The May 9th Flood

Which always amused me, since it happened on May 8th, 1995.  Now when I look for it on Google, it’s called the May 8th flood, or sometimes the May 8th-9th flood.  Both are kind of true.  In New Orleans, it happened on May 8th.  On May 9th, the storm had moved across Lake Ponchartrain and began flooding the so-called North Shore.  Lacombe got 34.76 inches of rain.  In New Orleans where I lived, near the French Quarter, we got about 18 inches in 5 hours.  After the storm moved over the Lake, it came back and rained some more in New Orleans.

It was the worst flood in New Orleans between Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and Katrina in 2005.  Only this was not a hurricane.  It was not even hurricane season yet.  It was just a freak thunderstorm that wouldn’t go away.  Actually, a frontal system that wouldn’t move and kept producing new thunderstorms.

On May 8th, I was sick, and stayed home from work.  I was awake off and on.  I woke up about 5:30 P.M., probably by the thunder.  The lightning and thunder were almost continuous.  It looked like there was a giant strobe light in the sky.  My dog, who was very scared of storms, was trembling uncontrollably.  (Now would have been the time for dog tranquilizers.  Maybe some people tranquilizers too.)  This is how sick I was:  I went back to sleep.

About 11:30, my cell phone rang.  My friend Lebron who lived six blocks down the street said, Get up and move your car!  I said, Whaa, uh, huh…?  He said Wake up!  Go move your car!  At least onto the sidewalk.  I said, ‘kay.  I’ll look into it.  Yawn.  He said, Phyllis!  (Aka, Fakename.)  Our dogs are swimming in the street!  They had two Lab mixes.  That got my attention.  I went and peeked out the door, and it was too late.  The rear end of my car had been moved out into the street and the interior light was on.  The computer which ran the car, basically, was under the passenger side floorboard.  Under at least a foot of water.  I went back to sleep.

The next morning, there was water in the car up to the bottom of the dashboard.  It was a goner.  My brand-new (well, two year-old) Saturn SC2, teal colored with the moon roof, the leather seating, and the killer stereo system.  Gone.  Poof.   The insurance paid me just enough to put down a down payment on another car.  But I lost about $12,000–all the payments I’d made so far.  Insurance meant that I didn’t have to keep making payments on a dead car.

But I was safe, and so were my friends.  The things that really matter were good.  Six people did die as a result of the flood.  At least 5 of whom drove into flood waters, at least two of them unintentionally.  The sixth was a baby who was possibly thrown intentionally into a canal.

I post this as Hurricane Sandy approaches the mid-Atlantic and Northeast Atlantic shore.  It looks to be less of a wind event and more of a water event.  But I am more scared of water than of wind.

2 responses to “The May 9th Flood

  1. I see this “Sandy thing” as a slow news weekend “need to get the inches or airtime” type of deal rather than something dire, like when Andrew bore straight into S Miami/Kendall/Leisure City/and not least, Homestead. That was a hurricane, your flooding in New Orleans was a 100 year type of event, damage which can easily outdo that of a Cat 1 hurricane. I have to evacuate even for a Cat 1, that’s how low lying I am. Don’t you just love the Gulf region?

  2. I hear you Jeff, the May 8-9 Flood may even have been a 500 year event. At the time, there were only five pumps in the city to pump the water out to Lake Ponchartrain (and two of them failed…they were over 100 years old). Now they have 24 pumps. I think you may be wrong about Sandy, it isn’t the wind, it’s the water.
    The convergence of two other storm systems is worrisome. I hope your NY friends are on high ground.

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