Friday, August 29, 2008

Hurricane Gustav: Deja vu all over again

The Pete Maravich Center being staged for triage and critical care for Gustav
Photo: Leah Courville

I live in Baton Rouge, LA and work at Louisiana State University, in the School of Social Work, in their Office of Social Service Research and Development, OSSRD. My parking lot is between the back of the Huey P. Long Fieldhouse, in which our school resides and the Pete Maravich Center, which is our famed basketball arena. The director of our school (poor guy arrived here from Colorado about a year ago) and the director of our research group (at least she's from Louisiana) put out a call today for volunteers to go to the PMAC, as it is called, and unload medical supplies.

So, we filed out our back door and into the main arena and I struggled opening and assembling cots and breaking boxes for awhile. We really weren't needed. There are more than enough volunteers, for now. However, we will be needed later when and if Hurricane Gustav or Hannah develop into major storms that track right at our part of the Gulf Coast.

We have all been through this before, volunteering numerous hours at that same facility in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. It was the staging area for the critically ill, and I worked as a geriatric social worker of sorts (my training is in gerontology). Our oldest son, then a high school student, helped triage patients and actually ran that center for awhile.

What struck me was how apprehensive and anxiety ridden I felt just being back in that building. I had...Nervous energy. I was...talking too fast. Talking too loud. Laughing inappropriately. I remember telling someone that so much was going on that I felt the top of my head was going to blow off (well, to be fair some of that was from the McCain VP pick). Suddenly, I was compelled, again, to tell everyone I met our experiences in 2005 (Extreme jerkishness alert. At the very least it was histrionic, which isn't a good trait to be exhibiting when you work with a bunch of clinical social workers).

The rest of the day has been spent fielding emails from family and friends, and friends of friends who need a place to stay as they evacuate from Florida and SE Louisiana. Mom and I shopped last night for hurricane food (non perishables, or canned and dry things). Rich bought the last of the water available at some Super K Mart in Northern Louisiana yesterday on his way back from a forestry association meeting. I might be getting some bug, so I called my doctor for meds, just in case I couldn't get a hold of a medical practitioner in the next 4 days. LSU is now closed until Wednesday. My son, his girlfriend and my grandson are evacuating from 40 miles to our east,

"bring the Wii," we said.

My 87 year old mother just ran out the door to get her hair done, as her beautician won't be into work tomorrow for her regularly scheduled wash and blow dry (why hasn't she learned how to do her own hair in all these years? What girl doesn't know how to do their own hair? And why does she need her hair done before a hurricane?)..

Rich is fixated on the lawn and vacuuming the house (vacuuming the house?)...

I need to go and buy some booze, and clear out our pantry under our stair well (we'll use it as a one of our tornado shelters).


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