Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Media Schmedia

The media typically loves to focus on death and destruction. Anything that shows the plight of others is usually news worthy. Why is the media only focusing on a small portion of New Orleans? I’ve heard from some people look at name. They had a terrible disaster, didn’t complain and kept on going. The San Francisco earthquake is one I hear referenced a lot. On one side, I couldn’t agree more. On the other, explain to me what disaster affected this many and to this extent. There are currently 270,000 homes that are uninhabitable in New Orleans. How many homes were damaged to the point of being uninhabitable 3 months after the disaster in ? I don’t know of any that anyone living today can say they witnessed something like this.

As of 12/14/2005, NOPD and Orleans Criminal Sheriff buildings do not have power. Entergy, the power company, is a privately held company. If you go to New Orleans on a Sunday, you will see Entergy crews everywhere. Again, how many disasters in US history saw critical city infrastructure down for 3 months? This is not a city official or corruption issue. This is the media under reporting how widespread the damage truly is. FYI – NOPD is working out of the Royal Sonesta hotel on Bourbon Street and Orleans Criminal Sheriff has full time generator power. It isn’t anarchy, I'm just pointing out that there is way more going on here than city or state officials.

Data and phone lines are still at less than 60% up. People are buying cellular wireless cards to get internet access because they can not get their cable or phone lines up in a reasonable time.

The above data is only New Orleans. I have a DVD of some footage taken in Plaquemines Parish a week or so after the storm. These people are driving where there was 40 feet of water. There is nothing standing. Nothing. These aren’t the rooftops you see flooded in the same helicopter footage you were seeing over and over. These are home that are splintered. These are businesses that are no more. Much different to see this from the angle of a car driving by than a helicopter. Where is the media on this area.

Washington Parish – this is a small rural parish north of New Orleans. Bogalusa is the Parish seat. They eye wall passed just east of this heavily pine wooded parish. They keep cutting and cutting and cutting the pine trees that snapped. There are still areas that have no power. Bogalusa would be bankrupt had not a private citizen donated the money to keep the city afloat. Who is reporting on that human interest story?

Cudos to HDNet for having a story on HD News on Pecan Island. They focused on the fishing, primarily shrimping industry. They showed shrimpers going out and catching barely adequate hauls. When they started interviewing the owners of the boats most of which are old families and the owners of the businesses that support the fishing industry, they started asking how much insurance paid for the rebuilding. They were shocked to find out that the shrimpers had simply helped each other get their boats off the levees and docks without any help. Businesses were quoted as “we haven’t seen an insurance or FEMA person. If we waited for them we would be out of business.” When asked how they did it, they replied “we all did it ourselves”. Too bad HD News has a tiny viewer ship since you need an HD set and DirecTV to get it. That is the old gulf coast way. You don’t cry, you rebuild and move on. I guess that doesn’t make good news.

BTW, there is extensive damage in Mississippi and Texas. I see little coverage on this any more.

If It Keeps on Raining the Levee is Going to Break

There seems to be much debate over what to do with the levee system and the coastal erosion. I can not emphasize this enough. Before you pass judgment on Louisiana and the Levee system, you must educate yourself of the history of the Mississippi River, the debate that goes back to the early 1800’s of the ways to contain the Mississippi River, the rivers role in the economics of the entire US and the fact that as early as floods in 1912 people knew the levee system caused flooding levels not previously seen. This is not simply a New Orleans issues and all the problems are not solely corrupt Louisiana politics. Granted, politics as usual have not helped the situation but they are far from the only source of blame. This is partly a nature problem and partly a man made problem.

The coastal problem is an interesting one. We can argue man made and global warming but the reality is that nature has also played a large part on this. Over the last several hundred years the hurricanes and other storms have eaten away at the barrier islands on the Gulf Coast. There has been a massive call for costal restoration that has been met with little fanfare. There are some theories that the very act of putting in any levee system causes the wetlands to sink. Do your own research before judging. I’ve mentioned it before but the Rising Tide book has lots of history of the various theories of how to build the levee system and show that the politics started long before the 20th century.

Pumping issues - too many to note. The current pumps the city uses came into play in 1917. Many of these are still relied on but additions have been made. Much of the Kenner flooding has been blamed on the pumps being shut off during the hurricane because the pump operators would not be safe. I am not advocating the loss of life but something needs to be done about this. Either the pumps need to be made save to run remotely or the pump operators need some type of bunker that is flood proof and has 2 weeks of supplies. Had all the pumps in Jefferson Parish been working and much of Kenner and Metairie would not have flooded. Also, maybe it’s time to upgrade some of the century old pumps. I’m working on finding out about other areas but only have details on this part of Jefferson Parish.

Flood gates – as recently as the 1960’s the Corp of Engineers suggested flood gates that could be shut when a storm in the Gulf is on track for the mouth of the Mississippi. This would help Lake Ponchetrain from becoming flooding and having a surge hit the North Shore (parts of Slidell, Covington, Mandeville). I’m not sure what this would have saved at this time, but it is worth mentioning.

Bottom line, you need to work on the levee system and coastal rebuilding to truly solve the issue with New Orleans being hit with another hurricane. Pumps, flood gates and other options need to be explored as well.

Some rumor clarification on the piling depth of parts of the levee in New Orleans. As best I can tell there are two facts that are confirmed – the pilings for much of the levee go to 17 feet and the river in those parts was dredged to over 18 feet. Not really a good design. There is conjecture that the pilings only go down to 10 feet. This is based on some sonar tests that were done recently. I have spoken with officials in Ascension Parish which is quite a bit up river from New Orleans. They too had sonar tests done a while back and they showed that their pilings were 12-13 feet. When they pulled the pilings they were at the required 25 feet. We will need to wait and see what the piling length turns out to be but don’t be surprised if it is actually 17 feet. If they need to be 25 feet in Ascension Parish, why are they only 17 feet in New Orleans? That is a much better question to ask the Corp of Engineers.

For you people around the country who think New Orleans and South Louisiana should move. In an ideal world I agree. Now back to reality. For all the reasons that New Orleans and South LA should move so should all of Florida. I work with public officials in the Tampa area and they are scared to death of a category 4 or better hitting them. Disneyworld and Miami – you’re cut. While we are at it, I’m insisting that San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco be relocated as well. We all see the amount of damage earthquakes can do and we just can’t afford it. Hawaii – need I say more? An island that can be devastated by storms with and is built on an active volcano? What idiot would stay. Iowa or other parts of the Midwest? One word, it begins with a T and ends with ornados. Don’t get all high and mighty Pacific Northwest. Have you heard of subduction quakes? We call those city killers in the movies. The last one that happened in Alaska in the 1960’s still has the Goose population affected as far south as Southern California. When you go down, you’ll take the FEMA generator coupons just like we did. New York – look at the people dying in the ice storms. Get it? We live on earth and have to live with the weather. Deal with it. If you think moving over seas will help, ask the people who dies in the Asian earthquakes or Tsunami this year. Those numbers make Katrina look like a pimple. Oh and for the evangelists who claim God punished New Orleans for its evilness, explain why Las Vegas is still standing and then we can talk. Even Steven King destroyed Vegas.

Life goes on bra

Sorry for the lack of posts for some time. Life gets busy and in what we Louisianans now call the post-Katrina world, work and family take precedent. I do have much news to catch up on and plan on getting everyone updated. For the record, no one seems to refer to the post-Rita world even though it wiped out another part of the state. Updates will cover east and west Louisiana.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Red Cross = Red Tape

I keep getting stories from people who have problems with the Red Cross. Everyone sees the stories of the FEMA and Red Cross monies spent at strip clubs and designer malls. The criminals and reckless folks have figured out how to milk the system better than the honest people. Many people I speak with feel guilty for taking the money since they are in financial positions where they do not currently need it. I think this is the one time you should take it. Regardless of how much insurance you have, you are going to lose money on this situation. This is like an insurance claim, you may never need it again and this is what you pay the premiums for all your life. If you really feel guilty take the money and donate it to a charity of choice.

One friend of mine was blown away by the hospitality of a small resort community that runs a small hotel on the premises. They already reasonable rate of $50/night was reduced to $35/night once the news of Katrina spread and they realized that many of their visitors were evacuees. [Note 1: people who leave on their own prior to the storm are evacuees vs. refugees]. Imagine how great he felt when he learned that many of his work colleagues paid nothing for somewhat nicer digs in Houston. Again, punishing the honest.

Once he returned to his unflooded home, anger set in and he decided he wanted a piece of the government cheese. Plagued with visions of 8 hour lines waiting for Red Cross assistance, he thought he would outsmart the system and dial the 800 number. Unfortunately the 800 number has about the same hit rate as the average Baton Rouge phone number when being called from out of state. Occasionally, it would actually answer with a "this line is for evacuees only" and some gibberish about the phones being "overwhelmed". [Note 2: Katrina is not the first hurricane to hit the US. See hurricane Ivan 2004] I understand that Baton Rouge can't handle the call volume but FEMA is used to massive amounts of people calling after a disaster. The recording tells you to check the Red Cross website for additional assistance options. Instead of putting you back on hold, it puts you into a fast busy situation and you are toast. [Note 3: Some evacuees may be on a pay phone and not have access to the internet]

I wish the idiocy ended there. You can file for something called "disaster unemployment". If you file you will get a letter telling you to expect a pre-loaded debit card with the benefit money on it in just 21 days. The beauty of the letter is that it generally arrives the same day as the benefit card. This reminds me of the first Bush tax refund where you received a letter telling you that a check would be immanent (at the cost of the tax payers). You then need to call an 800 number to activate the card and establish a PIN and finally learn of the balance. You can also do the transaction via the web and get the details of the transactions that went into creating your amount. The beauty of the web is that the login doesn't work. This has been tried with IE, Firefox and others (no anti-MSFT bigots please) with pop-ups and cookies enabled and disabled. There is a JavaScript popup that states "I'm sorry, I don't recognize the information you entered". Of course this occurs after you have entered the card number, PIN and agreed to something or other. I have to sympathize with this dilemma, as we filed a FEMA claim (to be discussed in a future post) and it kept coming up with a "can not verify your identity" after entering pages of information. It turns out that it could not recognize "W Street Name" vs. "West Street Name". I wish the government would follow the standards that they themselves try to establish.

