2012 August 28, Tuesday
Lakefront Airport and Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans, LA
Hurricane Isaac has started to make himself known! By 4pm today, Lakefront Airport was deserted, gates all locked, buildings and airplane hangars shut tight. The two of us from On Wings Of Care here at the airport business Flightline First are the only humans left here, with our faithful dogs and our trusty On Wings Of Care airplane "Bessie" and several other airplanes huddled together inside this huge, sturdy hangar. The airplanes all have heavy-duty trash bags tied around their wheels for the possible intrusion of standing salt water. We'll stay here through the storm, mostly because if we leave, we'll never get back in! The airport is on the "wrong" side of the levee, and what Lake Pontchartrain experiences, we experience here, for the highest point here is only 10' above sea level.
For me, having grown up in a northern winter climate and spent most of the last several decades in the arid west, this adventure into a tropical coastal climate is nothing but wonderful. Brayton hasn't stopped laughing at me yet. Well, except when he gets a little annoyed or worried at my "eight-year-old antics" as I find this adventure of nature no end of exciting. So he handed me my own personal disposable "Saints" poncho and a Flightline First baseball hat, donned his own trashbag and hat, and he said "Okay, little girl, you asked for it, let's go!" And that's how I got to see my first hurricane first hand, or at least the start of it.
My first meeting with the wind came as I tried to open the small exit door of the hangar, around 4:30 pm. It swang open so hard I almost went horizontal with it. And for all I tried, my 115 lbs was not enough to be able to close it. Tony, the last employee who was about to leave for home, closed it for me and walked me around to the door on the other side, the west and "lee" side of the building, where we could get back in. That's when I realized that the 48-kt winds (according to the airport's automatic weather reporting system) could pick me up pretty easily. Okay, so now I was ready for it, and I crouched a little when I was out in the open. Still totally fun to me.
We had to wait for everybody, even the firemen, to go home, before Brayton was willing to drive with me over to the breakwater beyond the airport and north of the marina. I wanted to see what Lake Pontchartrain was doing. At 6pm, the birds seemed to think it was fun, as we did! They were flying backwards in the 40-kt winds, and most of them were gradually resigning themselves to being pushed back to shore. But there were a few to whom I must be related, or at least with whom I may share those genes associated with undying immaturity -- we can't resist the powerful lure of nature when she takes over, and we want to feel it and play in it and even challenge it to wear us down. Until it does. But for that part of the story, see the next videos, taken as we walked out on that breakwater at around 7pm, when in the last few minutes, the winds and spray sent us running -- nay, flying! -- back to the safety of car and the airport!
Here are some still photos, followed by videos in time progression:
Here are the birds enjoying the breeze at 6pm in Lake Pontchartrain:
Here's the lovely secluded breakwater northeast of the airport and north of the marina at around 7pm , where we love to walk our dogs. Still lots of fun and exciting, but the wind in my face was starting to get painful, and I was getting a little airborne!
Toward what would soon be the end of this little adventure, close to 7:30 pm, we're realizing this is starting to get bigger than we are. The spray over the wall was turning to WAVES over the wall. The frolicking turned into a rather more serious run back to the car, as the waves came over the wall and we wondered if we were about to turn into lightning rods!
All videos courtesy of OnWingsOfCare.org, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) dedicated to saving wildlife and habitat, and particularly devoted to the Gulf coast. And more than ever, once again our sincere thanks to Flightline First at Lakefront airport, our second family, our home on the Gulf Coast, and for the duration of this hurricane, literally our home!