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Comin’ home after (another) storm

There’s something truly surreal about driving back to New Orleans after a major storm.

Yes, I admit it: I did leave town. It’s not storms that drive me away, but the aftermath. I am a real grumpy bear when there’s no AC, and no one wants to be around me after only a couple of brutally hot sleepless nights. Been there; done that.

So I flew out on the Monday before Hurricane Isaac, from Jackson, Ms., where I left my car. I camped in with family in Chicago and flew back to Mississippi the following Sunday, having been informed by good friends that my porch light really was on.

Middendorf’s flooding sparks a moment of truth. (Photo courtesy

Driving home along I-55 from Jackson, there was this eerie deja vu feeling as I watched a small convoy of Entergy trucks driving the other way to Mississippi or wherever, and the even smaller convoy of somewhere-or-others’ utility trucks on their way into New Orleans. It was the fact that they were driving in convoy mode that threw me back to Katrina days. That plus the sound of choppers overhead, which really kicked in a sense of dread.

Lucky me; I have wonderful friends and caring neighbors. No problems with the house, which good friends had checked on. And the oodles of dead banana trees and downed tree branches I encountered on my sidewalk had been hauled out of my backyard, courtesy of great neighbors.

Six days of out-of-town weather-watching on CNN, along with WWL, WDSU and websites, had made my heart ache for the good folk of Plaquemines, St. John the Baptist, Tangipahoa and other nearby drowning parishes.

Since I had evacuated to the Midwest, it also confirmed that those good burghers, to say nothing of ill-informed TV types and the rest of the outside world, still don’t know the difference between New Orleans and Grand Isle; they have no clue about geography. They just know we’re somewhere down here at the bottom of the country.

And, yes, I did have to explain to one geographically-challenged bozo in the grocery store line, once more, that no we aren’t going to move away from our homes and abandon the city because it is not above sea level. Did he, I asked sweetly, in fact know of any port city in the world that is above sea level?

But, frankly, I, like so many of us, I would guess, sometimes wonder how many times we can do all this. That moment for me occurred when I drove past Manchac and saw my friends Horst and Karen Pfeifer’s Middendorf Restaurant under water. And then again as I looked down on the water-logged gas station at LaPlace.

But then I had my reality check. Because it was shortly after that when I heard Dimitri, one of my favorite WWOZ radio emcees, declare (with tongue in cheek, I think): “You’re listening to WWOZ Radio from New Orleans, the city that Entergy forgot.”

And I burst out laughing. No rant; no rave. Just dry humor. It’s what we do best.

It’s good to be home.

Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie.



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