When the friend finally got through to the Red Cross, he was denied an benefits. If he had gotten through a week earlier, he would have gotten assistance on the evacuation and living expenses. Now the deal is "only if your pre-storm residence is currently uninhabitable". The moral of the story is to file early and often. When he griped about the lack of info on the website, he was told that if it was published people would call and lie about their situations. Sounds like the magic formulas for FICO scores. Not bad for being on hold for an hour and a half.

One other business associate who lost everything got the standard $2,000 up front. He applied for additional living expenses. He was denied. Why? Too much income? Too much insurance? No - he did not return the required form within the 14-day time limit. Turns out he never received the form due to mail delays. Once he debugged the problem he was told to write up an appeal letter and fax it back to FEMA. This person lives in Slidell. Try finding a working fax machine that has a good phone line. Now try to get through a number that has been given out to hundreds of thousands of disaster affected citizens. This really is a disaster.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Back to Normal?

I'm sure everyone has seen that people are starting to filter back into the city. Many of the schools opened up in Jefferson Parish on October 3rd. It seems that getting back is somewhat of a dilemma for people. Everyone wants to go back as soon as they can. The reality is that life is far from normal.

Stores- while there are places to buy food and gas, there is far from an abundance. All of the stores close early (6:00 or 7:00 pm). Most have supplies but may not have some of the extras. They will have Coke or Diet Coke but not Caffeine Free. They also tend to run out of the staples frequently. You can get the basics but you need to plan ahead. The Home Depots and Wal-Mart’s are open but your favorite local hardware store may or may not be.

Labor - The bigger problem is who will work in the stores. People are having a hard time getting in touch with their employees. Many have not returned. Consequently, when you go into your local diner, you may see an entire new crew you have never seen before. Popeye’s and McDonalds have increased their hourly wage (reportedly $9/hr) just to get people in. Burger King takes the cake. They are paying a $5,000 signing bonus payable after 12 completed months of work. 5 grand signing bonus for Burger King? And they say Louisiana doesn't value education.

There are many complaints of people using out of state workers instead of the local. I think this is one of those how you look at the glass. While it is true that there are shelters with people who are looking for work, there are also contractors looking for laborers that can not find any local ones. I spoke with one contractor who hirers contractors to work on air conditioners. Pre-Katrina he paid $16/hr. Now he can only find out of state (mostly Florida) contractors for $29/hr. He would gladly hirer local people if he could find them. I don't think that most people understand just how much work there will be for years to come. There will be enough labor jobs to go around.

Inflation - as with Hurricane Ivan, the price of plywood has skyrocketed. I had to go to Home Depot today and at one Baton Rouge location (Coursey Blvd), they had a huge fence surrounding stacks of plywood and two security guards. They had several other security guards in other areas as well. Sheetrock has also gone up significantly. At least one sheetrock plant in New Orleans was flooded. I'm not sure what the impact will be due to this but every house that had flooding will need some amount of sheetrock. Plywood had finally gotten reasonable before Katrina. Reasonable, but still higher than pre-Ivan. Gas jumped to $2.79 or higher once Rita hit.

Retail Sales - The reports are in on retail sales for September and it was a banner month. Or was it? After talking with many retailers, the consensus is that the hardware stores, food stores and a few other areas - gas, clothes, etc. did well. Non-essential items like music, movies and gifts did not do as well. There are many hurting retailers out there that the numbers are not reporting. Some have been quoted as saying the two weeks after Katrina were the worst in the last 25 years they have been in business.

Restaurants - Restaurants in Baton Rouge are also doing well. In Kenner/Metairie, the restaurants that are open are doing good business but the cost of their goods has gone up. Sysco was not open a week ago so many restaurants were paying retail for their meat. Consequently the consumers are passing the costs along. You can't get ice reliably either so beer and wine are doing well but mixed drinks are not.

I was contacted by someone who runs a blog that is coverying a lot of Rita. I'm providing the link to Rita in Cameron Parish. It has a lot of information for people who are looking for information about Cameron Parish.

Shameless friend plug - a friend of mine in Portland does some amazing high speed photography of water droplets. His site, Liquid Sculpture has recently been featured on a small blog site that has turned his site into an overnight success story. I remember being in his basement when he first started fooling around with this stuff a few years ago. Who would think a digital camera, a flash and some water would lead to this.

Friday, September 30, 2005

NOPD Rumors

Earlier this week, Chief Compass resigned from NOPD. This surprised everyone as he had announced he would stay through the duration 2 weeks ago. At some point Compass was going to leave. He has long been eligible for retirement and prior to Katrina, people knew he would leave at some point. Still, the timing is quite odd especially since he was insistent about staying.

I have spoken with people who were present when he announced his resignation. His people were shocked. One school of thought is that NO has such a high crime rate combined with the police not handling the recent events well and officers leaving their posts during the event forced him out. There are reports that he and Mayor Nagin got in a shouting match on Tuesday and this is why he resigned. There are also reports that after he resigned, he went back to where is direct reports were and stated he was forced out by the Mayor. I think that there is probably some truth to all of these rumors but I also believe that they are looking for a scapegoat to fire. Time will tell - keep an eye on this one as it should get more interesting each day. Chief Riley is acting superintendent. Everyone that I know thinks that Riley will do a great job.

Another rumor that is circulating has to do with the 249 officers that quit. Some people claim to have evidence that these were "phantom" employees. This will certainly be interesting to watch as well. All eyes and auditors will be on the city books. Remember, in government, its always about the money.

Not rumor - Chief Riley is calling officers in that were accused of looting, investigating and firing with extreme prejudice.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Finding Uncle Henry

Many people have asked why people left certain things behind in New Orleans. First, no one thought that the flooding would be as significant as it was. Second, even if it did flood, no one considered the possibility that you would not be able to get into the houses for more than a few days. Consequently, people left things behind that they would not have if they had known what was going to happen and for how long. This is a story of one of those items.

One of our great Aunts lives (or lived) in East New Orleans. This is one of the areas that was flooded the worst. Fortunately she got herself out several days ahead of time. Like many people she did not bring a ton of clothes or too many personal items. One of the items that was left behind was a sealed box with her late husband's ashes or as we call him - Uncle Henry.

Imagine the stress and frustration of knowing that you probably lost everything and realizing the pictures and memorabilia that you left behind, when you remember leaving a loved ones remains behind. It doesn't do much to help your spirits. Needless to say, everyone wanted to go inside the house and get them, unfortunately that area of New Orleans has not been open. After Rita, it may have re-flooded.

I have been trying to use all of my connections to get a pass into that area. Unfortunately, it is the one area that even police can't tell me how to get into. I did manage to get access to a real (see previous posts about the fake ones) FEMA pass and an a commissioned officer that volunteered to help but even he couldn't get in. Realize, up until this week it was probably not the safest place to be.

Today, my brother in law decided to give it a shot. He made it all the way to her exit off of I-10 (Read Blvd.). When he came off the exit, he was met by an NOPD officer. They let them know the humanitarian mission that they were on but the officer made it clear that this area was closed and would not open until next Wednesday. They had to turn on a few streets to get back to I-10 and just kept going. Civil disobedience at its finest. As all incidents I have been involved in, the officer did nothing. I think they "officially" have to tell people to go away but look the other way if you have a reason to be there.

He made it to the house and quickly discovered it was locked up tighter than a drum. Since this was a heavily flooded area he wore a mask the entire time. He went around to every window and they either had burglar bars or locks that prevented him from breaking in. He finally decided to break the sliding glass door that was not bared. As soon as the glass broke a smell overwhelmed him even with the mask on. He has cleared out 5 smelly houses and this was in a league of its own.

Side Note: All houses in this area were checked for bodies. If that is the case, why was this bunker not broken into? Once again, the media and officials have lied about things from the get go.

Back to the story...He went around the house and noted that it looked as if about 4 feet of water had been in it. This was good news as we had been told it had been up to the roof. Once again it seems that misinformation abounds. He had to take small baby steps as the floor was extremely slippery. There was a green and black mold that covered everything. It actually looked like fuzzy wallpaper. The furniture was a total loss as were most other items. He could not find the box so he ended up calling his father, who called the Aunt and found out where the box was. He eventually found it and a few other important items that weren't destroyed.

Leaving with Uncle Henry in hand, he made his way back to the Interstate and eventually Baton Rouge.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Camp Status

I keep having people ask about their camps. Even Senator Landrieu (D) LA, mentioned her family's camp as being flooded. For the sake of the non-natives, I need to help with the definition of camp.

