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~ Katrina visits 128 North Drive ~

This is the backyard.  Not as much lawn debris was in the back, since it runs along the fairway of a golf course.  The front and side yards had the most debris.  Three years ago we removed 23 pines trees after an infestation of pine bark beetle killed them.  Their loss seemed devastating at the time.  But those trees would've been in this area, and would likely have been the cause of massive destruction to the home, since the hurricane's wind came from my back.  Taped trees indicate they need to be removed - their tops were so trashed that they would likely have died within a year or two.

Another view of the backyard

St. Francis, standing within one of Mom's garden beds, had several snapped tree tops and one tree trunk fall within a few yards - but no damage!

Louisiana pines snapped off mid-trunk as
often as they blew over.  When we first
looked through the yard, it didn't seem
as though we'd lost many trees.
...until you looked up, and saw many
of the trees had no tops!

Our backyard didn't have as much debris as the side and front yards, because a golf course runs the length of our backyard.

One of many backyard trees that blew over.

Above: At first glance, the garden shed looked like it had survived, with only a tree top leaning against the side and roof.  Below:  But a closer inspection proved me wrong.

One of the first pictures taken - once I remembered I needed to start documenting things for insurance.  See the trashed utility lines in the background?

This pine's top landed with such force, it stuck SOLIDLY in the ground.

The home-owners cut the side branches,
but couldn't pull it out of the ground.

They eventually convinced it to leave with a chain and 4WD.

Another shot of lawn debris, looking across the front yard and the curve of the driveway (towards the road).

The many long, towering piles of logs, branches and debris create the illusion of driving though a gorge at times.  We hope FEMA removes the drying debris soon, since its presence is already a terrible fire hazard.  The piles act as tinder, and most block easy access to fire hydrants and would make it difficult for firemen to get close to the homes.

Jason, our electrician, quickly became our new best friend when he arrived to install a new meter box.  A tree ripped the old service from the side of the house, and the electric company required that we meet the "current code" before a new meter could be installed.  Yikes!  The house was built "pre-codes" and a number of things had to be done before reconnection was possible. 

My Toyota and trailer became an unlikely "working team" when it came to cleaning up yard debris.

Once Jason connected the electric meter, we still had to wait (with the rest of the subdivision) for the lines, poles and transformers to be repaired. 
Electric service was back after 3 weeks. 
We were so happy to see them,
we didn't mind [too much] how their
equipment was tearing up the yard. 

"Happy Hurricane Joanie"
Jan must've thought I needed a "cheer-me-up", and surprised me with this bouquet. 
Do not ask me
where he found a store that carried flowers after a hurricane.

"Dozerman, dozerman, spare me that log!"
FEMA is supposed to bring large dozers with clamps into the subdivision soon.  They will be carting away the massive piles that currently line the subdivision's roads.  Jan has a sawmill at home, and just hates to see these beautiful logs NOT going to his house!

We tried not
to let the
news from
New Orleans, the work in
the yard,
or the  misfortunes
of so many
of our friends
overwhelm us.
Although it
would remain
a dark cloud
over much of what we did,
we tried
to bring
a few
bright things
into our day
as balance.

As another sun sets
slowly over the golf course fairway, we continue to ponder,

"D'ya think we'll
ever get our
electric back?"

After 2 weeks and 2 days in Louisiana, we were ready to return to Maryland.  We still have no phone service, but our electricity has been restored.  My Mom's been safely staying in my Maryland home, but I know she must be anxious to get back to her own house.

The left two photos, taken 200 miles after we left Covington, STILL show a great deal of wind damage along the interstate.  Lots of trees were blown over and/or snapped, and lined the roadsides for great distances. 

Jan's windshield had its own problem with The South's annual infestation of "Love Bugs".  The insects made a mess of the windshield, and we had to stop (often) to clear them so we could see!.  The amorous bugs played havoc with us, too, since Jan's truck had no AC, and the windows needed to remain open.  They were everywhere!

Journal entry:  Sept. 10  -  Watching the mini-tv
         
I'll mention here, before I forget, that our television channel selection has been limited to 2 stations:  WWL and WDSU.  Neither carry a strong signal and are not well received by our new black and white 5" AC/DC television - even with Reynold's Wrap carefully secured to the end of it's single antennae.   The $34 battery-operated tv was a lucky coup - placed in my buggy before the salesman got it to the shelf.  A case of being in the right place at the right time.  We don't have to use gas in the generator to keep informed during the day. 
          Channels come in very snowy, but our imaginations connect-the-dots, and fill-in what's missing on the small phosphorous screen.  At first I faulted the cheap set, but my sister's far-more-expensive tv proved me wrong when it got nearly the same picture quality.  I think the stations were broadcasting over an extremely long distances, from temporary locations.  Anyway, we felt lucky to get anything.  We watched as we ate - happy for news from the outside.

Journal entry:  Sept. 18th  -  Entering Virginia on I-81
         
Now that we are entering Virginia, some of the poplars and the "early turning" trees look like they've already begun to show signs of color for autumn.  Just barely.  We left the tall Louisiana pines, and so much green behind us - this first taste of autumn makes it seem as though we've been gone longer than we have.

Journal entry:  Sept. 18th  -  Crossing into Maryland about dusk
          I didn't write in the journal while we were in Louisiana.  Instead, I sent e-mails to let everyone know what was going on.  Jan and I realize we have no sense of time anymore…  In order to correctly date my journal entries, we've had to LITERALLY draw a calendar, after mental calculations failed to determine how many days we've been gone.  We never used a calendar while we were in Louisiana.  And we only used clocks at night to keep track of curfew.  I suppose we need to get used to depending on clocks, as well as calendars, again.       

Two days after we returned to Maryland, my neighbor in Louisiana called.  After brief pleasantries, I asked Scot if there was something I could do for him.  I had gathered information about the Army Corps of Engineers' Blue Tarp Program for him, and thought he was calling about that.  Instead, he said he was calling to HELP ME with something…
              He told me the neighbors behind me hired a crew to cut down and remove the damaged trees in their yard, and had used a crane to extract the two pine trees in their roof.  BUT, one of the trees "got away from them" and fell into our newly restored electric lines!  The event pulled the new service lines from my house, and the electric jolt blew out the newly installed (and upgraded!) meter box.  It blew a small hole in the side of the brick house!  It also caught the transformer on fire, and sent flames and sparks to the dry debris below.  This caught the bushes and part of my backyard on fire.
              Scot told me how hard they worked to move my powerboat out of harm's way.  I reminded Scott that Hurricane Katrina already sent two trees and a pole through the boat's deck, and the pole's transformer had crushed the 25HP motor.  He said they weren't worried about the boat - it was the boat's GAS TANKS!  They even broke into the backyard garden shed to remove any gas cans.
             
So, now I'm very anxious to get back to Louisiana.  This latest fiasco not only put my house in the dark again, but the rest of the block doesn't have electricity either.  I'm told Jason, our electrician, re-fixed the meter box within three days.  Let's hope the electric and telephone crews will also be as quick to return and get juice back into the lines.

              Earlier, when I told Mom I left my generator at her house, she asked me, "Why?  I don't want it there!  Don't leave it with me! 

...When will I ever need a generator?!?"