For Immediate Release —
New Literary / Creative Nonfiction — ISBN - 1451591314 — EAN - 139781451591316

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Big Easy Levee Blues
by Linda Yasnyi

From
Colorado's Zenith Woman, published Nov. 2005 and written on a Blackberry.

Francophile friends around the world e-mail, plead with us to get out of
New Orleans and Katrina's way. Little do we know, the storm's aftermath will
send us on an odyssey (that isn't over yet).

We survive Hurricane Katrina in our second floor apartment; even though roof slates cover the lawn and our ceiling is wet and leaky. Our neighborhood is as filthy as the day after Mardi Gras, only instead of beads and beer cans, Katrina left behind fallen electrical lines and giant Oak trees snapped like toothpicks. St. Charles Avenue isn't flooded, so we figure that our electricity will be restored soonest.

With false sense of security, we pluck a bottle of Veuve Clicquot from the dead fridge and survey life from our balcony.

Tuesday, we drag trees that block our driveway, dump standing water and for fun, we sit in my air-conditioned Acura Legend and listen to radio news of breached levees.

That night, fate has us flip on the battery TV exactly when Mayor C. Ray Nagin says, "Uptown, where it is dry, will get nine-feet of water!"

In 10 minutes, with the clothes on our backs and pillows off the bed, in pitch darkness, we inch down the long staircase, outside, into the only way out: a full tank of gas in my husband's faulty Chevy Blazer.

Over the Mississippi River and 90 miles to Baton Rouge, we stop at a Marriott and call local cousins, but they have no electricity! Worn and torn, there are no hotel rooms to be had outside of Texas or Arkansas. We secure a confirmed reservation at a Houston Marriott and hit the road - again.

At 5AM Wednesday, finally at Marriott's front desk, my fear becomes reality: They are sold out. "But," the desk clerk says, "there was a no-show."

By 6AM, we settle into the
miracle of electricity and a nice bed.
Recharging our cell phones (and minds), we attend to business of life left behind: cancelling our New York anniversary weekend; credit cards, insurance, trying to find our lost friends and family.

A Houston friend finds us and makes us her mission: after four hotel nights, we move into the home of vacationers whom we did not even know. Their neighbors give us house keys and loads of groceries.

Meantime, via e-mail,
francophile hospitality pours in from eight states and France. (Years ago, lovers of "all things French" formed a unique Internet community.)

Spontaneous exile moves us from Houston to Edmond, Oklahoma, where again we enjoy the kindness of strangers.

Onward to wonderful Denver; Merv Tano and Jeanne Rubin are planning the Second Annual Indigenous Film and Arts Festival, yet, they open their hearts and home to us. Here, we wait and wait for the all-clear sign from a place known as The City that Care Forgot. We call it home.
This concludes the "Cliff Notes" version of our first five weeks in exile, aka, The Katrina Odyssey.

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