Well, Gustav has left quite a mess down here.
The storm came through Monday with a lot of wind and rain. The eye came ashore over Cocodrie Louisiana (southwest of New Orleans) and passed right over my hometown, Morgan City. We evacuated to Baton Rouge to my sister's house, where we stayed until the storm had passed. We lost electricity on Monday afternoon at my sister's, and it still has not been restored in Baton Rouge - probably won't be for a while. No electricity in south Louisiana in early September...no fun. Not only is it hot, but very humid - everything in the house feels wet. Impossible to sleep.
I came home to Morgan City early Tuesday morning from Baton Rouge. Hardly any cars on the road. I saw several caravans of ambulances heading toward the worst hit areas. Lots of utility and tree-clearing trucks. Fully grown sugar cane blown flat. Trees uprooted, had to drive around trees and downed power lines. No traffic lights operational - all intersections basically a four way stop. Homes damaged and destroyed - almost every trailer/modular home at least damaged - holes in roofs with rain falling in. Trees fallen through homes. Homes/businesses flooded. Stray dogs/cats. Still raining as I drove home.
I got to Morgan City and was stopped right out of town by a police officer who informed me that there is a dusk to dawn curfew, that there is no water/sewerage in town (i.e. no ability to fight fires), and that due to lack of resources, others should not return yet. Water should be boiled before drinking. Even our hospital was closed because its generator was not working - no hospital??!! Basically a ghost town - all businesses closed - grocery stores, gas stations, drug stores, restaurants - all closed. Very anxious as I drove up to the house, but pleasantly surprised by only minor damage. We lost a few shingles on the edges of the roof, and minor damage to one dormer. Huge sigh of relief - could have been much worse.
It's great to have good neighbors. Spent the afternoon helping take care of each other's damages - covering damaged roofs with blue tarps, getting generators going, clearing tree limbs with chain saws, etc. We are lucky enough to have a back-up generator at my house that kicks on when the power fails, so our freezers were OK. Our moms and grandmas don't have generators, so Lisa and I spent all day yesterday cleaning out refrigerators and freezers - pretty gross.
Today a lot of the Morgan City area has power again. A few businesses are open - only let in a few people at a time due to inadequate staffing. Had to wait in line for gasoline. All radio and TV stations are continuously broadcasting emergency information. All inconvenient, but could be a lot worse. We opened our office today with about half of our staff absent. Our kids are out of school until next week.
Final thoughts about Gustav? Mother Nature is awesome. But not as awesome as family, friends, and home.