Sunday, August 29, 2021

K+16 and Ida

 It’s the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and here we are, hunkered down at home, waiting for Hurricane Ida to hit. We only got 1/2 inch of rain last night, so far so good. The ground is really saturated already though. We are getting wind gusts with splatters of rain. Nothing sustained yet.

We spent yesterday prepping. A good number of our friends stayed and about half our neighbors. Everyone is keeping tabs on each other. I have keys to several neighbor’s houses who evacuated. I have already borrowed batteries and the NYT and T-P newspapers. Another neighbor who left just sent a text saying if we run out of food or booze, to help ourselves and sent the code to the front door and alarm system. This is one of the many reasons I love New Orleans and my neighborhood. 

I don’t watch TV news in general, too sensationalized for my taste. I can only imagine the hype on CNN and the Weather Channel today. I’m not a fan of FOX news EXCEPT for our local Fox8 station. Meteorologist David Bernard has been outstanding this storm as has the rest of the weather team. Good information, no hype. He’s the new Bob Breck.

I’m a little anxious, but I think it would be worse if we left. We usually go stay with family in the Baton Rouge area for hurricane, but it’s probably going to be worse there. I hope they all do OK. One friend left at 4am and had no issues. Other friends who left later in the day had gridlock traffic. Took one friend 8 hours to get to Mobile, AL, normally a 2 hour drive! It took another friend over 9 hours to get to Lake Charles, usually a 4 hour drive. Baton Rouge is a huge bottle neck. You have to get over the Mississippi River on I-10 then get through the Atchafalaya Basin. Going East on I-10 Mobile Bay is a bottle neck. 

So now we wait to see what Ida will bring.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Original Storm Blog

Our original blogs following Hurricane Katrina were on Earthlink. They were going away so I downloaded them. Here they are:

Sunday, August 28

We woke up, checked the news. The storm wasn't turning. We only packed for a couple of days and grabbed only the most neccesary of items. We got Sandy and Cleo but was unable to catch Hana. She was spooked and went into hiding. We thought we'd be back in a week anyway; we've been fortunate and the city had dodged serious storms in the past. We left Hana a lot of water and food and gave our neighbor, who was staying, keys to our house so she could let herself in to feed Hana and help herself to any food, water and booze we had. We took the back roads and made it to Greg's parent's house north of Baton Rouge in 3 hours-normally a 1-1/2 hour drive. Watching the news we heard that the mayor had ordered a manditory evacuation. We were glad we left before that. We helped Greg's parents secure outdoor plants, furniture, etc. in anticipation of the coming storm.

Monday, August 29, 9:15 AM
Stormy Monday

Friends, family, and other interested parties,

Just to let you all know, Christy and I have successfully boarded up the house and vacated the city of New Orleans for my parents place north of Baton Rouge. It is stormy and several trees are down, but the ol' plantation is just fine, and the power is still on so far.

At the time of this email, the storm has tracked to the east of the city, heading towards the LA/MS state line, which is a very good thing. The doomsday track of slightly to the west which would have dumped the contents of Lake Pontchartrain into the "bowl" of the city to the top of the levees has not come to pass, however the city is still taking a big hit. Most of the web cams on around the city are still online, but there is not much to see.

I'll keep you posted on the aftermath, when I am able.


Monday, August 29 
Jackson, LA

Greg's mother made us breakfast and coffee and we were watching the news. Around 8:30 the power went out. The winds started to blow. And blow. Only a little rain but a lot of high gusts. We watched helplessly as limbs and leaves blew down from the many trees. Occationally we'd hear a loud crack and go running to that side of the house to see what had fallen. A few times the power would flicker on only to go back off. At one point in the afternoon, after a particularly strong gust, two large cracks were heard. Greg and his mother ran to the front of the house to see a tree had fallen over, onto the fence and a power line. I ran to the side porch to discover what the second crack was. When the tree fell, it fell on the power line, which in turn pulled over the pole that held the transformer to the house. All hope for power was gone. Greg's parents live in an old plantation house in the country, and it would probably be a week if not more before a crew could be out there to replace the pole. To look on the bright side, all limbs and fallen trees were far away from the house. That night, Greg's father grilled hamburgers on his grill, his mother cooked potatoes on her gas stove. His father also was able to rig up a converter he bought to his tractor and we able to watch the news that night on a small TV. We opened up the house to let the breeze pass through. The temperature was in the low 70s due to the storm, but was predicted to go up to the 90s the next day.


Tuesday, August 30

Woke up at the crack of dawn with bird singing. Greg was already awake because some electronic something was going off due to low power. argh! (I had put in ear plugs to sleep.) Time for clean up. Greg's uncle had stopped by the other day to tell us a tree had fallen blocking the only road in-he had a 4x4 truck he was able to go around through the fields to get to us. Greg and his father chopped up the downed tree while his mother and I cleared branches from the drive way. After noon we got a call from Greg's brother that his power had been restored. Our plans was to stay at our friend Kristen's apartment since she was out of town. We took cold showers, packed up the cats and our stuff and drove into Baton Rouge to Scott's (Greg's brother) place. Turned out Kristen's place did not have power because a very large tree and had toppled over and pulled down all the powerlines. It's amazing seeing a huge oak tree, roots up and laying on it's side. You see this all over town, many streets blocked by down trees and of course, on houses. Many traffic lights were not functioning, making traffic backups all over town.

Wednesday, August 31, 2:00 PM

Location Update

Christy and I are now in Baton Rouge with my brother. We rode the storm out at my folks and came into town yesterday afternoon. Other than several trees down and the power going out, (power pole was splintered) and the road blocked by a few trees, there was nothing a few chainsaws and my Uncle Wilmer’s tractor couldn't fix. We will wait here until we get some kind of word on the condition of our house, etc. Our area, Annunciation at Louisiana is pretty high for the city, but I believe all bets are off with this one, and God only knows what happened in the storm. Our neighbor rode the storm out downtown, but we have been unable to make contact. We may be off to Houston in a few days, depending on what happens.

