Thursday, September 6, 2012

Take My Breath Away: Life After Hurricane

It’s been over a week since Hurricane Isaac (Cat 1) hit New Orleans, and how is it going? 

Power in the city is still spotty and the whole city smells like hot, wet garbage.

Garbage! Rotting, spoiled food garbage.

Sour milk! Curdled Ranch dressing! Graying meat!

You know…the kind of garbage that people collect from their powerless refrigerators after hurricanes.

I have no idea why the garbage company(ies) didn’t predict this amount of volume and/or can’t arrange garbage pickup every day until it’s all removed.

I mean, a friend said he almost threw up during his morning jog because the trash smell has permeated the streets, and “breathing just through your mouth while running is harder than you think.”

I had that smell stuck in my nose for all of Tuesday. There was nothing I could do to escape it, even when I was indoors, and then I became paranoid that it was me.

“Do I smell like garbage?” I asked a friend Tuesday night at a bar. "DO I??? Quick, smell my skin.”

He did, and said it smelled like shampoo.

I DON’T SMELL SHAMPOO!!! I SMELL HOT GARBAGE!” I wailed.

Then I turned my head to the right and swore that my shoulder was the culprit.

“SMELL MY SHOULDER!” I insisted. “Maybe it’s my shoulder!!!”

“Maybe it’s your upper lip,” he offered.

This is the thing you don’t hear about living post-hurricane on the news: daily inconveniences.

It’s easy to show the downed trees and the busted ceilings and water in homes of low-lying areas. It’s much harder to capture a smell on screen.

And that’s just one of the daily inconveniences people are left to deal with following Hurricane Isaac.

We also have to deal with our mediocre power supply company, Entergy, which not only managed to take a week to restore power to the city, but is now having a hard time keeping the power on despite the fact that it’s sunny and 2,000 degrees out.

An entire grid in the busy downtown area RE-lost power this week and busy intersections don’t have working stoplights. It takes me 40 minutes to drive the six miles to work.

Of course there was no interruption of Entergy sending out alerts to customers’ emails saying that their electric bills were due.

No, seriously.

Getting back to normal life has been like the storm itself, hovering over the city annoyingly longer than expected.

I still have to switch lanes when driving to avoid fallen trees that have settled onto the street and have not been removed.

I have to treat broken stoplights like a four-way stop, and GUESS HOW MANY DRIVERS KNOW HOW TO USE A FOUR-WAY STOP CORRECTLY??

Two.

AND THE CITY SMELLS LIKE HOT GARBAGE.

But maybe that’s just me.

Excuse me while I go put on extra deodorant.

-Jenny

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