 42 flooded? That's another route I take into Baton Rouge if the main roads are congested beyond travel. I think that's what I heard on the radio.

7:00am: Got more sleep in between walk-ups. North-driven rain hitting the south side of my house came through the leaks in the back bedroom and kitchen. The rain here has slacked off to the steady drizzle. The Northshore rivers are flooding and Slidell now has a flash flood evacuation situation. I have no phone service—apparently Verizon is the only one working—and I have no idea what has happened to Baton Rouge.

The Commissioner was on the radio last night. "Call the department with your insurance problems tomorrow!" If Baton Rouge is getting what we got yesterday, nobody will go in! :p

The radio says that New Orleans is looking at 90-something temps with a heat index of 103 degrees. If the steady drizzle keeps that away, I'll take the rain.

I-55 is closed, flooded at Ponchatoula. I-10 got closed because it was flooded at LaPlace yesterday. The state trooper says "stay home and stay put."

Power went out about 1am on the 29th, so now it's been out 31 hours going on 32.

Heading out to take pictures.

Here's the satellite image so you can see the lay of my land. And here's a better map so you can see the waterways I'm most concerned about.

Now here are the pictures I have taken.

There's Mustard sneaking into the shot at the bottom. Every inch of my porches got wet.

My parents' house also came through okay. We didn't lose any trees, just branches.

My dad's tarp boat shed didn't fare so well and it dented his car when came apart. :p

This was the biggest limb we had down in all the yards. Dad had to saw it apart in order to move it to our burn piles.

It's hard to see through the foliage, but the brown in between the leaves is the creek that runs through my property. It feeds into the Natalbany River, which isn't one the flooding Northshore rivers WWL is reporting on, but it's flooding too. This picture was taken at the family dump. My family has been on this land for five generations, and they decided that dumping the garbage off the bluff and then cover it up with dirt was a good policy. *Shrug* The creek is in the dump, and that means it's coming up the bluff.

So much for Isaac blowing away the mosquitoes, I got bit twice.

1:30pm: Boy, I haven't updated. Around 11am, St. Tammany Parish president's news conference gave the news that failure of the dam at Percy Quinn State Park on the Tangipahoa River looked eminent. Tangipahoa Parish President pulled a mandatory evacuation for a half-mile on each bank. Mississippi officials are going to bleed off the reservoir but the evacuation order hasn't been lifted.

The Northshore region, also known as the Florida Parishes, stretches from my house near the Tangipahoa/Livingston parish border to the state line between Louisiana and Mississippi north of Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain. This map is from NOAA and has all their gauges marked. I'm not in any danger, but many of the towns and cities in the Northshore are on the rivers.

Started cleaning the front yard before it started raining again. The gusts haven't been too bad today, but have no idea when power is coming back.

1:50pm: Jindal and Burgess (Tangipahoa Parish president) flew over the damn and want Kentwood to get right now. Holy crap!

7:00pm: They actually updated COOP and DOI is open Friday. I'm going to call in because I still don't have power. I just took a tepid shower so I can sleep tonight (and not be so sticky) but I'll wake up tomorrow sticky. As of this hour today, Hammond received 11.93 inches of rain. MaComb/Lewis Field, Mississippi (just north of us) got 10.93 inches. And it hasn't stopped raining.

My plan tonight is to write on everything for at least 15 minutes. I've been concentrating the daylight hours on fanfic that doesn't stress me out. It hasn't been the best use of my time, and I'd like to change that starting now, before Perfect Girl hits the guilt button.

9:15pm: The rain stopped long enough for the full moon to come out. Wow.

Isaac Day 4
Date: 8/31/2012

7:00am: Called into the paying job and took today off. Power has been off 55 hours now. Uncle Scott said I should go in; they probably have lights and AC. Yeah, I got screwed with Gustav and they didn't. Plus I'm hot and sticky and put a shitload of overtime in during July. Don't give me any grief about taking today.

Looks like the clouds are finally gone, so the heat index will probably go into effect today. The dam is still holding, but the Mississippi Governor is arguing over what the impact could be if it does fail. 190 is closed in Robert since the Tangipahoa River is now over it.

I'm off the rake the yard before the sun gets much higher.

8:00am: They closed the new bridge over the creek just down the road from me and you can see in my neighbor's yard how much water we're dealing with. The ditch at the bottom of the ravine is usually just run off from the road and their slope.

Here's where my neighbors' ditch starts and to my surprise, a large hawk was on the bank of the water!

I was worried that it had been hurt in the weather, but while I was trying to get a better image it flew up into a tree and proved my worry groundless.

Here's the bridge out from my driveway. Dad walked down and reported that the water is over the guardrails. I didn't bother to walk it because of all the idiots who insisted on driving down beyond our driveway and then pealing back up like Moses was supposed to part the waters just for them and they're pissed he didn't. Speed limit is 45!

9:30am: I've raked all I can rake. The yard looks loads better. Off to check on my parents.

2:00pm: It's been raining off and on. I'm going to start writing work now.

8:00pm Just finished hearing the Jefferson Parish press conference in which they reamed Entergy for not making significant progress (whatever that means) when the lights flicked on! And just after I had called the parents and rest all my AC units, it went back out again. :O Dad went down to the truck and I didn't catch up with him, and then decided since I was ready for bed (no bra and short shorts), I shouldn't go down there and distract them.

Turns out the reason it kept blinking like crazy on Tuesday night was a limb on the line, which then caught on fire when they turned it on. They cut it off and turned us back on. 67 hours off, I don't think that's bad at all considering how much it rained.

Isaac Day 5
Date: 9/01/2012

8:45am: Woke up an hour ago from the best sleep in four nights and headed outside to take new pictures. The water around me has dropped down, good. I'm sorry for the foggy look. It actually isn't foggy, that the condensation on the camera lenses after it got used to the AC again.

The water got up to the base of the dead tree yesterday, you can see that it's dropped down.

And this picture explains why I'm not stacking my belongs up on cinderblocks. My house has been here since before 1920 and it hasn't flooded yet. But with Louisiana's loss of wetlands, I'm seriously considering getting flood insurance if I can afford it.

You can see the water drop at my neighbors'. This is a good thing, because there is more water north of us that must flow south.

Today I walked down to see the level at the bridge.

Now you can see the guardrails, yesterday the water was over them. You can also see the tree that is keeping my hated night-light from coming back on. I do feel bad for my neighbors on Entergy, it is humid and hot today. And they still say we have a rain chance for the rest of the weekend.

So far the death rate for Isaac is 5 people, but they are expecting to find more in Braithwaite when the water recedes and they can search.

The flooding rivers won't be over until next week. Officials are asking to be vigilant and ready to evacuate.

Entergy is getting reamed by WWL for not getting the power on fast enough. Jefferson Parish wants an investigation because they didn't get slammed with water, but they can't get the parish up and running without electricity. Today if people call in and say an area has power, they're announcing it and playing a clip from "I Got the Power."

And I'm going to cook some lunch now.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

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