Henry is officially a New Orleanian, since he has now evacuated for his first hurricane (this one called Gustav). Here at our destination 50 miles north of the city, in a calm break between early bands of the storm, the rest of us are considering whether there is any special advantage to having to repeat this. Maybe. Maybe not. The near misses and smaller storms of years long past were humbling but Katrina in 2005 changed us at far deeper level: it was a precious reminder of the beauty and resilience of our children and how each smile is a gift, each hug returned is a soft treasure, and each tiny hurdle overcome is a magical triumph. Everything else was just stuff. Who cared if the house got whacked? We could rebuild. We know a lot of families felt this way to varying degrees; it helped.
A second big hurricane within three years can make one remember one's stuff more wistfully. We can only hope our hard-fought home will still be intact when we return. Generally New Orleans comes through okay in storms that land west of Morgan City, LA, as it appears this one may. Large storms pushing a lot of water and spitting wind gusts in the form of tornadoes are finicky, however.
We are staying with good friends at their comfortable home in a mid-size town safely inland above the Northshore area of Lake Pontchartrain. They have a daughter who was also adopted in China, Dorothy's age. The girls are a bit apprehensive about the weather of course, but busily determined to squeeze some fun from this event. Luckily, Henry in just the last few days seems to be have been in a lot less pain from his surgery. He is a bit fussy from sudden travel but generally his happy self. His new palate is healing well; his lip area less so but our surgical team thinks it looks ready to try a third lip closure, which we were in the midst of scheduling. Both hospitals with which our surgeons are associated in New Orleans are today veritable fortresses, so for Henry the storm is likely to be just another short medical delay.
We're hoping for the best and are reasonably optimistic about our own circumstances. It's still a few hours before dawn when the worst of this hurricane should begin to reach the coast and a lot of people who left behind homes in Louisiana's rural coastal parishes below New Orleans are facing much worse odds, unprotected now by wetlands fast disappearing. You know them. They're the people who drill much of our domestic oil and gas just off shore, grow our sugar from cane, and catch our oysters, crabs, and shrimp.