Mayor Ray Nagin just came on the TV and told us that Gustav is ‘the mother of all storms’ and that it is likely that there will be significant flooding on the Westbank of New Orleans. He says this storm will be worse than Katrina and there will be a mandatory evacuation in effect for the city starting at noon tomorrow. The storm is supposed to hit on Monday morning, which is exactly what happened with Katrina.
Today, as I rode around on my scooter, I was impressed by the visible presence of police and National Guard troops. The streets of New Orleans are mostly clear, and pretty much everyone I know who planned to evacuate is gone. By way of contrast, on the Saturday before Katrina hit there were many people still in the city.
As I rode around I saw buses picking up poor people who were evacuating. The process seems very orderly and my sense is that many, if not most, of the people who really need to be evacuated have been moved out. The hotels have shut down and told guests to leave, and most of them seem to have gone to the airport or left town. Tomorrow there will be one final convoy of shuttle pickups for people with airline tickets; the airport will shut down tomorrow night at 6 pm.
The National Guard has already started to question people who are downtown walking around. It is very clear that there will be no looting, or if there is then the looters will be shot or arrested. All in all, it’s clear that the government has dramatically improved its handling of the disaster situation. Hopefully, the storm will not cause major damage and we’ll be able to look at this as a successful evacuation drill.
Of course, I say this knowing that I won’t be evacuating. Believe me, if I lived in a low-lying house I would evacuate. I think the threat of flooding Uptown is not as significant as government officials are reporting. I’m not faulting them. It’s their job to report the worst case scenario. But, for me (living in a high rise condo with storm shutters and very thick concrete), the worst case scenario is more the inconvenience of being in the aftermath of another major storm. Fortunately, my kids are all safely evacuated.
So, Becky and I are staying, along with Buddy and Star (our dogs). I assume that power will be down starting sometime Sunday night or early Monday morning, and I assume that cellphone communications will be difficult. Last time text messaging worked pretty well, so I’m going to assume that’s the best bet for reporting conditions. I have a Twitter account, which is like a blog for text messaging. If you click here you’ll see my updates. I’ll use this to update if I can’t post to the blog, which is likely.
Thanks for all the nice emails everyone sent. Don’t worry, Becky and I will be fine. And so will Buddy and Star. We have plenty of food and water, and other essential supplies. I can’t believe that this is happening again to New Orleans, but there is no sense in agonizing about the challenges that life presents to you. The only choice is whether to meet them with full intention, or to waste energy complaining.
I’m not big into wasting energy. So let’s just see what we have to deal with when it comes along.