Unexpectedly Off-Grid: Dispatches from a Louisiana Hurricane Survivor




gator 

Charles and furry friend, Gator.

Hunkered down in a 131-year-old house in the historic French Quarter neighborhood, Charles P., a native of New Orleans, rode out Hurricane Ida with his dog, Gator. He had made a calculation to stay home rather than evacuate based on the storm’s forecasted track, but a fateful last-minute shift to the east brought stronger winds and darkness to the region.

Charles unexpectedly faced life off the grid for about 72 hours. Though he was somewhat prepared, he was caught off guard because the longest power outage anyone in his neighborhood could recall lasted only a few hours. In the French Quarter, home to myriad hotels and restaurants, utilities are buried underground and resume service faster when pitted against hurricane-force winds. But, an accident upriver affected his neighborhood for the worse.

Ironically, Hurricane Ida made landfall on August 29, exactly 16 years to the day that Hurricane Katrina had lashed the city and flooded nearly 80 percent of homes. What follows are excerpts from Charles’ journal, including one from 2005



Dispatches from the Storm

August 27, 2:10 pm. As of now, subject to change, I am planning to stay. The feds built a mega multi-billion-dollar levee ring around New Orleans. This will be its first serious test. My current neighborhood did not flood in Hurricane Katrina and, to the best of my knowledge, this old house built in 1890 has stood the test of time. Crossing fingers and toes. Stocked up on food and water.



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