I went into downtown New Orleans for the second time today, this time spent a lot of time driving where I could. I’m going back tomorrow. The difference from Friday to today is stunning: the authorities have
control. I felt very safe. Buses streaming into and out of the downtown area through the only route: I-10 to I-310 over the Luling Bridge to U. S. 90 to Westbank Expressway, then over the Crescent City Connection (the double span downtown bridge.) Saw very little evidence of looting. [CLICK ON ‘CONTINUE READING LINK BELOW FOR MORE]
Floodwaters obviously receding.
THE CONVENTION CENTER CROWD: Most all of the people have been removed. Some
still being picked up by buses when I left, but the difference between
Friday and today was remarkable. I visited with some, and what hit me was
all the people coming up to me begging me to put their names in the paper
in order that their relatives would know they were alive. They had
organized into various social groups, with adults taking turns sleeping
while others watched the children and guarded the group from the few thugs
that were causing trouble.
THE AUTHORITIES ARE IN CONTROL. They had secured most of downtown Friday,
but had total control on Saturday. No signs of lotting or damaging homes in
Warehouse District uptown to Audubon Park. I drove around a lot.
Workers are everywhere. Convoys, buses, cops, helicopters, ambulances,
airplanes streaming into New Orleans. Considering there is one way into the
city, I think the response has been really good.
MY PLACE ON JULIA AT CAMP STREET: At 604 Julia Street, if the electricity
and water were on, I could host a party tonight. There was no damage
whatsoever to any of the Julia Row Townhouses.
ST. CHARLES AVENUE: NOT ONE LIVE OAK ON ST. CHARLES AVE. IS DOWN!!!!!!!
I finally had my big cry driving down St. Charles when I realized how very
little damage. There were only about 4-5 water oaks on St. Charles down all
the way to Tulane. Both Tulane and Loyola look like you could hold classes
tomorrow.Saw no damage to the historic St. Charles Avenue mansions.
LACK OF DAMAGE UPTOWN: There was very little noticeable damage to homes in
the Lower Garden District or Uptown on the streets (I went all over, going
from house to house of friends, saving Heidi Quenan’s house). Now,
something hit Heidi’s roof in the corner of her upstairs bedroom to cause a
leak: a section of sheetrock about 4 x 6 feet had fallen, but that’s it:
there was a candle still sitting on a table near the edge of her back
porch. I say this by way of saying that while I was stunned – and overjoyed
– by the lack of visible damage, I couldn’t see everything, of course, but
I was driving a 4-wheel drive jeep and meandered as I could. Lots of limbs
down, but my companion, Jimmy Blanchard, the artist, designer and
historical archivist and I were ecstatic that most of it is superficial.
Most of our trees are still there.
RED CROSS VERY VISIBLE: The Red Cross was visible, assessing damage to
homes. The director, on, I think, State Street, told me he was very pleased
with the lack of damage.
WAREHOUSE DISTRICT: There was little damage in the Warehouse District. I’ve
seen more litter on the ground at Mardi Gras. As far as Julia Row is
concerned, the New York Times and the Times-Picayune could have snapped
those pictures they ran from the corner of Camp and Julia today.
AUDUBON PARK: I checked out a friend’s house on Exposition on the edge of
Audubon Park and it was fine. There were limbs, but very few trees, down in
Audubon Park. Almost all animals survived at the zoo. Talked to the
exhausted but happy zoo curator.
UPTOWN IN GENERAL: There were very isolated cases of trees down on houses:
but here’s the interesting part: the trees that were down fell in between
houses or across the back yards, where the vortex of the which kicked them.
I saw no major damage to homes on St. Charles.
FRENCH QUARTER: Signs still hanging from shops. Very little evidence of
looting anywhere that I’ve been: which is the Quarter (went down Bourbon to
the 500 block, then turned back and came back out Royal; also drove around
the Chartres/Decateur area near Canal Place; none of it got wet), Canal to
FLOODWATER: Water obviously receded quite a bit since Friday’s visit. The
water from the lake and canal stopped on Canal in between Burgundy and
Bourbon. The rest of the Quarter stayed dry. Water came to 4-5 blocks
lakeside of St.Charles The water from the lake and canal stopped on Canal
in between Burgundy and Bourbon. The rest of the Quarter stayed dry. Water
came to 4-5 blocks lakeside of St.Charles.
Went to Audubon Zoo from Tchoupatoulas to 4-5 blocks lakeside of St.
Charles. The water from the lake and canal stopped on Canal in between
Burgundy and Bourbon. The rest of the Quarter stayed
dry. Warehouse and almost all of Uptown stayed dry. Water came to 4-5
blocks lakeside of St.Charles. The water from the lake and canal stopped on
Canal in between Burgundy and Bourbon. They sandbagged frantically in the
quarter about 20 feet lakeside of Bourbon Street when the water
started rising Wednesday. Water came to 4-5 blocks lakeside of St.Charles.
LITTLE EVIDENCE OF LOOTING: Saw a couple of looted shops on Magazine near
the nursing home, but that’s it. The door to Whole Foods Store was open and
those night lights. Now, to be sure, in a total of about 12 hours in the
city, 2 of them spent in my own building.
AREA I HAVE VISITED SO FAR: Quarter to Conti, to Bourbon, down Royal,
Chartres from 400 block to 200 block; all over Warehouse District, a bit of
the Convention Center, Poydras (major damage to those very old live oaks in
median while most of the fronds were still on the new palms at Harrah’s two
blocks away) Not much damage to live oaks in Lafayette Park. Been down St.
Charles from Canal to Tulane. State, Webster, Eleonore, Coliseum form
Napoleonville upriver for 6-7 blocks. Meandered through uptown, as downed
trees, limbs, power lines, etc. blocked many streets. All the way down
Tchoupatoulas; Lower Garden District, Magazine, Camp. Went to Palmer as far
lakeside of St. Charles as I could go. What’s remarkable is the lack of
major damage to this area.
I know this contrasts with the misery and suffering elsewhere in the city,
but the old historic New Orleans is in fine condition. I will continue
going in and will send you more reports. I have so little free time (it’s
11:20, and I’ll be back at work at 9). I will try to read e-mails, but I’m
losing ability to keep up with it.)
Pray for the thousands believed dead. Pray for the dead pets. Pray for most
of the rest of the city, since most of it will have to be torn down. Be
very grateful to the thousands of guardsmen and workers who have already
started what is going to be a very rebuilding. Be grateful you have a bed
and access to a computer to read this.