Thursday, September 04, 2008

Not quite deja vu all over again

We survived Gustav. The city pretty much cleared out this time. No Superdome or Convention Center full of trapped people waiting in the heat to get out, waiting for the buses that never came -- or came too late. No levee breaches in New Orleans, although at least one (private) levee in a coastal area did breach. The coastal areas, of course, caught the brunt of it: Morgan City, Thibodaux, Grand Isle, to name a few. Baton Rouge got hammered: the storm passed right over the city and there's quite a bit of damage there. Now we're just waiting for services to be restored so we can get back to what passes for normal in South Louisiana. And watching the three storms still parading across the Atlantic: Hannah, Ike, and Josephine.

This time, I got out with the cats. It was a hellacious 17 1/2 hour trip to Atlanta, but we made it with only minimal kitty opera coming from the cat carriers in the back of the air-conditioned Evacumobile. I am over my guilt trip about owning a gas guzzler -- an eight-cylinder Tahoe that gets 15 miles to the gallon. I saw lots and lots of people towing/driving RVs in that crawl-and-stop traffic jam up Interstate 59. Makes my Evacumobile look like an economy car.

Suburban Atlanta is a shock to the system when you've been living in New Orleans. Where do people get all that money? The locals must be quite prosperous, or the retailers wouldn't come in and build all these stores. (Yesterday I spent a substantial sum in an electronics store in Alpharetta that didn't exist two years ago. We don't have any stores in that chain in Louisiana.) One shopping center after another, some built since I was last here the week after Christmas last year. Many rural roads I no longer recognize, because they aren't rural any more. That part is very sad to me. So many of the beautiful country roads I used to drive on my way to the farms where Cinder lived are now clogged with strip malls and walled subdivisions, er, communities, I guess they call them now.

It is quite an eye opener to see how the rest of the world lives. When your part of the world is still obsessing over whether the rebuilt levees will hold and fretting about crime and corruption, not to mention the issue of people leaving or just not returning after Katrina, it's a bit of a shock to discover that there are other places where the rate of growth is exponential, even in a supposedly poor economy.

But it is good to be here. I am so grateful for kind friends here, especially the friend who took us all in. The cats are still spooked out to be in this strange place, but they're well and getting everything they need. As soon as the word comes that the power is back on at my house, we'll head home. And hope that we're not evacuating again a week from now.