Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hurricanes and Quilting

It came as quite a surprise to me to learn that Hurricane Gustav had caused severe damage to the Baton Rouge region of Louisiana, home to the Swamp Quilters, who had scheduled me to teach at their retreat in Mississippi this week. After all, nothing had appeared on the national
news. So, like most other Americans, I turned my attention to other things, and thought little about the latest storm of 2008, until I received a call from organizer Candy Bergeron. It was only then that I began to understand the fury of Gustav, and the havoc it wreaked on their community. I asked Candy to write an update. Read on for her assessment.
Hello Gail,

The Swamp Quilters postponed the Goose is Loose class scheduled for September due to Hurricane Gustav. Gustav was a significant hurricane in the Baton Rouge area. The winds were clocked at 92 miles per hour and uprooted really big trees. Any tree large enough and close enough to fall on our house is going to be cut down and replaced with a short, stubby tree. Most of our friends are sharpening their chain saws now.

The wind and fallen trees knocked out over 90% of the utilities in the area. We feel fortunate that we were without power for only 10 days instead of the projected 21 days. It is hot here without air conditioning. Most people have generators so they can run fans and their refrigerator. You need gas to run a generator and gas pumps do not function without electricity. There were few gas stations open after the storm and the lines were long.
Our governor, Bobby Jindal, was great! He spent millions of dollars buying generators from other states to run critical services like gas/emergency care/police stations, etc. He also bought tarps to distribute to people with roof damage because FEMA response is too slow to be of any use. He used the National Guard to transport supplies from other states. We, in Louisiana, feel blessed to have a proactive, problem-solving leader and most of us wish he were running for President. Our recovery was faster because of Bobby Jindal.

We also had local flooding after the storm. The water receded from our road after 8 days. During that time we used a boat. The neighbors call our boat the Colyell Queen. Colyell is a nearby bay and our boat is as ugly as the African Queen. With the flooding the wild things come out of the swamp. My husband saw something in the dark on the kitchen floor one night. He bent down to pick it up and when it wiggled he realized he had a handful of snake. He can yell like a girl!

After the hurricane the cell phones did not work because the towers were down. One of the most difficult parts of recovery is being without outside contact; no email, no phone. I have not received mail in 11 days; no bills!

I attached pictures of my backyard with uprooted, broken trees and later the flooding. Also attached is a picture of the Colyell Queen and the road leading from our subdivision. We were just inconvenienced by the storm. Others suffered real loss. Please keep them and the people dealing with Ike in your prayers.

Things are getting back to normal. A friend is coming over to sew tomorrow and several of us are meeting the day after tomorrow for lunch and a movie. It is great to have friends! We will be in contact about rescheduling the class. It will not be until after hurricane season.

Talk to you soon,

Candy Bergeron

Kudos as well to Southwest Airlines! When I called to cancel my ticket, they immediately and graciously gave me full credit for the ticket to be used any time within the next 12 months - no penalty for changing the ticket!

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