Tuesday, July 04, 2006

More stories about New Orleans in general

I was not aware that New Orleans is also suffering drought. How ironic. They’ve had 30 inches less rain than usual since Hurricane Rita, according to my cousin. This produces various effects, besides the burned out yards, that were previously so lushly green. There are visible holes in the ground in places. The roads are buckling, as the underlying earth dries out, the road surfaces drop unevenly creating some amazing pot holes.

Lots of little things just haven’t been a priority. Many road sign are missing, so I was often unsure what street I was on or was crossing. Along St. Charles Street I was pleasantly surprised that many of the stately live oaks have survived – lost some branches, but still standing, but driving home at night I noticed a lot of the street lights were missing. I can't imagine what it was like when there was no power and the roads were full of debris.

My cousin took me around his property one day. What was once a jungle is quite bare, but with plenty of piles of brush and debris. Many trees were lost, including one they were hoping would come down. Only a couple of big trees are left: two cypresses and a pine – all of them leaning the way the wind pushed them.

One spot was especially bare, where the tornado had touched down. I didn’t realize the hurricane was full of tornadoes too. A shed was destroyed, and the garage, which was partially falling in, had the roof totally cave in, though the walls were kept up by vines.

The four foot swimming pool has totally evaporated in this drought. My cousin showed me where the roof of the house next door had blown into the yard and onto the fence. Surprisingly the maze of gardenia bushes seems to have survived.

The amount of clearing they have had to do is amazing. He has gone through four chain-saws and has had numerous relatives and friends help. The downed trees were a factor in not getting robbed, as no one could get to their house.

The house itself sustained roof damage, so it leaked through and damaged many things. The small back porch that was crushed by a fallen tree has been replaced by a more substantial back porch, which is now full of plants, but also an area for the cats. One of the rooms upstairs has been redone – in lilac with a sky blue ceiling. The ceiling has been raised to the roof – giving a more spacious feel.

One morning I helped my cousin and his lady inventory her Barbie and other collectible doll boxes. With the damage to the original boxes, the dolls will have lost their value. So I was describing Barbie doll boxes – year, edition, item #, value, like cataloging books. I actually got a bit intrigued, but not enough to try a hand at collecting something like this myself.

The other thing that I am sure has suffered in this post Katrina period is relationships. I saw that with my cousin. The stresses of loss, instability of jobs and life, lack of services, finances, dealing with insurance, FEMA, and tons of paperwork can be overwhelming and put a strain on the best of relationships.

Just a quick example about finances: they have bee allotted $15,000 for clean-up of their yard and that has long since been spent. My cousin has put in all his savings, small inheritance, bonus, and paychecks. She has spent all of her insurance money, savings, and cashed in CD’s. And there is a lot more to be done. I wish them well.

Lance was lucky - some roof damage, but no water got into the house, though the refrigerator had to be hauled out to the side of the road, and I'm sure there was damage outside. So I saw the range from a little damage, to major damage, to total loss.

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