As I’ve learned, when a hurricane is headed directly towards your home you have two options: evacuate or ride it out. I always choose to evacuate because I value climate control and I don’t like the feeling of dread associated with a tree coming through my kitchen window. For Hurricane Isaac, I thought it would be nice to evacuate in state with my extended family in Baton Rouge, LA. About an hour from New Orleans, Baton Rouge often takes less of a beating from hurricanes and has many shopping centers – both reasons motivated my decision.
Evacuating is not glamorous, but can be fun if you find eating, sweating, and gambling in the dark entertaining (personally I enjoy this, but I also come from a city where drunk strangers throwing plastic necklaces at your face from a highly flammable float is considered a holiday, so I suppose my understanding of ‘fun’ is a tad warped). Once the TV’s go out and you can’t cry over the giant, rainbow storm blob headed for your home there really is nothing to do but complain about the heat and enjoy your family’s descent into madness.
What I find scarier than experiencing the hurricane itself is coming home after evacuating. Though we all joke about the heat, the dark, and our families, there is nothing more intimidating than damage control. Our reality right now looks a little like this: All the traffic lights are broken, 100+ year old oaks are uprooted, army personnel ride around in covered trucks, and the businesses that thrived before evacuation now have broken windows and no electricity. That, of course, is a very general overview; personal damages vary from street to street, family to family. Certainly no one has forgotten Katrina, and while most can’t imagine anything worse than that, every storm makes us wonder how bad it will be and hug our friends a little tighter before we say goodbye.
Living in a city that is constantly under the threat of a natural disaster is not thrilling or exciting, but it teaches you to love the small things that make a house a home, to repair what is broken even if the task seems insurmountable, and to never, ever, take air conditioning for granted.