When all traffic lights are out, the intersection becomes a 4-way stop, regardless of how "you" think it should work. I'm seeing at least 2 wrecks every time I leave the house. It is always at an intersection. People do not understand the concept of a 4-way stop. I stopped at a light last night and actually had someone honk at me to keep going. The large intersections with multiple turn lanes are the most dangerous. I can't tell if it is incompetence or a lack of caring. How to handle an intesection with no power to the traffic lights was one of the first things we learned in drivers education when I was 15. Another concern is the dreaded flashing yellow light in one direction and flashing red in another. People tend to want to stop at the yellow light which is also incorrect. If you must go out, pick the smaller intersections if possible when planning your route
School is cancelled in all the surrounding areas of Baton Rouge until Monday. In some Parishes (Terrebonne and Lafourche) it is cancelled indefinitely. Power continues to be a problem. I found a total of 4 traffic lights working on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge. Few businesses had power although the Mall of LA was up and running by mid-morning. I could find no signs of electricity anywhere in Ascension Parish - Gonzales and Prairieville included. The explanations vary but it has something to do with the transmission lines from the power plants to the substations. This is something that was identified as a problem by the energy companies after Katrina but no funding at the Federal or State level has been provides so nothing was done. I'm concerned because, I don't see power on at many of the sub-stations. Major intersections in Baton Rouge have no sighs of power at the businesses or the traffic lights.
Denham Springs is getting its power back and may be one of the better off cities in the areas. I found 6 gas stations opened in Baton Rouge. Lines are ridiculously long and are adding to the traffic issues. People seem reasonably patient. Late in the afternoon I found 3 opened in Prairieville. All are running off of generators. We finally broke down and got some gas as well as re-filled one of the 5 gallon containers. Gas is in good supply but until power is restored it is going to be a little like Soviet era Russia.
There are some groceries open. Like the gas stations, most are running off of generator power. The smaller ones let people in but the larger ones limit the number of people who can go inside at one time. I saw long lines at Alberston's and Wallmart. I also saw a long line at the Whole Foods store. I don't really consider Whole Foods a "basic necessity" type store and chuckled at the people waiting to buy their $40 cheese and caviar to restock their hurricane pantry.
I'm becoming an expert at cleaning generator carburetors out. People need to realize that they need to drain them or at least store them with fuel stabilizer. I have found that the barter system is alive and well. People pay you back with bread, gas, chainsaw use etc. It has restored some of my faith in my fellow man.
Generator sales continue to be the hot ticket. Lots of people didn't by them during/after Katrina and they are paying the price. Both Lowes and Home Depot get shipments daily. They must be boxing them up so quickly that they don't have time to print the boxes and they all come in a generic cardboard box. Estimates are the power could be off for as much as 4 weeks for 1/2 Baton Rouge. As of yesterday morning there were still 4 hospitals running off of generator power. By the end of the day it had dropped to 3.
We ventured out last night to get fuel. Driving at night is dangerous as people aren't stopping at the traffic lights. I guess people assume the driving laws are suspended at night. There is a reasonable amount of law enforcement out but they tend to be at the stores and gas stations to keep the peace. I was able to use debit or credit cards. It appears that the banking issues that Katrina caused are not nearly as severe for Gustav. At least one industry took the crisis seriously.