From the Louisiana Dictionary:
Word: camp Function: noun Pron.: kamp 1 a: a place usually away from urban areas where people hunt, fish or water ski or any combination of the three b: a building that is either an old house, new house, or building built for recreation. Often times the building can be as much as 20' off the ground depending where it is located. Camps are often located on or near a body of water such as a bayou, lake, or swamp. Usage: (1) We're going down to the camp this weekend to shoot some ducks and we're bringing the fishing poles just in case. (2) We went to my parents camp to ski but the motor was froze up. (3) Man we drank so much cold beer at the camp, we forgot to go fishing.

Most people who have camps, assume that something will happen to them sooner or later. I friend of mine (Zippahead) has a camp in Grand Chenier which is in Cameron Parish. Take a look at the before and after photos.


Note the trees are green and there is a shed.


Siding, roof and deck damage. No shed.

Note the amound of water everywhere. Frankly, I'm impressed with the fact that the structure is still there and in reasonably good shape.

This is typical for the rural areas. In many cases the water that would be fresh water in a normal flood has a high concentration of salt from the storm surge. There are reports that many of the oak trees are turning black. Not sure if they recover once the water comes down.

People's camp status ranges from something like the above to complete devastation. These are people's camps - buildings that are not primary residences that are used for some type of recreation. Realize, there are people whose primary homes are in these areas as well. It is one thing to lose a second home, it is another to lose your primary. This is an area that has heavy cattle farming. Just like in Audrey, the birds aren't around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Send in the Cows

It was inevitable. I knew this would happen once people started reporting on the more rural Parishes like Plaquemines and Cameron. Where are all the cows? The reports are coming in from Cameron Parish after Rita of the number of cow carcasses that are lying around. I have spoken with people who helped with the cleanup of Plaquemines Parish after Camile and Cameron Parish after Audrey. They all mention the cows. 1000s of them lying down, legs up, bodies swollen. They are all over Cameron Parish and there was a story today about a farmer with 350 head in Plaquemines who has been caring for about 60 on the levee. The 60 managed to swim there and have no place to go. Why no one chose to report on Plaquemines until after Rita is beyond me. I still think that the death toll will go up once they count everything in the rural Parishes where people able to leave stay out of tradition. There are many pictures of cows or horses on porches of houses surrounded by water. No one ever mentions dead horses, only cows. Sounds like the CIA must be involved.

In one of my earlier posts about St. Bernard, I wrote of a family who stayed and managed to get rescued by the skin of their teeth. The daughter went to release two of their horses that were tied up. I'm happy to report that both horses made it through the ordeal. When she went to untie them, she led them to the top of the levee as the water was rising. As she started to leave, they walked back down to the barn which had waste deep water. She figured she had done the best she could and began to leave when she ran into a vet who happened to have a horse trailer. Small wonders.

Since this post seems to have the animal theme, I thought I would share a story about the wild dogs. There have been reports that in the heavily flooded areas there are packs of wild dogs running rampant. I'm sure they are not truly wild but no one gets excited about a couple of hungry pets. Mostly the dogs are pets that are starving and have sought refuge out of the heat. One of our friends went to Chalmette which is in St. Bernard Parish to meet a FEMA agent and process his claim. When they went into the house it was quickly realized that it was a total loss. He wanted to go through the house to see if there was anything salvageable. When they went into the living room, he noticed tracks leading into the kitchen. He went to investigate but the FEMA agent grabbed him and said not to. He explained that nothing was salvageable and that people who had tried to help or get the dogs out had been attacked. I'm sure there is a bad horror movie in the making. If they had killer bees in the Superdome, they can have killer dogs in Chalmette.

Back to the cows... I spoke with someone who flew over Jefferson Davis and Cameron Parishes today. Complete devastation in the southern most areas. The islands (Pecan, Forked, etc.) and places like Holly Beach were flattened much like Buras and Empire were with Katrina. There are people in Cameron Parish that are on their roof tops - funny there aren't any pictures on the news that I have seen about these people. I guess the public is tired of people on their rooftops and wants to look at refineries instead. There are reports of some people waving off rescue attempts from boats or helicopters. Now that is dedication. You have to realize that these people either fish or farm and don't need the government to protect them. You can see how well it worked in New Orleans.

My brother in law has a FEMA pass to get into New Orleans since he is working for Intercosmos Media Group which owns the DirectNIC hosting and domain registration that had the cool web log that was up throughout Katrina on downtown Poydras. He went up to Canal this morning and said that when he got to the casino (which fared well - no looting) that the smell of the Aquarium was overwhelming. You may remember that while the zoo fared well (only 3 deaths) the Aquarium had its generators commandeered and had almost a total loss. As bad as a fridge with shrimp in it smells after 5 days, I can only imagine a shark tank after a month. You can not go down Canal to the Sheraton (where I was engaged) as it is FEMA central and makes downtown Baghdad look like a good neighborhood. Many of the bars on Decatur were looted as well.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

God Hates Casinos

I just spoke with my friend at the Lake Charles Police Department. I have been trying to get in touch with him and some friends that work for the Sheriff's Office. Fortunately, it sounds like everyone is more or less OK.

Casinos - as I suspected some of the Casinos took a hard lick. The Casinos in Bilouxie were completely leveled and the one in New Orleans took some water damage (no looting). The ones in Lake Charles are located on the lake. At least one casino boat broke away from the building and is toast. Lots of water damage in the other buildings. One of the new ones is OK and the Police are using it as a place for their officers to sleep.

The pictures the media is showing from Lake Charles with with the flooded houses are from South Lake Charles. This is a low area, near the lake and closest to the Gulf. Much of Lake Charles is not flooded. The Police Department and our servers are fine. Unfortunately their air conditioning and internet connection are down so our servers are close to useless. We are rerouting all of our users to other available hubs. The phone company is out working on the lines and have extra generators at each Central Office (CO). The Sheriff's Office didn't do as well. Their main office and jail are near the Lake Charles Airport which was leveled. They are flooded and abandoned ship once the generator started taking in water. All are OK but this will be a mess.

Looting - yes, it is happening but on a much smaller scale than New Orleans. Police and Sheriff are out actively getting these people picked up. They put them in the cell with a bottle of water and an MRE and let them know they will be back in a few days to check on them. I wish people understood that Law Enforcement needs to be out rescuing people not arresting them. Most of Lake Charles evacuated and is not flooded so there is no need to break into buildings looking for food.

Idiots - yes, once again there are idiots. The best one is an 18-wheeler trucker with an empty load who decided to leave this morning. He made it to the top of the I-10 bridge over the lake and was blown over. No wreckers are available so the Police are doing the best they can without any. Again, you made it safely through the hurricane and think you know more than anyone else and can go about your business. Now resources are saving your ass instead of saving people who already needed the help. Additionally, you are blocking the Interstate for emergency vehicles.

Buildings - there is a decent amount of building damage. The larger ones have lots of broken windows. There are some older ones who are completely leveled. Again, like in New Orleans after Katrina, some are fine. The biggest problem is the lack of power and phone lines mixed with the downed trees.

Emergency Communications - Lake Charles Police kept their 911, Dispatch and other radio communications up and running 100% of the time. Their mobile data terminals in the cars are up as well. Somebody needs to see how a smaller PD is able to do this when the 3 largest agencies in the State can not. They have many downed phone lines so I don't know what the difference is here. Cell towers are hit and miss. Some are up, some are down.

Loss of life will be minimal since most people left. They too like Vermillion Parish received much of their flooding as a result of the rain passing through and everything having no where to drain.

Rita vs. Katrina

Already the media has begun to focus on Rita and has all but stopped reporting on Katrina. They will continue to focus on New Orleans due to the levee breaches but other than that, coverage is at a stand still.

It seems all eyes are on Texas. While Texas did get a considerable amount of damage, once again so did Louisiana. Reports from Lake Charles are sketchy. It did receive a great deal of flooding in many areas and there is significant electrical damage. The only report of any major road damage is the I-10 overpass in Iowa [Pronounced eye-oh-way, they have a running joke that eye-oh-wah is the state and eye-oh-way is the city]. If the report I have is correct it is the Hwy 165 overpass that was lifted and set down on I-10. Should be easy to fix but still causes some problems.

Cameron, Vermillion and Iberia parishes have significant flooding. What is interesting about this is that Vermillion made it through the storm surge OK. Some residents returned and then flooding occurred and they became in need of rescue. Many areas that have never had flooding, even after Audrey and Lilly, are flooded. Video is starting to show up showing the cows and horses up to their heads in water. Most of Cameron was evacuated but it appears that many residents in Vermillion did not.

Lafayette is just north of Vermillion Parish and was hit hard by Lilly. For what ever reason, it seems to have been spared by Rita. Some power outage and trees down but nothing significant. There are good pictures from many of the affected parishes on the KATC website.

Jefferson Davis Parish is not Jefferson Parish. Look this one up on a map. Any 8th grade Louisiana student had to learn all 64 LA Parishes. It appears that when the LA State Government ordered the mandatory evacuation, they mistakenly said Jefferson instead of Jefferson Davis. Scared the crap out of the Jefferson Parish residents. Jefferson Davis is east of Calcasieu Parish (Lake Charles) and is and north of Cameron Parish. The southern cities (Lake Arthur not Port Arthur, TX) took a beating. Jennings has some water and no power but looks OK. Some of my company's state servers are in Jennings and they have been on generator power since Friday night. Since it was the closest place that had power it has become a makeshift State Police headquarters.

Baton Rouge did well all things considered. Some power outage and some trees down but Katrina culled most of the weak trees and power poles. Our house had a few flickers but power never was down for more than a couple minutes. Glad we had a generator plus food and water but even happier not to need to use them. Restaurants and grocery stores are having a hard time getting supplies since I-10 in both directions (closed in Lake Charles and New Orleans). I-12, I-49, I-55 and I-59 remain open. Gas isn't a problem and prices seem to be around $2.55/gallon. Many stores stayed open until their normal closing time Friday night and were open regular hours on Saturday. Ones without power on Saturday had issues but things are close to normal today.

