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Waiting for Ida
Saturday, August 28. I’m writing this from Lafayette, Louisiana. That’s about 2 ½ hours northwest of New Orleans, where I live. This is my idea of evacuating in the face of Hurricane Ida, which is due to make landfall Sunday, August 29 as possibly a Category 4 storm. What does that mean? According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale that everyone defers to, this means winds from:
“130-156 mph. Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”
We won’t know what category Ida finally becomes until it arrives Sunday. It has been formally designated a Category 3, but it appears to be growing in intensity and speed. As of now, forecasters are saying that Ida will make landfall in Louisiana, specifically southeastern Louisiana, in an area that will include, but will not be limited to, New Orleans. It is too late to evacuate New Orleans, the mayor has declared.
It is not lost on this state, and particularly in all areas that were affected, that tomorrow, that day Ida is supposed to make landfall, is the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a storm that nearly completely destroyed New Orleans and its neighbors and still resides uneasily in the hearts and minds of those who experienced its fury and pitilessness.
My girlfriend and I are anxious. As of now, it’s a low-level anxiety. She lives in a small house in Scott, Louisiana, about ten miles from Lafayette. The land has several large live oaks, and one damaged and somewhat precarious water oak. Her live oaks are large trees, as they can grow to be, and if the winds were to uproot and topple them and they fell onto her house, it would be life-threatening. Not to mention the possible flooding. We are trying to figure out what to do. Her daughter and her daughter’s wife live in Lafayette proper and have offered to put us up. There are no trees near their apartment. We haven’t decided yet if we’ll go. My girlfriend is very attached to her home. I can tell she doesn’t want to go.
Sunday, August 29. What happens now with all the sophisticated weather satellites, computer tracking programs, etc., is that you have a lot more opportunity to be anxious for a lot longer. If I turn on the Weather Channel for twenty minutes, I’m ready to jump off a bridge. Except the storm surge may be such that the water would be at the same level as the bridge.
It’s 7:30am. The rain is supposed to start around 11am. The storm is supposed to make landfall this evening. What does that mean? No one knows. I have now seen Ida described as a possible Category 5 hurricane. We are less worried about rain than wind.
How to decide? Stay? Go to Lafayette and be with my girlfriend’s daughter and wife?
2:38pm. Looks like we’re staying. The wind has picked up, but the storm looks to be moving east. We’ll get something. How much is uncertain. But we have great respect for this storm. It’s massive and mighty.