Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Blown to Smitherenes

The title of this post describes parts of Carrollton, (my neighborhood), Gentilly, and Westwego, a suburb on the West Bank of our neighbor, Jefferson Parish..

I've always had a belief, founded in nothing but wishful thinking and my naive idealism, that tornadoes were not *allowed* to strike within ... oh.... lets say 15 miles of tall buildings in a city center. Then, on February 2nd of last year, tornadoes ripped through the New Orleans area, taking out (among other places) most of Iris Ave., the location of the Poche´ family home where Renard has been living since Katrina kicked the roof in on his Uptown apartment. His house and cars were badly damaged, as was his aunt's house next door.

It had only been 12 days since the kids and I returned from our forced Virginian exile. I was still in shock at the condition of the city, and this event blew my circuits. But I consoled myself by saying it was a just a fluke.

The night before last, when I heard we would be under a tornado watch, I called Renard to tell him about it. He joked that if what happened last year happened again, I'd be visiting him in some other city thereafter. "Oh, sure," I tell him, thinking, what are the chances of that? Having bouts of severe weather with the occasional accompanying tornado watch isn't uncommon in this area. Having tornadoes actually strike in the metro area is. I felt sure that it would be the usual thunderstorm thing and nothing more.

And then, some time after 3:00AM the night before last, just as in the wee house of February 2, 2006, tornadoes ripped through the area once again. And this time, the tornado cut a swath right through my neighborhood, just a mile as-the-crow-flies from Renard's house. He hasn't decided if this counts as the last straw or not.

This tornado started its reign of terror on the West Bank where it destroyed several homes and businesses before crossing the river near the Army Corps of Engineers facility. This is unnervingly close to the house of my former spouse, where my son was spending the night alone while his dad was out of town. Alex slept through it until he got a text message from a friend a few blocks away whose windows had been blown in. He and his dad's house were oka but I don't think he really understood what happened. He called me in the morning saying the bus to his school was late and there was a lot of tree debris in the street. At that point, I had no idea that a tornado hit the city. Had he not called me, I might have packed Rachel up and headed for her school.

Tornado Damage

The tornado's path from the river took it up through Black Pearl (a Riverbend neighborhood), missing Rachel's school by just a couple of blocks. You don't hear much about what the tornado did to houses in Black Pearl, but I saw some rather impressive damage there when I drove Rachel to school this morning.

From Black Pearl, the tornado crossed St. Charles Ave and dregged it's feet through the Carrollton/University area (or is it just called East Carrollton?) near where Ashley lives. He, his family and their home were fine, but nearby neighbors weren't so fortunate.

Click image to enlarge.
For reference, the blocks in my part of Carrollton are about 300 feet long, according to the G-Map Pedometer.

The tornado ripped through the trees along Carrollton Ave. taking, among other things, part of the front of McNair Elementary with it before it crossed over to my side, (West Carrollton). From there, it continued to grab chunks of roofs and trees on its northward roll along Dublin Street. It crossed Claiborne and dropped its spinning drill bit of wind on the neighborhood of Northwest Carrollton, ripping parts of it to shreds. Karen's house is okay, but her car suffered some damage.

Tornado Damage

I was busy taking care of things that needed to be dealt with here at Mom's and couldn't get to my house right away to see how things were in my neighborhood. I finally made it there in the early afternoon and found no new damage to my house, but lots of debris in my yard. I found specimens from at least 4 different roofs strewn around. A sheet of pink foam insulation from under my house was up in the next-door neighbor's tree. There were pieces of corrugated metal roofing here and there. One of my next-door neighbor's windows had blown out and up the street, about 5 houses away, there was significant roof damage and tree debris. The Saints fan's house featured in a recent post was missing the entire back wall of its second floor. This house is, at a straight-shot, about 800 feet from my house (calculated via G-Map Pedometer), a fact I mention in order to acknowledge how lucky I feel to have been spared. This sucka was close, and not just to me.

Tornado Damage

From Carrollton , the twister moved into Gentilly, where it damaged more homes and took the life of an 86 year old woman who had been living in her FEMA trailer, just days away from her moving back into her repaired home following The Storm.

When I walked through my neighborhood yesterday, I had to really fight the tears. I can't even fathom how the victims of this tornado feel. My heart goes goes out to them all.

Please check out the pictures here (mine).
and these, too

More here.
(Times Picayune narrated slide show. (Some great pictures.)


