Saturday, December 02, 2006

1 Down, 99 To Go

Did anybody else notice hurricane season ended? As of midnight, November 30th.

I missed the celebration at Finn’s (though I’m typing this there), but I did mark the occasion with a humble flip of the calendar page. Actually, to tell you truth, I breathed a quiet, private sigh of relief as soon as September was over. See, everything bad happens in September, at least for me – relationships end, jobs fall apart, disasters strike. I know Katrina and the Flood happened at the end of August, but that’s close enough for me. While I’m sure my belief in the inherent horribleness of the month in between August and October is just coincidence, superstition, and self-fulfilling prophecy, it is true that no major hurricane has ever hit New Orleans after September.

So I wiped the sweat off my inner brow once October rolled into town, and I imagine a lot of other people did too, though nobody talked about it because, I suspect, we didn’t want to jinx it. Now that hurricane season is officially over, though, I think it’s time to mention what happened to the Big Easy this hurricane season, namely…

Nothing. Nada. Zip, zilch, zero. Not a hurricane landfall, not a tropical storm. Not a single evacuation when we had been told to expect six or seven. Not even a scare, those times when we start watching the weather with one eye as we go about our business, not evacuating but tracking a storm in the Gulf. Nothing happened.

I think it’s important to point this out because I’m tired of people (and you know the kind of people I mean) acting like we’re crazy or foolish or both for wanting to live in New Orleans because – as these people never tire of pointing out – “It will happen again!”

First off, not necessarily. The real damage to New Orleans – as I never tire of pointing out – was from the man-made flood, not the storm itself. If we take care of the wetlands and build better levees (both entirely possible), then if or when another Katrina comes, the Flood won’t happen again.

More importantly, as this last hurricane season did a little teeny bit to demonstrate, the odds of another Katrina and subsequent Flood coming any time soon are, well, nothing you would want to bet real money on.

My home is 80 years old and never flooded or suffered significant hurricane damage; I know because they have to tell you that kind of thing when you buy a house. Not only that, but Katrina is classified as a hundred-year storm. If we go another 80 or 100 years, not only will I not be living in my house anymore, I’ll be dead. We all will be. So I’m not sweating it.

Remember the movie version of “The World According to Garp,” when the plane crashed into a house and Garp bought it because what were the chances of that ever happening again? Just call me D. S. Garp. (That’d be Dale Steven, though the S. could stand for Smart or Sad or even Sexy if you want.) What looks crazy to everyone else seems imminently sensible to me.

Could I be wrong? Sure, it’s within the realm of possibility. But if anyone wants to put money on it, I’ll take the bet.


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to point out that Jackson Barracks has been a military encampment since 1815 and the battle of New Orleans. The structure was finished in 1835. In all those years it has NEVER flooded. Betsy did not even do it. This time round it took on 3-4' of water.

This was at least a 190 year flood by that measure.

Sophmom said...

I love the concept of being "pre-disastered". That, along with the "Undertoad" became part of our family's vernacular. Garp was so wonderful. What a great way of looking at it. It's good to see you post, Dale. You're on that fall semester home stretch, darlin'. I hope you have a great month! :)

Patient #001 said...

Scientific American ran an excellent diagnosis of the problem with the levees in New Orleans back in 2003 or so. I remember calling Dale in a panic: "Evacuate NOW!" How wrong I was. New Orleans is exactly the right place to be.

Dale said...

Hey all, thanks for reading/commenting. I'm trying to post more often - plans for Xmas break: update blog, submit stuff for publication, and (please oh please, Santa!) move in to my house.