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August 29th, 2008

Storm Limbo

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.

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