Officially a refugee.


Thursday, September 1, 12:23 PM
Greg's media rant

I am in the thick of it here, have had contact with people still in, or recently leaving the city and I have to say DO NOT rely on CNN or Fox for your news of this event. Fox coverage is appalling, and CNN is only slightly better. The only coverage that is not either sensationalizing the flimsiest of rumor, actually hampering the efforts of relief agencies and law enforcement, or both has been the local Baton Rouge news outlets. They continue to do an outstanding job, bolstered by refugees from their New Orleans affiliates. The best source is, run in part by the New Orleans daily paper, the Times Picayune. But please, please try to keep their bandwidth open. This is the only reliable lifeline we have had to the city. The media feeding frenzy, with their attempts to push political agendas, stir up racial, class, and political divisions, has been one of the lowest points in the history of American “journalism” and I speak for a lot of people when I say we are extremely angry about it. Please let people know.

That being said, there has been some shocking behavior, of the worst sort. There has been a complete breakdown of all, and I mean all, civic infrastructure, institutions, communication and support, which has left things in a bad state. People are in a real life and death situation, and desperation is understandable. They have no food or water; there is no civic water supply at all. There is no water to boil. People are being herded like cattle out of hellish shelters, to other states. They have no way to contact loved ones, perform basic hygiene or have any idea when they will be able to. Many of them are elderly, and they are effectively prisoners. The area is lawless, dangerous and deadly, but it looks like things have hit bottom and will begin to improve.

The good news for us is we received word that our house has survived intact. We are hoping that we might be able to return to our part of the city sooner than the month cited in some of the blanket statements by official.

There are still a number of people we have been unable to get in touch with. Baton Rouge has doubled in population, and the phone systems just can’t handle the traffic. We have had trouble both calling and receiving. If you have been trying to reach us, that is why. Email is still the best option.

That's all for now.


Thursday, September 1, 12:48 PM
Looking for...

There are a number of people we have not heard from. Hannah and Neil Kohlman, Kendal and Wendy Lamar, Gaby and Greg, my office, etc... If you have any news, please let us know.

Thursday, September 1, 2005
Baton Rouge

Scott came home from work around 2:00. We headed out so Greg and I could go to the bank. The lines at the drive up were 10 cars deep so we went inside. There were about 6 people in line and more came in after us. Then we went to find gas for Scott's car. Many stations are out of gas or do not have electricity to run the pumps. We finally found a station with lines and gas. We were next at the pump when they ran out of gas. Very frustrating, especially since we sat there and watched a guy fill up six 5-gallon gas cans. Not only are people trying to get gas for their cars, but also to run generators. We continued on and finally found an Albertson's on our side of the road with gas. The credit card machines were not working - something we've experienced already - and it was cash only. We wer having problems with our pump and it took us 20 minutes to finally fuel up. Surprising to me is they only had regular, they were out of the higher grades.

Friday, September 2, 5:30 PM
His Honor, Mayor Ray Nagan

My feelings for the absolute failure to deal with this tragedy are almost indescribable. I honestly cannot believe what is happening, I just can't. I have read and heard the feeling of others on this matter. I've seen the outpouring of help and support from individuals, churches, chapters of my Fraternity. But the ugly side is rearing its head, as well. The comment that struck me the most was one I read that pointed out a photo of a yard of flooded school busses in New Orleans, busses the writer claimed proved the Mayor “criminally negligent” for not filling those buses and getting all the people out the way of the Hurricane.

I left my house on Sunday. It still stands, but I have no idea when I will see it again. It’s in a city, known for its crime and incredible culture, a culture that has spread through every pore of this country in a way no other has. It may be gone, for good. I had a car, a reliable one, and money for gas. I had family to stay with; there were no hotel rooms available as far east as Tallahassee, or as far west as San Antonio, on Sunday, but I still could have found the money. I am young, and had the strength to work myself to exhaustion Saturday screwing plywood over the windows of my house, and I had the money and fore though to buy and keep a small supply in my shed. I am able to sit in the air conditioning, and type this while outside the heat index tops 100.

I do not rely on a cumbersome bus system for transportation, or a train system that ceased all operations Saturday. My only family are not on the other side of the country. I am not elderly. I don’t work in the kitchen of a hotel that required me to report for work on Sunday (they have guests, you know). I am not poor, I have options. Many of my neighbors (and I mean neighbors) do not.

This city is a poor city. It has great problems, on levels only places such as Detroit and Newark can really understand. The school system is bankrupt, barely able to maintain or afford the gas for the busses you see. I suspect the drivers might have had some concerns for their families as well. It has a mayor I happily voted for, as did nearly all the republicans. A businessman, he promised to make the city better, and he did. He may be the best we’ve ever had. He immediately began weeding out the corruption that tarred this city. He received standing ovations at restaurants. He hired bright people and gave them what limited resources he could to make things better. Check and see what software your city uses to run its web site, I might have been a licensed version of the one his programs developed. Things were starting to look up.

I’ve heard outrage that a member of the Congressional Black Caucus refused to rule out racism as a factor in the tragedy that continues to unfold. You want racism? How many of your cities would have accepted the contents of some of the worst crime ridden housing projects last Sunday? Don’t even begin to explain, you know the answer. You know the answer. How many would have taken the elderly, many worn and brittle after a life of hardship and toil we cannot imagine. How many could set up the necessary equipment for their care in time? Where would you have put them? That is of course if some great American gee-whiz magic could have produced all these people from the four corners of the city, on time, lined up like perfect school kids.

Would you have even cared? I mean, let’s get real. We sweated out Dennis, as did the whole gulf coast. Remember Dennis? We evacuated for Ivan. Did you even know? We evacuated for Georges. Do you even remember the name? How many of your cities stepped up then? Would any of them have even listened?