Refugee Bowl 2005 - there were no LA College Games on Saturday to keep people amused. We ended up having a bunch of friends over to watch the USC vs. U of Oregon game Saturday night. A few of the people were displaced New Orleans residents and some were out of town residents in town to help family with cleanup. Much food and drinks were consumed and it was fun to be with friends to forget about reality for an evening. I realize that college football has little to do with rescuing hurricane victims, but with events of the last month, people need a mental break.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Rita, Rita, Rita

I've had little time to post the last few days. Seems like everyone in the state is actually trying to prepare for Rita and we have been backing up data from all the public agencies who are in the potential strike zone.

Housekeeping - Those of you who know my Mom lives in Lafayette will be happy to know that we had her come up to Baton Rouge on Tuesday just in case. Lafayette is set to get some of the hurricane force winds and will probably be OK but why take chances.

Earlier this week we did some of our own housekeeping as well. Making sure the gas cans were filled and the few batteries we were low on were restocked. We also decided to add another 7 gallons of water to the mix since we figured someone else would be at the house at some point.

Today has been an odd day. The wind started early this morning along with the drizzle. We went ahead and put in all the items on the patio that we had finally put out last weekend. Good thing the garage is still clean. Most of the day has had strong gusts of wind with some rain. Around 2:00pm the rain really started pouring. I drove home and had to stop several times due the amount of rain coming in at a 90 degree angle and various puddles. The ditches, bayous and drains are full but no signs of flooding yet.

There was a tornado spotted in Ascension Parish so Rochelle and the kids spent a brief period of time in the master bedroom closet while it passed. Fortunately, it didn't make it to Prairieville. There are other parishes where tornados have been spotted. Most of Baton Rouge still has power. We have flickered but nothing serious.

I just received word from my Cousin and Aunt in Lafayette that the wind and rain has bee going nuts since about 2:00pm. No power loss yet but they expect to. Like many people they purchased a generator and window unit air-conditioner. Since the temp hit 100 degrees this week, an AC is important.

I have contacts in Lake Charles/Calcasieu Parish and they are fine thus far. They have planned for the worst. I'll keep up with them this weekend and update everyone. Cameron Parish is right on the LA-TX border and was just about wiped out after hurricane Audrey. They actually evacuated on Wednesday. When I say evacuated, I mean that the public offices packed up computers and file cabinets. They learned their lesson after Audrey wiped out about 50% of the population.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Gun Shy

Time to take a break from the Katrina aftermath and talk about the new kid on the block - Rita. Everyone that borders the Gulf has been keeping an eye on this one. This morning the so called experts stated that it would be Texas bound. I'm sure the refugees in Houston do not find much amusement in this. People forget that not too many years ago Houston had massive flooding as a result of storms.

By this evening, Rita made a slight adjustment north making it possible to hit Louisiana east of Lake Charles. The Walmarts are already out of bottled water on Monday! Everyone is still gun shy from the last storm, this will cause panic. Most people still have plenty of supplies but stocking up on a few extra batteries, gas and water are always a good idea. Realize that with all cities, towns, villages in Louisiana having extra people in them, the strain on resources will be magnified. Most people I have spoken with that are west of Baton Rouge, are keeping and eye and getting ready to clear out on Wednesday.

This is a balancing act between doing what is prudent and not panicking and causing a rush on supplies and the roads unnecessarily. Gas prices are running under $2.49/gallon on average. Stores finally have gas cans and generators back in stock. Shoring up resources is one thing but if stores are in short supply of water and canned goods already, it will be a mess by Wednesday. You would think by now most people keep this stuff on hand but obviously not.

One huge concern with be the Greater New Orleans area. They have stopped letting people back into New Orleans but people are still free to go into Jefferson Parish. I have no reports of how many people are back in Kenner, Metairie, Harahan and River Ridge but everyone I know that did not have flood damage is back. Many of the people who did have flood damage are back but staying with others. If New Orleans has to evacuate, 2 routes are not available. Both of these are 4 lane highways (with contra-flow enabled). If I were there, I would get out on Tuesday before the crowds. There is no school in session until October 3rd and most jobs will let you off for emergency. Again - one thing to stay in a city with a few extra people, it is another thing to stay in a city with 2 levee breaches held back by sand bags and 2 routes of escape not available. Life is full of risks but certain risks aren't worth taking even if they do cleanse the gene pool.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Truth is Slow to Come Out

I received a link from Cousin Marc on a story about Acadian Ambulance and how they had better communication systems than the local, state or Feds. Read it and note several items - they bought a better communication system because they needed one to run their business, they lost their New Orleans radio towers and borrowed a portable one and they were able to borrow a portable one. I know people get nervous when the government privatizes essential services but I think this is an example of one that worked. Read the history of Acadian Ambulance on their site. We moved to Lafayette, LA in 1980 an I remember their pledge drives being only slightly less annoying and aggressive than the ones on NPR. One item you won't find in the NYT article, is something that happened to their mobile tower. Acadian Ambulance had their generator from their mobile tower stolen. Obviously they were able to get a replacement but I want to make a point. If you steal water and food in an emergency from a local grocery store, I think law enforcement should look the other way. If you steal a television or designer clothes, you should be arrested and charged with looting. If you steal a generator from a communication tower (the only one working at the time) from a emergency service you should be shot. I'm opposed to the death penalty but make exceptions for times of emergency.

The Fear - people around Baton Rouge are finally starting to find out the crime is not rampant in the city but they still have what I call "The Fear". I can't describe the fear, but I can give you some examples where reality and the truth part ways. The local government has gone out of their way to talk about how everything is safe and they will resolve the traffic problems brought on by doubling the size of the city. The reality is that most local business still have curfew hours - the local grocery by my house (semi-rural area) closes at 8:00pm sharp instead of the 10:00-11:00pm time they used to; the B-Dalton Bookstore in the largest Mall in the city closes at 7:00pm; many gas stations close at 7:00 or 8:00pm, etc. etc. etc. When I ask business owners and employees why they close early the answer varies. Some say the city or parish government asked them to - as best I can verify this is not true but is a canned answer designed to not put blame on the management of the store. Some say their employees don't feel safe after dark (i.e. The Fear). A friend of mine pointed out they wouldn't be surprised if their insurance companies required them to.

Insurance - I get mixed stories on this topic. I have personally talked with several people who have made claims and several adjusters for State Farm. All report that claims have been handled quickly and that the adjusters are being more than reasonable. The media keeps reporting that people are getting screwed by the insurance companies and that they won't pay a nickel. I have talked with some people who have had their home owners insurance adjuster be clear on what they won't pay on but none have been problematic. Flood insurance is not something that is covered by a homeowners policy and is optional in some areas and mandatory in others. Anyone who has ever purchased any type of property in Louisiana and most other places is familiar with the "Flood Determination" charge on your closing. Some people in areas where it is optional get and some don't. Flood insurance has a $250,000 cap. If you lost a home and everything in it, $250,000 is not enough.

Most insurance policies have waivers for acts of terrorism. After 9/11 the insurance companies agreed to pay benefits and the feds came in and assisted financially. I don't see any other option for the entire Gulf Coast. Otherwise you will have individuals and businesses going bankrupt. Some people had all the insurance they could possibly get and are still grossly under insured. What will be interesting to watch (and I'll post it hear) is the legal battle that will ensue after the rebuilding starts. Between the businesses that had hazardous chemicals that make areas uninhabitable, the fact that the governments knew the levees were not tall or strong enough for a Cat 4 or better hurricane and insurance companies who use weasel clauses to deny payments this should be a fun one to watch.

Friday, September 16, 2005

History Repeats Itself

I have been blasted with information on the history of the levee system and Mississippi River. It really is amazing how many times this scenario has been run through.

I have found a book that is an absolute must read. The book is called "Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America". It is an amazing book and will make you angry and sad at how people were treated after agreeing to let them blow the levee to save New Orleans and flood their homes. Amazing parrallels as to what is going on right now with Katrina. Read this book before you go any further and follow the links below.

After Hurricane Betsy in 1965, the Corp of Engineers proposed several systems. There is a detailed article on much if it on the Civil Engineering website that was written in 2003. I heard a more detailed first hand account on WJBO but can not find the live interview. The Corp actually suggested a series of floodgates that would protect Lake Pontchartrain from a storm surge. This would have prevented much of the flooding on the east bank of Jefferson Parish. It was blocked by an injunction from an environmentalist group. If someone could find some references and pass them along, I would appreciate it.

Finally, one last article that people told me about about was a National Geographic from October of last year. Thanks to cousin Kathryn (without the albatross last name) for forwarding an electronic link. Again read this and try to explain how any public official can claim that they had no idea this could happen. Remember this at election time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I have a friend who has 5 doctors from Iowa staying at his house. They came down to help and were told they weren't sure if they would be needed. They were also informed that the homes that had been arranged to stay in had fallen through. One of the doctors does disaster relief at least once a year and has been all over the world. This is the most disorganized he has ever seen. Fortunately, through some contacts, they were able to get in touch with the people who are dispatching doctors around the state and it looks like it will work out. FEMA is actually turning doctors away from New Orleans.

