Broke Down in NOLA During Cristobal Storm

Today is my 38th birthday. I'm celebrating on the French Quarter in NOLA. Slept in the Convention District where the police give you a nice little wakeup call around 6 am. Found a raised window of a large bank just high enough off the ground to avoid bugs and such. Fit 2 nicely. Slept like I'd walked 9 hours the night before. Because that's true too. We work for DoorDash and live in our car after losing most everything else back in Illinois to corona (although technically the bank is preparing to repo the car). It’s not a long term solution, but 2 things: 1) we’re not in Long Term Land anymore in this currently very messed up world and 2) the traveling part of what we do is an attempt to find a location where this actually will work long term, virus or none. It’s also enjoyable and keeps us positive, which is very important given how sucky it is to live in your car delivering food during a global pandemic. When we arrived in New Orleans, we began delivering DoorDash orders and soon we got a big order for United Way. Turned out it was about 10 lunches going to the needy! We were beside ourselves happy that our trip gave us this beautiful opportunity to help. We went on about how we’re serving a greater purpose, finding our connection to that, and growing into our new roles in this new world. Our kids are back in Illinois though, so we began heading back for a visit. When the battery began dying for good we had just enough juice to get off the interstate and into a Walmart employee parking spot (better to avoid being towed). Didn’t have the money for a battery. Or a hotel. Or a ride. Decided to finally throw in the towel and find a homeless shelter. Took off walking with limited access to Google Maps since we’d lost our phone service and had only been paying for Wi-Fi in the car via Onstar. Walking Old Gentilly Road from the East Side towards the French Quarter at midnight is probably the most post-apocalypic thing a person could do in this day and age. We didn’t die. Didn’t get to the French Quarter either. Turned out the old foot & freight bridge over the Mississippi ain’t foot no more. Met our dead end around 2 am in an underpass plaza best suited for needle drugs. There was a flowery memorial propped up against the crumbling concrete. Hospital breakfast is WAY better in the South! Can’t say the same for 911 operators. Took all night and about 4 calls to convince them to give us any sort of help. To be clear, at this point we were on a long stretch of industrial road with nothing else for miles. Couldn’t send police for a “ridealong”. Couldn’t send ambulance unless someone was hurt. Once the sun started coming up my partner couldn’t take it and began having a mild panic attack. That wasn’t enough for the 911 operator, so I asked “What’s it going to take for us to get someone out here? If my wrists are cut and I’m bleeding out, will you send help?” It didn’t work immediately, but it worked. A new friend we’d met on the road sent $100 for my birthday and the battery. The ER nurse immediately Paypal’d* us $100 after hearing our story. It was enough to get back to the car, eat, and get a battery. Walmart was out of stock. After a long day of trying to find any other way, we discovered that a smaller battery would work, just wouldn’t fit perfectly. Bought. Installed. Started. Discovered the serpentine belt (powers battery, fan, etc) was broken. Drove to nearest shop. Couldn’t get in until next day (today). Used our remaining money to get a ride to the homeless shelter back in the quarter. Where they weren’t accepting anyone, like all the other shelters. Did I mention the tropical storm? Beginning last night, the emergency messages have been rolling in steady: EVACUATE, LIFE THREATENING STORM SURGE IMMINENT. Wanna rip the band aid off sleeping homeless on the streets? Start when there’s a tropical storm around the corner. I woke up alive and dry and felt amazing for it. I’d finish the story but we still don’t know what’s happening next. Will we get our car fixed in time to escape? Will we be able to come up with the cost of repairs? Will we ride an emergency evacuation bus to a convention center where we’ll live until they return people to the city? I think maybe the latter, but I’m holding out hope. *I wrote this to publish on Medium simply to be sure our story got out. Now that we think we might survive all this, we're trying everything to cover the cost of repairs ($280). Every little bit helps. Thank you!

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Organizer

Anna Poston 
Organizer
New Orleans, LA
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