Friday, September 02, 2005

Part 1 of my own Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius...

Yeah, I'm ripping off the title of a great book. Blatantly. But what are you going to do about it.

As I said in the first Katrina post, we had no idea that the storm was headed our way until the mall was closed. We went home, watched the Weather Channel, and freaked out. We ran around, doing laundry and packing and cleaning. On Saturday night, Mark had to work from 6 until midnight at WWL. Once I was alone, I started panicking. I put in Better Than Ezra and Dane Cook to help take my mind off of things. A Category 4 was headed our way. It could be the big one that wipes us out. I called my parents to see what they were doing for dinner, and my dad picked me up after he boarded up his station. We went to Ground Pat'i, because it was the only non-fast-food restaurant open. Geoff and Calie came, too. I wish Mark had been able to join us. Calie, my mom and I all baked a peach cobbler together that night. While we were waiting to eat it, Calie's mom called to say they were evacuating to St. Francisville, that she needed to come home immediately. Her dad is a Jefferson Parish Police officer, and he had to stay. But at the last minute, her mom decided to go. At this point, my dad wasn't sure if he wanted to stay or not. I think my mom wanted to go, as did Geoff, but good old Stan the Man (STM) didn't want to leave. He said he'd decide in the morning.

I got home and got to work. Come to think of it, I think we left a load in the dryer when we left. Ew. We loaded our photo albums, our yearbooks, my bound copies of the college newspaper, and Mark's tapes from the college radio station into the trunk of Mark's car. We were leaving my car pulled all the way up in the carport, because we weren't sure of the parking situation at the New Orleans Center. At 4:30 a.m., we forced ourselves to go to bed.

At 9 a.m., the phone rang. It was my dad. He said the storm had grown to a Category 5, and that they were leaving. Thank God. They were bringing my wedding photos, my wedding dress, and the two cats. I never would have thought about the wedding dress.

We got up, finished packing and loading the car, and we brought the cats with us. We decided that if they turned us away with the cats, we were just not going to work. When we got there, there was a regular menagerie going on. So it was okay. When we got to the New Orleans Center to park, we couldn't find a spot until the 5th floor. Which may end up being just fine. We took two loads each, leaving the albums and things in the trunk, along with my computer tower, my childhood favorite stuffed animals, and some other things we deemed unnecessary to drag all the way to the Dominion Tower. Mark set me up in the DJ Lounge with the cats, which is where I had Internet access all night long. He worked from noon until 5 p.m. At this point, we grabbed (unkosher!!! GROSS!!!) hot dogs and chips, ate quickly, and went to take our shift in the hotel rooms. Mark took a shower, and I talked on the phone to Carol and Ilyse. I got in the shower, and right as I finished washing the shampoo out of my hair, an air raid siren went off. I jumped out of the tub, making a huge mess and frantically tried to get dry. We were on the 24th floor. I didn't know what was about to happen. It was just the hotel management explaining that they would indeed use the hotel inner evacuation plan, where all guests would be allowed to bring one pillow, one blanket, and medications to a large ballroom. The evacuations would start floor by floor, starting from the top. But they didn't say when it would happen. It took about 2 seconds of conferring to decide we didn't want to take the chance. It was nice to have a real bed for a couple more hours of rest, but if the evacuation started, we may not make it back to Entercom in time for Mark to work from midnight to 4 a.m.

I dressed and we went back to Entercom. We rolled out the sleeping bag and tried to nap on the floor of the DJ Lounge. But we were too keyed up, and we stayed awake, talking. We discussed the possibility that there may be nothing left of our home, and if that was the case, would we want to rebuild in New Orleans, or rebuild elsewhere? We would have a fresh start, so the choice would be ours. But that wasn't necessarily a possibility, so we would discuss it more later if necessary.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Katrina Begins.

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