Thursday, 30 August 2012

... experienced a hurricane (Video links)

DISCLAIMER: This is a record of my personal experiences of Hurricane Isaac; I haven't had access to radio or TV news for a couple of days so cannot say whether it hit other areas of the city or other states much worse, but in our northern part of the French Quarter this is how it was on the ground, as it happened. Generally, the mood here now is relieved and cheerful that it wasn't a lot worse, and the clean-up's already well underway. Go NOLA :)

Tuesday was something of a washout: the storm was still playing hard to get (even though it had been predicted to hit around 4pm) and despite the fact that nothing much was going on, weather-wise, everything was still shut. It was dirty weather all day – heavy rain on and off and blustery winds; not the sort you'd want to be out in, admittedly – but the temperature outside was balmy, and the wind and rain were no worse than an English November (and a good deal warmer). Nonetheless, Bex and I were stuck at the hotel and pretty damn fed up. Little did we know how fed up and stuck we were yet to become …

The honourable exceptions to the “Hurrication” rule were (luckily) the general store down the road and the lifesaving bar (Buffa's, pronounced Boofer's) opposite. Buffa's had pledged to stay open 24/7 throughout (power permitting) and as the hotel was not really stocked or equipped to provide dinner, we wandered across around 7pm to get some takeout (see below) of a cheap and cheerful down-home variety. We then scoffed this in front of reruns of The Big Bang Theory. We were just congratulating ourselves on the situation being pretty tolerable, really, when the power went out.

Then it came on again.

Then it went out.

It went on one final, teasing time before conking out for good, and we suddenly realised just how dark it was outside. We got tiny candles from Reception and the awesome desk clerk Brian brought us some wine and cheese as well: this would have to last us for much of the next day, along with our bought-in hurricane supplies (see right).

It was about 9pm by this time; we went through some photos on my laptop (which still had battery, luckily) and I did a bit of reading on my Kindle, but it's amazing how hard it is to entertain yourself in a blackout with a member of the same sex who's also a blood relative, and eventually, around 10.30, we just gave up and went to sleep.

Wednesday, 29th August 2012

CLICK HERE for video of the storm on Wednesday

We were woken by lowish, stormy light streaming into the room but ignored it until around 9 – there wasn't much to get up for, as it was still raining heavily and blowing hard outside. Around 11am one of the hotel clerks came round on a charging run – there was another property nearby that still had power so they were collecting up the guests' mobile phones and laptops to charge them, which was very thoughtful.

Bourbon Street is NEVER this deserted
After lunch we went for a walk down Esplanade and back into the quarter, wandering down Royal and Bourbon in search of somewhere that did food and wifi. Patrolling the almost-empty streets we saw tons of police cars and even a couple of Humvees (I think that's what they were, anyway - big military-looking jeep type things) in both green and yellow flavours.

The only place we found open – apart from a couple of dodgy bars on Bourbon (we weren't ready to start drinking quite yet) was the “World Famous” Clover Grill, a New Orleans institution which is what we'd call in the UK a greasy spoon, serving up fried things and coffee 24/7 to the good folk of the city. But the queue was out of the door (literally – we were asked to wait on the street, in the rain) so we came back, noting the various damage – not major, but noticeable – yesterday's storm had wrought on the trees and streets.

Bent but not broken.
One of the unexpected problems of being housebound by weather – especially with the power off – is the boredom. Bex and I both had books with us, but there's only so long we could read, and eventually we asked Reception for a pack of cards to help pass the time. We tried to remember how to play Shithead for an hour or so while nibbling on the remaining cheese and crackers, and even invented a new cocktail, the Storm in a Teacup, with the materials available to us – but by about 7pm we had cabin fever.


- Take one shot Sweet Tea flavoured vodka
- Add two Coffee-Mate Original Flavour coffee creamer pots and one French Vanilla
- Mix with straw
- Serve in espresso glass.

The weather outside was frightful, as the song has it, but the idea of a warm, lit, (wi-fi'd) bar was so delightful that we put on our most rainproof clothes – flipflops, shorts, and two anoraks one on top of the other for me – and hit the streets.

Down on Frenchmen and Decatur the roads were dark and deserted: we asked a passerby (there was only one!) where was open and had power. Checkpoint Charlie had no power but were still serving by candlelight (nice one) but we eventually dropped into a rock/metal bar called Ann Tiki's. There was nothing of the Tiki bar about it, but it was warm and noisy and dryish (unlike my phone, which had taken on water in the front pocket of what I can no longer call a “rainproof”, and was wigging out, flashing randomly in an alarming fashion) – so we ordered a couple of Amaretto sours and hung out.

Nope, definitely not a Tiki bar ...
Finally we made our way back via Buffa's, on whose wifi I had given up – you could get signal in our hotel room because it was just across the street, but couldn't connect – and miracle of miracles, it worked. They'd almost run out of food but were still doing a breakfast menu (this at 10pm) so we ordered takeout (egg and cheese muffin for me, eggs and bacon for Bex) and a couple of drinks, and I posted updates reassuring our various friends back home that we were OK.

Back at the hotel we had a romantic meal by candlelight, and using the last precious hour or so of battery power on my laptop, I read Bex a couple of new Liars' League submissions to entertain her in the dark of our hotel room. Then we went to bed.

Thursday 30
th August

Does L'Oreal do a product for hurricane hair?
This morning we awoke missing something. It was the sound of rain and wind battering the crap out of New Orleans. Hurrah! The storm had passed … pretty much. It was still raining on and off, but not remotely as hard as last night, and when we went out on the porch at around 8.30 we saw a wondrous thing: a big yellow digger scooping up all the leaf debris and fallen branches and dumping them into a black and white garbage truck. The Big Clean-Up had begun!

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