It's been since the end of August that most of you have heard from us in Baton Rouge...no power or internet or cell phones. So much for my positioning my company as e-technology"internet based" :-) I had to use a battery powered radio and dug a plug in phone out of my attic to be able to communicate! Now that some of us are coming back online, i wanted to share with you some of what's happening here.
August 31st the edges of the storm touched the Louisiana coast and headed on a line up the Mississippi toward Baton Rouge. Being an inland city we seldom get severe damage from hurricaines as they loose their force quickly when reaching land. Gustov was still gusting at nearly 100mph spinning tornados as it arrived in Baton Rouge. The weather service says it made history being the strongest winds ever experienced here.
Military vehicles from the National Guard became a familiar scene along with pole trucks sent in to manage the storm. The National Guard arrived in New Orleans and coastal areas to supervise the mandatory evacuation and protect homes and businesses while residents were away. My hat's off to Governor Bobby Jindal for the organization and response. After the storm died down these same military personnel opened ice and water and meal statation at strategic points for all those coping with no power. People waited in long lines for 5-6 hours to get necessities as only a few businesses had generators that allowed them to remain open. The two major energy providers, Entergy and Demco, report that 50% now have power back. Yes, folks, that means that many homes will still have to wait 2-3 more weeks to get power restored. Baton Rouge residents have a greater appreciation for what all the coastal areas suffer after the hurricaine. As of today, even our local Board of Realtors had not reopened as they have no power to their building.
Many new experiences occurred during this time. Neighbors gathered out in the street. (You could see better than in the dark and there was a breeze). Many people met who had never met before. A comradry developed in most neighborhoods, sharing information on how to get precious resources like ice and water and gas to run the generators. Not everyone had a battery powered radio which was one of the few ways to get information. Many cell phones shut down as the towers overloaded or lost power. Lines at the stores and distribution stations were 5-6 hours or more. I waited in line at Home Depot where they were distributing generators for 6 hours in the rain; my 3 year old grandson had to take breathing treatments for his asthma. The lines snaked all the way around the building. Some before me had been there over 12 hours. I was one of the lucky ones. At least half the line behind me didn't get one as their supply ran out and they had to come back the next day when another truck arrived. During all this I found people courteous and cooperative. Very little of the ugliness you sometimes see on t.v. We take a lot for granted. For example, I wake up each morning with a cup of coffee. No power = no Starbucks or coffee shops and no way to brew at home, unless you are lucky and have a gas grill to boil water! Nothing like handling a caffeine addiction in the middle of a hurricaine!
This is a typical street scene now. Trees lined up in front of every residence and business and long lines of cars waiting at intersections with no power which are now 4 way stops.
I wanted to share the story of one family here who came to me thru the Christian Real Estate Network which is powered on Active Rain. Susan and Ricky Amato and their 5 boys moved here from the New Orleans area after Gustav. In her blog Susan writes about their Gustav challenge and shares inspiring photos and music that all of you will enjoy. Be sure and scroll down to the picture book and visit pictures of her family. It is an example of the spirit residing in Baton Rouge today!