You want to know how this works…when the contra-flow (both sides of the interstate running outbound) plan was first being set up to evacuate the city, Mississippi refused to allow it to extend past their border citing manpower shortages. And you know what? It was true. They did not have the resources to deal with their own evacuating populations, and Louisiana. Mississippi, you see is pretty poor too.

Now it seems the mayor who fought for funds for coastal restoration, the funds needed to complete the levee system as designed was “criminally negligent” as are those who remained in the city. It’s been made clear to me now, the crime was poverty. And there is no greater crime.


Friday, September 2, 6:48 PM
Uptown Update

Hi everyone,
With all the crazy news being reported about NOLA, I wanted to share this with you all. -Christy

Daisycat Uptown Update

My brother, Drew, is still in his home at Napoleon and Annunciation (he's got plenty of food and water). He's got a fully functioning land line, so I've been in frequent contact with him (I'm in St. Louis). Yesterday I posted his observations upon walking through uptown. Here's today's report:
Drew went to help evacuate some hospice patients at St. Charles General Hospital this afternoon (after he learned of a call for volunteers), so he didn’t have time to do an extensive walkabout today (plus it rained lightly for a few hours). But he did get around a bit: he went Magazine from Napoleon to Amelia St. up to Prytania and Prytania back to Napoleon. As he reported yesterday, there is no significant damage (only one building on Prytania had significant damage). Water has receded from St. Charles several blocks towards Claiborne (it never got south of St. Charles), and they’re still evacuating people at St. Charles and Napoleon ? there are lots of buses.
During his walk he saw no looted buildings anywhere. No evidence of vandals or roving gangs. Increased presence of National Guard and police. Uptown seems quiet and peaceful.
Drew cannot stress highly enough how on his walk through major and side streets he has not seen any looting or suspicious activity. Perhaps if somebody left a 12-pack of cold beer on their front steps, it would go missing, but other than that, there has been no looting of residences that he has observed. Drew expects that looting is probably happening in some places, but it is grossly exaggerated by the media. Most people in Uptown are simply not that desperate.
Both of us hope everyone reading this is safe. Our hearts goes out to those who are still waiting for rescue, food and water. I wish I could bring it to you myself.
Erin (with Drew)

Friday, September 2, 9:29 PM
Christy's 2 cents

After reading Greg's entry above, I agree and don't have much to add-I voted for our Mayor and think he has done an excellent job. I feel extremely lucky that we could get out on our own, there is a good chance we may have an intact house to one day go home to, we have savings and insurance and have skills to earn money. We also have wonderful, generous family and friends who have offered to let us stay with them, money and "anything we need." Thank you.

We've also been hearing from friends we were worried about. They are all over the country. Hannah and Neil are in Florida, Wendy and Kendall are in Texas and Gaby and Greggy are in New Jersey. Others are in D.C., TN, NC, ID, usually wherever they have family. When we will see our friends again, we don't know, but thank goodness for email. The phone lines are jammed, and no one can get through.

Saturday, Sept 3, 10:25 pm

We are still in Baton Rouge, staying with Greg's brother, Scott. However, the power has finally been restored to our friend Kristen's apartment-she is out of town and has offered her place for us to stay. We may "move in" tomorrow. I must say, it's so frustrating, we feel so helpless. We can't sleep. I'm dying to run away--fill up the gas tank (yikes!$$$) and drive out west and visit our friends, then head across the north and then down the east coast, stopping at friends/families for a visit. Also, stop to visit our New Orleans friends who are now spread throughout.

But Greg is determined to get back into the city, rescue our kitty, Hana, and get more things from our house, so we stay in Baton Rouge. Everyone knew what happened was a reality, but the reality is worse than the imagined. Every morning, I woke up and some else bad happened... first levees broke, worse flooding, looting, fires, gun shots, people who survived dying, the administration sitting on their asses and now the media is in a feeding frenzy. It's insanity. We are very fortunate, and I tell myself that over and over to try to keep a perspective on things. There are people so much worse off than us but the future is very uncertain, so I just try and focus on today. Please keep the emails coming, we may not get to reply to each individually, but hearing from everyone is very comforting. Week one will be over soon - this time a week ago, we were boarding up our house, filling our gas tank, etc. It's good to see people stuck in the city FINALLY getting rescued and receiving food/water/medicine. The question of "IF" our city well be rebuilt is rebutted by "us locals" who say WHEN it will be rebuilt. We love New Orleans, it is a special place, with all its pros and cons, but it is home.


Sunday, Sept 4

Hi all. Greg and I have moved into our friend Kristen's apartment today. We're curtailed our TV watching today and yesterday which has helped our moods. Been practicing a bit of escapism by catching up on movie watching. We've read some reports of people having gotten back into Orleans Parish (Louisiana has parishes instead of counties), but then others that people are being turned away and some not being allowed to leave. Tomorrow, people can return to Jefferson Parish to check their houses, grab what they can a leave. Keep your fingers crossed it goes well so maybe Uptown residents are next. Greg emailed a pet rescue operation today in hopes they can get Hana. Once again, keep those fingers crossed. We've had confirmation from our neighbor and have also viewed satellite images that our house does indeed still stand, and is dry. Pshew. A friend forward me an email from someone who went through Andrew, offing their support and input. I may share that with you. However, Scott is here, and it is dinner time. So, until tomorrow, keep those emails coming!


Tuesday, September 6

As you can see our blogging has slowed down a bit. No new news to tell. We’re still been avoiding TV coverage, preferring to get our info from the web. Yesterday had a touch of normalcy... we did some laundry and went to the grocery store (makin’ groceries). Not to get all philosophical (too late) but it’s amazing how these simple activities that normally are a pain but need to be done, now make us feel human and in control of our lives. LSU started classes today, pretty much all power has been restored and gas stations and stores are getting shipments, and traffic is a nightmare. We ran a few errands today and we sat in the car more than we drove. However, one thing that took our breath away... we passed a caravan of 20-30 fire trucks from all over, definitely Peoria, IL and many other towns. I guess there were moving them to a staging area to be sent to parts unknown. Why? I don’t know. But to see so many fire trucks and firemen, so far from home, to know somewhere are towns that are sharing resources that protect them with us, it moved us deeply.

