Thursday, September 13, 2012

Isaac's tale

The Sunday before the hurricane was when I realized that it would probably hit us. My biggest and most pressing worry was for Bristol as she is almost 15 years old and would not do well in our home without power to cool the place down. I was also worried about her ability to toilet independently in a hurricane. My backyard is sheltered, but I needed her to be able to move quickly and I was worried that she'd not see where she was going. Because of these worries, I called a local friend who usually watches her if I'm out of town. She had just brought her back to me when I returned from New York. And she very kindly drove back over and picked her up. Her, her family, Bristol, and Gracy who is now her pet dog, and who was my retired guide, drove to Arkansas to ride out the storm.

Now it was me, Mill'E-Max, and Laveau. My first order of business was to get my supplies ready. I filled every container I could find which could be completely closed with water, and stuck it in my freezer. I bought things like crackers and peanut butter and some fruits or veggies which did not need refrigeration. I took all of my chairs and table off of my porch, and I charged up all of my electronics.

My power went out for the first time around 6 that Tuesday night. I was frustrated because I had just put my last frozen pizza in to bake. However it came right back on and lasted until around 10 that night.

The rain really started to pour, and the wind picked up. I could feel my house vibrating. I walked through my house, making sure everything was ok, when I felt a drop of water on my head. I thought I was imagining it, so I stood in the same place, and a few seconds later felt another drop of water. I then said a whole bunch of very bad words and went to find a large pot to catch the water from the leak in my roof.

Since I really couldn't do anything else, I mean, I can't really see or hear the hurricane, and I surely do not want a tactile hurricane experience! I curled up with my book (it was "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamond and will officially be known in my head as "the Hurricane Isaac book."), and went to sleep. Yes, I'm so deaf that I can sleep through a hurricane.

Mill'E-Max curled up to my back, and Laveau lay on my legs. Eventually I fell asleep, but was awakened by the dogs alerting me to a sound. They lead me to it and it was part of my ceiling in the room with the leaky roof. It had now become part of my floor, and there was soggy sheetrock, dust, and paint chips everywhere. I said some more bad words, and drug a chair to block that area off, so the dogs couldn't get into that mess.

I then huddled up with the dogs and used my iPhone and braille display to talk to my parents, to friends, and to check the alerts. My connection with the world narrowed down to a phone, and the fragile pins which make up my display. These things alone made it possible for me to know what was happening beyond my shaking house.

And that is basically the way things went for a day or so. This storm was like that unwanted houseguest... it just! would! not! go! away!
When I went to take the girls out, I felt more water hit my face. I was worried that there was yet another leak in my roof, but it was only the wind, driving the rain in sideways through the gap between door, and jam.

I got out a 30 ft. leash, tied one end to my fridge, which was the strongest thing I could think of, and clipped the other end to Mill'E-Max's collar. I was worried how'd she'd manage out there and was ready to help her if she needed it. Both she and Laveau were troopers, though and went out, took care of their business and came back in. Laveau was patient and waited her turn until Mill'E was done. After that, I gave them some pig tails to chew on, and did some more texting/checking of weather reports.
It was a very long 24 hours. But we made it through and I went on my first post-hurricane walk on Thursday morning.

A neighbor said that there were no down power lines in this area, so I felt safe in taking the girls and hitting the streets. Laveau gets a gold star for guiding me around all of the debris on the sidewalks. There was a man working on removing a tree which had fallen across his yard, and so many people out, looking around and assessing the damage.

The first two days or so were not too bad, temperature-wise. But Thursday afternoon, things got pretty nasty, and by Friday, I had made up my mind to go to a hotel after having a very vivid dream in which my dogs died of heatstroke.

Before I left, I cleaned all of the freezers and my fridge, as well as picked up all of the large chunks of drywall from my ceiling. My parents found me a hotel in the central business district and Laveau, Mill'E-Max and I were off on Friday afternoon.

Let me tell you, that air conditioning felt sooooo good! I took a shower and got ready for a nap, when Mill'E-Max told me she needed to use the bathroom. The CBD doesn't have much grass, so we wandered around for a while until we found some. By then, I was very confused as to where I was. I didn't wear my hearing aid and I had forgotten to bring my iPhone so I couldn't ask for directions back to the hotel. Yes, I'm aware that this was not one of my brightest moments, but my brain was pretty well fried by that point.

Thankfully, Mill'E-Max remembered where to go, and we arrived at our hotel room in no time. I touched the braille to make sure, and the sign said room 323. I said yet more bad words and stomped off to the elevator. The whole time Mill'E-Max protesting that the room was right. I looked at the little braille placard on the outside of the elevator and it said floor 2.... I was confused. Mill'E-Max guided me back to the same room and nudged the door handle with her nose. I looked at the braille again, and it still! said room 323. I then felt a little higher, and noticed that there were raised print numbers. I read them by touch and it said room 215 which was my correct room. So the dog was right and I should have listened to her. If she were human, she'd have never let me live this down!

I talked to the lady at the front desk about this issue, a few days later, and she said "Well just read the print, it's right..." I made a bad face at her and explained, using small words, about braille. Then I explained to another worker just because I wanted to be sure the hotel got the message and I did not trust the first lady to deliver the message.

I enjoyed my time at the hotel. I basically slept for the first day I was there, only waking up to take dogs out, to drink water, and eat a bit. I came home on Labor day, and some friends helped me vacuum the rest of the sheetrock dust and paint flakes.

Now pretty much everything is back to normal and Bristol came home, so we are together once again!
I'm crossing my fingers for a hurricane-free rest of the season.

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