Four overnight power outages in two weeks. One morning without water. A day and a half without cable television and high-speed Internet service. Periodic whiffs of natural gas around the neighborhood.
We used to joke that life in New Orleans was like living in the Third World, a reference to our corrupt and greed-driven political system.
It's not a joke anymore.
It's bad enough to have to drive 15 minutes in the middle of an urban area to find an open grocery store. It's bad enough to get mail delivered once or twice a week, if you're lucky. It's bad enough to eat dinner by 8 p.m. because most restaurants close by 9 p.m. It's bad enough to encounter shoulder-high piles of debris practically everywhere you go. It's bad enough not knowing when, or if, the garbage truck will pass.
But the utility problems take the frustration of living in a disaster zone to an entirely different level. Each time some service goes out, it feels like a sharp kick in the gut. Remember we're nearly three months past Hurricane Katrina's disasterous romp through the city.
Granted, the services haven't stayed off for very long. The power always comes back on within a few hours after sunrise, when it's safe for utility workers to venture into the still black dead zones of the city to flip breakers that sporadically trip along the limited number of feeder lines connecting repopulated neighborhoods to functioning substations. The water was back on within a few hours of going dry. And with any luck, I'll have the International History Channel glowing from from my living room screen tonight.
Still, if I had wanted to live in Baghdad I would have enlisted in the Army.
Pic: Me and Nero standing between a pair of abandoned, storm-damaged warehouses a block and a half from the house.