One Kansas resident found herself in the middle of Hurricane Isaac.
Marilyn Ligon, who lives in El Dorado, takes turns caring for her mother, Corinne Clark, who is 101 years old and lives in Louisiana. She and her sister Rita Girard alternate staying with their mother. It was Ligon’s turn to be in Louisiana when Isaac hit. She had been there since April and will be returning home in a week or two.
“In the meantime, this hurricane came through,” Ligon said. “We fared better than average.”
They were without power for about 30 hours, using generators from her daughter, Katie Breaux, who also lives in Louisiana.
“The biggest problem was no lights, not much communication except an unreliable radio and no air conditioning or refrigerator,” Ligon said, adding they have a gas stove they could light to cook on.
The only other effects of Isaac they felt was some flooding.
But this wasn’t Ligon’s first hurricane, having grown up in Hammond, La., which is about 25 to 30 miles from where her mother lives now, until she moved to El Dorado in 1961.
Clark now lives about 25 miles east of Baton Rouge, four miles south of Interstate 12. Clark grew up in a town called French Settlement from the time she was 7 years old and was in the first graduating class in French Settlement.
“Growing up, I don’t really remember as much hype about the hurricanes then,” Ligon said of when she was younger, “but there wasn’t the communication then as there is now.”
She said now they get news 24 hours a day on the television and the hurricane is all a person hears about on channel after channel.
“There have been so many bad ones in the last few years and they are so publicized, I think people are so much more tuned in to them,” she said.
One hurricane Ligon was in that was worse than Isaac was Hurricane Gustav about five years ago.
“This area suffered a lot worse damage from Gustav than this Hurricane Isaac,” she said.
There was a lot of flooding damage in southern Louisiana because of the amount of rain and how slow moving the storm was.
“A lot of the areas were flooded from back water, areas that typically don’t get flooded,” Ligon said. “Still a lot of people are not in their homes or everything they had was ruined or gone. We were very lucky. We had minimal inconvenience compared to many other people.”
Page 2 of 3 - Ligon’s daughter, Breaux, also only saw minimal flooding.
Breaux has ben through Katrina, Gustav and Isaac since she has moved to Louisiana in 1986.
“Isaac by far was the worst as far as wind and rain goes,” she said. “Gustav probably caused more physical damage. We had stronger winds and more tornadoes that came with it.”
One thing they can do, unlike with tornadoes in Kansas, is prepare well in advance of a hurricane.
Ligon said they made sure they had batteries and flashlights. In addition, her mother still has a couple of old-fashioned oil lamps they used. They also stocked up on water ahead of time and made sure they had enough gasoline.
Several people remained without power late this week.
Breaux also did not have any damage from the hurricane, although their back yard did flood, which is typical with heavy rains.
She said crews will probably be cleaning up trees and debris for two to three more weeks.
“This storm was kind of boring,” she said. “It is boring to sit in the house waiting for a storm to come and go. If you lose power there is absolutely nothing to do. Fortunately, we didn’t lose power, which is unusual. We expected to lose power.”
One thing different in Louisiana than Kansas is that they don’t have any wind down there unless they are getting ready to have a storm.
“It is totally opposite of being in Kansas,” she said. “Kansas wind never stops unless it is right before a storm.”
One other unique thing is that people in Louisiana will take hurricanes and turn them into food fests.
“They take everything they have in their freezer and start cooking so they don’t lose the food,” Breaux said. “They pull out the charcoal grill and grill every day.”
Ligon said she has been asked why a hurricane is so much worse than a tornado.
“Tornadoes come through in a hurry, tear up what they are going to and then are gone,” she said. “A hurricane is very widespread and very unpredictable in which direction they are going to go, but weather forecasters track them for days so it gives people time to prepare in case it does go your way.”
She also said there is an enormous amount of rain with anywhere from 10 to 30 inches in a relatively short period of time.
“This wasn’t even classified as a hurricane for very long because the winds didn’t get very high, but this one didn’t move very fast,” Ligon said
Page 3 of 3 - Because of that the ground gets saturated and trees are easier to uproot and break.
“It just turns into a lot of turmoil for a lot of people,” Ligon said.
One thing about this storm was due to the drought in the middle part of the country, the Mississippi River was lower than it has been in years and years to the point the Gulf was having saltwater back up the river for many miles. That backflow caused flooding in areas that don’t usually get that much of a backflow. Last week the flood gates were closed in areas to keep the salt water from coming up in the fresh water, which would kill fish and vegetation and contaminate the water supply.
“Every case is a little bit different,” Ligon said.