When I was a kid we didn’t evacuate for hurricanes and, definitely, not for tropical storms. Actually, we were happy for the breeze and rain. Sure we had power outages, but I don’t remember them being that bad.
My first memory of any kind of evacuation was during Hurricane Andrew in the early 90′s. I was working at a downtown hotel and they offered us rooms to ride out the storm. I scoffed. Why would I want to be easily accessible for the hotel to get more work out of me? Young and dumb. We lost power for a couple of hours after the storm. The sun was out. I took a nap and by the time I woke up the power was back. The second and first actual mass exodus from NOLA was Hurricane Georges. I had stayed with my mom and sick grandma. We lost power before the storm and didn’t get it back until 3/4 days later. There was no generator. Nothing but total darkness at night and heat during the day.
My kids idea of a hurricane will be extremely different than mine. We have evacuated for several hurricanes since 1998. Mostly notably, Hurricane Katrina. Our first experience with a generator would be Gustav. To be honest the worst part of that was the mess in the house and living only downstairs. It was not fun, but it wasn’t the worst. What made it bearable? The generator and window unit. We have since “misplaced” the window unit, so we are dealing with the heat.
People, those who don’t live in these hurricane prone areas, tend to believe it is just easy to pick up, leave and then come back. If you think sitting in hours long traffic, finding a hotel along with thousands of other people and not knowing what is going on at your house, then have at it. For most it is a difficult decision to leave. I am torn. I am glad we stayed, because I was able to keep up with the driving rain that was coming in under our back doors. I regret staying, because we are still without power and estimated time of restoration is 5-7 days away. The main issue is financial. We could deplete our savings and evacuate and then what happens for the next hurricane. It is easy to say have an emergency fund. It is hard when there could be back to back storms, so we take each one based on the information given at the time. The NHC didn’t know what Isaac was going to do, so how do others out there know for sure what we should have done. People made decisions based on what happened to them during Katrina, Gustav, Ivan, etc. We have evacuated before only to find that not a drop of rain fell. We made the decision last minute to evacuate for Katrina, because of the information at the time. You can make the claim that we have so much technology and you have more than enough warning to make a decision on whether to leave or stay, but nothing is perfect and many storms have proven that. Everyone has to make the decision on their own. I don’t think we should place blame, but show kindness and a bit of understanding.
The kids have it great compared to my experiences, as a child, without power. We have a generator, which means we can run fans, watch DVDs, charge our phones; laptops; tablet; game systems and have a light to safely guide us to the bathroom. While we are miserable with the heat and can’t wait to have our power fully restored, it is not as bad as in years past. Of course, the kids don’t fully understand. Sam kept asking me why can’t do this or that. And it had to be explained over and over, again, that we didn’t have power to the house. They don’t understand why I tell them to take a bath or not to use blankets while sleeping. It is all in an effort to keep them cool and comfortable.
In the end, once our power is restored we will go back to our normal lives. There will be challenges for awhile, like gas and grocery lines, longer days off of school and no parties on Labor Day. In the grand scheme of things, it is a small price to pay compared to the price of life that some paid. I know that the judgments are coming for these people. I understand their dilemma and their decisions made based on previous experience, like no flooding during Katrina. This time it was different, like the other times will be different. Some never lost power, but that doesn’t mean they are saved from never losing power during a storm. Some will have power restored later than others when they had their power restored earlier than most in previous storms. We are not naive. We know where we live and the consequences that come along with that. There are consequences to everything in life, for some to say dumb things like they have all the answers shows their ignorance. All I can tell those people is that if you tell me to just move from NOLA, then you don’t know what it means to miss New Orleans and you never will, because it is not simply a town. It is a way of life and we have chosen to take the consequences because the benefits of our culture are worth it.
And for the record, I will continue to bitch until I have power restored and my a/c back. If you tell me not to bitch, I might just tell you to shove it. Understand that might be the heat talking or the fact that I don’t want to hear from you, because you probably have a/c.