We continue to try to get in touch with friends and hear from several new people a day. Phone service is slightly better, but it still is hard to get a call out, though Greg’s cousin Lyle has been able to call our cell phone which is promising. People have asked our plans... we take thing one day at a time, but the plan du jour is to go to Houston once we can get back to our house and get some things (especially our cat Hana) and yes, we are going back to New Orleans. 95% of the people we’ve talked to are also planning on going back.

Lastly, a spirit lifter for me, Florida State beat U of Miami. I almost didn’t watch since we’ve lost to them over last few years, but we held our lead to the end and sacked their quarterback with no mercy. - Go ‘Noles!!!


Wednesday, September 7, 10:26 am

Reading through the headlines on The mayor has ordered a mandatory evacuation, in which the national guard can use force to remove people. I was reading accounts of search crews finding people who refuse to leave. I was looking for more information about the reported "fire in the garden district..." the location was technically in the lower garden district; our house is above the garden district on the edge of the Irish Channel.

Wednesday, September 7, 6:03 pm
Covert kitty rescue mission

Best news I've had in ages! Greg and his cousin Lyle went back to New Orleans to rescue kitties and get some possessions. You can't officially get back into the city, but they had a plan... Lyle bought some scrubs and she and Greg claimed they had talked to an elderly patient who said she would evacuate only if they came and took her and her cat. It worked! Greg can give you the full details tomorrow, but he did say that the looting on Magazine was grossly exaggerated he saw nothing broken into except for groceries stores and such. He also said there was military/guardsmen everywhere.

Wednesday, September 14, noonish
"Walkin' to New Orleans..."

Greg left Monday to go to Houston to find us an apt. Hopefully he'll find us something soon. I'm still in Baton Rouge, staying at our friend Kristen's. Not only is she giving me and our 3 cats shelter and providing chauffeuring services, she's also been able to hook me up with the web development company she works for and I've been working on a few projects for them. THANK YOU KRISTEN!

N.O. Mayor Ray Nagin said last night at a press conference, that residents and business owners from parts of Uptown, Downtown, French Quarter and other non-flooded parts may be able to come back as soon as next Monday!!! Power is starting to be restored, water is available in parts (but must be boiled to drink). I just want to comment again that I think our Mayor is doing a great job. I love his comment: during the press conference, you'd hear sirens and helicopters and the speaker would pause. At one point, the Mayor said: "I'm tired of hearing these helicopters. I want to hear some jazz."

Nagin conceded the return of residents could create some confusion and perhaps complicate the sprawling relief effort to restore power and drinkable water to the city's east bank. He plans to enforce a dusk-to-dawn curfew. But a return to the normal rhythms of city life is preferable to the current ghost town, he said.

Nagin, wearing a New Orleans Hornets polo shirt and in a generally ebullient mood, predicted a big comeback for the ravaged city. "I know New Orleanians, and once the beignets are in the oven, once the gumbo is in the pot, and red beans and rice are being served on Mondays, they'll come back," he said.

Read more on - THE best source of information on New Orleans - once again I say DON'T WATCH FOX NEWS! CNN and MSNBC aren't much better.

Should we rent an apartment in Houston? It's going to be a while before stores, restaurants, etc. will be open. Will there be power and internet connections for us to be able to work? Will the phone work better? Just don't know. We just take it one day at a time. We are very fortunate to have a house and neighborhood to go back to. I keep sane by communicating with people via various mail lists/groups. I also designed some t-shirts, most of you probably got my email.

While sitting around, wondering when we can move back and missing New Orleans, I put together 2 designs which are now available on t-shirts and bumper stickers. I'll get $5 for every item sold. Instead of donating part of the money to the huge Red Cross, I'd rather give it to smaller, local organizations that are important to me and the city. $1 LASPCA for their pet rescue efforts and to continue operating. $1 to Faubourg Delachaise Neighborhood Association. $1 AIGA New Orleans Chapter. The last $2 I'll keep to rebuild my business Creative Zumo. We do a lot of work for non-profits and community based organizations, usually reduced price or pro-bono and I think when we get back, they will need our help, but won't have money to pay us.

I think I'm going to also have to include $1 to Neighbors United, the neighborhood group Gaby lives in and that our office is in. For you non-New Orleanians here's some more info on the designs. "Laissez les bons temps rouler..." is a popular saying that means "Let the good times roll." The fleur de lis is a popular symbol of the city, and the colors, gold, green and purple are the colors of Mardi Gras. The other one "New Orleans c'est moi." translates to "New Orleans it is me." It was between that and "Je suis New Orleans" -- "I am New Orleans." Tough call.

Thursday, September 15
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans

And miss it each night and day
I know I’m not wrong... this feeling’s gettin’ stronger
The longer, I stay away
Miss them moss covered vines...the tall sugar pines
Where mockin’ birds used to sing
And I’d like to see that lazy mississippi...hurryin’ into spring

The moonlight on the bayou.......a creole tune.... that fills the air
I dream... about magnolias in bloom......and I’m wishin’ I was there

Do you know what it means to miss new orleans
When that’s where you left your heart
And there’s one thing more...I miss the one I care for
More than I miss new orleans

-Louis "Sachamo" Armstrong

Got an email from Greg this afternoon. He said he tried to call but the lines were all busy. He looked at several rentals yesterday, and had checked out some of the larger apt. complexes with no luck. There's a small house in the Montrose area that the owner will let us rent for only 3 months. I know I'd have glowing recommendations from my past landlords if I only knew where they were. It will be nice to have some place we can put our feet up, unpack my duffle bag and "matching luggage" a la Target plastic shopping bags. Looking on-line at photos of people in shelters, coming back to homes destroyed by flood water (and now covered in icky mold) and finding out they aren't getting squat from their insurance companies (sidenote: our friend Guy said he's going to write Allstate a nasty letter and send them a photo of his perfectly intact house they wouldn't cover because it was "old"), my heart goes out to them and I know we are very lucky. But I miss Greg and want to get "settled" somewhere for more than a week or two. Did have another good piece of news today, Mayor Nagin said Uptown business owners can come into town this weekend--that's me!! Hot dog! Residents in our zip code can go back Wednesday. And we got a check from our insurance company and FEMA that will cover our rent.

