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Friends Flee Gustav

Posted: Sep 01, 2008

Here on Elk River we are opening our homes and hearts to friends who are fleeing the fury of Hurricane Gustav. My neighbor and former colleague at Athens State University is a native of New Orleans ( she is actually from Metairie in Jefferson Parish), and most of her brothers and sisters still live in Jefferson Parish. Consequently, many members of her immediate family have made their way to Elk River to escape the hurricane. We are doing what we can to help ease their displacement. Fortunately, it looks as if they will be able to return home before the week is out.

It has been but a mere three years since Katrina smashed into New Orleans and the wounds are still deep. Not all of my friend’s family left the parish three years ago. This time everyone did. The memories of the aftermath of Katrina are still vivid: homes with water reaching the second floor, rotting food and furniture, power failure, long hours of back breaking toil, and the ever present stench of decay.

Many people in the south have spent their Labor Day riveted to the television watching the ravages of Gustav. As I post this blog on Monday afternoon, the levees in New Orleans have held and so far the surge has not been as devastating as expected. There will be more damage from high winds and flooding from the pouring rains, especially if the system stalls over Louisiana and Texas, but if one can speak of manageable destruction, perhaps the damage will be manageable. According to the storm team, water coming over the levees can be handled, but water coming through the levees cannot. Everyone is hoping the surge will recede before the levees give way.

The hard hit Ninth Ward is taking another pummeling as it is one of the lowest lying areas in the city, but most of the residents have evacuated the area. 53,000 energy customers in New Orleans and vicinity are currently without power and that number could increase as the wind rises. Areas to the east of the hurricane, including Mississippi and Alabama, are bracing for the tornadoes that often spin off the back side of the storm. Such was the case in 2005.

My tales of ol’ Virginia will have to be put on the back burner for a few days as I have other fish to fry.

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