I have had similar reports from some people running (or attempting to run) the shelter at the Riverside Center in Baton Rouge. The people that I spoke with state that both the Red Cross and Salvation Army seem to have no leadership. There are supplies of mostly clothes that are making it to the centers but aren't getting to the people who need them. If you do decide to come to Louisiana to help out, have a backup plan for a place to stay.

St. Bernard - I spoke briefly with someone who attended the St. Bernard Parish meeting. I'll post more when I have more time to discuss it in detail. Bottom line is that the earliest residents may be able to return is next May. They will let people in as soon as they can to go back to their homes to retrieve what ever they can. The residents were informed that they will not recognize the area. They were also warned that between the flood and chemical contamination that they will probably end up bulldozing most of the houses and starting over. Any vehicle used to enter the Parish will have to go through some type of decontamination process. You will need to wear gloves and breathers. Not sure what they are going to do with what people choose to bring out. No word on when or if the refinery will open back up.

One last rant... The front page of the Baton Rouge paper today had a piece on Governor Blanco being outraged about the dead not being given the respect they deserve by FEMA. Right above the article is a picture of an emaciated person being rescued yesterday! How about we make sure all the living people are taken care of before being outraged of how the dead are handled.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Orleans and other stuff

The NY Times has a good photo comparison of the amount of water that the marshes in LA soaked up. You may have to register with the website to view the article.

I spoke with someone well informed on some of the events in Orleans Parish. A pattern seams to be emerging that the press is either getting things wrong or are not being allowed to tell the real story. There are still many rumors that are untrue. Below I will do my best to address these issues.

Prison Riots - there were some minor disturbances and yes guns were drawn but no prisoners or law enforcement officers were shot. No member of law enforcement or their family was taken hostage (I had heard this rumor from someone who was there). The Orleans Parish Jail did not have its roof ripped off with prisoners getting wet.

Prisoner Movement - this has been a huge issue with lots of misinformation. It is true that all prisoners were taken from the Orleans Parish Jail and moved to other prisons around the state. The prisoners that were walked down I-10 along other refugees were the misdemeanor prisoners who were in jail for 90 days or less. They probably should have been let go. No felony prisoners were anywhere near any law abiding citizens at any time. The felony prisoners were removed last and taken on special buses out of the city. All prisoners had to be boated out to a staging area where they eventually made it onto buses. The felony prisoners had plenty of guards with shotguns on them at all times.

Police deaths - as best I can tell, no NOPD or Orleans Criminal Sheriff personnel have been killed by any citizens - law abiding or criminal. 15 NOPD officers have been reported as drowning. At this point no one is sure of the circumstances. I have reports that 12 not 2 NOPD officers have committed suicide. I only know the circumstances of 1 and that individual's spouse had been killed as a result of the hurricane (presumably by flood). No Orleans Criminal Sheriff personnel have lost their lives (if some have, they are not known yet).

Police being shot at - yes, some police were shot at. Some of the people doing the shooting were killed and some got away with it. Much of the shooting was people shooting guns in the air. No idea why other than it's a Louisiana thing. Per previous paragraph, no officers were shot (that I can verify).

Lack of communication - NOPD, Orleans Criminal and Jefferson Sheriff use different radio systems. All of them failed. In the case of NOPD and Orleans criminal, the main towers are on top of the Entergy building. This site was chosen for 2 reasons. First, it is the tallest building in the city. Second, it is owned by the company that supplies electricity for the entire city. Guess what one of the first buildings to lost power was? There are generators in this building but I have no report on status. Additionally, most RF radio systems have a telco line from the dispatch building to the tower. With all of the telco problems this may be where the 1st failure was. I'm most interested in this failure. After 9/11, this was one area where all cities were focused on addressing. I have seen editorials with people claiming to have solutions to fix the communication problem. Given that all private and public systems failed, I want to find out what happened before believing anyones solution. I don't think the problem here was the technology, there were multiple areas that failed that were supposed to have redundancy built in. I have reports that Jefferson Sheriff radio system is back up.

Telecommunication failures - In New Orleans city there are some buildings that have various telco providers for voice and data working. There are some buildings where every vendor is completely dead (as of today). Since many of these building have nothing above ground to have been cut and the under ground lines get flooded all the time. I have no answer or intelligence as to how this type of failure occured. We know that Sprint had a major switch failure in the city but what about the other vendors? This is another good question to have answered. I'll post more info as I get it.

Violence at the Superdome - I can't figure out what to believe on this one. I have several NOPD and Criminal Sheriff contacts claiming there was almost no violence. The murders and rapes have been completely misrepresented. If you saw the TV Sunday night the National Guard screened everyone entering the building for weapons and drugs. I saw an interview with Charmaine Neville where she claimed to have witnessed all of this - I have other people telling me she is not a credible witness. We will have to watch this one.

Martial Law - I don't have time to research this one so if some Lawyer could comment, I would appreciate it. I was told that Martial Law was never declared anywhere in Louisiana. The reason is that since LA follows Napoleonic Code and not English Law there is no such thing and you can not declare it. I'm sure there is some equivalent that the state has the right to do but it is still an interesting technicality.

Reality Sinking In

St. Bernard Parish - residents learned yesterday that it will probably be next summer before they are allowed to return permanently. They will be allowed in to view their homes in a few weeks. Most of the water is gone but there is sludge everywhere. Much of the sludge is contaminated from the Murphy Oil refinery. I'm sure between an oil company and Walmart owning a percentage of it that this will be a fun legal battle to watch. Residents were warned that when they do go back, they will recognize little. There are areas that had close to 100% destruction of homes and others where the structures are still standing.

Slidell - much of St. Tammany Parish now has power. The areas in Slidell that did not get flooded have residents returning and there are more businesses opened up for food and gas options. 2 weeks and some people are just getting power back. As residents return, it will help Baton Rouge and Livingston Parishes get some of the traffic congestion solved.

Orleans - I had an opportunity to sneak into the Parish on Sunday. We went uptown to check on a cousin's house. No flooding in the areas we went into. Mostly similar storm damage that Kenner/Metarie had. We didn't see any signs of looting where we were. Audubon Park looks like a small military village. There is definitely a military presence in Orleans.

Kenner/Metairie - We went down Airline Hwy to get in this time. We went right by the airport. Not nearly as much activity as before. We made it to Esplanade near the mall to check on some houses. Much more flooding in this area. The homes we looked at had a few feet of water. We saw several drug stores that had been looted. Homes are starting to get power. The streets had most of the trees and power lines cleared but the yards did not. They are letting certain businesses back in to start to get some of the infrastructure set back up.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

St. Bernard Photos

I finally found some good photos on St. Bernard Parish after/during Katrina. This will be where the death toll takes a spike.

Rumors abound

The rumor mill just won't quit. As I mentioned before almost every city/town in the state has some displaced people staying with them. Everyone is concerned that crime is going to skyrocket and cite the following:

***Note all items below are false rumore and not true***
Generator delivery - man brings truckload of generators to "insert name of civic center" and is followed home by refugees and killed.

Female shelter workers - female shelter worker at "insert name of civic center" is followed home by refugees and raped/killed.

Car jacking - people are car jacked and the perpetrator is always a refugee. Fact - there have been one or two isolated car jackings.

Gun store looted - this varies from a Walmart to a local pawn shop. Only and all of the guns were stolen. Fact - a pawn shop in Baton Rouge did have some guns stolen, police believe it to be a Baton Rouge gang.

***End false rumor mill section***

LA National Guard - the truth will be difficult to get to on this one. The State Officials didn't know where exactly the storm would hit. They didn't want all the people in one location - frankly a good idea. The bulk of the ones that were deployed to the New Orleans area were at the Jackson Barricks. This area was flooded extensively (10' or more). Looks like the bulk of the troops were victims for a few days. This might explain why the Guard seemed abscent for the first few days. Knowing this, why wasn't help called for?

Friday, September 09, 2005

New Orleans - Thursday

Sorry about not getting any updates posted yesterday. I think everyone is doing a combination of work, running around getting items and dealing with traffic. I ran home after work to run a bed to another relative’s house.

New Orleans - people are getting into the city. Many people have been able to get passes (legit) into Jefferson Parish. There are check point to get into New Orleans. The trick seems to be to be in an American SUV that is black or white. Put on a button down shirt, wear sunglasses and drive through the check point like you are supposed to be there. An occasional wave to the military helps. New Orleans looks like a war zone with all of the military. You won't be stopped if you drive around but you will be checked if you leave a house with any items. If it is your house, you won't have any problems. Many people only took one of their 2 cars out and are going in to get the other one. You almost certainly will be stopped if you drive a car (non-SUV) out. Again, if it is your car, you won't have any problems. River Road is the best road to get in. There is still much flooding. As of today, many trees have been cleared so other than flood water, you can get around.

A couple of friends went in yesterday to get a few items and do the fridge cleanout. Everyone mentions that driving around Jefferson is OK but when you get into Orleans Parish it feels like you shouldn't be there. They did spot one body lying face down - a reminder that there is still much cleanup to do. Both houses had little damage and had not been looted. The looting seems to be focused mainly on business but there were a few houses.

I have 2 accounts of businesses that were looted. One was a grocery store and one was a restaurant. The grocery store had everything missing, every fixture broken, all registers stolen and people had defecated all over the store. The restaurant manager witnessed the actual looting and stood by as people destroyed the bar and everything in the restaurant. There were police present but they could do nothing (the police were not participating). I understand steeling food, but please explain the destruction of property.

I forgot to mention in my earlier posts about Metairie and the dogs. Some neighborhoods have a few hungry dogs roaming around them. Since the water dried up there is not much to drink. When helping a relative, we took all the dog food out and put it in the next door neighbor’s back yard and filled every thing we could find with water. The owner was supposed to come by in the next few days (and did) so we figured they would be OK. I mention this because they mentioned this morning that workers being forced to stop at points because packs of dogs are attacking them.

Methodist Hospital Ordeal - One of Rochelle's Aunts worked at several of the hospitals and spent the hurricane at it. The hospital was surrounded by water. Not sure of the amount but it went over the top of pickup trucks. There were over 700 people there including staff and patients. Fortunately, they did not have any criminal problems reported at other hospitals. Starting late Monday people were evacuated out on a somewhat regular basis until late Friday. She finally was airlifted from the roof late Friday afternoon along with 12 other workers in one of the many Chinook's. In a weird twist, after the hospital was abandoned, two people shot each other. She was brought to the New Orleans Airport and left with the thousands of other people to get out. There was a long line that made any line at Disneyland in the height of summer seem short. Towards the end, everyone filed into a single row of people. She had no choice where to go and ended up at a military base in San Antonio. She took a cab to the commercial airport and got a flight to Shreveport. Once in Shreveport she made it to Monroe. Her family met her there and they are finally back in Baton Rouge and staying with Rochelle's brother Eric.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Refugee and other numbers

Refugee updates - I have not seen an official count of how many are spread out around the state. I have talked with many cities in Louisiana and the numbers are amazing. Monroe went from 2,000 last week to 10,000 today. A smaller city, Opelousas has 6,000. They are in civic centers, empty city buildings, etc. I wish there was some way to count the ones that are living in neighborhoods. Many of their children started school today but I'm sure there will be more in the next week. I have no count on these statewide but there are thousands. Ascension Parish has over 1,000 if you count the public and private schools. Baker, a small town north of Baton Rouge, has over 300.

FEMA Camps - not the ones for the citizens, the ones for the employees. There are FEMA camps being setup to house all of the employees that will be down/are down to help. There is a large presence on the LSU campus. They are also setting one up on the LA State Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds have 100s of RVs, a dozen gas tanker cars, many large KVM generators, and portable restrooms and showers. One FEMA official told me that he was going to have close to 80,000 people in East Baton Rouge and Ascension Parishes helping out. I wouldn't believe the number if it didn't come from someone employed by them. He also mentioned he would be setting one up in Gonzales.

House Guests - our 1st family returned to their home in Slidell. There is power but there is only one or two gas stations and places to buy food in all of St. Tammany Parish. I would have waited, but the urge to get back home is strong. We had one couple stay last night before going into Metairie today. We may actually have a free night. It will actually seem lonely. I'm sure we will divvy up one of the remaining families with our in-laws.

New Orleans - I have friends going in tomorrow and will get an update. People have been getting in and out. One report mentions it is easy to get in but you get checked up and down trying to leave. There is a black market for IDs to get into the areas that are closed off. Many people have borrowed relatives medical IDs. I spoke with one person who copied some type of temporary FEMA ID (probably a felony). There are also some disaster recovery team IDs that people are copying. Most people aren't sight seeing they are merely trying to get to their home or some friend or relative’s home and see if it is OK. Many people have mentioned that if they had any idea they would be unable to return to their homes for such a long time, they would have taken a few extra things. Items range from computers to financial records. Most people could care less about their stuff.

The Blame Game

The finger pointing has started. It looks like everyone is trying to blame Governor Kathleen Blanco. I think when the dust settles there will be more than one person at fault. I'm getting a lot of emails from people out of state thinking Mayor Ray Nagin shares the blame. Facts - He asked for voluntary evacuation the Friday before. On Saturday he announced that they would be using the contra-flow for evacuation. Contra-flow is something that they did not do for the Ivan evacuation and people never made it out of the city. Contra-flow is where all of the lanes inbound and outbound on all highways are set to outbound only. On Sunday morning he ordered a mandatory evacuation. I know he could have done more but surely you can't argue he didn't try. It looks like they managed to get 60-70% (unconfirmed) of the city out. He did open the Super Dome as a "shelter of last resort". They had the National Guard there and did not allow any weapons, illegal drugs or legal drugs without a prescription. They learned from Ivan what happens if you do not do that much on screening. He made some mistakes, but it isn’t like he didn’t warn people.

Joke - Some people from New Orleans are suing NOAA. The basis of the case is that if they had named the hurricane Kathleen instead of Katrina it would be wandering around aimlessly in the Gulf.

Ugly - I am getting more and more reports from St. Bernard. Lots of bodies in cars trying to get out and the levee has become a makeshift mortuary. There are also reports that they started tying the bodies to trees so they wouldn't float off. Still lots of water.

Rescues still ongoing - they are still rescuing people today 9/7/2005. More than a week and people are still not out. Can you believe that?

More reports from Metairie that things are getting cleaned up. Still many houses without water. Let's hope it isn't as contaminated as the New Orleans water which people are being warned not to bath in let alone drink.

Traffic is better today in Baton Rouge. The Mayor stated FEMA is going to help Baton Rouge with its traffic issues. We are doomed for sure.

I'm adding Hebert Guns in Prairieville to the list of good merchants still selling guns and ammo. Plenty of stock on everything including the elusive dove loads. $4.00/box.

Gas seems to be dropping slightly in price. I actually filled up for $2.49/gallon and didn't have to wait. There are many places where it is $2.59. Still some higher prices in Baton Rouge but the trend is good.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Minor updates

There is an interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle that compares the hurricane in New Orleans to the Fire in San Francisco and shows how much San Francisco benefited in the long run. I consider it a must read. Thanks to my sister and her husband for passing it along.

Traffic in Baton Rouge has come to a complete halt. Between everyone trying to get into Jefferson Parish, the huge amount of refugees and a few lights still out, all major streets and back streets are clogged up. I had hoped that since school started today that many people would be into more of their routine. The infrastructure is just not made for this many people.

I may be getting the scoop on New Orleans proper later this afternoon. We'll see.

Back into Metarie

We had to get some items from Cousin Marc's house and had to return to Metairie on Monday. Most people I have spoken with had no idea they would be gone so long even if this evac proved to be real. If they had known they wouldn't be back, they would have brought a few additional financial records and cloths. You can buy cloths but you need your paper/electronic records. Since Monday was the first day back we figured Airline Hwy would be jam packed and decided on an alternate route. We took Hwy 3127 to I-310 and crossed the Miss. River in Luling. We made it to River Road and were in Metairie in about 1 1/2 hours. There was more traffic in Metairie but not nearly as much as I would have suspected given that people had lined up the night before to get in line to get in. They are now making you exit I-10 in Sorrento unless you have proof you need to go somewhere between Sorrento and Kenner.

Once we got to the house, we began moving branches and tree parts into piles. We had enough time to get some additional ones out of the street and neighbors yards to make driving a little easier. There are many electric and tree trucks but there is so much work to do that citizens are cutting and stacking much of the tree debris. A roof vent had blown off the house so we managed to find it and have Marc climb up and put it back on to keep the rain out of the attic. We decided it was probably best to cut the main breaker off as well.

Since we had a little extra time, we did some running around. Mostly the same tree, power and building damage as reported from the Sunday trip. We did go by the Galleria and it has many of its windows broken. The building also sustained some major external damage to two of its walls. We took pictures that I will post later. We took I-10 west to get home.

I saw pictures of some flood waters still in Metairie. The Airline Hwy./Causeway intersection is dry on the Kenner side but still flooded on the New Orleans side. Audubon Zoo had no flooding and only lost 2 otters and 1 raccoon. I spoke with someone who drove into New Orleans on Sunday. They were able to get in and look at some areas around Napoleon and Magazine. Little flooding but wind damage of roofs and awnings. I have some friends going back in today and will keep everyone posted. There are some neighborhoods in Metairie that are starting to get power. I still believe Metairie/Kenner will get cleaned up and be able to support people in a month.

The mood of the citizens is turning against our governor. Apparently Bush called her Friday before the storm and asked her to ask for Federal assistance. This is key because without a State's permission the Feds can not be the police. She turned it down citing that it would make New Orleans look like it was under Marshal Law (which it needs to be). On Wednesday after the hurricane she met with Bush privately and was offered what she called a "complicated" plan. She asked for 24 hours to review and turned it down as well. I don't have the details of the plan, it may not have been right for Louisiana but taking 24 hours to make a decision when time is critical is inexcusable.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Checkpoint Charlie

We decided to avoid the monday rush and go into Metarie on Sunday which is why I did not have time to post anything yesterday. I'm pleased to say that we made it in but more on that later.

The summary - Kenner, Harahan and all of Metarie that you can get into have no water! As a general rule, most places between I-10 and the river did not flood and most places between I-10 and the Lake had some amount of water. There are exceptions to this so please do not assume you are OK or not. Harahan and River Ridge appeared to have no flooding.

Jefferson Parish was officially closed, but as I mentioned earlier people have been getting in and out. We chose Hwy 61 based on our reports but found traffic to be backed up into the middle of Laplace. When we saw the traffic we headed over to River Road. It too was jammed up. We spent about an hour getting through Laplace and found out why there was a backup. At the St. Charles Parish line there was a road block checking IDs. We explained where we were going and that we needed to make a U-turn. I won't admit that we disregarded anyone in law enforcments "suggestions" to turn around but we made a few zigs and zags and were quickly into Jefferson Parish. Once in Haraha, we were stopped and checked for IDs. Once you are in the parish, moving around is easy as long as you have proof that you live there.

