Friday, August 29, 2008

Three Years

It's been three long years since Hurricane Katrina came ashore, killing nearly 1600 people in Louisiana (nearly 240 people in Mississippi), and throwing the lives of hundreds of thousands into chaos. Nearly 1 million people from Louisiana evacuated their homes--some voluntarily and some not. Some of those folks returned home to broken fences and yards littered with tree limbs. Many returned to homes filled with water, dirt, and mold. Many returned to nothing.


Things have gotten back to normal in some neighborhoods. In other places, people are still pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Today, the bootstrap-pullers and those who've gotten back to normal have been whipped into an anxious frenzy as they fear a potential hit from Hurricane Gustav.

This morning, I was thankful to hear that my parents, sister, and brother-in-law got hold of a room in North Texas. In addition to that, a very good friend of mine was kind enough to help me connect my family with her mom, should they need anything. Thanks, Amy!

If you have friends or family in any of the states that could possibly be affected by Gustav, please do what you can to offer them a place to stay, or connect them with someone else who may be able to help them, and by all means, find out where your loved ones are planning to go. Make sure they remember to get plenty of fuel, water, and food to make the trip out of harm's way.

Good luck to all for a safe passage away from the storm, and for the safe return... to their intact homes.

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7 red beans:

Omar said...

Hey Gal,

I was in New Orleans and LaFourche Parish last weekend, having gone down for a wedding. Got home Tuesday, and two days later heard that my Louisiana friends will have to leave their homes again, this time to avoid Gustav.

Most people I know in San Diego didn't grow up in a community that connected the families in it, so it's hard to explain here why evacuating, dispersing those families, causes so much damage to individual spirits.

Evacuation is not an adventure; there's only a slight sense of relief once the storm passes; and on arriving back home, the refugees are left to find each other, all the while sifting through the debris of their own lives.

Thoughtless people ask: "Why do they stay? why don't they move somewhere safer and more predictable?" Of course, the easy answer is that no place is safe or predictable, but more importantly, no other place than home, is home.

Though I love southern Louisiana and the city of New Orleans, I'm from Virginia, and though I've been in San Diego for over 12 years, I'm still "living away", and I miss the day each year when I noticed the trees starting to turn, and I know what real tomatoes tastes like. I enjoy San Diego, my work, my friends here, the proximity to Mexico and it's pleasures, but it's not home, and never will be. I long for Virginia, and I didn't HAVE to leave. Imagine how hard it is for those who never wanted to go in the first place.

I know this is a food blog, and I promise to write something about food one day, but for the moment, all I can think of is Gustav, bearing down on Bayou LaFourche and Terrebonne Parish. Pray for those who leave and for those who return.

Best regards,
Omar

Gumbeaux Gal said...

Hi Omar,
Glad to hear that you didn't get stuck in La. during this crazy time. I'm hoping that your friends make a safe exit and that they'll be okay.

My sis is in Terrebonne, so she had to leave. My grandma is in a nursing care facility in Lafourche, and she was relocated to North La. this morning. As for my parents, they are from St. James parish and have evacuated voluntarily.

I know exactly what you mean about those close-knit communities. There are so many pockets of close friends and families, with their specific cultures, that it would be difficult to relocate to a town that is just 15 miles away, let alone to another state. People have strong attachments to the land, the food, the other people, and the way of life. That's why people stay.

Like you with Virginia, I left Louisiana by choice, but I feel the pull to return every day. I first left because of the work I do, and did not return after meeting my husband. I feel for those who were relocated during Katrina and just couldn't make it back or had nothing to return to. :(

No worries about your comments. This blog is about food, my South Louisiana upbringing, Cajun traditions, and Southern stuff in general. As far as I'm concerned, it all fits in.

Thanks Omar!

Charles Cadenhead said...

Gumbeaux Gal,
I'm in the North Texas area and while I can't offer a room, if your family needs anything please feel free to let me know.

-Charles

Omar said...

Hey Gal,

I'm glad to know your family is taken care of. Now if the cell system will just hold on through the storm, we can talk to everyone after the storm passes...

