Monday, September 12, 2005

Back to New Orleans

Last night I decided, after reading a number of posts in online forums about people getting back into New Orleans, that I couldn't just sit tight any more waiting for the authorities to tell me when I could go home. I figured we could try to get in, and if we got turned away, then at least we tried. We've got nothing but time on our hands right now.

This afternoon we headed out. It was myself, Lindsey, her dad, brother, and his wife.

We arrived at the first police checkpoint on River Road as it crosses into Jefferson Parish. Lindsey and I showed our driver's licenses and I provided a business card and told them that I needed to gather my home owners' documents and insurance papers from my office in Metairie (which is in Jefferson Parish.) That was a lie, but not completely. Some of those papers are in fact in my office, and I do need them, but I really just wanted to get past them so that I could get to the next checkpoint. The next checkpoint was also on River Road, but this time it was at the entrance to Orleans Parish. Again we showed our licenses, but this time I just told the guy that I wanted to get to my house. Surprisingly, he let us through and we were on our way.

We drove through Uptown via Magazine Street and the sites weren't great, but they weren't too bad either. There was fairly heavy wind damage all around, but it was mostly downed trees. The buildings seemed to fair ok. The looting had indeed spread to Uptown, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it was downtown, like the stuff that was seen on TV. People seemed to honestly just break into places which carried things that they needed like food and water.

Finally we arrived on our street, and this is the site that was there for us to behold:


Our fine little house in all of its Creole Cottage beauty. The house was relatively unscathed. We examined the exterior and determined that the house had only a few loose shingles, some loose siding, and the gate to our backyard was ripped from the steel pole it was mounted on, and laying on the ground as seen here:

In this picture, we had already propped it up again, but when we arrived it was on the ground. The steel pole was bent in two places. Now tell me that isn't some powerful wind.

Once inside, we were relieved to find that there was absolutely no damage to the house's interior. The only problem inside was the smell. The refridgerator had been sitting in the house with all of the doors and windows shut and boarded, with no power for two weeks. We didn't even open the door, but rolled it outside onto the sidewalk as you can see in the picture above on the left. I can't even begin to imagine what it was like in there, but just walking near it was almost enough to make you wretch. Once we started pushing, the smell was awful. There were some chicken and sausage juices on the floor which leaked out apparently, but I was able to mop it up with some cleaner and the running water we were amazed to discover we had. I think the smell will take a while to clear out, but I can handle that.

We managed to grab some clothes, and other important items, as well as a few things that will come in handy for killing time in Lafayette (read: xBox and golf clubs) and then we took off in order to make the 6:00 curfew.

I have never been so relieved in all my life. When we drove away (in two cars rather than one...we took my car) I wanted to dance and sing and hug every police officer and emergency worker I saw. The sense of relief that washed over me was awesome. Now I can really relax and enjoy the rest of my time in Lafayette. I don't have to spend any more time worrying about the condition of a house I can't see.

Here are a few more pictures we managed to take:

This is a building two houses down from mine. If you have been reading the news as much as I have, you may have heard about an apartment building on Laurel Street near Washington Avenue which collapsed in the storm. This is it. It was abandoned and the owners were beginning to clean it out. No one has lived there for quite a while. It wasn't very structurally sound, but it is amazing to me that our house suffered so little damage and this building collapsed. Simply amazing.

This is another picture of the house. You can't see from this angle but there are some shingles on the roof that were loosened by the wind. Most are on the back of the house.

We are very thankful to have come away with so little damage, but we've made up our mind that fate should not be tempted more than once. We are moving away from Hurricane Country immediately. I've contacted a real estate agent about selling our house ASAP. I don't know where we'll go just yet, but it will be somewhere with no hurricanes, and little threat of other natural disaster. I will keep you guys informed as that decision takes shape.

Also, I will have more pictures later. I have to get them from another camera. I think there should be a few good ones.