Some people have emailed me to say they purchased t-shirts or bumper stickers - THANK YOU!! Other people have asked me who to donate to. The Red Cross is obvious, but they are also getting tons o' donations. To help New Orleans come back, our cultural organizations will need help. Like:
  • WWOZ - the Jazz and Heritage Station that does so much for New Orleans musicians.
  • Tipitina's Foundation also helps NOLA musicians -
  • Preservation Resource Center preserving our buildings - 
  • Louisiana Landmarks Society - preserving the city's landmarks
  • New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) many of our famous musicians attended (Approximately 50% of NOCCA students come from families living below the poverty line.) 
  • Neighborhood Housing Services, New Orleans AIDS Task Force, Covenant House New Orleans, Big Brothers/Big Sisters... Too many to name. If you go here, there's a list of non-profits:
If you don't hear from us here for a few days, that's probably because we are in the middle of going into New Orleans to retrieve things and getting settled in Houston. As soon as we have an address and phone number, we'll let you know.

Sunday, September 18
Uptown Odyssey

Greg and I went back to New Orleans today. Business owners from Uptown, CBD and FQ were allowed back this weekend. We took I-10 all the way to Causeway, then turned off, not sure if I-10 was clear. We left Baton Rouge at 7 a.m. and there was NO traffic and it took us about an hour—record time! When Greg snuck in 1-1/2 weeks ago it took 4 hours. We turned onto Jefferson Hwy. and there was a check point at the Parish Line. I had printed out a copy of our incorporation info from the secretary of state web site, though they might have just accepted a business card. Crabby Jacks is fine. I'm kicking myself because I forgot my camera.

We turned onto Carrollton and headed to Greg's office. There are numerous check points throughout Uptown and Humvees patrolling the streets. Next one was at St. Charles and Broadway. National Guard are just as nice as can be. Greg showed them his business card and drivers license and they waved us through. There was a number of trees and branches down, but crews were cleaning things up. Once we got Greg's stuff we headed to my office. We tried to go down Freret St. but there was a bunch of trucks at Tulane blocking the way. There was private security standing guard. Not as friendly as the Nat'l Guard boys. We turned around and got back on St. Charles Ave and turn onto Jefferson Ave. We hit our next check point at Loyola Ave. They checked our ID then told us to have a nice day. This area flooded after the levee broke. You could see the water line on the mausoleum across the street and outside of my office building—about knee deep. We checked Gaby and Greg's houses and they seemed fine. They are raised so it's not likely they got any water inside.

The door to my office building was warped a little and you could see the lower part of the building had taken about a foot of water. It smelled musty and mold was starting to grow on the wainscoting. Upstairs was fine. Carpet wasn't wet, there was a fine dust of grit on everything. I grabbed a bunch of stuff and we loaded it into the car. We got back on St. Charles Ave and headed to our house. There was another check point at Louisiana and Prytania (it's locked down around hospitals) and then another at LA and Annunciation. Glad to know there are boys stationed less than a block from our house. Looked over the house, no power, phone was working. I had hoped to get Greg's car out of the shed but there was too much cleaning to do so it wasn't possible. It was really quiet, not many people around just the occasional helicopter. As we were leaving, we were very happy to see the two stray cats we feed. Very jumpy but they were fine. We put a bunch of food out for them and any other cats around.

It was about 10:30 so we decided to drive down Magazine St. We stopped at Slim Goodies, a diner, open for business. Kappa, the owner, was there and she cooked us and 4 other people sweet potato pancakes, eggs and bacon. No power but she had everything iced down. Mary, her sister, showed up with more supplies. She said stores are open on the west bank. We continued down Magazine street toward CBD, planning to take the CCC bridge to the west bank, the same way Greg went out last time. No signs of looting that stretch of Mag. We hit a check point at 6th street where they gave us a flyer from the city with warnings and recommendations and then another at Jackson Ave where they wrote down our info. When we got to the CBD the on-ramp to I-10 was open so we hopped on and we were out of there!

It's hot and stinky and there are lots of flies and mosquitoes. The main roads are well cleared but some of the side streets aren't. There is water but you can't drink it and probably shouldn't bathe in it. Some media people we met said they were in the Sheraton on Canal and the CBD has power. Thursday the mayor said 70115 & 70118 residents could return Wednesday, but they may push that date back.

We'll probably head to Houston tomorrow. We want to wait until more things are up and running before we go back to New Orleans permanently. We think that should be about a month. Things Uptown look promising. Lots of cleaning up and work to do, but it looks better than many other parts.

Wednesday, September 21
Out of the frying pan into the fire?

We arrived in Houston yesterday afternoon. After packing the car and wrestling the cats into their carriers, we got on I-10 and made good time to Houston. Traffic was very light. We are staying with friends of friend's parents. The have a house near Rice University and they live in the upstairs apartment and we have the whole downstairs to ourselves. Fully furnished and we can stay as long as we like. How long that will be remains to be seen. We don't want to be the pioneers who go back to New Orleans without power, potable water, hospitals, etc. But Jefferson Parish and the Westbank are getting up to speed as far as services and hopefully Uptown will be livable in a month or so. Provided no more storms hit...

