Facing off with Mother Nature: Hurricanes in one southern American state threaten an entire people.Byline: Suzanne DeRouen
U.S. resident Suzanne DeRouen rides out Hurricane Gustav The name Gustav has been used for four tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean.
I am an editor with The Kurdish Globe, a fact in which I take great pride; but I am also a resident of Louisiana, one of the poorest states in America. You might have heard of Louisiana in 2005 when it was thrust onto the world stage after Hurricane Katrina Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled due to vandalism. , a storm that killed nearly 2,000 people in my state. Unfortunately, Louisiana is often ground zero during hurricane season Hurricane season refers to a period in a year when hurricanes usually form. For more information see: Tropical cyclone#Times of formation.
For a lists of past seasons, see:
Severe atmospheric disturbance in tropical oceans. Tropical cyclones have very low atmospheric pressures in the calm, clear centre (the eye) of a circular structure of rain, cloud, and very high winds. that produces fierce, damaging winds, torrential rains, high ocean waves, and massive storm surges storm surge: see under storm. that push walls of water inland, causing unimaginable death and destruction.
But you as Kurds understand more than any other ethnicity the importance of your homeland. You know that no matter the devastating dev·as·tate
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.
2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark. blows cast against you, you will leave your land and you must fight to rebuild every time you are knocked down. While Louisiana residents donAEt know war like you do, and we sure could learn a lot from you, we do know what itAEs like to be the underdog. We do know what itAEs like to be a minority who refuses to give in to the forces of nature that chew up more and more of our land and spit it out into the sea. We are the Cajuns, and we exist mainly in southern Louisiana. Cajuns are the mainly French settlers of south Louisiana who retain a French dialect dialect, variety of a language used by a group of speakers within a particular speech community. Every individual speaks a variety of his language, termed an idiolect. . The U.S. government only recognized us as an ethnic minority in 1980, but we are afforded no special privileges. In the 20th century, schools punished or beat Cajun students who dared to speak their native French language, and they were forced to speak English. We have our own food, music, language, traditions, and beliefs, and we, like Kurds, have prevailed in preserving our lifestyles and heritage because we will not be denied.
But the Louisiana coastline is disappearing at an alarming rateuapproximately 40 square miles A square mil is a unit of area, equal to the area of a square with sides of length one mil. A mil is one thousandth of an international inch. This unit of area is usually used in specifying the area of the cross section of a wire or cable. per year now for decades. In fact, by the year 2040, the Louisiana shoreline will have advanced inland 33 miles, and the homes and settlements of the Cajuns will effectively disappear into the ocean.
Just last week, Hurricane Gustav wrought havoc on my home state once again. This time, Gustav pounded the Louisiana coast for hours with winds that reached up to 111 miles an hour. Days before that storm hit, we had two choices where we live. We could either evacuate e·vac·u·ate
1. To empty or remove the contents of.
2. To excrete or discharge waste matter, especially of the bowels. along with the other 1.9 million people evacuating the state (a historic amount), and spend hours upon hours stuck on interstates, or we could board up every window in our house, stock supplies of water, gas, food, radios, batteries, puppy food, tools, flashlights, and hope, and brace ourselves inside until the storm passed the next day. Driving north to evacuate was not an option. The roads were clogged and there was no place to stay as all shelters were full. Neither was driving east or west, since we didnAEt know where Gustav might head once he paved pave
tr.v. paved, pav·ing, paves
1. To cover with a pavement.
2. To cover uniformly, as if with pavement.
3. To be or compose the pavement of. his deadly path inland. We opted for the second choice. I raced to the police station to pick up as many sandbags sandbags
small sacks containing sand used to support an anesthetized animal in dorsal recumbency and prevent it from rolling sideways during anesthesia or surgery. as possible to place in front of the doors to the house in hopes of keeping the driving sheets of rain from coming in. I closed all but one of the storm shudders to the house and locked them from the inside. I collected all the basic necessities of life that would last us for up to one week once the hurricane hit. We had canned goods, granola bars, and some bread and jam to eat, and water to drink. I stored all the outside furniture inside and tightened the gates and closed the garage door sheltering the cars.
As I checked the house from the outside one last time, the wind started to pick up, the skies grew dark, and I could smell the air change. It smelled like warm Gulf of Mexico Noun 1. Gulf of Mexico - an arm of the Atlantic to the south of the United States and to the east of Mexico
Golfo de Mexico
Atlantic, Atlantic Ocean - the 2nd largest ocean; separates North and South America on the west from Europe and Africa on the east water. I knew that smell, since IAEd been through several hurricanes in my life. But it made me anxious. Not scared, but anxious and uneasy, like I knew what was coming but there was nothing I could do to stop it and I couldnAEt run from it. It was too late, and Gustav would probably catch me wherever I went, I thought. Hurricanes are notorious for making a turn in any direction at the last minute, and if you arenAEt in a safe place when hurricanes make landfall land·fall
1. The act or an instance of sighting or reaching land after a voyage or flight.
2. The land sighted or reached after a voyage or flight. , youAEll never get there. And once you evacuate, depending on the severity of the storm, you most likely will have very little home left standing when you return.
With the family pets safely tucked inside the house, we closed the last storm shudder, locked it, and then locked the door, all from the inside. At this point, we would be stuck inside for a long time. Hurricanes donAEt last just a couple of hours; they last all day and all night, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter! We still had electricity at this point, so we still had cool air on one of the hottest August days in Louisiana. But it wouldnAEt last for long. News reports told us that Gustav had made landfall in Morgan City, Louisiana Morgan City (previously known as Brashear) is a city in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, United States.   The population was 12,703 at the 2000 census.
