I have learned a lot about what to do and what not to do when hearing that a Hurricane may be on the way. Over the years I have been evacuated by two Hurricanes in West Palm Beach, FL, and once in East Hampton on Long Island. All of these experiences have been different. In the previous Hurricanes each community evacuated us to local school buildings. The Red Cross was there and we rode out the Hurricanes safe in solid buildings.
In New Orleans there seems to be no such thing. If you evacuate you leave on your own to either friends or hotels crime in shelters being one of the concerns. So here are some of the things I learned over the past week:
1. It is better to have a back up generator than not to have one. A lot of the homes in Uptown and the Garden District are older and have windows that haven’t been opened in decades;
2. These older homes heat up like ovens when there is no air conditioning. Many are still without power and it is now five days past the storm. You can bake in these houses with no air flow and in the 100 degree hot and humid weather it is very uncomfortable;
3. Do not believe anyone when they tell you you need three days of food that doesn’t need refrigeration if the power goes out. My refrigerator had to be completely emptied after three days and three days worth of food did not cover the five days we needed;
4. If the power goes out there is nothing, no supermarkets, no restaurants, nothing is open. Dog boarding is non existent without electricity. After a couple of days with the worst of the storm past Whole Foods and Rouses a local supermarket opened because they had back up generators;
5. Dogs know when there is a storm they must sense it and my dog wouldn’t stay out long enough during the active storm to do his business he kept running back into the house. He was so uncomfortable too panting heavily in the extreme heat and humidity. I gave him several baths to cool him down;
6. There are many hotels in New Orleans that are open during storms and take dogs. I had a reservation at Lowe’s which I canceled but shouldn’t have. Next time this is my first choice;
7. The weather reports leading up to the storm are overwhelming and the reporters are extremely excited. I have to wonder if this brings in more ad money – the more excited the more viewers? It is also not always clear where a storm will head until the last minute. In this case in my area because they were stating it would be a Hurricane 1 a lot of people decided to stay.
8. One of the big issues in my area was that the electricity took a while to come back on and is still not on for 30%. Of course the extreme heat made this intolerable. There are areas however that are completely flooded with people losing their homes and so I have a hard time complaining however it was really miserable.
9. I had a battery powered radio which was my only source of news during the storm. There is a fellow on WWL I believe his name is Sloop or something like that who couldn’t be more irritating. This guy must work for Entergy because he kept announcing that he did not want to hear any complaints about our power company because ” they want your power on as much as you do” BS. Anyone who called in to his program with a complaint about the power company was immediately shut down and not allowed to comment. He interrupted people, stopped them from talking and hung up on them. What the heck? There are definitely things that could have been done better and kudos to the Parish President for Jefferson Parish who is asking for an investigation and wants the top management to step down. During the storm the CEO of Entergy plus some of the talking heads came on the program and talked about how hard they were working but never really gave any facts. We are working so hard, we ask that you all be patient. Terrible.
9. Each storm is different and different decisions need to be made. I think that if a storm is a Category 2 or greater it is time to consider evacuation.
Live and learn.