Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thank you, and an update

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers and concern!

After school yesterday, we had a quick faculty meeting - and all of our teachers had already decided to evacuate. Our assistant principal was going to stay, but changed his mind. He and I (actually, I should say "he" with only a minimal amount of help from me) were able to get the plexiglass covers put back on the historic stained glass windows that grace our church building. I know this was a concern to many of us, and thank you, Chris, for seeing to that on such short notice!

Our family left this (Saturday) afternoon, and arrived about 1 a.m. at the La Quinta Inn in Texarkana, Texas - which is across the street (no kidding!) from Texarkana, Arkansas. This is our third hurricane evacuation, and the first in only one vehicle (as well as the first occupied by three humans and five felines). All of our critters (six, if you count Lion Boy) were extremely well-behaved and cooperative. Having left before the crush of traffic, we were able to make pretty good time (after a few initial snags, anyway). Leo is a very brave boy. He knows something is not right, but has been eager to help, and for the most part, is obedient and patient under difficult circumstances.

And though a lot is at stake, even harried evacuation preparations are not without the uniqueness that is New Orleans. Grace had run into the Winn-Dixie to pick up a few last minute things, and a lady at the store was handing out free samples of vodka. Grace chatted with the lady (who had, ironically, just finished getting her floor repaired from Katrina!), and enjoyed the sample (it was flavored with passion fruit). "I should have had another one," she remarked upon returning to the van, explaining how much she enjoyed the lady's telling of her "story". New Orleanians are generally chatty anyway, and impending evacuation makes us downright clannish with each other. And everybody really does have a "story". We really do root for one another. Total strangers become like family members.

Just before leaving, Grace treated us to her signature crème brûlée. Even with a monster storm bearing down on us, there is simply nothing quite like sitting at the kitchen table savoring the fluffy custard, covered in sugar that has been burnt black with a blowtorch, and served in a traditional white ramekin. I even indulged in a second one. As Andrei Codrescu quipped during Hurricane Katrina "That's New Orleans awright - it may be the end of the world, but that's no reason to become uncivilized." There is something to be said for that!

After learning valuable (and costly) lessons from Katrina, the parish (county) and state governments have been impressive so far - both in coordination and the execution of plans. Gov. Jindal has really stepped up to the plate. People are responding very well. Busses, trains, and even ambulances are evident in force. Looters, beware! After the manditory evacuations kick in, anyone choosing to remain will be confined to his own property. Anyone seen on the streets for any reason will be arrested and confined at the notorious Angola Prison until the government is in a position to press charges. The Tchoupitoulas Street WalMart (which was looted shamelessly after Katrina) is already boarded up and under armed patrol by the Louisiana National Guard. I'm sure the ACLU will be thrilled.

This storm is likely to cause catastrophic damage, especially to the West Bank (where we live, and where our church is) - due to storm surge being swept in from the Barataria Bay. A couple of my neighbors (as well as a couple parishioners) are holing up in our school building - which is a cinder block storm shelter, and is very high on the second floor. Please keep them in your prayers - as well as the few of my neighbors who are choosing to ride out the storm in their homes.

We plan on staying here a couple days - and then see what has happened. If we are able to return home, we will. If not, we will head over to Tulsa to stay with family. I may drop Grace and Leo (and critters) off in Tulsa and return to Gretna to see what I can do to help. My friends Rev. Brad Drew, Rev. Dave Lofthus, Mr. Ramsey Skipper, and I had some experience with this three years ago. If it is the Lord's will, we won't have to repeat those experiences.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, to paraphrase Luther: "We are all refugees." I would encourage all of our Christian brothers and sisters who will be impacted by this storm to pray Psalm 91, especially verse two: "I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.'"

Thanks again for your prayers. The peace of our merciful and risen Lord be with you always.


Mike Green said...

Are cats clean or unclean? If they're clean, you're going to need to pick up two more. If not, you'll need to dump three. Ah, well, with your current number of cats, you do total eight.

God bless and keep you all safe on the road.

Rosko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosko said...

Prayers continue to ascend for you and all in New Orleans, Fr. Beane. I am about to head out to Liturgy this morning, and will certainly say a prayer or two (dozen) and light a candle while remembering New Orleans.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

A family with 5 cats! A family after my own heart!

WHY are some of your neighbors staying? I have real trouble with that. Seems to me they're asking for it. I don't understand at all.

So glad you are out.

My cats (only two who are right here interfering with my fingers as I type, send greetings to your cats.

wrmyers said...

Our prayers continue for you all. On our way home from church in Pensacola today at least 8 of 10 cars on eastbound I-10 bore Louisiana license plates. Kyrie eleison.

Friend of the Predigtamt said...

Still praying for you guys. Am glad that you are all right with your family and "teh kittehs".

PS: You had vodka! The silly pietists of Indiana would never let us purchase booze on Sunday!