What's Next? Locust? Killer Bees?
As noted in an earlier post by Hollis P. Wood, my Carrollton home was impacted by the Tornado early Tuesday morning. Here is a brief narrative of the experience:
At around 2am or so before the rains began my six year old son came into our bedroom (as he often does) and wanted me to go lay with him in his bed. I got up and laid in bed with him and as he fell back to sleep the rains began. As warned earlier that evening by the local news, the rains became intense as a front passed the area. As I squirmed out of my son's bed (so he wouldn't realized I left) I decided to go to the computer to look at the radar to see how much longer the rains would continue. I watched in the animated mode for about 15 minutes or so as the heavy cells passed our area and just as the radar image indicated the rain lightened. I was about to turn off the monitor to go back to sleep when I heard this howl in the distance towards the River. The sound became louder and louder and then it was accompanied by a periodic popping sound. These were transformers afixed to utility poles exploding. Finally the sounds got to the point where it was quite apparent they were getting closer to the house--this was about 3am. I was fairly sure it was a tornado and I ran from the front room towards the bedrooms yelling for my wife to get our son and I grabbed our infant daughter from her bed. (In trying to recollect what happened as I wrote this my wife told me she was awake before I called for her because she says there was a brief power surge that caused the clock to reset and she was worried the alarm wouldn't go off the next morning. She looked out of the back bedroom window and saw a weird green sky. I didn't know about the green sky or the power surge.) After my wife and I ran into each other in a panicked state in a darkened room with each of us holding a child trying to get out of our daughter's bedroom with a wall of exterior windows, we managed to get in the one space within our house somewhat away from windows--an area between the kitchen and one of our bathrooms. The tornado passed as we sat on the floor in that space and my wife says she recalls hearing glass amongst the roar as the tornado went past us. I don't remember what I heard. This all happened in the span of less than 30 seconds and outside of our daughter's crying (which I also don't remember) we were all safe. I then went outside to see if any neighbors needed any help and to survey the damage to my and my neighbor's houses.
No one in our immediate area (our block) was hurt and within about 5 or 10 minutes after the tornado past most came out of their homes. The damage to our house was five blown windows--four on the the one side of the house and two panels in the window on the backside of the house in our bedroom. Both windows in the first room blew inwards placing glass throughout the room (the room I was in minutes before on the computer). I found an inch-long razor-sharp shard of glass impaled into one of the walls in that room a day later when cleaning up. The window in my daughter's room and two in our bedroom blew out towards the outside with all of the glass falling outside of the house. I am told this was due to the pressure differential. Shingles (including one in my daughter's bed) and leaves and twigs found their way into the affected bedrooms. My movable gate in my backyard got blown from the track and wound up flipped over in the driveway. Apparently the chain (part of the motorized apparatus of the gate) kept it from blowing away or blowing into our cars. The roof sustained shingle damage that will necessitate a new roof. And finally one of our 50+ year old crepe myrtles on the side of our house fell into my neighbor's adjacent yard. It grazed the back corner of their house but didn't do too much damage. I think we both got lucky on that one. Their house had a 50 foot tree fall on it during KTMB--it took them eight months for that damage to be repaired to for them to get back home.
Just like Katrina we got out of this fairly well--to which I am gratefully thankful. What's amazing is that in one block in both directions from my porch there is no evidence of any tornado. The destruction was contained to a very narrow swath--which we unfortunately lived along. On my block on the opposite street a recently renovated two-story mammoth of a duplex fell off of its foundations. The top floor is occupied by the structure's owner. The bottom unit: a middle-aged couple from Lakeview who of course lost their house in the flood. The double whammy. Two blocks away another recently-moved in middle aged couple had the roof ripped off of their house. I don't really know them but have waived at them many times when walking or driving by over the past months. They didn't realize a tornado was coming but thought the sound was hail. The sheetrock of the ceiling fell atop them as they laid in their second story bed. When they managed to get the sheetrock off of themselves, above them was open sky--the roof was gone . . .
This was obviously a traumatic experience, but I don't know if I am shell-shocked or desensitized or what but it still doesn't seem like it happened. Seems like a dream. My son's response as we huddled in the hallway as the tornado shot down Short Street was "Well, now I have something to write about in my journal at school." We have discussed what happened and I think so far he's handling it well and hasn't had any 'Nam-like flashbacks yet.
My block of street and the few blocks of Carrollton Avenue nearest me resembles the appearance of Fall 2005 with tree debris and metal and roofing tiles everywhere. The difference this time is that going one block or two blocks over within Carrollton and Uptown the ruin goes away. Gentilly, Lakeview, New Orleans East, the Lower Ninth Ward, and St. Bernard 19 months post-KTMB don't have that luxury.
Up next: locust. Or killer bees (The bees could be led to the Superdome . . . .)
Will post neighborhood pictures soon. Stay tuned . . .