Monday, October 1, 2012

Gratitude to My Family For Saving My Home During Hurricane Isaac

On August 29, Hurricane Isaac swept through East Baton Rouge Parish and did a lot of damage. Unlike Hurricane Katrina, which attacked Louisiana like a vicious mugger in 2005, Isaac behaved more like a shop lifter--sneaking along the Gulf Coast and flooding towns where flooding had not been expected. Issac's rain inundated the small town of La Place, for example, a community that rarely floods; and high water closed Interstate 10, something that did not happen in past hurricanes. Even during Katrina, Interstate 10 remained open.

Friends and family members tarping my roof during Hurricane Isaac
Isaac also brought strong winds, strong enough, in fact, to blow part of the roof off my family's house in Baton Rouge. One moment my wife and I were safe and secure in our home, watching the winds blow the palmettos around our house. The next moment, a huge part of our roof was gone, and torrential water flowed into the second floor of our house. Within minutes, the upstairs ceiling and walls were saturated with water. Within a few minutes more, water was flowing downstairs through the walls and ceiling into the first floor of our house.

My wife and I put pots and pans beneath the leaks and mopped up standing water with towels. We quickly realized, however, that our efforts were almost useless. I called our insurance company, and the man who took my call promised to have a roofer at our house by the following day to place a temporary tarp over the hole in our roof.

But we couldn't wait for the insurance company's roofer to arrive. If we didn't get a tarp over the roof within the next couple of hours, a substantial part of our house would be ruined by water damage.

My wife called Charlie, my stepson, and Kevin, my son-in-law, and asked them to help. Both arrived within a few minutes; and Charlie brought Tony, his father-in-law, and Josh, Charlie's brother-in-law. Mitch, a contractor and friend of the family, arrived as well. Charlie drives a large diesel truck, which he uses in his business; and I will never forget the feeling of relief I felt when I heard the throbbing engine of that diesel truck when Charlie pulled into our driveway.

One of these guys brought a large blue plastic tarp. All five scrambled up a ladder and began nailing the tarp down. Meanwhile, Hurricane Isaac lashed them with its wind and rain. Within an hour of so, they had covered the hole in my roof and the water stopped flowing into the interior of our home.

The next day, the insurance company's roofer arrived as promised, and he put a second tarp over the hole in my roof. But it was my family, not the insurance company, that saved my home.

Reflecting on this incident, I thought of Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and the Catholic Worker movement. Peter and Dorothy were pesonalists; they did not believe a Christian should leave it to the government to care for others.  Catholic Workers believe that Christians should assume personal responsibility for people in need and not leave the work to a governmental welfare bureaucracy, which  Dorothy Day described as "Mother State."

Louisiana is hurricane country. Hurricane Katrina devastated the state in 2005, but since then Louisiana has been hit by four more hurricanes: Rita, Ike, Gustav and Isaac. We rely on FEMA, the State of Louisiana, and our insurance companies to help us. But when the roofs fly off our homes and we need help right away, its our families and friends that we turn to for help.