Sunday, June 1, 2008

No Reason for Hurricane Season

It was Jimmy Buffett who came up with the tongue-in-cheek ditty "Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season" several decades ago on his "A1A" album. In his wonderful irreverant way Buffett described how hard life was waking up from a nap in his hammock and trying to deal with an incoming storm between drinks. That was the way things used to be here in New Orleans when a storm threatened. Like Jimmy Buffett, the hardest thing was to find the strainer for the drinks. The old joke went: "Q: How many New Orleanians does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: Five. Four to mix the drinks and one to call N.O.P.S.I." That joke is even more outdated now because New Orleans Public Service Incorporated that formerly was responsible for electric power and gas service in most of Orleans Parish (except the West Bank) hasn't existed in several years since it was replaced by Entergy. But you get my point. We were a fun-loving bunch down here, unafraid and untouched by any force of nature. That is, until Hurricane Katrina. Today, June 1, is the official beginning of the Hurricane Season, running until November 1. It's the third time since the 2005 storm slammed into the city and we New Orleanians do take notice. We start buying up gobs of batteries, hording water and looking to make sure we have plenty of gasoline in our tanks (even if it costs us a bundle). Anyone who doesn't already own a generator is either planning on leaving town for an extended stay away should a storm threaten or is in the process of acquiring one. I must admit that it seems a lifetime ago when the beginning of the 2005 storm season started. But in the wake of the catastrophe, few recall that Tropical Storm Cindy hit the city on July 6, seven weeks before Katrina. Cindy, which showed up on weather maps at the last minute, downed a goodly number of uptown and Broadmoor area trees and cut power to a number of homes. Cleanup operations took well over a week before things were back to normal in the Big Easy. Many were turning their heads around and asking what happened? How could a nothing storm wreak so much damage? We should have known better, but most of us went about our business not heeding the initial warning. Around this time people at the Times-Picayune and local TV stations were also publishing stories and airing specials about what could happen if "The Big One" hit New Orleans. Well, as far as a I'm concerned, the Big One was Katrina and nobody I know is reaching for the cocktail strainer any longer. We are serious about possibilities of further loss of life and property and can no longer maintain a lax attitude or promulgate the stereotype that we are lackadaisical. After all, we do live in the City That Care Forgot, but these days, when it comes to hurricane season, we do care a lot.

No comments: