Archive for August, 2005


Went to the grocery store today to do a bit of refugee shopping. We’re in Tallahassee FL, where I used to live, and for now still trying to get our arms around all that’s happened since Sunday. Yesterday we ran into a family from Gulfport who was loading up for the trip back home (they hoped) and stocking up as much as they could. I also talked tonight with friends from Waveland, who stated simply that they had nothing to go back to, except maybe to sign some papers. Basically, their physical reminders of a 60-year marriage are gone.

…and, just briefly before I talked to them, I was feeling sorry for myself. Not anymore.

It’s funny the things you see that remind you of how things were just a scant five days ago. When will I be able to buy some New Orleans Amber rum again? Or French Market coffee? When will they start producing Crystal sauce again?
I know it’ll all come back. But dammit — I miss it already.

IknowIknowIknow…..these are very, very small things compared to the larger picture. But we’re in a period in which the small becomes large and the large becomes everything.

I just can’t wait to go back and make it right again.

Coast Guard Rescue Line Info

State OES has learned that trapped victims on the Gulf Coast are calling family, friends, loved-ones, or anyone they can get a call out to in California asking for someone to rescue them. These requests need to go immediately to the US Coast Guard’s Rescue Line at 800-323-7233 and immediate assistance will be sent.

Please distribute this information as widely as possible.

Thank you.
Eric Lamoureux
Chief, Office of Public Information
California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

French Quarter Update

Earlier this afternoon I called CDs Saloon, prompted by a post on’s Vieux Carre forum that indicated that people were there. It was confirmed that all the news sources that said yesterday that the quarter had 6 to 8 feet of flooding were purely false.

Yesterday I saw a CNN video report online that indicated that the reporter was standing in the quarter – on common street – while the water was rising. Usually it’s the tourists that ask where the quarter is while they’re standing in it. So much for responsible journalism. It’s like telling me that my house just collapsed…and then saying “Oh, sorry. Wrong neighborhood.” Jerk.

The only street that is flooded is Conti because of some kind of water valve breakage coming for the Wax Museum.
I didn’t hear abot the degree of flooding.

There is no such thing as orderly looting

Looters arm themselves with stolen weapons, terrorize state police, lay siege to Children’s Hospital, and are reportedly ransacking vehicles in parking garages.

Defillo said looters were also taking guns and ammunition. “We’re very concerned about that,” Defillo said. “We will maintain order. Let me say that. We will stabilize the situation.” … Authorities planned to send more than 70 additional officers and an armed personnel carrier into the city.

Heh. Any guesses on how long it will be before one gang of looters is traveling around in an armored personnel carrier?

When you don’t immediately begin executing looters, they grow bolder. They then have opportunities to arm themselves. Screw that “allowing peaceful looting” bullshit. There is no such thing. Looters endanger lives by draining personnel resources that could otherwise be used to rescue people. Some of those people waiting to be rescued will probably die waiting, because of looters.

Gov. Blanco seems to not have a grasp of what’s going on. On the one hand the National Guard is unable to confront looters because they’re all involved in the rescue efforts:

Gov. Kathleen Blanco appealed to the White House to send more people to help with evacuations and rescues, thereby freeing up National Guardsmen to stop looters.

On the other hand, the National Guard people is available to stop looters, but isn’t acting:

On New Orleans’ Canal Street, dozens of looters ripped open the steel gates on clothing and jewelry stores and grabbed merchandise. In Biloxi, Miss., people picked through casino slot machines for coins and ransacked other businesses. In some cases, the looting was in full view of police and National Guardsmen.

Gov. Blanco has the power to order the National Guard to do more than stand around and try to keep the looting orderly. She can order the National Guard to do what they’re supposed to and begin shooting looters en masse until the looters realize they must leave the city. Nobody will notice the extra dozens, or even hundreds, of bodies floating in the flood waters.

Instead of seeing people flee the city via the Crescent City Connection, moving as fast as possible along the West Bank Expressway and out of the area on Hwy. 90, what you’re going to see is looters descending the Crescent City Connection like a horde of locusts, picking the West Bank clean instead of trying to leave town. The last thing people want is to come home to discover that their home has survived the storm and the floodwaters, only to have fallen victim to lawless hordes that were allowed to pillage and plunder without interference.

I understand that our government officials are under enormous stresses and working in terrible conditions. But, we expect our government to retain order. And when order temporarily vacates the area, we expect our government to restore, even if it means shooting people whose actions endanger the lives and property of others. Grow a spine, Gov. Blanco. Do NOT arrest looters. Order the National Guard to start shooting them on sight.


….to see our nation’s chief executive cutting his vacation short to fly to New Orleans, land in Air Force One and stroll to a waiting helicopter WHILE CARRYING HIS DOG.

…while, on the split screen, we’re seeing literally dozens of stranded folks waving from apartment windows near Napoleon and S. Claiborne, including one family on the roof with a handmade sign that says, “Help Us.”

Put the animal down, my man — you got work to do. Doesn’t he have someone hired to handle this kinda thing? But I won’t get political — we’ll hear what he has to say later in the afternoon.

Mayor Nagin says “hundreds, maybe thousands” are dead. While water flow seems to have stabilized a bit, the flow still hasn’t been cut off. And the chief of Acadian Ambulance goes on CNN to plead for federal troops to deal with the looters and other scum who have turned Hot New Orleans nights into the New Mogadishu.

Help is beginning to flow in. I’m just hoping it’s fast enough.

Positive news….

It’s good to see the National Guard trucks moving and to find out the water levels are pretty much holding stable. It’s pretty much the first postive news we’ve had as a city.

