Here I am in Baton Rouge, Louisiana preparing for another hurricane. Baton Rouge is somewhat inland from the Gulf and that distance attenuates – but does not eliminate -- the ferocity of hurricanes. When Hurricane Gustav struck in 2008, I did a bit of reporting and plan to do the same for Isaac.
The photo above is from 1969 and shows, first hand, the effects of Hurricane Camille on my family and neighbors. The houses on our street were filled with water to a level of four to five feet. As we returned to our flooded and muddied houses, the short term “fix” was to take everything out of the house and into the yard. This scene was repeated over and over along our street and many others. We took buckets of water from the ditch, added disinfectant, and washed out the house. Everything with wet padding was thrown away. Most books, electronics, etc. were thrown away. Actually, much furniture (plywood and veneers) was eventually thrown away as well. We couldn’t bear to throw away pictures and I’m glad because some of them were restored. We were lucky because many people lost everything.
When I tell my Camille story, someone always asks if we gutted the interiors, removed the insulation, rewired, restored the wallboards, etc. before moving back in. Those simple frame houses did not have insulation. We just washed them out.
The picture (after all, this is a photo blog) was taken with a Kodak Instamatic. Not just your basic Instamatic but the latest thing – an X-35. I preferred slide film because the total cost of slides was cheaper than prints. Yet another reminder to use whatever photo equipment you have to record the moment.
Here’s hoping that my Hurricane Isaac reporting will be brief and boring.