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After the Storm: Waiting.

September 3, 2021

Today marked the fifth day since Hurricane Ida made landfall as a Category 4 (almost 5) storm in southern Louisiana.

The experience has altered my concept of time.

First is the waiting for electricity to be restored to my residence. That’s the big wait that is on everyone’s minds. However, when the quieting reality sets in that the big wait is one of weeks, not days (and certainly not hours), then many smaller yet critical waits become a central life focus. For example, I learned that a particular grocery gets an ice delivery in the mornings. I was told 10AM, only to discover the following morning that ice was unexpectedly delivered early and I’d missed it. No bagged ice for my fridge and freezer that day. So, the next morning, I awoke early so that I might arrive at the grocery before 8AM so that I could wait. And that’s what I did. I had planned to wait as long as two hours, but the ice delivery again came early (8:17AM), and I was the first to garner my two-bag-per-household limit.

On Wednesday, I waited for three hours at a gas station that had gas but no power to the pumps. A generator was on its way— with no expected time of arrival. It’s like some post-storm-necessity game of chicken, and I lost that round.

On Thursday, while driving to a post office that seemed to be collecting mail, I found a line of cars waiting for gas, and the line was short— only 30 cars waiting for one of about 16 pumps. It was kismet. (Not unusual to have a wait time of several hours and maybe be told all gas is gone.) Fifteen minutes later, I was filling my tank with the most expensive gas the station sold. (The folks with multiple 10-gallon cans for operating generators had drained the regular and plus grades dry.)

Gasoline and ice are hot commodities post-storm. For these, one must strategically and purposely wait.

There are other waits. The waiting as one treats all nonfunctional traffic lights as four-way stops. The waiting as a two-lane road becomes one lane here and there fir power lines dangling in the street, or for the many utility trucks and workers trying to restore that coveted electricity. The waiting for the local post office to unlock the rarely-locked front door so that patrons might check their boxes. The waiting for hand washed laundry to dry dryerless. The waiting to step back into a world broader than spending hours strategizing and laboring for the basics of daily life.

There is a lot to be said for learning to wait well. Like most of what really matters in practical life, waiting well transcends educational grading schemes.

  1. ANDREA LANCER permalink

    Have you in my thoughts here in Chicago. I hear Wednesday is a possibility for power. Let’s hope.

  2. Mary Ellen Redmond permalink

    Mercedes- keeping you and your family in my prayers.

  3. Christine Langhoff permalink

    Thank you for your thoughtful reflections and insights into post-hurricane daily life.

  4. Pam Hotard permalink

    Before a storm I freeze 2 liter bottles. It keeps the fridge cool when the power goes out.

  5. jacksartspace permalink

    Mercedes, Thank you for writing these posts when you are dealing with the after effects of a climate change hurricane. My thoughts are with you. Jack

  6. Lance Grant permalink

    Hey I was wondering why you are not spotlighting the mess that is Baltimore’s school district?–atf9dMYZqKG11_5SO7vfdk0D1Ef8c2b_0LJX8b0I4TwbUohLE Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

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