Blogger Richard said...

I think you are going to have to perform an exorcism, or something, you've got to get the evil spirits out there.

3:04 PM  
Blogger compelled1 said...

I'm relieved to hear that your home and your children are ok.

I live very close to your house, and we spared damage as least physical.

I was scared as hell. My neighbor's shed ended up half on top of my other neighbor's house.

I never knew I had to be in New Orleans to experience a tornado. I had 18 years in tornado alley in Illinois and this was only #2 for Brandy.

BTW, it was great to talk to you. I hope I wasn't too obnoxious. I had been drinking beer all day long...enjoying the FQ.

3:43 PM  
Blogger compelled1 said...

Oh yeah, and i just heard that there was a scuffle by Renard's house.

Everything's fine, right?

3:45 PM  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Perhaps the exorcism you need is getting rid of Bush. I don't know how I connect that, from this end of the globe. But its the best I can come up with :)

Here we suffer from our own idiot of a national leader and drought, a slow death to flora and fauna.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous ashley said...

The people in the Saints "D-Fence" house have a kid. I hope all is well with their health.

Renard ain't goin' nowhere. We can't let him. He'd be bored off his ass in Austin.

6:18 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Richard, you've sure got that right. I don't know what it's going to take, but I think AOF is on to something. Without an exorcism of the evil spirits in Washington, any efforts here would be of marginal usefulness.

Brandy, I thought about you today when I remembered that you'd moved in to the neighborhood. It's amazing that you had to move here from Tornado Alley to experience your second. BTW, it was great talking to you, too. And you were in no way obnoxious on the phone. If you hadn't told me you'd been drinking beer all day, I'd never have known.

AOF, I hope the reign of your National Idiot passes quickly and the drought with him.

Well, Ashley, there was only one fatality and minor injuries, so I think it's safe to assume that the Saints House folks are as okay as anyone who had the back of his house ripped off in the middle of the night can be. Now, as mental health goes following such an ordeal, we can only speculate...

Oh, and there was, in fact, a big deal a block away from Renard's house when a druggie guy tried to run a Jefferson Parish police office over and was shot to death as a result. I don't know if this makes Renard feel better about the drug dealer being gone or worse about the fact that all this happened on his block. He's had *enough* of all this kind of stuff. But I'm not letting him go without a fight.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous ashley said...

Man, if Renard leaves, that would hurt. Bad.

New Zealand, here we come.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Oliver said...

Read an article in the NY Times today, titled "In Setback for New Orleans, Fed-Up Residents Give Up" (

Regarding the couple who have given up and are headed for News hampshire, the article stated, "they have joined hundreds of the city’s best and brightest who, as if finally acknowledging a lover’s destructive impulses, have made the wrenching decision to leave. . ." A lover’s destructive impulses?
So is this what it's come down to? Living in New Orleans is like having a partner who gets a charge out of being tied up, and anally abused while overdosing on amyl nitrate?
To add insult to injury, a couple of neighborhood contractors poops on their stoop. I dunno. Sounds like the same ol' New Orleans to me.

12:32 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

I'm glad your house is OK. You've had it bad enough as it is. And don't you leave the neighborhood, baby, 'cause we think we're buying a house up in there real soon.

4:37 PM  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Yeah, Mr. O., stayin' aint easy. You might say New Orleans is the same as it ever was, only worse. You know. You came, you saw, and it was so bad that you couldn't hang around long enough to visit some of your old homies (like me). Too painful. That's the part that changed.

There are a thousand reasons tio leave New Orleans and only one reason to stay.

Deep, deep love.

That crazy, deep love for this city and its insanely beautiful and unique soul is what drove people like Ray, Ashley and Mark to move back here after the storm and it's why I have no plans of moving anywhere (the appeal of New Zealand notwithstanding) but back into my beloved Cohn St. home as soon as its wounds are healed.

Ray, I can't wait to welcome you to the neighborhood!

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Sophmom said...

Just stoppin' by to say hello. Hope all is well with you and yours.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Hello??? I miss you... I know school has got you busy, but maybe just a peep over here?

7:25 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I really hope that everything is ok and that things are starting to look up!

May you have a great Easter filled with sunshine and moonrays :-)


4:17 AM  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

You still alive over there?

6:47 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Happy Easter??

10:16 AM  

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