Monday, August 29, 2005

Katrina Day 1, 11:30 p.m.

I went to sleep shortly after writing my poem. It had been necessary. After my bicycle tour through Cleary Heights, I'd become frankly unpleasant to be around.

My discovery that even escaping via bicycle was simply too dangerous due to all the fallen power lines & such has upset me more than I'd anticipated. Not only is there a serious risk of electrocution from any of those lines that may be hot, but the lines themselves are difficult to see. I had nearly entangled myself within 45 seconds of leaving the house when an unseen fallen line snagged in my front V-brake mechanism.

The winds were supposed to have died down somewhat by this point, but the constant howl continues unabated. We lost power around 9 a.m. & phones somewhere around 4 hours later. Stepping outside, I see a faint glow in the canopy of storm above, brighter in the direction of Byram by my best guess. Byram's in Hinds County, whereas I'm in Rankin. Last estimate is that we'll have power restored in three weeks. What a difference a few miles makes.

From the wreckage I've already witnessed, even an inch can be all the difference in the world. Some homes still had phone service earlier, but not ours. We've been struck (our house, that is) by falling/hurled debris, but we know of no structural damage. But a chunk has been torn from the neighbors' house. People I've known for years are trapped in their homes or have fled somewhere.

No wonder I'm grumpy!

I haven't been actually dry since this morning, when I'd been hanging out at my best friend's house around the lake. At the time, he had power, but we didn't. Now his house has a tree in it.

What are we ever going to do with the fallen trees? They've blocked roads, impaled homes, trashed fences, yanked the phone/cable/power/etc. grid.... They're everywhere. Some trees have been mangled, but others have simply been ripped from the ground in their entirety.

I guess I should've taken a camera along & snapped pics of the carnage out there when I rode my 7300 through the hurricane. Aaron & I had talked about heading out in the morning to take some "after" pictures. But now I don't even know to where he fled, & what I went through on my bike put fear in me.

He can't have gone too far. Fortunately, he'd freshly aired the tires on his Schwinn Mesa, so he can technically have escaped entirely (although the whole world around us seems obliterated, so "to where" would still be the question), but he wouldn't likely abandon his cat entirely. My best guess so far is that he went to check in on (and possibly stay with) family.

At times it'll grow quiet outside, & something in me hopes blindly that it's suddenly passed - that we can get on with the business of clearing roads, de-treeing homes, and generally doing *anything* not to feel like the helpless little mammals we so clearly are. Even the Governor is helpless to do much beyond wait for the morning and tell anyone fortunate enough to have a working radio to stay put.

Of course, not everyone does stay put. Some people tried to return to their coastal homes as early as this morning, when we hadn't even been fully hammered by Katrina yet. And there are also idiots like me who just can't resist sightseeing on bike, foot, or vehicle of choice. Not bright.

I burned off half the battery reserve in my laptop & a bunch of AA batteries in the digital camera during the afternoon in order to snag some digital movies of the trees swaying, waves whipping along the lake, etc.

When we discussed what preparations we should make for this, we anticipated outages lasting as long as days. Now, we face weeks without power & phones. Gods help the people with addictions to feed out there. I'd sure hate to be grinding my teeth in need of nicotine, cocaine, crystal meth, or some other substance. Heck, I'm kicking myself for not picking up enough oranges & bananas!

We've got enough charcoal to grill out one more time - clearly not enough. I'll be able - maybe - to dry out wood for fire cooking, but everything's pretty water-logged. We've got enough non-cook food to last the week, I'm sure. And there's cash in the fire safe. I'll be able to bike out for provisions once stores start opening again.

The food in the freezer will keep for a few days, but not for a period of weeks. Deciding what to do about that is high on our list, presently. We didn't have adequate warning to cover every possible contingency. I'm afraid it'll be impossible to get through this without some losses. Fortunately, we (in my family) prefer to always maintain a base level of preparedness.

We've got candles, matches, flammable fluids, rain gear, cameras, a charged cell phone (in case service resumes), books to read during daylight, and a bunch of other stuff that mostly takes up space during non-emergency situations. I even tried to park my Sentra in a spot that I figured might suffice, which is a serious consideration when one expects everything to go to hell. (And it's World War III out there - trust me.)

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