More Smiles Dental Spa Dentistry Blog | James A. Moreau, Jr., D.D.S.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tryin' to Reason With Hurricane Season

Unlike Jimmy Buffet's 1972 song, "Tryin' to Reason With Hurricane Season," I must confess...I did NOT need the rest.

But here I am anyway with an unscheduled vacation hundreds of miles away from home. I tried to ignore Gustav until it moved well into the Gulf of Mexico. But, alas, the world around me was activating hurricane evac plans before it even moved across Jamaica. At the office, team members were busy on the phone discussing with family members which way they'd go, who'd go, and where to start getting reservations. Coffee pot banter was how many rooms were available at the Hampton Inn in Tuscaloosa at 6 p.m. vs. how many fewer were available several hours later.

We quickly updated the contacts list so we'd all be able to touch base in the coming days regardless of where we all ended up, remembering that for days after Katrina the only way to contact each other was via text message since the cell phones weren't working. And contrary to what I heard a phone company spokesman say on TV 2 days ago, they did NOT help this particular customer out with the texting charges incurred as a result. Katrina was my introduction to text messaging; I quickly became proficient. However, we had a teenager who was lightyears ahead of us on that, and with friends spread across the U.S. for a month after the storm, the texts were her only connection to sanity. But I digress.

When I left the office Thursday afternoon I told everyone I'd see them Tuesday and have a nice holiday weekend. But as soon as I got in my car and hit the service road, you could almost feel electricity in the air as panic was beginning to set in within the community. People were darting around in traffic, on their cell phones, lining up at banks and gas stations. It was getting harder and harder to ignore. And by Friday night it became increasingly apparent that an evacuation was in our best interest. Something about the word "contraflow" does that to me.

Once you flip the switch and go into evac mode, it's an almost immediate detachment from reality. We tend to slip into a surreal dimension just a layer removed from "normal."

One thing we learned from Katrina is to clean out the refrigerator and freezer before we leave. So that was one of the first things we started doing...simple enough, fairly non-committal because after all if Gustav fizzles out (as we can always hope), well the fridge needed to be cleaned out anyway. Before Katrina, I stupidly went to the grocery store the night before and stocked up on expensive meats to put in the freezer. See...another lesson learned. What was I thinking?!

We put the kids on notice that they needed to prepare a suitcase, backpack and carry-on bag and stage it in the dining room for loading on Saturday morning. Still I refused to begin my own packing, choosing rather to toggle between Fox News, CNN, 2 local news channels which were preparing to phase to round-the-clock coverage, and The Weather Channel.

Saturday morning we faced the inevitable and drove long-faced to the Public Works Barn to pick up sandbags for the back doors at the office which do tend to leak water in heavy rains. Then we drove to the marina to drive our boat out to the launch and pulled it out of the water. Then the only thing left to do was load a suitcase, pack up as much of my "valuables" as I could (you know, my Donald Pliner stash :-) and then make one last trip by the office to secure the computer server and a couple of workstations.

Now, bear in mind that very little of this would have actually occurred prior to Katrina. We all learned some lessons from that experience. Even still, I went off without the dogs' vaccinnation records; so even if I wanted to board them somewhere, that may not be an option. Good thing my parents and their cat, Millie, are such good sports about four-legged house guests!

So here we are in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, trying to determine our next move. Jim just logged on to a St. Tammany Parish website and is updating me on the mandatory evacuations. The page features a cheerful looking portrait of our parish president. "Why is HE smiling?" Jim just grumbled. Looks like our schools have just decided to stay closed through Wednesday. I've checked in with most of our team members who are now tucked away in Nashville, Ville Platte, Lake Charles and then on from there, and some still on the road through Meridian,MS, (in traffic for 7 hours for what should have been an easy 3-hour trip).

posted by MoreSmiles at 7:29 AM


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