Saturday, May 21, 2011

Living With the Mighty Mississippi

The Mississippi River is at it's highest levels here in Baton Rouge since 1973 or 1927. In 1927, one million homes were flooded. Both dates are mentioned and I'm not sure which is accurate at this point in time. I became obsessed with watching the coverage especially last Saturday as the decision was made to open the Morganza Spillway and flood rural areas making the flood danger lower here in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I read a couple of articles about living close to a river of the magnitude of the Mississippi. Mark Twain was quoted. The gist is that the Mississippi River is a force to be reckoned with and men can only do so much to contain it or try to harness it.

I finally bought flood insurance although we do not live in the flood zone. Each hurricane season since Katrina and especially Gustav, I have thought, I need to do this, just in case. Back in 1927, the river came up as far as Highland Road which is less than a mile from here, but you never know. There could be another tropical storm that just pours over us for days which has happened before. You cannot fight mother nature as seen in Missouri, Alabama, Japan, Indonesia, Haiti and the list goes on and on.

We went to see the water downtown last night. I have never been to the levee and seen police tape. (That is the top of USS Kidd in the background) No one is allowed on the levee. The water IS at historic levels. You can also see the orange tube structure, the Tiger boom, that was added to increase the height of the levee.

After Gustav, I don't take the force of Mother Nature for granted anymore. Katrina could have done it but I was not affected in an up close and personal way. With Gustav I was. One hundred mile an hour winds and subsequent destruction in our area, I was left with no power, trees down in the yard, 2 young children, no generator, no ice, 90+ degree temperatures, an elderly mother in law and a husband planted at the hospital, Gustav did me in. I can still see the parking lot of Walmart in my mind, when we went to find ice. It was unreal and resembled a third world country but everyone was in a car. People needed gas, food and ice. We had no idea how long it would take for them to reestablish electrical power, so the girls and my mother in law headed to my sister in law's in Atlanta. I had never driven that far by myself but I wanted to get out of town. I say by myself because the three other passengers could not drive and have no sense of direction so I was on my own in that sense.

So, I now believe in the force of mother nature. I watched the house in an adjoining neighborhood slowly rebuild after Gustav and it took them at least 2 years. It was a weekly reminder and I still think of Gustav as I pass it. I had to feel it up close and personal to REALLY believe. My lovely house that I fill with our belongings and decorate and get just right, can be gone in an instant or a matter of minutes. And hopefully, I would be left with what matters most, my family and God that I can rely on to get me through.

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