The Gray Line Tour

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 19, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / March 19, 2000

The rain finally hit this week. It’s not enough to help my lawn, but it’ll do. Ididn’t want to cut the grass this weekend anyway.

Too much rain hurts too many people, as low as this portion of Louisiana is and with the apparent problems local government sometimes has remembering that water seeks its own level – usually on top of the road by about a foot or more.

We’ve all experienced floods in the area. In St. Charles Parish, the 1989 and1995 floods were historic in perspective and when a hurricane is joined by flood waters, the result is catastrophic.

In that 1995 flood, I was gratified to find my own house rests atop a ridge in my neighborhood. The water crept up the street, across my lawn and withintwo inches of my front door. It did seep into my garage but hurt nothingwithin, as I had everything back and up there.

I now have a few wheelbarrow loads of sandbags stockpiled in my garage, just in case. Should we be threatened again, I’ll add to that stockpile and do mybest to safeguard my house.

My biggest fear is one of those worst-case hurricanes to slide right up the river or across the Jefferson Parish West Bank to slam directly into my house. I know it’ll either flatten it or wash it away into a mound of rubble,books and wet comics.

My plans, though, are made. First to be protected will be my wife. After that,the cats. After that, whatever valuables we don’t already have in the safe-deposit box.

In that evacuation for Hurricane Georges, my wife and I high-tailed it for Baton Rouge, with our two vehicles, our one cat (at that time) and a few small items.

My wife sent me on ahead to find out if there was any damage at the house and to give her the go-ahead when I found out. Fortunately, there was nodamage but others were not quite as lucky.

It’s astonishing, though, how many people still persist in not being sensibly afraid of hurricanes and floods here. Some people have a fatalistic attitudeof – “Oh, well, if it happens, it happens, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.”Certainly that’s true, but there are many things one can do to safeguard your life and property. One thing is to listen when they tell you to leave.Another is to keep all insurance papers and other valuable papers in a safe- deposit box. Yet another is to care for your pets properly and don’t leavethem to the whims of chance.

But then again, the people who don’t take proper precautions for hurricanes and floods are likely enough the same people who regularly take their lives in their own hands with complete disregard for anyone else.

These are the people who make left turns through red lights. These arethose who, when bad weather hits, drive without lights and drive faster.

I once had a person tell me they speed up in fog, so they won’t get hit by the driver behind them. Can someone explain that one to me?I thought not.

LEONARD GRAY is a reporter for L’Observateur.

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