My Hurricane Isaac Experience

Yes, my boyfriend and I survived Hurricane Isaac this past week, thankfully without flooding or other water damage to the house we rent in downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We lost power Wednesday afternoon and didn’t regain power until this morning, but it could have been much worse. We are fortunate enough to have a gas oven and water heater (I’m convinced now I will always want a gas oven in my house!), and so we were cooking up previously-frozen steaks and chicken during the storm! Not bad at all…

Tropical storm Isaac went from being a storm too weak to capture the concerns of hurricane-weathered Louisianans, to a small nuisance, to a growing and slow-moving hurricane that battered homes for days along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, hitting Florida along its move into the Gulf of Mexico. A word many are now using to describe the storm is “relentless”. Although only a Category 1 storm, with maximum sustained winds at ~80mph, Isaac produced substantial storm surges along the Gulf Coast and widespread flooding, characteristic of a slow storm over warm Gulf waters.

Check out an interactive map of Isaac’s path here.

I knew I’d done well to prepare in advance of the storm when grocery store shelves and gas stations were literally wiped clean in Baton Rouge and neighboring towns by Monday mid-morning. We had a full tank of gas, 3 large packs of batteries, frozen meats and nonperishable foods to last several days, 3 battery-operated lanterns, charcoal, raincoats, plenty of dog food and several gallons of water. Our iPad with 3G came VERY much in handy for checking the status of the storm on radar while keeping in touch with family near and far.

While Hurricane Isaac mostly produced only wind damage in Baton Rouge, the storm also brought with it rather devastating amounts of rain and storm surge for the Gulf Coast. Storm surge is the rise of water above normal tide caused by high winds pushing and piling ocean waters onto the shoreline. Isaac produced a greater than 11-foot storm surge at Shell Beach, LA (fifth place of all time for that location) on Wednesday evening. Isaac also produced a greater than 6-foot storm surge along the Mississippi Coast and Lake Pontchartain shoreline on Wednesday night. According to Hal “Hurricane” Needham, Geography and Anthropology graduate student at LSU, the flood patterns observed during Isaac “are representative of a large, slow-moving hurricane or tropical storm, which dumps large amounts of rain. Although the history books may not remember Isaac as destructive as Katrina, for some people the impacts of Isaac were worse.”

The other device I keep powered up was my Canon T3i camera. I posted many pictures before the storm on Facebook and tried to document Isaac’s passage through our corner of Baton Rouge. Check out these pics, spanning Tuesday night to Thursday morning. What a storm!