…from a Gambit writer who went into labor that weekend:
All day Saturday, people were getting ready to evacuate. Everyone you saw in the street would say, “Are you leaving?” Among our friends, it was 50-50 between people staying, people going. We were debating because I was so enormously pregnant 38 weeks along, big as a house and four centimeters dilated, which meant I could go on to labor at any moment.
Last year, I had evacuated for Hurricane Ivan. We spent 14 hours on the road, and then we got two drops of rain in New Orleans. I knew I couldn’t do that this time. For one thing, you really don’t own your bladder at that point in pregnancy. And if I had gone into labor, I probably would been forced to give birth in a car.
At about 10 p.m., when Merv got home from his gig, my contractions were getting pretty close. So he borrowed a car and drove like a speed demon to Touro me in the back seat, on all fours and in a lot of pain. When we arrived to the hospital, they discovered Hector was lying sideways, so they had to turn him about 90 degrees before he could come out. I could have never given birth to him in a car. It turned out we probably did the right thing by staying.
I started to push at midnight. Hector wasn’t born until 4:14 in the morning. He was a cute, mellow little dude and we called some people to say that we were staying and then I fell asleep. About eight hours after I gave birth, the hospital was put on lock down, which meant no one could leave and no one could enter. So after that, I really didn’t think again about evacuating.
About 6 a.m. on Monday morning, we were awakened by the head nurse. The hurricane came through it sounded like a train and she was telling everyone to move in the hallways. Originally, they had thought we would be okay in our rooms because the glass was rated for 200 mph winds. But after a few windows broke in the upper stories, someone decided all the patients would sit out the hurricane in the hallways.
* * *
Merv went to a nearby grocery store with some other new dads from the floor. The guys came back carrying these big bags of groceries and I said, “Oh my God, you were able to get to a grocery store? There was one open?” They were like, “Kinda.” They said everyone was grabbing stuff black, white, even cops. It didn’t matter.
While Merv was at the store, he heard that the A & P owner over on 19th Street had opened his doors and said, “Take whatever you want, just don’t wreck the store.” It seemed like it was one of those things everyone was doing in order to recover. People were just taking what they needed. Although, to be honest, I think the liquor went first in most of the stores. The liquor and the cigarettes.
From my window I saw these police loading up on boxes of Cheese-Its, and cases of Powerade and barbequing. Apparently, there were a couple of purse snatchings and muggings on the first floor of the hospital, so they had called in the cops.