Tuesday, September 27

The view from downtown

It’s 6 a.m. Tuesday morning in downtown Lake Charles. I’m writing this from inside a car parked at my apartment complex at Ryan and Pujo streets.

I’ve been up for two hours. The post-Rita downtown is not built for sleep.

Dozens of generators are humming in a parking lot across the street near the Calcasieu courthouse. Four industrial-strength flood lights are pointed at my window. Entergy trucks and ambulances pass by intermittently, lights flashing. Military transport trucks also rumble down the road.

At least the helicopters stopped for the night.

But the noise isn’t the worst part. As anyone who has been in Lake Charles the past few days knows, there is an ever-present and oppressive heat from which there is no escape. My apartment is on the second floor, and turns into something not unlike a sauna during the day. After sunset the inside temperature drops below 90. The evening breeze went dead last night.

A cool front would be nice.

From my car, which for now is serving primarily as a generator to charge my phone and laptop, I can see lights on three floors of the Chase office building on Lakeshore Drive. Across the street is a collapsed brick wall lining the base of the old hotel that has been converted into office space. Before I returned to Lake Charles to work, I saw images of the damaged building on national news networks like CNN and on the Web site of the New York Times. It’s more dramatic in person.

In every other direction is only absolute darkness. The traffic light at Ryan and Kirby streets, lit softly by the floodlights, serves as the gate into a lifeless pitch-black nothingness. The cars pass through the gate and disappear into the hot, humid night.

Jeremy Harper
Staff Writer


Anonymous said...

when / where can people get gas in Lake Charles?

American Press said...

Sam's Club.

Anonymous said...

thanks. just to be sure, is it the sam's club on broad st?