We're checking out of the Days Inn this morning in Lafayette, La., which, I can confidently say, has THE loudest ice machine in the western world. Especially if you're in room 231.
It's easy now to tell when you're in an environment of hurricane victims (like a hotel). The front desk has stacks of flyers. Some give advice on "how to find housing online." Others are clearly intended for children: "Do You Wonder WHY?" one reads, featuring a picture of a sad boy and images of a hurricane. Inside, the reader is invited to turn to God. A sticker on the back has the address of a nearby church.
Lafayette escaped largely unscathed by Rita. Much of the city never even lost electricity. (We know because we rode out the storm here, in a parking garage.) The city's saving grace? Hurricane Lily. It was the last major storm to hit nearby, and it stripped many of the city's trees. This time, there was little left to be broken by the wind -- little debris to knock down power lines.
The city feels back on track: Ray's Appliance Center has a sign that says, "Happy Holidays!" It reminds me of a much different sign at the Holiday Inn in Port Arthur, Texas, on Monday: "We're one day closer to being normal."