Monday, August 29, 2005

Sorry for the blogging delay. Mike is a lazy piece of shit and I was out reporting. (Sorry Mike, couldn’t resist.)
When I went out for a drive with a local fire chief around 10:30, it was dead.
The air was still. It was hot and humid. We started cruising smaller neighborhoods, looking for prowlers and telling people to get inside.
We stopped on a bridge in one of the back canals to see a group of shrimp boats out hiding from the storm. Supposedly they usually do very well on the back waters, no matter how bad the storm gets. Only the already dilapidated ones sink, the chief said.
I wanted to, but didn’t ask if there was any other kind of shrimp boat.
While standing on the bridge, a couple of strong gusts came up and the rain started.
Then a call came over the radio about an old man in cardiac arrest.
The house we went to had blue carpets. The old man’s wife had an orange hair wig, a red dress and she scooted around on a motorized wheelchair smoking Capri cigarettes while shaking.
“I knew this was coming,” she said.
When I walked in, I had what could easily be described as a ridiculous outfit on. (See photo.)
I had waders on, shorts, a floral print polo shirt and a rain coat. The small group of cops standing in the living room took one look at me and started giggling and whispering to each other.
I dared not miss an opportunity like that, so I walked up and asked them if they liked my get-up.
“Well, you’ll probably need it later,” one said while sniggering.
The old man was in the bathroom, on the floor, white as the tiles around him.
The EMTs got him on a stretcher and were giving him CPR while scurrying him out the door.
It was a striking image, watching his big belly puff out and jiggle every time they pressed down on his chest.
Orange wig was beside herself. She could barely keep her hands still long enough to move her wheelchair through the house.
They were new to the area and she said she knew no one, no priest, had nowhere to go.
She said he’d had problems in the past and had encouraged her husband to go the hospital.
The chief asked her if she wanted to go the hospital.
She said she didn’t want to be there and find out he was dead and suddenly be all alone, far away from her home.
The chief convinced her to call her daughter, in a far flung western state.
After talking to the daughter, she calmed down some and then she calmed down more later after talking to a doctor at the hospital where her husband was taken. An arrangement was eventually made to have the Red Cross help her a bit and take her to a shelter.
Katrina apparently has caused a lot of things like that to happen already. Perhaps the stress of the storm destroys old hearts.
When we got back outside, the rain had started in earnest.
The chief and I cruised a bit, talking about the Peace Corps, do-gooding, “the white man’s burden,” corruption in the third world, solutions thereto, beekeeping, the South, the orange wig and the storm.
We headed to a Best Western hotel near I-10 where I’d heard earlier that some dolphins from a seaside oceanarium had been deposited to be further inland and safer.
Sure enough, swimming around the hotel’s courtyard swimming pool were three four-foot long Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. They’d thrown some basketballs and ropes and things in the pool for the dolphins to play with. There was also some young, kinda cute employee of the oceanarium standing there in a sweatshirt in the now driving rain, talking to gawking hotel guests.
She said that no one was going to get in the pool with them because they would probably bite them, as they were generally unhappy with their current situation.
She also said she’d been told to stay out there till the last second possible to keep an eye on the mammals who were slowly circling, coming up for air as infrequently as possible. They were sleeping, she said.
I had no idea dolphins keep swimming while they sleep.
We left, cruised a bit.
The chief ran into a cop friend of his who said he’d put his gore-tex fishing gear on under his uniform and realized now that that was a mistake.
“Why, you sweatin’ a lot?” the chief asked.
“Hell no, I gotta pee damnit!” he said with a laugh. “I’m gonna run home and take this fucker off so I can go to the bathroom.”
We cruised so more. The rain was dancing on the road in some parts now. It would swerve and form Japanese sand design-like patterns on some of the flat parts of the road.
The gusts had picked up to.
We decided to check out the beach and ran into an emergency management official with a wind meter. 45 mph sustained winds.
A truck had been abandoned near a pier on a part of the beach that was sure to flood. The chief guessed the guy wanted insurance money.
As we sat there looking at it, a surge came up into the parking lot and smacked my door. I asked him if he would take me back now please.
“You scared?” the chief asked.

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