Regarding food, I was sucked in by Anthony Bourdain's recent positive comments about Emeril Lagasse's restaurants, and so, while we were down New Orleans last week, took my wife to Delmonico (Garden District) for the worst series of sauces you can imagine. Thin, unimaginative and insipid, these dressings for shrimp, white beans, potatoes and steak were a waste and an obstacle: when's the last time you paid dearly to wipe sauces off of your food? Oh, and the potatoes in my Bleu Cheese Potatoes Gratin were cold and crunchy.

On the other hand, we had great piles of outstanding fried seafood at Jack Dempsey's (Bywater), and at the wedding reception at Smilie's (Harahan), where we ate some killer crab balls and a decent gumbo.

Later in the weekend, I had a chance to eat at Besh Steakhouse in Harrah's Casino (CBD). I enjoyed a wonderfully aged and well-prepared New York strip, topped with marrow butter and set beside a marrow bone, potatoes Dauphinois and some nice asparagus. I had the kitchen add a side of crabmeat Bernaise, just because I could, along with a sampler of soups that included Duck and Jacobs Andouille gumbo and Sweet Corn and Crab bisque.

While I was eating, Chef John came in and spent a few minutes chatting; I suggested he open a place in San Diego, pointing out that except for Donovan's, while we have several high-priced steakhouses, we don't really have any good ones. Fans of Rainwater's, Morton's and Ruth's Chris are welcome to disagree with me, but you'll lose the argument; snooty waiters and prime beef aside, a great steakhouse needs something that San Diego lacks: class. Besh can bring that here.

Best of all, though, I brought home 4 dozen boiled crabs - jumbos - really full and flavorful. These were purchased at Fisherman's Cove (Kenner), a bar and seafood store a couple of exits before the airport. I simply called up, asked them to pack the crabs for travel, then stopped and picked up the shellfish (and a great oyster poboy) on my way out of town.

My wife was already home and was happy to pick me up. All that cheerful greeting cost me was 34.99 the dozen.

Looks like my next trip to LA will be after the hurricane hits, to help clean up, or in November, when I'll head to Shell Beach (St. Bernard Parish) for a little fishing. Either way, I hope there's something left of the place when I get there.

Best regards,

Omar said...

Hey Gal,

Gustav made landfall at Cocodrie about 8 a.m. I swapped texts with a friend in Lockport who said they've got tiles off the roof and trees down, and they're getting ready for the eye wall to pass just to their west. Then comes the surge.

Thankfully, parish law enforcement report over 85% of residents evacuated by yesterday, so except for local officials and a few knuckleheads, the area is deserted.

Hope your family is doing well. You can follow events at:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov
http://www.wwltv.com

Best,
Omar

Gumbeaux Gal said...

Hey Omar,
I am thinking good thoughts for your friends in Lockport.

As can probably be expected, I have been up ALL night/morning watching and waiting. I really hated hearing that landfall was in Cocodrie, as my sis is in Houma. I wish I knew the condition of her house and whether or not there was any flooding.

My family is doing well except, of course being very worried about my sister's house. They actually left North Tx, since Gustav is predicted to hover there for a while. THey're en route to Arkadelphia now.

Thanks for the update--I really appreciate your stopping by.

Let's hope for a lower than expected surge.

Gumbeaux

Anonymous said...

Hiya Gumbogal (and Omar too) -

You can add me to the list of people hoping for a low storm surge from Gustav (and the next one on the way!) - hope your evacuated friends & families are still doing ok too.

Like three years ago, I'm donating to the Red Cross to help those hurt/displaced by the big storm...and I encourage anyone else so disposed to do the same.

And I can tell you that this San Diegan knows all about evacuating a home - just three mos. after I finally became a homeowner, the Cedar Fire chased me from my house. It may be different in many ways from a hurricane, but leaving/packing up your stuff & not knowing what awaits you on your return is still the same.

But hey, like you said this is (mostly) a food blog - I'm thinking a trip to Bud's might be in order today as well.

m2

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