Log inskip to content

Archive for the 'Hurricanes' Category

Aftermath

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

I'm tired.  I would like a shower.  I would like a full meal.  I miss my home and I miss my cats.

Unable to stand the humid, sticky heat, I have opted to spend my 12 hours off the clock here in my office - where there is a/c and Internet.  Baret goes home; we don't get to see much of each other as we both go into work - in separate buildings - at 6pm for 12 hour shifts.

There is a lot of damage here in Baton Rouge - worse than Katrina, even worse than Andrew back in 1992.  Millions are without power.  Some parishes may not have power again for 4-6 weeks.  Can you imagine?

I yearn for life to go back to semi-normal, and yet I see the threat of Ike out there in the ocean waters and fear for the worst.

Thank you for all your support, thought, and prayers.  We are safe, our loved ones are safe, and no one has suffered any property loss.  Now we are just trying to survive without power and basic necessities in the grueling, miserable August Louisian heat.

Windy, Rainy, but Still Here

Monday, September 1st, 2008

We've lost power twice so far, but luckily it's come back on.  We're seeing strong winds and some stronger gusts and lots of rain.  Other than that, not much else to report.

Gustav made landfall about 45 minutes ago and we're expecting things to get stronger in the next hour or two.  I'm good as long as we have power (and Internet!).

If able, I'll post more as the storm's eye heads on toward us.

Gustav Churns Towards Us as Cat 3 Hurricane

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

If you look at the NEXRAD radar at Weather Underground (best weather site online, imo), you can see that we're just starting to see bands of rain - the outlying strips of Gustav making itself known - coming ashore.

Here in Baton Rouge, the weather is calm...very cloudy, slightly dark, and with intermittent sprinkles.  I started my first 12-hour shift about 30 minutes ago, and traffic was light getting here - though there were a lot of people in store parking lots making last minute supply stops.

There's not really any wind, except a weird breeze that you barely feel - otherwise the air - to me, at least - has this "pregnant" feel to it, a certain electricity as well...something is coming, and that much is obvious.

It makes me wonder how my grandfather's family knew a hurricane was on its way.  Living at a time when there was no television, and quite possibly not a radio they could afford on their small, farm home, they had to judge the threat of such a storm coming by changes in nature around them, and the weather itself.  I wonder what signs someone such as my great-grandfather, and his father before him, looked to as portents that a hurricane was eminent.

I've no word on how the evacuations are going in New Orleans, though something I read online said that they were more than 500 buses short.  I don't know if that's true or not, but it is a sobering thought.

I'll update as more happens...for now it's the "calm before the storm".  We should start seeing rain and some wind as the hours pass, but I don't expect to start seeing any hurricane-type activity until more into Monday itself.  I'll be off at 6am, and hope it isn't storming too badly for that early morning drive home.

Grand Isle Residents Get Out

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

One of the always-worst hit areas of any hurricane is the coastal town of Grand Isle, Louisiana.  I wanted to share this interview with Chief Dubois and Mayor Carmadelle from that area to give you an example of how hard an area can be hit - and (to lighten the mood a bit) - share with you what one of the true Cajun accents sounds like (i.e. what you hear in the movies, is not).

Go to this page, and click the first video link, Grand Isle Preps (10pm Update).

Especially note the Chief's and Mayor's manner of saying "tings" rather than "things".  In Cajun French, as in French, there is no "th" sound and Cajun French-speaking or heavily accented Cajuns will never pronounce the "th" on their words - mostly because they cannot.

My grandmother, who learned English in grade school, went to her grave never being able to pronounce a "th" sound and her accent was not even that strong (at least, not to my ear).  As children, we always got a thrill out of trying to make her say "Thumbalina"  - and erupting into giggles when she could only say "Tumbalina".

Just a little Cajun-accent lesson for you, folks, and trying to lighten the mood - as none of us truly feel very chipper right now in southern Louisiana.  I'll be back with more later.

Storm Limbo

Friday, August 29th, 2008

I've been wanting to get on here and update everyone on the insanity that has descended on the southern portion of Louisiana as it lies in the path of Hurricane Gustav.  While everyone would like to keep hopes high and believe it will not hit us, Hurricane Katrina taught us all a very important lesson about waiting 'til the last minute and hoping for the best.

In light of past mistakes, it goes without saying that the State of Louisiana doesn't screw around these days when a potential hurricane threat is eminent.  My office, which - without saying too much - is an agency within in part of the main hub of emergency preparedness, has been running like a kicked beehive since Wednesday.  The stress level is high, and everyone is determined this time to get it right.

Baret went on call last night, and will be working 12-hour shifts (6pm-6am) until sometime after the storm has passed (and depending on how long recovery efforts take).  I begin a similar schedule on Monday, 6pm-6am, providing i.t. support for a small command center that will be located here in our office.  While I'm frustrated that this all falls on a long holiday for me (I was going to have Monday, Labor Day, and Tuesday off), I am trying to stay positive - there are many more people that much more to fear at this point.