Mass hysteria has struck Houston as hurricane Rita chugs this way. #@$% not again! Today, Greg and I ran a few errands and every gas station has lines, shelves are picked over, C and D batteries are nowhere to be found. Thankfully our hosts have a stocked pantry (and liquor cabinet) and functioning flashlights should the power go out. We got the last battery powered radio at Radio Shack. It's only a headset, but that's OK since it takes AAA batteries and those are the only ones to be found.

Currently, I have my computer hooked up so we can do email via dial-up. The house we are in is old and doesn't have many 3-prong outlets and none of the phone jacks downstairs work, but we do have a phone that taps into our host's phone line. I'm set up in the kitchen on a card table with a 15' phone cord from the hallway, and I had to unplug the washer to plug the computer in. Not ideal working conditions so both of us will need to find other places to work. Right now, our main concern is to get through this storm. Hopefully we won't lose power, but we are prepared in case we do. So, don't be surprise if you see no new postings for a few days.

We have a number of friends here in the area and look forward to seeing some of our fellow displaced New Orleanians. We just take it day by day, rolling with the punches. Thanks again for all your t-shirt/bumper sticker purchases and emails! We both enjoy reading everyone's emails even though we can't reply personally to them all we try to answer everyone's questions via this blog.

Wednesday, September 22 @ 2:00 p.m.
Texas Two-step

Nothing like getting ready for a second hurricane in a month. Things are super quiet here in Houston. We went over to our friends' house (Simon and Suzanne) last night for dinner. Suzanne was pretty worried; they have a youngster so it's understandable. She sent us an email last night at 1 a.m. saying they were going to drive to northern Mississippi to stay with her grandmother. Watching the news this a.m. they showed footage of the interstate at a virtual standstill and said it was like that all night long! We got a call from Suzanne around 11 a.m. and she said they had turned around and were back home.

We are far enough inland that storm surge is not an issue. High winds, probably depending on where the storm makes land fall - and that keeps changing every update. Street flooding is a possibility if we get a lot v of rain. But we have lots of food, water, booze, flashlights, ice, reading material and we are in a 2 story house with an attic, so I think we'll be fine. We walked a few blocks to see if there was any place open for lunch and everything was closed. Gas stations are out of gas. So, we walked back and heated up some leftovers. There's a good chance we'll lose power so might as well eat it, so it doesn't have to be thrown out. We walked because we want to conserve the gas we do have in the car. So that's the latest from us.


It has been 15 years since the Federal Flood and Hurricane Katrina. Earlier this week, there were two storms in the gulf, both expected to develop into hurricanes. The forecast a week out had both coming at New Orleans, but as they got closer, Marco fizzled due to shear and we hardly felt anything. Laura developed into a monster storm, following a similar path as Hurricane Rita. 

We landed in Houston 3 days before Rita hit. We had bounced from my in-laws house, to my brother-in-law's house, to a friend's before securing an apartment in Houston thanks to friends.  I remember driving back and forth between Houston and NOLA after Rita and seeing trees shorn off half way, and twisted metal billboards and gas station canopies. 

Laura spared New Orleans, we were just on the outer edge and only got gusty winds and occasional rain though the rest of the state got slammed. Out of town friends and family were concerned we were staying, but I could reassure them that if state was bringing evacuees from the storm area to New Orleans to stay in hotels, it shouldn't be bad.

We had planned to have another "Isle of Denial" party like we did 5 years ago. With the 10 year anniversary of Katrina, the media was getting all ramped up and over blown. We decided to invite friends over but the rule was no one could talk about Katrina. We had a nice time, hanging out in the back yard, drinking and visiting. I supposed we could have held it this year--even with the pandemic, since we planned to be outside--but the weather isn't cooperating.

Having lived through Katrina, the Flood and aftermath--as incredibly stressful as it was and uncertain everything was--has given me the fortitude to weather this pandemic and 2020. I am not happy about it at all, but if things got better after Katrina, things will get better again. It just takes time.

Photos from the CBD where I had a cat sit this morning:

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Day 13 CV19

The stay at home mandate and self-quaranting is vaguely familiar, reminds me a little of our extended evacuation in Houston following Hurricane Katrina, which is why I think we aren't panicking. For about a month an a half (it felt longer!), we had no where to go, very little work so no real schedule. Every morning we would go for a walk around the neighborhood. That got us up and out for the day. But we weren't at home like we are now. I have so many chores on my "to do" list so I am trying not to waste this down time, but it is hard to prioritize and stay focused.

One of my to dos is to clean up and organize the Glitterdome, my craft area. It's become more of a dumping ground. It is in a semi-finished area of the attic, so it isn't always comfortable temperature-wise. Today it's overcast so not as hot. We really need rain, the pollen has been so bad, but I think the clouds are just a tease. Most of the stuff in the Gdome is Krewe of Spank related (I have a whole closet dedicated to costumes and Pussyfooting stuff.) While up there I noticed the Sashed me and G wore during the "occupy PAN" years. Before Krewe of Spank, subkrewe of Krewe du Vieux, there was the Krewe of PAN. The year of limbo in-between coincided with the Occupy Wallstreet movement, so we were Occupy PAN. I was madam PANdemic. Oy.

Welcome to the Glitterdome!

The Glitterdome was a mess! So I got all OCD and cleaned it up. Much better!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Newest Man-made Disaster

Dusting off ye olde blog in these troubled times. I started blogging in troubled times following Hurricane Katrina. Here I am again. I helps me to write even if no one reads. 2020 has so far been an odd year. Mardi Gras in New Orleans this year was weird. It started with the Krewe du Vieux ball being moved the day of the parade and ball, due to safety issues. That was later followed with the Krewe of Nyx parade, when a parade goer was killed by falling under a float. I was 1.5 miles and 15 floats away with the Pussyfooters. When it happened, we were stopped in the Garden District. Word was going around about what happened, then the official word came from NOLAready. I decided to walk home, and not complete the parade. 

