Friday, July 12, 2019

Hurricane Barry to Hit New Orleans Tomorrow

Melinda Palacio

Water that should have receded by July

I rolled into town two weeks ago. The mood was anticlimactic as the thought of celebrating Independence Day seemed an impossible farce given that so many immigrants have reached “the land of the free” only to have their basic human rights waved. While I was in no mood to see fireworks or listen to patriotic music in New Orleans, I huddled with friends, ate barbecue and drank sangria. 

July is supposed to be my month to relax, regroup, and work on things that I’ve put off, such as reworking my website, recording some audio versions of my poems, and writing more of everything fiction, poetry, songs. However, anxiety reigns stronger in July what with the earthquakes in California and the storms in Louisiana. I live in two places with their own impending doom scenarios. 

Cars in the Garden District drove on the neutral ground  to get around flooded streets. 
On Wednesday signs of what is now Hurricane Barry started to slap the city. The first blow was four hours of wild rain that flooded areas that normally do not flood. Everyone is worried about the Mississippi river. All those crooked letters aren’t enough to hold back a rainy spring and water that hasn’t gone down in 185 days. 

Cars and cyclist try to maneuver through Wednesday's flood

Thursday and the search for water and hurricane supplies intensifies.

When we drove in two weeks ago, I took a photo from the freeway of the Atchafalaya basin. The normal view is of tall trees and a swamp. The photo shows the water creeping near the top of those trees. I forgot about the image until I started reading about how Spring rains caused the river to rise. More rains and a hurricane means the already high water could overtop the levees and flood the city; this is the possible one-two punch New Orleans is bracing for. 

View of Atchafalaya Basin from the 10 highway

Thursday, July 11: The calm before the storm.

Earlier this week, one would never have imaged a hurricane was sitting in the gulf. Tuesday was ideal. Friends in town invited me to swim at their hotel. I took my ukulele, swam and sang, and enjoyed a few refreshing hours of a staycation. The pool was a much needed reprieve from the heat. 
Staycation. The calm before the next day's four hour storm.

A refreshing dip in the pool

Last month in California, I had been longing for warmer weather. May and June were cold gloomy months in Santa Barbara. Be careful what you wish for. New Orleans is experiencing a one of its hottest Summers. The effects of climate change are real, especially with this early July hurricane named Barry. With Santa Barbara’s chilly Summer, the heat in New Orleans was more than I bargained for. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a hotter day than last Saturday when I saw the biggest cucaracha on the street imaginable. It was a typical New Orleans bug, the kind that flies and sticks its tongue out at you.  The day was so hot the cucaracha didn’t bother to scurry away and I was too hot to scream or jump.

Today, we sit and hope the levees hold. 

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