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Katrina Nor Ida No Threat For Damncats

By David Howell

People say there is no place like home and I guess that was evident last weekend when my parents decided to ride out Hurricane Ida. Home for them is New Orleans and has been for more than a quarter century – if you count the time Dad spent bouncing back and forth from the Batesville newspaper office to their Laurel Street residence located just a couple of blocks from the mighty Mississippi.

The location is good, in New Orleans the closer you live to the river, the higher the elevation. Their confidence to shelter in place probably stemmed from minimal damage incurred at their house during Katrina. There was no flooding in their area, and they were back home within a few months after that catastrophe.

But that was bad. Mom, a lifelong animal lover, inherited a few (or more) neighborhood cats after being among the first residents back in the city in 2005. At this point in the story I must add that Dad wrote about Batesville “damncats” and New Orleans “damncats” for most of his career. They were always a fixture, good entertainment material for his columns.

It is questionable if the current Laurel Street crew are Katrina leftovers (damncats are damn near immortal) or descendants. But the cats and an elderly neighbor my parents help see after were contributing factors in their decision to brave the storm. I might add that decision was against the better judgment of all three of us siblings who tried to protest.

We got videos of trees swirling in the wind as Ida slammed the city for hours during the afternoon on Sunday. Texts followed until several hours after nightfall when cell service went down. We weren’t overly concerned, by that time they were confident the worst was almost over. The initial damage report was already in, somehow the brick wall on the front porch of the house was blown over, and the wind-fueled rain must have pushed a fair amount of water inside their home.

My sister, the youngest and most persistent of us received what she called a “two second” update Monday morning. Dad borrowed a neighbor’s phone that still had service and checked in. Before bedtime Tuesday, she was able to have a can-you-hear-me-now conversation with Mom.

She learned the city water was still flowing, their generator was powering the fridge and a fan and they have enough food to  have time to hopefully figure out what to do next.

The next report came early Tuesday morning as Dad was able to send a group text to a dozen or so who had inquired. The updated damage assessment included a few missing shingles from the roof that was replaced after Katrina. There were no missing cats, he added.

Meanwhile we pondered the situation from afar in a group text that included the three of us and Uncle Rupert, Dad’s brother and lifelong newspaper partner. Thankfully Rupert was first to offer his house should they decide to head north in the coming days. I never did get an answer from him on his accommodations for those damncats.

It was no surprise that they survived the storm and a few will probably insist on joining a reprieve from the city. They are probably already waiting on top of the car.

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