The next night, the Krewe of Muses and all other parades were postponed due to weather. This isn’t odd, it has happened before, but the decision wasn’t announced until 2 hour before the parades were supposed to rolls. All the marching bands and other on-foot groups usually report to line-up 2 hours before the parade, so they were all dressed and on their way when the word came. Another float related death occurred during mega-parade Endemyion. Then, during Thoth, two riders fell off of floats, but were fine. The next night, two people fell off a balcony while watching a parade. Conspiracy theories relating it to the 2 victims still in the wreckage of the Hard Rock hotel (another fucked up ordeal) were flying.

G and I were sick with an upper respiratory cold in early January. I was happy we were both healthy before Blush Ball and Krewe du Vieux. We got sick again after Mardi Gras was over. I remember feeling it coming on my birthday, the day after Ash Wednesday. My Skeeball team threw me a small party, though I kept my distance so as not to get anyone else sick. I laid low and stayed close to home the following week and a half, so as not to get anyone else sick. We are still dealing with allergies issues due to the annual pollening, but so is everyone else. 

The city is more-or-less shut-down due to the Coronavirus. Museums, bars, festivals, concerts, casinos–any large, public gathering–has been cancelled or postponed. French Quarter Fest has already announced it will be held the first weekend of October. All are waiting for Jazz Fest to make a similar statement. Restuarants can no longer have seated guests, but can do take-out and delivery of food. Even Commander's Palace is doing take-out. Their food is really good, but it is the whole experience of dining there with their amazing wait staff that really makes it. Some restaurants have closed down for good. I was really looking forward to the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Parade which would have been Saturday, and Super Sunday, but both were cancelled, for good reason. A bunch of people gathered on Saturday anyway and were shut down by the NOPD. Today is St. Patrick's Day and normally parties would be every where, but not this year. It is strangely quiet.

I am a pet sitter, and only one of my clients went ahead with her trip. So I have been going downtown, Canal at Magazine Street, since Sunday. Sunday was more or less a typical Sunday. There was some traffic congestion on Camp Street before the turn onto Canal. Tourist were lined up at Ruby Slipper for brunch, and tourists were checking out of their hotels, cabs and Ubers double parked. Monday was much quieter, still a small crowd in front of Ruby Slipper. Today there was no traffic, very few tourist, and Ruby Slipper was doing take-out only. Metered street parking spots were plentiful, a rarity. 

I tried to pick up a few things from the uptown Rouses grocery store Sunday evening, but it was picked clean. Monday, I decided to head the Westbank on a quest for produce and eggs. The Gretna Rouses was a zoo, so I headed on over to Hong Kong market. Plenty of produce, noodles, frozen goods but zero eggs. The lines to check out were long and slow, as people had their carts piled high. (I wasn't worried about toilet paper, we have plenty from my last run to Costco. Can anyone explain the TP hoarding?)

Folks here in South Louisiana are used to preparing for hurricanes, but this is a different animal. We shouldn't have to worry about the water supply or electricity, though people are buying up water anyway. It's familiar. There is no where to evacuate to, unless it's in the middle of nowhere. Every morning comes the update from the city, with the rising numbers of people infected and deaths. So we hunker down.

Monday, August 31, 2015

K+10 - We survived Katrina again

We didn't know how we were going to get through August 29, 2015 amid all the hoopla around the "Anniversary." G suggested we throw a party, invite friends over and fire up the grill. Sounded good to me. The morning of I saw our next door neighbors and invited them over. They moved in about 2 years ago (In 2005 the house was empty. The owners finally renovated it and sold it.). I told them we were having a party for the anniversary and to please come by. She said "That's nice. It's your anniversary?" I replied "No, for the Katrina Anniversary." She said "Oh, we weren't here then so I'm not sure of the actual date." I won't hold it against her, they are very nice people.

We're not the only ones who were not in the mood to rehash history. Many of our friends felt the same way. One of our friends blogged about it and it's been shared wide and far. Katrinaversary Blues: Of Resilience Tours, Carpetbloggers & Disaster Tourists. 

Even Chris Rose, who spoke to us in the months following Katrina from the website, wrote a piece that appears on New Orleans Is Tired of Talking About Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately Chris Rose has had a tough go of it, fell on some hard times, and hasn't been writing as much as he used to. Every page of the Times-Picayune this past week seemed to have a K+10 story, complete with a special logo. Sunday, there was even a 68-page, full-color insert by ESPN titled "After The Storm: A summer in search of saints, sinners and lost souls in the New Orleans that Katrina left behind." Not gonna read it. Who has time?

I spent the weekend with friends and it was wonderful. Some friends were from Pre-Katrina but many were not. One of our newer friends told us his story. He wasn't living in New Orleans when Katrina struck, but was visiting with his girlfriend. He was lucky they were staying with some of her relatives, because he was able to evacuate with them, instead being stuck in a hotel and then loaded on to a bus bound to who knows where. Even after that he chose to move here.

When I shared the Chris Rose post on Facebook, a friend from Miami commented "Remember Hurricane Andrew here in Miami? Eventually it just becomes a 1 hour special on the Weather Channel." I do remember. It was a huge storm. I had been in south Florida visiting family and left just before Andrew hit. I had just graduated from FSU and was planning to move to New Orleans. My friend who was also moving and I wondered what was going to happen in Louisiana. Would we still have a place to move to? Thankfully we did. I never evacuated all the years I lived in Florida (I was born there). But I've evacuated more time than I can remember from New Orleans. We were in Houston when Rita hit and we were puzzled by how badly everyone was freaking out. Houston's pretty well inland and above sea level. We only had 1/4 tank of gas and couldn't leave even if we wanted to because all the gas stations sold out of gas 2 days before. The city shut down and looting began before the storm arrived. We hunkered down in the 2 story house we were staying in and never even lost power. Strange times.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Katrina or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Technology

I'm a technophile though I'm not an early adapter.  I'll let others deal with the frustrations of Beta software and whatnot. I want the bugs worked out. A couple of months prior to Katrina my in-laws gave my husband, G, his grandmother's cell phone. Neither one of us had one yet. Many of our friends had them but we didn't want to feel like we could always be tracked down. We didn't blog. We weren't on any sort social media that was around at the time. It wasn't until 2009 I embraced social media. But Katrina introduced us to texting and blogging.