First impressions were that things really didn't look that bad all things considered. There are buildings with damage and telephone polls that are down but it is far from completely devistated. We were also suprised by the number of people who were still there and had never left. The locals either have enough provisions or have figured out how to get in and out for food and gas. There is an open gas station on the St. Charles/Jefferson Parish border on River Road. There is also a gas station selling gas, cokes and ice on Transcontinental. Power for the most part is completely off. There are a couple lights on but not many.

The most damage is massive amount of trees and power lines. I'm actaully suprised they are letting people in on Monday. There are trees blocking roads as well as telephone poles with transformers and power lines covering streets. What is amazing is that most of the buildings were missed by the trees and poles. There isn't one area that fared better than the other. The damage seems randomly distributed. Houses have a little roof and siding damages, some have windows broken some do not. There are some that have a tree branch in the roof but in might only be one or two in an entire neighborhood. Commercial buildings are hit and miss as well. Some look fine, others have their fronts ripped off. When you come into Kenner on I-10, there are many storage buildings. Many of those have the entire side ripped off and they look like giant doll houses.

We went to 4 houses to empty the fridge and rip carpet out. I feel for people who can't get into their house for a month. A closed fridge without power has an amazing amount of stench. For those who need to know - do not open the fridge in the house! Duct tape the freezer and fridge doors, bring the fridge outside, empty all food into a trash can, wash the fridge out with water, spray the inside down with bleach, rinse and keep outside with the doors open. I didn't hurl, but myself and one other came close several times. Fortunately, 3 of the houses had zero water. Cousin Marc, Jimmy and Lisa, and Monica and Brad. Rochelle's Aunt Linda and Uncle Jimmy had about 6" of water. We ripped all of the carpet out of their house. The amount of humidty was impressive even for Louisiana.

We were near East Jefferson Hospital an noticed the water lines of the houses 1 block away on Hastings St. were about waist high, but only 1 block away were 6-8". Basically, you have no idea how much or little flooding you have without checking it out personally. We saw one of the FEMA stations on Airline Hwy and Metarie Road at the Sam's Club. Lots of people working and giving supplies out. I can't tell you how many hellicopters we saw. Hundreds of all types for sure. There is no looting going on in Metarie and Kenner. Odds are that if your house survived, all of your possesions are fine. There is a big helpful police presence.

When we were getting ready to leave, we all stopped and listened. The activity of the day had subsided and it was earily quiet. We couldn't help but think that while we were sweating pulling carpet and cleaning fridges that there were other areas still under flood water with rescues going on and bodies floating. We heard no gun shots or explosions and did not see any grusome sites.

I-10 is open out bound and we hopped on I-10 and got home in record time. We did see about 100 military vehicles with generators coming in as well as about 50 Asplundi tree trucks. I think that Kenner/Metarie will be cleaned up and opened much quicker than we have been lead to believe.

Cell Phones - Verizon and Nextel worked well with 100% coverage and full strength bars. Sprint did work but was some outages. We didn't have a Cingular phone. If you do go in, bring plenty of food water and gas as there is nothing. We didn't want to buy anything from the 2 gas stations operating as the locals need it more than we do.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Random updates from the weekend

I just got an account of a couple that was rescued yesterday from Charity hospital. They were high up and had a little/food water. Fortunately they had been able to contact their family. They were bused to the airport via the Westbank. Not sure of the exact route which would be interesting. They were bused from the airport to the FEMA center in Baton Rouge and are safe.

The report from the airport was unreal. People just lying around needing various stages of medical help. You would think it was the Bagdad airport and not New Orleans.

Buses - I reported earlier about the hellicopters. They still haven't sopped but add buses to the list. If you watch I-10 you will see hundreds of buses coming from New Orleans. The ones I saw yesterday were the nice coaches with air conditioning instead of the crappy school ones. A little comfort for a long ride from a hell hole. I'm assuming they were coming from the airport but one bus did have "Lakefront" on it.

On a sad note, we learned last night that one of our rescued friends mother was in a hospice and did not make it. No details yet but it appears she did make it through the storm. Just another reminder these are real people.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Ammunition Update

It is sad to see when common sense no longer prevails. Academy Sports in Baton Rouge has pulled all of their guns and ammuntion out of the store. They did this on Wednesday. I hope all of their customers complain. A store that sells hunting and fishing items should not bow to this pressure. When your government can't apparently protect you, they ensure the means are taken away to protect yourself.

On a sad note, the reality of the situation is everywhere. While I was at Acedemy Sports I saw a trailer pull up and 4 full shopping carts of rubber boots were loaded into it. I didn't interupt them to see where they were going but I'm sure it was cleanup duty.

I have found several friends I assumed were OK but couldn't track down. All of the college crowd is safe and sound although one brainiac stayed in a condo on the lakefront. I'll get his story and post it later. If they only knew how happy/mad we are when we find them... Also, Mr. D has checked in for those who care. We have tracked down all but one rocketeer as well.

I have confirmations from several people that have been able to get in and out prior to the Monday official entry. It appears that cell phones are working outbound in these areas. Much of Kenner and Metarie is dry now and people who have IDs with Kenner or Metarie addresses have made it in. We may try a run tomorrow but may decide to wait until Monday. I'll have the camera and video out to get some good images. Security is tight but if it works, I'll post the magic way into the kingdom in case you need it. I'll also have several cell phones from different carriers and post who is working and who is not. Hopefully diesel and propane is being allowed into the city as the cell towers have about a 2 week generator on them.

I'm sure there will be more later. We have another family coming over to our house that has just arrived.

St. Bernard Ordeal

I mentioned that we found our friends in St. Bernard Parish. I finally was able to sit down and get a good bit of the details first hand. More details will come out over time. I'll update when I get them.

The house is 8 feet above sea level and has survived much flooding. During much of the storm there was lots of wind but no significant flooding. At some point in the day, things settled down. They went outside to assess the damage. While there were trees down and other wind damage, the house had done suprisingly well. They noticed that the ground seemed saturated and almost looked like water was coming out of the ground.

As they turned around to go into the house, they noticed a wall of water coming quickly. In less than 5 seconds, water was up around their waste. They struggled to get inside the house and went upstairs to the 2nd floor. Convinced the water wasn't going to rise significantly, they went to bed.

They kept hearing loud crashes in the night. This turned out to be the furniture getting banged around on the first floor. The next day they noticed that the water was still rising a little. Their across the street neighbors were in their attic. They decided they needed to get them out of the attic before they became trapped there (no axe, see previous posts). An attempt to swim was made but the current was so strong it was not deemed safe. The boat was taken across the way and the neighbors were informed to come out of the attic and swim to the boat. Everyone got into the boat and were brought back to the 2nd floor and spent the night together. Some sound of helicopters were heard during the night.

The next day their daughter decided to go to where her horses were kept to untie them, figuring that if they were tied they would surely drown. After she had been gone for a significant amount of time, the father was determined to find her. He got into the boat and began to make the trek. The wind was so strong that the front of the boat kept getting blown up out of the water. After several times of trying, he finally figured out a way to make somewhat safe forward moving progress with a sideways movement. At that point a rope became entangled in the propeller and the motor became useless. As the boat drifted with the wind and current, it began moving towards power lines which were close to the height of the boat. He decided the best option was to lie flat in the boat and hope for the best. He passed under some lines and realized the lowest ones were telephone lines. He grabbed those and managed to get the boat tied up to a local grocery (I'm assuming roof high). He then swam several blocks back to the house.

They spent that night in the house with the neighbors. Not sure of all the details here but basically lots of water and sound of occasional helicopters.

The next day the waters began to subside but they noticed that the sound of rescue helicopters had stopped completely. After much discussion they decided to make a run for it for fear they would be left behind. As they began walking in the waist deep water, other people joined them and soon talk of a rescue barge began. Not sure how long the walk was but suffice to say it was a long one. Eventually they did find a barge and were brought to an area with school buses.

The school buses proved to be an ordeal with near riot conditions as people loaded into them. Eventually they made it to a bus and got out of the city. I don't have the details on their daughter yet, but they were reunited in Baton Rouge.

Bottom line, while having a boat may be better than not, it is no guarantee in a storm.

Photos and Supply Update

I found some interesting satellite photos of the flooded areas on the LSU Earth Scan Laboratory site. You will want a high speed connection for this one.

I'm still looking for any good before/after pictures of the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River. If you find a site, please click on my profile and send it to my email address or post a comment.

A few tips if you are driving around LA. I have talked with someone driving through Louisiana. Anywhere that borders Mississippi, seems to be low on gas, groceries, etc. Natchez, MS is actually giving ice away. Natchez, MS and Vidalia, LA (across the river from each other) are short on supplies but if you go North, you will find plenty. The trend seems to be the heavily traveled highways have more issues than the lesser traveled. You can find food and gas, just make sure you plan ahead.

Walmart in Prairieville has pulled all of their ammunition from the shelves. Today is the first day of dove season and I find this absolutely ridiculous. I don't have time to check the other Walmart's in the area but I would appreciate any intelligence on this. The person behind the counter said they were asked to by the State Police. I would love to know if this was true. I'm glad Jim's Firearms and Precision didn't do anything as foolish. Make sure you let Walmart know that you do not approve of this. I can understand putting items behind the counter that have a high theft problem but pulling something you normally sell to protect the citizens is too far. I'm sure Sears will be removing steak knives from the shelves shortly.

With the LSU games cancelled, people are looking for something to do to get a break from the insane. Movie theaters are having record numbers for attendance. We were going to go dove hunting to get away but none of the husbands want to be that far away from home. No sexism here, just no female hunters in this branch of the family. We'll figure something out.

