Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thirsty Thursday, and Thoughts on Hurricane Isaac.

So this is just OBVS.  Thirsty Thursday, meet the Hurricane. 

This is based off a pretty standard New Orleans hurricane recipe;  I’ve made just a few modifications to cut calories.  We’ll call this a Hurricane Isaac, since he was a lot lighter than certain people (*cough*Weather Channel*cough*) were hoping for.

2 oz pineapple rum

1 oz Jamaican dark rum
3 oz light orange juice (like Trop 50, or Crystal Light Classic Orange)
3 oz light pineapple juice (Trop 50 Pineapple Mango)
1 tsp grenadine syrup
1 cup crushed ice

Mix ingredients in a blender & enjoy!  Garnish with fresh fruit.  Calories: 230-250 for this 17 oz (with ice) serving (original recipe: 325 kcal)


So now that the hype is starting to die down as Isaac creeps north and wind speeds have ratcheted down to tropical storm force, and I’ve checked in with my local friends to confirm their safety, I have a few things to say.

1. Jim Cantore is a DRAMA QUEEN.  I can remember adoring Jim when I lived in Louisiana.  Unless he was in my town, because it meant we were about to get b*slapped with some nasty weather.  Now, in retrospect, I start to realize that the man is one of the biggest exaggerator’s that station has on payroll.  During the news Tuesday night, he stated that New Orleans sits at 12 feet below sea level, and I did a double take.  Because I sho’ nuff studied an awful lot about elevations in New Orleans, and “twelve” is not a figure I had ever heard before.  But granted, the city IS slowly subsiding and getting lower…  However, when I LEFT Louisiana, the lowest point in New Orleans was about EIGHT feet below sea level, and the fastest subsidence rate was about one inch a year.  So, unless someone’s been digging some big holes… Mr. Cantore, you is a LIAR, or at the very least misinformed.

“Come on, Al, anchor me against this raging wind! Agh!  I lost my hat!  My bald head is exposed to the elements!!! We’re going to DIE!!!”


2. Not all hurricanes are alike.  If you’re not used to hurricanes, then the word “hurricane” just sounds scary.  Sorta like if you’re not used to tornadoes, the word “tornado” is terrifying.  But thankfully, the meteorological community has invented scales by which to classify these scary things.  For hurricanes, we have the Saffir-Simpson scale, which utilizes wind speeds/gusts to itemize storms into seven categories, from Tropical Depression (winds less than 38 miles per hour) to Category Five (winds greater than 157 mph). 

Katrina was a Cat 4 or 5, depending on who you ask.  Fours & Fives are “catastrophic”.  Bad stuff.  People die.  Not funny. 

Isaac was a Cat 1 (possibly a Cat 2, according to Wikipedia, because people like to debate these things). This means winds around 74-95 mph.  Yes.  That’s fast. But if you’re familiar with tornadoes (like I am, since I’ve lived in both Hurricane Alley AND Tornado Alley), you can compare it to an EF (Enhanced Fujita Scale) 1 Tornado, which has winds around 73-117 mph.  If you’ve lived in Tornado Alley, you know that an EF 0 or 1 can happen outside your house & you don’t even know it, because it just seems like crazy-high gusts of winds.  If you have a trampoline, expect to find it in your neighbor’s yard.  Expect a few downed tree limbs and shingles in your yard.  Grab your flashlight & have your phone charged, because downed power lines are also a big possibility.  Expect to be possibly be inconvenienced/without power for 24-48 hours.  It sucks, yes, but you can prepare for it.  Nobody ever died from eating cold Spaghetti-O’s for two days.  And if your workplace has no power?  Free day off from work!!!

If you live in New Orleans (or one of the other low-lying or coastal areas of Louisiana), and your house didn’t get raised after Katrina, you might have to expect a little water in your house.  My cousin Primo, who lives in the Lakeview area of the city, got ankle-deep water in the lower spots of their house, which receded later in the evening.  But he lives on the bottom floor of a house that sits at –6 ft.  He also got water in his house a month ago when they got tons of rain for 4 days straight.  He & his friends/roomates spent the day drinking beer & grilling chicken & happy to have the day off.  My friends in Houma celebrated their “hurricane day” with mimosas. Not exactly the “horror story” The Weather Channel needs for its ratings.

If you’ve never been in a Cat 1 hurricane, it’s like a nasty thunderstorm, except longer.  Scary sounding winds, lots of rain, potential for power loss, high potential for flash flooding, moderate potential for home flooding, depending on where you live.  This is not the type of storm that will break New Orleans levees, although there’s plenty of water that will splash OVER them, and the ground will get saturated and there will be some flooding that way. 


3. Louisiana has other towns besides New Orleans. 

This is what New Orleans looked like yesterday:

(PS—I LOVE that the caption for this picture was “Brave Man Survives Isaac in New Orleans”.)

But the news is showing stuff like this, and referring to it as “just outside New Orleans”:


This is not New Orleans. 

This is Braithwaite, a town of two thousand people, situated 16 miles southeast of New Orleans, in an area outside the federal levee system.  This area has very little natural protection from storm surge, as you can see here:


Yeah…that’s all swamp out there.  Wait…here’s a close up:


Mississippi River on one side, swamp on the other.  Levees holding both back.

People who live in these areas do so knowing that they run a risk.  Maybe they live there because they can’t afford elsewhere.  Maybe it’s close to their work.  Maybe it’s where they grew up.  Maybe it’s because property is dirt cheap (real estate sites show a 3500+ sq ft home on 5.4 acres of land going for $300,000; the same square footage in Metairie will cost you at least $320,000 on a <0.2 acre lot).  Whatever their reason, they make that choice knowing there’s a possibility of flooding.  I’m not saying my heart doesn’t go out to those people who got 10 feet of water in their homes.  But I am saying: look at the math.  Town of 2,000 people, half of them left town, 100 people had to be rescued.  Which means there’s about 900 people who were adequately prepared or had homes built up high enough that they didn’t need to be rescued.


3. I miss Hurricane Days.  An extra day off from work, and I just have to deal with some rain & possibly power loss?  Heck yeah, I’ll take it.  Since I DO have to work today…yes, I’m a little jealous.


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