There is an unwritten understanding in new orleans. You don’t evacuate. Don’t get me wrong – no one will tell you not to. In fact, you may be encouraged to. But from old heads who’ve been around hurricanes for more than a season or two – packing up every time a storm passes our general direction would be the equivalent of packing up every time a breeze shifted or every time a new orleans summer day hits 90 degrees.


New orleans is a hunker down kind of city. At the grocery store on the Saturday before katie hit, there wasn’t even an air of panic – southern hospitality prevailed. People helped me find water and figure out how many cans of baked beans I’d need to last a hurricane brushing up against the big easy.


After making myself evacuate for ivan last year and dennis this year I figured I’d graduated to the ranks of the hunker down crew. So water, beans, and potted meat in hand, I smiled at the beautiful prestorm-saturday and prepared myself for katie’s visit.


Saturday tv was belabored by news on katie – her size, her speed, her projected path. Even so – I languished. Even so I waited it out. By Sunday morning – early Sunday morning – something in the city changed. The meteorologists, who generally look as collected as car salesmen, had an air of desperation in their forecasts. I took their predictions of dear katie as, “if I weren’t chained to this damn job I’d be on the next thing out of here.”


So, as last minute as I could be and still manage to flee – I fled. Hunkered down in traffic instead of my apartment, listening to talk radio as the information got more and more dire. One hundred and seventy five miles an hour. That is a huge category five storm – bigger than anyone living in new orleans has seen. A storm that size would put even camille and betsy to shame. As it was, even a slightly slimmer katrina did the job just the same.


All that is nothing new – everyone has been watching at least something on the storm – even if you don’t want to. It was pretty hard to escape in the early days of her passing. As talk slows and shifts to other things I am left with my thoughts for my future.


What will I do?


I had a very orderly two-year plan in place before katrina knocked on my door. I was going to finish this semester and then do a year in new zealand and be done with this school thing.


Now I’m rethinking school for the semester. I’m not sure I could concentrate – on the other hand I’m a little scared to go to a foreign country completely out of the rhythm of school for a full semester. This morning I was on the brink of making plans to move to san diego and take at least two of three classes I need there. I checked on housing, a non-profit to volunteer with.


Then I discovered that peace corps is sending in crisis corps to work with fema and everything shifted. Now all of a sudden I am torn. Do I help or do I finish school so I can help. It seems ridiculous to not help now so that I can help later…at the same time…I am torn.


I have to decide soon…tonight…I’ll keep you posted.


1 Comment on choices…help now or later

  1. x0lani says:


    I came to your profile page and saw you were going to Tulane and my heart skipped a beat. I'm glad to see you flinched for this hurricane. I look at the news and it's so shocking. I loved New Orleans and always made a point of going out there at least once a year when I was at the University of Texas.

    So what did you decide? Crisis Corps or school? Will there BE a school?

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