Monday, September 8, 2008

Evacuation: The rest of the story.

Monday Morning
We rose early, checked out of the motel and headed over to Nanan's in Plaucheville. Nanan is my 80 year old great-aunt and my maternal grandfather's only sister. Her given name is Grace, and I really like that.

After we got to Nanan's, my brother's decided to fix us some breakfast. I figured this could take a while, so I took a walk through the town. I headed out of my aunt’s property and down the road, to the cemetery. Now, I realize that for most people, a cemetery isn’t a big attraction. But for an amateur genealogist visiting a town that is over 200 years old, the cemetery is the place to go.

Several generations of my family lived their whole lives in this small town, and are bured in this small cemetery. Achille & Ella Soldani. Edovic & Florida Lemoine. Alcadus Rabalais. Estine & Angela Lemoine. All lived their entire lives in this growing village, just like Nanan.

She was born just down the road, or “Down Choupique” as they say (meaning “down Bayou Choupique”). She was the last child and only girl in her family and she is my maternal grandfather’s sister. She married my grandfather’s best friend, another local boy and left home for the first time on her honeymoon, traveling all the way to Monroe (about 2 hours away). They bought a house in Plaucheville, which is just about five minutes up the Bayou and had 2 children, one boy and one girl. Her husband served in the military and then became Postmaster of Plaucheville, then he came down with kidney disease and died in his 30s. She remained a widow for until her children were grown, then married another local man (who is also a relative of mine) and he moved into the house we are calling home for now, with her. A few years back, Nanan became a widow again, is now a great-grandmother and still rarely goes far from home.

I don’t blame her.

Her house is small but comfortable. It is very quaint and as Plaucheville has grown, she really has everything she needs right within walking distance. When I was growing up, Plaucheville was a few family homes, many fields of corn, sugar cane, soybean and cotton, and pastures for cows. They also had an elementary and secondary school, the church, church school and the post office my Uncle L.V. used to run. Later in my teens, they added Bordelon’s Superette, a small grocery store/gas station. Now, the post office is a tanning salon, Bordelon’s has been joined by Pilgreens across the street, across from that is a beauty parlor which features manicures and pedicures, and they have a branch of Cottonport Bank, a pharmacy, an embroidery shop, and some apartments. It’s almost “town”.

But it is still light-years away from what “town” looks like back home. Everytime I come here, I just breathe easier. I love the quiet and the wide-open feel. I love how simple life seems here. I know it’s not, really. People here still struggle with things like we do in the City, and have family drama, and money problems, and all of that, but the slower pace is just really nice.

So is having a neighbor with a front-loading tractor...but I'll get to that later.

Monday afternoon
It started to rain...and rain...and rain. By 6pm, it was storming pretty heavily and we were without power. At some point during the height of the storm, the neighbor's tree fell and knocked the powerlines down, which also ripped the electrical lines and panel box from Nanan's house. As a safety precaution, we called the police to inform them of the potentially dangerous situation and they came out with a few guys from the VFD to check things out. On their way out, one VFD truck got stuck the the bayou that runs under Nanan's driveway. This provided us with a few hours of entertainment and light courtesy of the headlights from several other emergency response vehicles and a large fire truck. In the end, they left but the truck stayed stuck.

Tuesday Morning
There were more attempts to free the stuck truck, but in the end, it was a neighbor with a front-loading tractor that saved the day. As the neighbor lifted the pretty banged up vehicle from the bayou, my brother Brad sang "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy".

We all laughed. And, I agreed. :)

The rest of our time was spent sitting on the porch, enjoying the cool breeze and coffee from Nanan's old-time drip pot. Oh, and I had a grand old time raking Nanan's yard. I had a grand old time just being there, really...even without the modern conveniences. I enjoyed the quiet, the simplicity, the stillness, the way everyone knows each other, the Superette that opened though they had no power not because they could make some cold hard cash but because their friends and family needed what they had. I can understand why Nanan never chose to live anywhere else.

Wednesday Morning
Day 3 without internet or electricity or phones...and doing quiet nicely, actually. Well, except for the disturbing dream that stuck with me into the morning...and the flooded driveway.

Yep. Though we had the all clear to return home, there was no way out. So we dripped some more coffee and I raked some more leaves and then we sat on the porch and enjoyed the breeze. We were all wondering if we might not be flooded in through the end of the week, until we saw Nanan's son-in-law in his big truck plow through the flood waters. He drove our cars across a neighbor's property which was basically just sloshy mud held together by grass and tree roots. But he got them out without too much damage to the yard and we were on our way home.

To what, we had no idea.

While we were in Plaucheville, we had only a few scattered text messages to connect us to the outside world. No phones. No news. No clue what home looked like, if we had power or running water, and when we might expect to have them again. But home was where we headed...and prayed for the best.

As it turned out, we made it home and all but cable/internet had been restored. I was able to shower and sleep in my own bed...and see the kiddos the next day. In fact, I had the kiddos Thursday-Sunday, and never have I been so glad to negotiate a tantrum or wipe a hiney or sleep on only 6 inches of my queen size bed.

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