Being refugees has forced us to confront new realities and possibilities, particularly since it might be a while before we’ll actually be able to return to stay. I’m iself-employed in a food business that was just beginning to take off and fly a bit on its own when this storm struck. To wit…

1) when we actually go home, what shape will my production facility be in? Since it’s in Mid-City, I’m assuming it’s already full of water.

2) Even if I can get the equipment operating again someplace else, 75 percent of my business is done in metro New Orleans. Lord knows how long it might be (2006?) before any local clients will be able to start placing orders again.

3) So far, our house seems to be dry. But when we get back in, how long will it be before anything else is around us? The neighbors will return, but how long before any of us can start earning a paycheck again? I mean — earning a paycheck ANYwhere?

Insurance and federal dollars will, of course, be a help. I’ve never taken a dime of public assistance of any kind, but have already started trying to negotiate those hoops with as little confirmed information as I can get to this point. But I’m only one of hundreds of thousands facing the same questions and dilemmas. At least it appears (assuming the water stays where it is) I’ll have four walls to go back to, which is a hell of a lot more than many, many others will be able to say.

It’s both a problem and an opportunity.

Random thoughts as we watch…

1) I can imagine the looters going into Whole Foods and thinking, “what IS this crap?”

2) Shipping the Superdome folks to the Astrodome. From the world’s largest indoor stadium to the world’s smallest. I’m sure Houston is thrilled. I say that city needs thousands more impoverished folks wandering around. But at least they’ll have a/c.

3) Those bus rides over are going to be tremendous, ain’t they? They were cooped up for two days in the dome, now they’ll be cooped up for SIX HOURS in an even SMALLER area.

4) It would be a wonderful story if they finally plug the holes in the levee with thousands of cans of Dutch Boy paint.

Flooding Predictions Overblown

While Mayor Nagin has said in press conferences that St. Charles Avenue would be under 9 feet of water after all is said and done, this is simply not the case. He might be saying that to scare folks into leaving, which is fine, but for all the people who own property in the uptown area it’s simply not true. St. Charles Ave is at sea level, NOT six feet below as Nagin had said. So with waters 3 feet above sea level, there will be 3 feet of water on St. Charles Ave, which seems to be the case in some places. People closer to the river, especially between Magazine and Tchoupitoulas, will face minimal flooding. The same may be true for the Bywater area between St. Claude and the river. That is high ground, it is a natural levee and several feet above sea level.

I live in Mid City and my elevation is about 1.5 feet below sea level, meaning 4-5 feet of water over there, most likely. Bad, yes. But maybe the possessions that I put up on high closet shelves before leaving will still be dry.

(Image courtesy The Washington Post)

This is an elevation map of the city. Basically, Green=good. Yellow=some water. Red=water. The richest green hues on that map, right along the river, are roughly 14 feet above sea level. The corps of engineers has said water levels will top out at 3 feet above sea level and then receed as the lake water level lowers.

Fox News is saying the entire city will be covered in 15 feet of water. That is simply bullshit. Close to the lake that will be the case, but not anywhere else. If you’re uptown, downtown, bywater, warehouse district.. don’t write off your possessions just yet. It’s still going to suck, bad, but don’t listen to the sensationalist reports of 12 feet of water over the entire city.

Update: Just heard from a stalwart who rode it out in his Bywater house, on Dauphine St. between Clouet & Louisa. There is NO water on Dauphine right now. Just read an article saying the water might actually rise higher than the 3 feet above sea level originally predicted, due to the Pearl River cresting.


Folks, please note: we at the New Orleans Metroblog are not emergency rescue personnel, we are not city officials (thank goddess), we are not with the Red Cross–hell, some of us may not even be legally sane. So, as much as we’d all like to respond to your queries about neighborhoods and loved ones, we don’t have the resources. However, does:

Sorry, but that’s the best we can do. Trust me, you’re not the only ones feeling confused or overwhelmed or frightened or anxious or angry or frustrated or…well, basically, anything but happy and content.

Grief management in four easy steps

Shock: Complete change of life in twelve little hours? Yeah, that counts as shock in my book.

Denial: I’ve been studiously avoiding the newscasts today. I’m a firm believer that no news is good news, even if the only reason there’s no news is because I’ve got the TV turned off and I’m not checking email and I can’t get cell reception. Of course, when curiosity finally got the better of me at 7:00 this evening, the headlines were worse than dire: efforts to sandbag the 17th Street Canal have failed, water is rising, and there’s a mandatory evacuation order for the whole city. It’s stupid to even ask, of course, but the superstitious side of me has to wonder: if I hadn’t picked up that remote, would things have turned out differently?

Anger: Tonight on Fox News (why it was on, I don’t know), a bunch of clean-shaven crackers were discussing the whole disaster relief thing for New Orleans, and from the get-go, the tone was one of, “Why should we help these people out when they knew this could happen? Why should we help people who choose to live in dangerous places?” At which point I was screaming at the television (it felt good), “Where in the Jesus H. MacGillicuddy would you rather we live? Florida? More hurricanes. California? Earthquakes, wildfires. Kansas? Tornadoes. New York? Terrorism hot-spot, asshole.” I mean, really, is there anyplace fun to live that’s immune to disaster?

Acceptance: Yeah, right…. We’ll talk in a couple of months.

Today’s bonus event: Shopping at the Lafayette SuperTarget (who knew there was such a thing?), I spotted Frank Trapani, the owner of Frankie & Johnny’s furniture store (the one with the Special Man) in line behind me. I wanted to ask if he’d pose for a photo, but Jonno thought it might be tacky, seeing as how we’re essentially refugees at the moment–kinda like asking Molly Brown for an autograph as she’s watching the Titanic go down. Still, I coudn’t resist taking a pic on the sly with my crappy cameraphone…

I got yo' fifty dollars!

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