The Second Line Continues

Monday, November 14, 2005

A room of my own, part four

I woke up at my usual ungodly hour of 6:00 on August 29, 2005. This can be said about every day if you believe in clichés: It was the first day of the rest of my life. This time it was true. This day will forever define things to me and everyone affected by this storm. Before Katrina, I remember… it was right after Katrina… it was before we moved back… right after we evacuated…

Anyway, I woke up, and moved over closer to T’s side of the bed with my elbow ready to poke him. He was prepared, and hunched up and muttered, “I’m sleeping. Go way.” I turned on the computer to watch the news, and noticed that Burke had already gotten up and was nowhere to be found in the front of our suite. The rain and wind had already begun, and the storm had shifted slightly to the east (in the direction we were in). I woke T again, and informed him that I didn’t think he’d be visiting clients today. He turned over long enough to decide that I was right and went back to sleep.

The electricity began to flicker at about 7:00. I’d just gotten the coffee brewed in our room, and then the power went out. I woke T again and showed him the darkness, and he just muttered. I wandered downstairs to the lobby in search of coffee. In the lobby, there was a cacophony of worried voices. The emergency lights were on, and I used them to find a coffeepot and a bagel. Anne and Burke were sitting at a table, and like everyone else, they had a cell phone stuck to their ear. The phones were still working at this point, and we were all talking about how “lucky” we’d been that it shifted away from the center of New Orleans. Lucky or not, we were still concerned. I don’t think there was a single person not from our area except an advance wave of insurance adjusters, who were actually pretty chipper.

I moved to the room, read, paced, walked downstairs, read, paced, walked to the windows, read, paced, and worried. T slept. And slept. I think he finally woke up at four in the afternoon. The storm was still raging outside – the winds were at least 80 miles an hour, and we were a hundred miles east of the center.

Cell phone connections started to die, but mine still worked. I work for a Nextel dealer, and we have our fair share of issues, but Nextel did us proud during the storm. I got on the phone with my sister, my boss, and anyone else I could think of. More to pass the time than anything else. Anyone that I spoke with who had an Internet connection was digging up news for me. Between conversations, I was checking CNN on my phone’s data service. Everything sounded better than we’d been led to expect – it moved east, it diminished in strength, and we were breathing easier. I thought that maybe we’d be out of town the rest of the week, but surely no more. Boy, was I wrong.

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