Returning Home

Site maintenance - I fixed some links that had changed in the previous posts as well as a formatting issue. Thanks for helping keep the bugs out.

As of today, they are talking about letting residents return to Kenner and Metarie on Monday. We have a caravan of people that are going to make a try to get in. You don't realize what you should have taken with you in terms of financial and legal documents until you have to file claims and have no access to anything. What was left in the fridge also becomes a concern.

Not much information about the rules to return other than you will not be allowed to use the Causeway Bridge or I-10. You will need to use Highway 61, Highway 90 or River Road. Currently the word from Jefferson Parish is only residents and you will not be allowed back for 1 month - Jefferson Return Info I hope they let friends in to help as I don't want anyone going by themselves. I'm assuming they will post more rules before Monday.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Schools Update

Something good happened today that I need to pass on. Some of the relatives today went to take care of the school situation for their children and went to the school register their children.

Upon arrival they found that the school had already setup a help desk for refugees. They enrolled the kids, let them know that the kids would have id badges and that a bus would pick them up in front of the house and not to worry. These people knew how to treat people in a time of need.

They then told them that there was room with uniforms and to grab some. They only asked that if they didn't fit, that they would return them.

When they asked what kind and how many notebooks to bring they were provided free school supplies and told not to bring anything.

Would the state and federal government please pay attention to the Ascension Parish School system.

Friday jitters

I’m finding more cases of the rumor mill not panning out with regards to Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge has not become the DMZ.

ATMs – you can find ATMs that are on and have money in Baton Rouge. While it is true that there are still ATMs without power and some that have power are unavailable, there are still locations where you can get money. Some of the remote ATMs rely on phone lines that are not reliable. Many branches are now open for business and accepting deposits and withdrawals. I recommend you have some cash, but there is no need to throw out your credit cards. I have used a credit card and debit card today without any problems.

Gas – gas is widely available. I don’t have an exact average price but it seems to be around $2.70. There are places at $2.99 but there are also places just under $2.50. Gas cans are hard to find but even small hardware stores are starting to get shipments of 200-300. The stations around I-10 and I-12 do tend to have lines and run out but shipments arrive daily. 6:00am is probably the best time to buy.

Guns – Woa, this is a biggy. It appears that many people have chosen Labor Day to be gun buying time. I have heard rumors that gun sales are up 40%. I have no way to validate this number but I can tell you what I observed first hand. Jim’s Firearms in Baton Rouge had a line coming out the door yesterday. This is what I would call a large gun shop. I’ve never seen a line inside let alone outside the door. Today every cash register had a line at least 20 deep. Even the cash/check only line had that many. They were actually completely out of .38 caliber rounds. I called this morning and they had just received a new shipment of handguns and were expecting another one later. People were buying rifles and shotguns but hand guns seem to be the hot ticket. Handgun checks were not hampered by the phone lines. Precision Firearms and Indoor Shooting Range has people in it and were low on revolvers. Didn’t check them for .38 rounds, I have plenty.

Rumor that the Academy Sports on Siegen was looted and all of their guns stolen is completely false. I confirmed the rumor was false with East Baton Rouge Sheriff in addition to driving by it. It is currently closed. My guess is that it is closed due to power outage. There is power in the area but one business told me that they had 3 phase power and the 3 phase was not on yet. has an article about 100 rescued people dying in Chalmette. You can see this at Chalmette .


Something came to me when I was in the shower this morning and heard a helicopter. I remember after 9-11 hearing/seeing fighter jets flying over Portland. I'm sure it happened more often in other larger cities. Every time I would get this chill in my spine. I'm not sure if this comes from remembering what happened, patriotism or watching Top Gun too many times in college. I'm getting the same feeling every time I hear a helicopter.

Helicopters are everywhere in Baton Rouge. You see them surveying the highways, getting news footage and just flying around. At the Baton Rouge airport, you normally see 3 or 4 hellicopters parked. It's a big deal to actually see one flying. When I flew out of the airport the other day, there were 30 or 40. All kinds - police, Coast Guard, Military, news stations I didn't recognize, privates ones etc. I've never seen so many helicopters flying around.

Just one more thing that reminds you life is different.

On a sdie note - the neighborhood is deathly quiet. No longer the sound of generators humming away.

Life in Baton Rouge

With so much focus on the negative, it is hard to find all the good stories about people helping people. I have seen these in Mississippi and Alabama but they are few and far between in Louisiana. As usual, the few bad people make all the news. Let me give some reporter a great story about the human spirit that no one is writing about.

Go around to just about any neighborhood in Baton Rouge. Stop and ask someone walking around if they have anyone staying at their house. What you will find is that most of the cars on the street and in the driveways are not normally there. What started out as a family or two staying 1 or 2 nights to get away from the storm has turned into a semi-permanent community. I went to many neighborhoods yesterday and found this to be the case. There are less people in the neighborhoods still without power but I expect that to change once they get it.

These people aren't looting or getting angry about waiting in line for food or gas. They are planning their meals together, they are figuring out where to get their kids into school and they are contemplating where their job or home will be. Kids are playing together with people they have never seen or known. Life will be different for some time. One interesting note - many kids/parents are sleeping in the same room. It isn't 100% but I think both kids and parents find this comforting.

Kids - these human beings have an amazing strength. They know something is up but they don't let it bother them. It is fun being out of school for a day but they realize this is different. Our children are playing with cousins and friends of the family they have either never met or only seen at Christmas or Thanksgiving. The older ones are starting to realize that life may be different for longer than they expected. Kids somehow know how to let go of the things you can not control.

Schools - The Baton Rouge area (Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Livingston) has be overwhelmed with people trying to enroll their children in school. All schools in the BR area are not in session indefinitely. This is due to power not being restored 100% in all areas. I suspect things will start back up on Tuesday but it is only a guess. Schools in the Greater New Orleans area are not expected to be in session for a minimum of 2 months. In Baton Rouge many people school their children at a private or parochial school. These schools have also had record numbers of applications. One private school is considering running 2 complete sessions a day. The Catholic schools are getting together today to make a decision on how to admit out of area students. Some form of priority list based on whether they were already enrolled in a Catholic school is being discussed. Not of the public or private schools in this area had an empty desk problem. After food/clothing/shelter, I think this is a big issue.

Jobs - many people are calling offices wondering what the employment situation will be. It seems like most companies just don't have a clue yet. Some are securing offices around the state but few have let their employees know what the future holds.

Mail - mail service has been suspended for Greater New Orleans. No idea how this will be handled. Postal employees have no idea where their job will be or where they will be doing it.

Refugees vs. Evacuees - these people are refugees and will always be referred to by that name on this site. Evacuees would imply there was a organized plan that was executed. There was no plan. Look around. Remember when CNN refused to call the 9-11 hijackers terrorists and referred to them as "alleged terrorists"? These people are refugees, don't let the media white wash this. You get the point.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Pictures of aftermath

The New York Times has some decent pictures of some of the damages from an aerial view. Make sure you look at both the Mississippi shore and the New Orleans ones.

One additional source for good New Orleans information is

Storm photos are particulary good.

I'm still trying to find the satellite photos of the gulf and Mississippi.

NOAA has some high resolution photos on

Anarchy vs. Rumors

Lots of information today. I can not emphasize enough that sorting out the rumors from reality is becoming tough. I'm going to do the best at confirming everything before posting but I have found that even officials do not have the correct information.

Some facts - Baton Rouge has a tremendous amount of people and the city is not designed to handle it. There have been some problems with people being approached for money and car jacked.

Rumors that Baton Rouge was locked down were initially not true. Later in the day they did clear out all of the state workers from downtown. Some businesses chose to leave, some did not. There have been several business looted or held up but it is not widespread anarchy.

Gas is still running $2.50 at many places but I did find a $2.99 at a Racetrack. Maybe signs to come.

Rumor that the Tanger Outlet Mall is being looted by the people staying at the Lamar Dixon shelter in Ascension Parish is false.

Rumor that a person was car jacked in front the the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office is true. I realize the Mayor of BR denied this but I have sources that have confirmed this.

Earlier I reported the Venice and Fouchon were under water. This was confirmed by someone who flew over them. I spoke with someone who flew over Venice on Wed and the tops of the condos are now showing. Many of these are 30'-50' tall. This means 2 things - 1st the water is receding. 2nd - the buildings are still there. I also have a first hand account that Fouchon is still there as well.

Rumor that Grand Isle (now the 1st real barrier Island) is gone or is flattened is false. Grand Isle suprisingly looks fine.

There are still businesses that are only taking local checks or cash in Baton Rouge. Hibernia customers can not access their accounts online but the phone or ATMs appear to work fine. Would someone please explain how a bank can be down for 4 days? My house has better redundancy and data recovery.

New Orleans is under Marshal Law. While this has been stated on TV where is the military? The National Guard raced in on Sunday with supplies to beat the hurricane. They have been there for the duration. Supposadely they were rescuing people but the only photos and videos show Coast Guard helicopters. Yesterday there were finally some military helicopters beginning to rescue people. Then I hear they are working on the levee which they were. Now that the craziness if finally getting press (note the craziness started long before the media picked it up) they are to keep the peace. Well? Where is the peace keeping? I don't see much. In fact, I don't see them in many of the shots.

It is clear to me that the leaders have no plan. They keep mentioning a plan but they aren't executing it. The good people of Jefferson Parish are running their own show and doing a fine job of it. The state and feds seem to be no where.

More later tonight.