Letter Re: Observations on Tropical Storm Isaac

“Fool me once, Fool me twice.” Yes, you would think after Hurricane Katrina that people would have learned their lesson about staying in low lying areas.
However, resilient as most people are,  the one thing that many always do, no matter what is stay. Then being caught in an  impossible situation rely on the government for help.
I am a hurricane veteran. At 59, and having lived 20 miles west of New Orleans all of my life, I have survived Betsy in ’65 right up and through Isaac.

For Hurricane Besty, I was only a child but I remember the broken tiles flying off the roof, the boards cracking and falling off the windows, my mom praying the hallway, and the aftermath of no sewerage, no water, no electricity and the awful heat and humidity of the next week.  If you really want to know what a grid down situation is like, forget the power and try living without running water for a few days. Fast forward to Katrina, we decided to evacuate for that storm. We left early that morning and arrived at our retreat 70 miles north of my home on the south shore of Lake Ponchartain. Unfortunately we left so fast, we forgot the generator and my son brought some extra food and supplies. For Gustaf, we also went to the retreat but this time we were prepared. We now had solar cells and a wind generator, backup generators, stored food and Direct TV for news. Now for Isaac, we decided to stay home on the south shore. My friend and son went to the retreat on the north shore. The reason we decided to stay was two fold. First of all, it was only a tropical storm. Two, I was sick with a terrible sore throat (flu) whatever and was not in the mood to do anything but try to get through the pain.  (it really was awful) As a result of my illness, I was not able to do last minute preps.
First valuable lesson.  Do not get sick before or during a major event. Then ladies, don’t expect you husband to go to the store without a list of what to buy. Cookies and ice cream do not constitute food in a grid down situation. I asked to return with food items like soup. (Just a few cans). Did you know how many types of soup exist? Do you know how many cans of soup can fit into a car? No wonder the stores run out of food.  I can tell you, we won’t need soup for a long time. Second problem. How are we going to heat the soup? No I have an opener, I wasn’t that sick. Well, with no electricity and no sterno heat cans, my husband suggested we could use his propane torch.   OK, think! by the way, I still have the hot plate and magnetic stirrer from my days as a chemistry teacher. Good.  Using the generator we can plug it in and heat.
Next lesson. Why did the gas generator work fine the day before the storm and then when the power goes off and it is dark, the generator has issues?  Ever heard of Murphy”s Law?
After  an hour, finally the generator decided to work. Now we can us the window air conditioning unit to cool the living room.  Well, that was a good idea until the unit did not put out much cool air because it was underpowered.  Great!! maybe we should have checked this out before the storm hit. Not to mention, it barely runs  the unit and  anything else like the microwave.
Okay, it did power the light and the ceiling fans.  What more can you ask for?  All this time and I am still sick, filled with medicine and wishing the storm would just take me away.
A few years ago I purchased the solar generator. You simply put it in the sun and connect it to charge the unit. It reads FULL.  Plug in the microwave and see if it will work. No,
why not? don’t know, it just doesn’t work. 
Part three.  Crazy relatives. His sister called and is in a panic because his dad just got in the car and decided to go back to his house. Now we are in the eye wall of the hurricane, the winds are gusting to 110 mph, and it is raining and has been raining for hours and his 83 year old dad is now driving in the storm. Call 911.  Of course, they will not help because it was a mandatory evacuation and they are not obligated to help. About an hour later he returned home to his sister’s house. Good!  No, he just called and he drove back to his house for a second time because he was bored at the house.  
Lessons learned.  YOU are NEVER READY FOR AN EMERGENCY!!  No matter how many times you have gone through
a situation, there are always problems and you will need to solve them on the spot.  Please do as JWR suggests and practice through all of your preps.
We have been blessed over and over. We never have had any real damage through any of these storms. But we did learn that just because one is a tropical storm and
not a hurricane does not mean you can not be ready. Check your preps! – L.P.  in Louisiana