We closed the restaurant at about 6 this evening to get the place cleaned up and get a few things out of the house befthe curfew descended at sundown. TBK and I will be sleeping downstairs in the dining room, where we’ve set up a blow-up mattress. The power went out when the first feeder band came across, cutting us off about 7:30. It was actually a good test run, to get the generator set up and the lines run in the semi-dark. We got everything organized and tested just in time for the power to come back on about 45 minutes later. That boosted our spirits, since now we’re back in the a/c and making sure everything is charged (and posting and e-mailing) and watching the TV while it lasts. I’d anticipate complete failure early tomorrow morning, once things start getting heavier. I look for landfall (at the current forward speed) about 10 in the morning or so. I can’t remember seeing the full force of a hurricane arriving in daylight, since the ones I’ve been through have nearly always arrived at night or very early in the morning.
The NOPD is serious about enforcing the curfew, at least until other things start getting in their way. We’ve parked all the cars on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, partly to get them onto higher ground and partly to form a shield against flying debris, possible looters and any other undesirable objects. We were sitting on the tailgate of the pickup just after dark when a police cruiser barked at us to get back inside under curfew — so we adjourned to the dark courtyard.
Oh — the NOPD has highly cool new caps. One of our beat cops said he’d get me one when all this is over. Thanks dude.
We’re actually SMOKING in the dining room, which would be a violation of state law if we were open. Ha fucking ha. I bought new cigars yesterday, so I’ll fire one up in a little while and break out the bourbon. We’re already missing ice — though we froze some in advance that we’re saving for later if we really, really need it.
We have loaded the guns, though we haven’t shucked shells in the chambers yet. We have also posted a sign in the front window, saying WE ARE HERE INSIDE AND HEAVILY ARMED.
The only traffic outside is police, usually going the wrong way on our one-way part of Magazine. We’re also seeing the occasional Guardsmen and it’s good to have them back in force. I was joking with one officer earlier today that what they need to do is park at the top of the Crescent City Connection bridge and keep any Westbankers from walking across the bridge into New Orleans. He shot back, “Yeah. We’re afraid they’ll clean the place up. We’ve got our pride.”
I’ll be doing Q-and-As this evening and early tomorrow morning with BBC-Ireland and with an Australian network (thanks Joe). I was also interviewed today by the Miami Herald and by Warren Levinson of the AP. Ari Shapiro of NPR also ate here (twice!) today. Being the only restaurant open on lower Magazine kinda made us The Place To Be. The ONLY Place to be. It was good to share some “do you know?” time with folks in my former profession and to talk a little of what used to be shop. Some white SUV drove by with a big “TV” plastered on it in black electrical tape. Given the deserted streets, I felt like I was in Beirut or someplace.
Some ningnong TV guy was just on the tube, still wearing his cap and damp rain gear, facing the camera and intoning, “Tonight, New Orleans is a city holding it’s breath…” Puh-leeze. Folks like you are part of the reason why I’m not in that business anymore.
We won’t be open tomorrow and, despite the weather, I’m looking forward to getting an actual Day Off. We all are. We might be hot and we might have wet feet or whatever, but we won’t be cooking. It will be a hassle keeping things cool, rotating two freezers and two fridges ointo and off the generator — so there will be enough to keep us busy inside while keeping track of things outside. We’re also a group made of largely of hurricane first-timers, so there is a lot of fear of the unknown. Stu and Kristen have been through several and I’ve been through quite a few, so we’re trying to be Cool Heads.
Not sure what the conditions will be for posting later tonight and into tomorrow while the bulk of the system moves through.