New Orleans will likely began official evacuations this weekend, and Contraflow will be started Saturday or Sunday; depending on Gustav's speed.

Though Gustav will be a weaker storm than Katrina, I do worry more for Baton Rouge this time around.  When Katrina hit, Baton Rouge was on her west side.  With hurricanes, everything to the east of its center gets the most damage and devastating effects.  If Gustav continues on the course it seems to be taking, B.R. will be on the east side of this hurricane and will suffer higher winds, more rain, and possible tornadoes.

Right now we are in what I call "storm limbo" - most of the preparations have been made and the initial scramble is over...now we sit and wait.  While the rest of the world goes with their lives - probably not even knowing about any hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico - we all sit in "limbo"; worrying about our loved ones and property, preparing to evacuate, or stocking up on supplies.  Life takes on a strange feeling, as everything is now focused on that storm system in the Gulf and little else.  It's almost surreal.

As I did with Katrina, I will post updates here as they happen and as the storm moves in.  Landfall will be sometime mid- to late-Monday or on Tuesday, from the last I checked (which has been some time).  Please keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers, especially those in New Orleans and further south as well as lower Mississippi, which is also just beginning full recovery from the devastation of Katrina.

The Anniversary of Katrina

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

In honor and remembrance of the horror that was Hurricane Katrina, and the devastation it brought to the Gulf and the City of New Orleans, I urge you to read this excellent look-back article, Remembering Katrina, at New Orleans' own The Times-Picayune newspaper.

Ready for Hurricane Season 2006? Sorry, If We Think You’re Full of Shit

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Big wigs in Washington are claiming they are "prepared" this hurricane season, which we down here are full aware starts next week. Whether they are or aren't remains to be seen, but if they're counting on anyone along the Southern U.S. coast to trust them they've got another think coming. In other words, we'll believe it when we see it.
The article:

White House Says It's Ready for Hurricanes
By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer
Tue May 23, 8:35 PM ET

Touting stronger radio systems and enough food, water and ice to last a week for 1 million people, the Bush administration sought Tuesday to prove it is better prepared for the brewing hurricane season than it was last year.

In a calculated contrast to the federal government's sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina last August, top officials from the Homeland Security Department and Pentagon rolled out plans and ticked off amounts of stockpiled supplies headed for storm zones in the Southeast. At one point, acting FEMA Director R. David Paulison said his agency last year "didn't have a clue" on whereabouts of relief aid being rushed to victims.

Emergency responders in some Gulf and Atlantic coast states recently expressed doubt that Washington will be ready to help them if faced with another storm the size of Katrina, one of the nation's worst national disasters.

"Our feedback from the states is mixed," said Karen Cobuluis, spokeswoman for the National Emergency Management Association, which represents state emergency directors. "Overall, it appears the federal government is going to meet their goals, and we'll have to take them at their word. If they meet those goals they'll be more prepared for the next disaster."

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said state and local emergency responders also need to be ready for what forecasters predict will be another tumultuous storm season when it begins next week.

"Experience shows that even with the best of planning, we're going to face some unprecedented challenges and unforeseen events," Chertoff told reporters. "But if we begin with a good plan, and we have a good plan, we will be in a far better position to coordinate our assistance this year with state and local governments, and get help to people who need that help the most."

The officials said they will meet all 11 top-priority reforms ordered by the White House in February to strengthen federal disaster preparations by June 1. They include systems to track supplies, aid victims with food, water, and shelter, and deliver quick information to all levels of government during a disaster.

The Pentagon is also gearing up to help, as ordered by the White House, with 367,000 National Guardsmen available to respond to domestic disasters like a hurricane. Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said those troops do not include 71,000 Guardsmen deployed overseas or up to 6,000 who are supporting a crackdown on illegal immigration on the U.S.-Mexico border.

No, the ineptitude and devastation is still a little too fresh on our minds for any of us to feel at ease about anyone in government helping out those touched by a hurricane. Sorry.

I read another article yesterday that said the lesson learned from Katrina was "trust no one at anytime". Sad, but so very true.

At the same time that our Washington-big-wigs were on TV bemoaning the fact that they "couldn't get to" those that needed help, I knew people every damn day that were making there way down to New Orleans and the surrounding areas in trucks and boats to help rescue survivors and bring supplies. Explain that to me, someone, please.

While government at all branches was running around wringing its hands in confusion and disarray, the people of Louisiana and Mississippi were helping one another; doing what needed to be done. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it - no way of looking at it in another light - our government failed us. When catastrophe and disaster hit home, our government stood by blinking and wondering how they should proceed; thousands died because of it.

So excuse us if we have a hard time putting faith in you to do the right thing this time around.

In all honesty, though, I hope they prove me wrong.