Morgan City is home to the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival. , my birthplace birth·place
The place where someone is born or where something originates.
the place where someone was born or where something originated
Noun 1. . And while that is over 100 miles away from where we live now, we were still being slapped by hard winds. The shudders started to beat against the brick walls from the outside just a little. I was sick to my stomach because I knew people were either dying at that point not far from us or were going to die or even we might die. At the very least, I knew that my state of Louisiana was about to get whipped again by forces it could not control.
Then the lights went out. The downstairs of the house was pitch dark. Transformers (electrical lines) started blowing up throughout the city, causing loud, thud-like explosions. ItAEs a sickening sound. I had a bag around my shoulders with a flashlight and a knife that I hoped would help me solve any issues, and then I began to hear noises outside that I couldnAEt figure out. It was my duty to ensure, from the inside of the house, that the entire house stayed sealed up. I ran upstairs, downstairs Upstairs, Downstairs was a BAFTA and Emmy award-winning British drama set in a large townhouse in Edwardian London that depicted the lives of the servants "downstairs" and their masters "upstairs". It ran on ITV for five series from 1971 to 1975. , side to side, checking windows. We were being pelted by the elements from the northeast, which is the harshest side of a hurricane to be on. Sure enough, the force of the rain pushed it through two windows upstairs. I stuffed towel after towel and sheets in the windows, to no avail. I finally found "Finally Found" was the debut single from the Honeyz. This was their most successful single in the UK and worldwide, securing a number 4 position in the UK singles chart and achieved platinum status in Australia  Tracklisting
# Title Length
some plastic and duct tape duct tape
A usually silver adhesive tape made of cloth mesh coated with a waterproof material, originally designed for sealing heating and air-conditioning ducts.
Noun 1. and just taped off the windows all together, even though the damage had already been done.
As I am only human, I couldnAEt stand not knowing what was going on outside. The sheer force, sound, magic, and strength of the hurricane wind made me want to look it straight in the eye, even though I knew it could blind me with projectiles. Still, I was captivated cap·ti·vate
tr.v. cap·ti·vat·ed, cap·ti·vat·ing, cap·ti·vates
1. To attract and hold by charm, beauty, or excellence. See Synonyms at charm.
2. Archaic To capture. . I had to know what it looked like outside, so I peaked out the back door that led to a partially enclosed en·close also in·close
tr.v. en·closed, en·clos·ing, en·clos·es
1. To surround on all sides; close in.
2. To fence in so as to prevent common use: enclosed the pasture. garage. Here, the wind couldnAEt hit me directly if I stayed pushed up against the brick wall. But even with that brick wall to protect me, Gustav scared the daylights out of me. What I saw were trees that once stood upright blowing sideways. I saw that anything that wasnAEt bolted down was in the air and gone. I saw a car across the street inch forward slowly, with no one behind the wheel. And when another really strong gust came up, I ran into the house, afraid I would get carried away and slammed into the neighborAEs house.
I told my mom what it was like outside, and talked her into stepping out into the garage with me, although I probably shouldnAEt have. She pushed herself up against the brick wall when she saw the brutality of the wind. To expose ourselves at all would mean injury. WouldnAEt anyone want to see what winds in excess of 100 miles per hour can do, I asked myself. We went back into the house and sat silent in the dark as the wind and rains pounded the house. After awhile a·while
For a short time.
Usage Note: Awhile, an adverb, is never preceded by a preposition such as for, but the two-word form a while may be preceded by a preposition. , I didnAEt know what time it was or almost what day it was. Hurricanes play strange tricks on your mind when youAEre in the middle of them. When it became eerily ee·rie or ee·ry
adj. ee·ri·er, ee·ri·est
a. Inspiring inexplicable fear, dread, or uneasiness; strange and frightening.
b. Suggestive of the supernatural; mysterious. See Synonyms at weird. quiet and still outside, I went out to assess the damage. Neighbors slowly came out of their boarded-up homes to see if their roofs were still attached. Our beautiful, tall, healthy tree had split down the middle and fallen, damaging our home and blocking our cars. One of our gates was partially torn off its hinges Hinges may refer to:
As the ants and mosquitoes and snakes took to the streets, we waited for the U.S. Army National Guard, the Red Cross, and help from other states of the union to make their way to our city. Hurricane Gustav left over 1 million people without power. Millions lost their homes and jobs. Levees holding back mighty rivers barely held. Louisiana congressional elections were delayed and dozens of schools and businesses were closed until further notice.
But we ARENAET LEAVING! This is OUR land! Cajuns, like Kurds, are a proud people. Hurricanes have been trying to run us out of this southern state forever, but we hold strong. We keep rebuilding. We build higher to escape the devastating waves. We build stronger to withstand the righteous right·eous
1. Morally upright; without guilt or sin: a righteous parishioner.
2. In accordance with virtue or morality: a righteous judgment.
3. winds. We face down hurricanes when we have to, and we run away from them when we can, even if often times we return to find no community standing.
Having worked with my Kurdish friends at the Globe for two years now, I have learned not to complain about minor things that inconvenience me, because they have seen far worse than me. I have immense empathy for Kurds and perhaps know more about their plight and history than I do my own countryAEs history. But what I can share with you is that, in the face of devastation and unequivocal loss from forces that you cannot control, the reaction is the same: We all fight back. Six months out of every year, we fight back against a force of nature that will one day leave us with no land at all. Where we will go then, we donAEt know.
As I write this, another hurricane, Ike, is brewing in the warm Gulf of Mexico waters, just waiting to touch U.S. soil and kill again, just as it has already killed and destroyed in Cuba and Haiti and Turks & Caicos. And so, I will prepare my house again. But like the Kurds in Kurdistan, we Cajuns will never leave this land called south Louisianauno matter how many times we have to rebuild, year after year, time after timeuuntil the land disappears from beneath our soggy feet.
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