Report from Louisiana: Waiting for Gordon

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Report from Louisiana: Waiting for Gordon

[cap­tion id=“attachment_108839” align=“aligncenter” width=“897”] Trop­i­cal storm Gordon.[/caption]

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – Last night as I was watch­ing LSU’s trounc­ing of the Miami Hur­ri­canes on tele­vi­sion, I received a text mes­sage from a friend which included a screen­shot of the new trop­i­cal storm in the Gulf, Gor­don, with the ques­tion “Am I the only one who can feel a faster heart­beat and creep­ing anx­i­ety over a pic like this?”

It’s an ongo­ing group text thread with five of us teach­ers and every one of us knew exactly what she meant. I’d been watch­ing that cone of prob­a­bil­ity all day long as it cen­tered this storm right over New Orleans.

It’s only a trop­i­cal storm, it’s not a hur­ri­cane, and it’s prob­a­bly not that big of a deal, but this is what liv­ing in Louisiana is like, espe­cially after Kat­rina which was much in the news the past week with the thir­teenth anniver­sary of that dev­as­tat­ing storm.

Add to that the flood­ing along the south Louisiana coast with Har­vey last year and, well, we can be for­given if we look at trop­i­cal storm warn­ings a lit­tle dif­fer­ently than normal.

The New York Times has a story today about Hur­ri­cane Har­vey and about how many poor neigh­bor­hoods in Hous­ton are “slow to recover” :

A sur­vey last month showed that 27 per­cent of His­panic Tex­ans whose homes were badly dam­aged reported that those homes remained unsafe to live in, com­pared to 20 per­cent of blacks and 11 per­cent of whites. There were sim­i­lar dis­par­i­ties with income: 50 per­cent of lower-​income respon­dents said they weren’t get­ting the help they needed, com­pared to 32 per­cent of those with higher incomes, accord­ing to the sur­vey by the Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion and the Epis­co­pal Health Foundation.

And while Louisiana escaped the brunt of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, areas along the coast received up to twenty-​two inches of rain which just added insult to injury after the dev­as­tat­ing 2016 Louisiana floods. In August 2016 much of south Louisiana received dev­as­tat­ing rain totals as a slow-​moving storm drenched the state and left many homes uninhabitable.

So, yes. When­ever we see those weather graph­ics with those cones of prob­a­bil­ity slam­ming right into our frag­ile coast, we get a lit­tle nervous.

It doesn’t stop us in our tracks, though. We are used to this. It comes with the ter­ri­tory (lit­er­ally!) and the flood­ing and storms are part of our rou­tine. We pre­pare, we wait, we watch, and some­times the pre­dic­tions are wrong.

But I do believe that Kat­rina changed things for us. I’m in north­west Louisiana and so Kat­rina as a weather event didn’t affect me very much, but Kat­rina as a human drama cer­tainly did. I’ll never ever for­get the haunted eyes of those refugee chil­dren in my classrooms.

With this lit­tle storm, Gor­don, who is mak­ing its way over the coast this week and up into my cor­ner of the state this time, what I worry about most is our very frag­ile coast­line and van­ish­ing wet­lands. I won­der why we have no bet­ter answers to pro­tect them and I worry about places like Isle de Jean Charles, for exam­ple, that are already so endan­gered. What must those peo­ple be think­ing as they look at the weather fore­cast this week?

In the mean­time, we cel­e­brate our LSU Tigers’ per­for­mance last night, and I think I will go start a pot of gumbo and hope that the storm moves quickly through.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port and is the author of Cane River Bohemia. Fol­low her on Insta­gram @patbecker25.

Tropical storm Gordon.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Last night as I was watching LSU’s trouncing of the Miami Hurricanes on television, I received a text message from a friend which included a screenshot of the new tropical storm in the Gulf, Gordon, with the question “Am I the only one who can feel a faster heartbeat and creeping anxiety over a pic like this?”

It’s an ongoing group text thread with five of us teachers and every one of us knew exactly what she meant.  I’d been watching that cone of probability all day long as it centered this storm right over New Orleans.

It’s only a tropical storm, it’s not a hurricane, and it’s probably not that big of a deal, but this is what living in Louisiana is like, especially after Katrina which was much in the news the past week with the thirteenth anniversary of that devastating storm.

Add to that the flooding along the south Louisiana coast with Harvey last year and, well, we can be forgiven if we look at tropical storm warnings a little differently than normal.

The New York Times has a story today about Hurricane Harvey and about how many poor neighborhoods in Houston are “slow to recover” :

A survey last month showed that 27 percent of Hispanic Texans whose homes were badly damaged reported that those homes remained unsafe to live in, compared to 20 percent of blacks and 11 percent of whites. There were similar disparities with income: 50 percent of lower-income respondents said they weren’t getting the help they needed, compared to 32 percent of those with higher incomes, according to the survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation.

And while Louisiana escaped the brunt of Hurricane Harvey, areas along the coast received up to twenty-two inches of rain which just added insult to injury after the devastating 2016 Louisiana floods.  In August 2016 much of south Louisiana received devastating rain totals as a slow-moving storm drenched the state and left many homes uninhabitable.

So, yes.  Whenever we see those weather graphics with those cones of probability slamming right into our fragile coast, we get a little nervous.

It doesn’t stop us in our tracks, though.  We are used to this.  It comes with the territory (literally!) and the flooding and storms are part of our routine.  We prepare, we wait, we watch, and sometimes the predictions are wrong.

But I do believe that Katrina changed things for us.  I’m in northwest Louisiana and so Katrina as a weather event didn’t affect me very much, but Katrina as a human drama certainly did.  I’ll never ever forget the haunted eyes of those refugee children in my classrooms.

With this little storm, Gordon, who is making its way over the coast this week and up into my corner of the state this time, what I worry about most is our very fragile coastline and vanishing wetlands.  I wonder why we have no better answers to protect them and I worry about places like Isle de Jean Charles, for example, that are already so endangered.  What must those people be thinking as they look at the weather forecast this week?

In the meantime, we celebrate our LSU Tigers’ performance last night, and I think I will go start a pot of gumbo and hope that the storm moves quickly through.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia.  Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25.