We had given G's cell phone number to our neighbors across the street. Several days after the storm his phone chirped and he received his first text message. It was from our neighbors, they were OK! But it took us a while to figure out how to reply to them. This was years before smart phones when it took forever to type anything out. I remember when G snuck back into New Orleans with his cousin, I was so nervous and scared. We had heard the stories. I was in Baton Rouge and tried to call G with no luck. The phone lines were still all screwed up. I ended up sending an email to a friend in Chicago and asked her to call him. It worked! She emailed back that she talked to him and they got in OK. When we got back to New Orleans in October, one of the first things I did was buy my first cell phone. The landline was out at my office and we had no idea when it would work. (Side note, our AT&T landline at home never went out.) Now I'm addicted to my iPhone.

After the storm, email was the only reliable way to communicate with people. Unless you were teaching at a college that was stupid enough to 1) have their server on the first floor on a campus that flooded and 2) not have a back up server in another location. I was teaching part-time at Delgado and I hated all the crap I got through my DCC email, so I had set up my own email address to communicate with my students. So glad I had that so I could check on my students and report to them what little I knew. I even heard from former students who were checking on me and their friends. The college boated in, rescued their soggy server and eventually was able to send emails out. So many emails wizzed back and forth between us, family, friends and clients. It got to be chore to respond to all our well meaning friends. We started sending out blanket emails. At some point we set up a blog. I knew G used to read blogs before the store but wasn't blogging himself. Blogging made communicating so much easier and was/is therapeutic. We read other New Orleanians blogs and the message boards on to figure out what was really going on back home. The message boards were also a life saver. Through blogging, we made new friends after Katrina, real friends we see face-to-face. I think the post-Katrina NOLA blog community was unique. We had each other backs and we were trying to get the truth out there to anyone who would listen.

Author Cynthia Joyce collected and published a bunch of blog posts "Please forward: How Blogging Reconnected New Orleans After Katrina." I don't know if I can read the book, and I guess it's not really for me as she says "I think I wanted this collection to exist not so much for people who lived through it, but for people who didn't but who wanted to better understand it." Interviews with her resonate with me. So it is now I return to my blog to rant and get relief.

I was a graphic designer at the time and I reached out to my clients to see how they were, where they were, and what could I do to help them. As a small biz owner, I understood the helplessness they felt, and the desire to get back to work. Updating my clients' web sites kept me busy after the storm. We posted their new cell phone numbers so their clients could get in touch with them. I posted status of them and their businesses. It made me very happy on the days I got to update their websites to say "Now Open."

My first foray into social media was MySpace. Remember that? A friend had a profile on MySpace and that was the best way for me to keep up with what was happening with her after Katrina. Of course I had to join to be able to see her posts. Is MySpace is still around? Yep. And you can log in with your Facebook or Twitter account. Ha! Now I'm on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Nextdoor (and probably some other sites I'm forgetting). I have this blog, a blog about my cats, a retired gardening blog, and a blog for my pet sitting business. I also do social media for my business plus a couple of other businesses and organizations. I also have more email addresses than I can count on both hands.

For better or worse, this is how we communicate now. I rarely talk on the phone anymore. Faxes, remember those? But nothing beats good, old fashioned face to face interaction. And I still love getting a card or note in the snail mail.

Today, it's a beautiful, rare, cool, dry day and I have dogs to walk. So it's time to walk away from the computer and sign off.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The weepy week of the year

Thinking about my mom who passed away 16 yeas ago. I think this is the last photo I have of her, from my BFA graduation show at FSU. She preferred to be behind the camera, not in front. Maybe that's why I'm such a ham in front of the camera because she took a ton of photos of me growing up. :-) I miss her but I carry with me her love of cats, reading, photography, art, music, laughter and The Blues Brother.

Mourning the loss of my mom this time every August gets compounded with the Katrina anniversary. I'm not always sure which event prompts which tears but with them being a week apart I spend a good part of the week grieving. I learned after my mother's death you cannot, and should not, try to ignore it. You have to let the grief flow and not fight it. I also found it helps to come up with you own way of marking these events. With my mom, there are plenty of good things to remember about her. With Katrina, not so much. But the occasion needs to be marked, and it's good to see how far you've come since then.

I finally settled on the way I like to honor my mother. I make a meal of Hungarian origins, because my mother was proudly half Hungarian. It is either chicken paprikash with spätzle, which I don't really recall her ever making but is damn tasty and my husband loves it too, or stuffed cabbage leaves, which she did cook. There's usually a cucumber salad because I love cucumbers and they are used a to in Hungarian cuisine. Since I'm making the chicken tonight, I'll also sauté some cabbage. Rouses grocery store actually carries Hungarian wine so I picked up a bottle of a red called "Bull's Blood." My mom was also a Dracula and vampire fan WAY before it was cool, as well as a fan of murder mysteries, so anything with word "blood" in it would be OK in her book. And last but not least, we'll pop in "The Blues Brother" movie to enjoy with our meal and drink a toast to my mother, Margaret.

As for Katrina, I haven't figured out a good way to deal with that bitch. And when I say Katrina, I'm not just referring to the hurricane, but the whole damn thing: the storm; evacuations; wondering what was happening to our city, friends, home; wondering where we were going to stay and when we could return; watching the footage of the destruction; hearing the national media and politicians lie; reading the hateful things people were saying about New Orleans. But I'll figure something out between now and Saturday.