My two primary tasks became putting a tarp on the roof to prevent further damage, and emptying the freezer to prevent a serious biohazard. I also spoke with my mother by phone and got instructions on what clothing, papers and photos she wanted brought back to Missouri.
FEMA and a number of other organizations were supplying reinforced blue plastic tarpaulins along with wooden slats and roofing nails for providing temporary roof repairs. These "Blue Roofs" began springing up all over town as people began slowly returning to the area to assess damage. I took a drive downtown to survey the damage to my parents' church (First Baptist Church) and was surprised to find the building was largely undamaged and serving as a distribution point for blue tarps which were the same type as the FEMA tarps but branded with the name of a Christian organization. My rental car was not large enough for the wooden slats, but I was able to get a couple of rolls of tarp and some roofing tacks and head for home. (For FBC, the initial relief turned to sadness as they ended up being diagnosed with a mold problem a few weeks later).
The freezer and refrigerator proved to be one of the more unpleasant jobs in a season that was filled with unpleasant jobs. The refrigerator hadn't been cleaned in perhaps 15 years and would have been a nightmare even in normal circumstances. Having sat for a week and a half with no power, the contents were quite aromatic. I got some heavy garbage bags from the garage and a pair of rubber gloves from the sink and started pitching. Nine fetid bags and two hours later, the job was done.
With the invaluable assistance of a next-door neighbor, Charlie LeBlanc, I was able to get the Blue Roof on later that afternoon. Without the wooden slats and in the hands of two amateurs, the job was not as attractive or secure as might be desired, but it ended up holding for most of the next two months.
I elected to sleep in the undamaged back bedroom that night. Much like much of the rest of the house, in recent years it had become more storeroom than bedroom. Lacking electricity or water and in 85 degree temperatures, it was a fitful night. Because the screens were not completely secure and allowed mosquitoes in, I was unable to open the windows. But I wasn't there to sleep and the evening and the morning were the first day.
I was surrounded staring bovines during the entirety of my travels. Maybe those Hindus are on to something.
Next: Leaving Lake Charles
It's not who votes that counts. It's who counts the votes. (Josef Stalin)