Hurricane Gustav and New Orleans

Live and direct from New Orleans, I’m blogging from my iPhone as Hurricane Gustav approaches New Orleans. It is 3:45 am CDT, Monday, September 1, 2008. Happy Labor Day!

We’re a lot happier around here knowing that Hurricane Gustav is not coming in as a Category 4 or 5 hurricane as the National Hurricane Center originally predicted — but they amazingly predicted its path fairly accurately many days ago, very close to where it is actually going. Earlier predictions from the NHC that Gustav would intensify before making landfall proved to be wrong, thankfully — it is now expected to hit as a weak Category 3 hurricane or a Category 2 hurricane.

The dotted yellow line is the expected path of Hurricane Gustav, west of New Orleans (where I am). Click the map to see it larger.

I arrived Saturday afternoon in New Orleans at the TV station where I work. It was an easy drive across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway from my home on the North Shore. The tolls were lifted on the bridge — free passage (just as was done when I made the same trip into the city right before Hurricane Katrina years ago).

I’m here for the duration with the rest of the TV station crew (except for those out covering the hurricane), here in the station’s multi-story building in the Mid-City part of New Orleans — the bottom of the “bowl” (one of the lowest parts of the city). I’m up on the second floor and my car is parked over in Metairie (a suburb of New Orleans) on higher ground.

Hurricane Gustav is expected to make landfall around 1 pm CDT this afternoon, southwest of the city, then travel to the west of the city along a track taking it towards the northwest.

A short while ago we took a power hit — but we have a generator of our own here as well as air conditioning, plenty of food, water and other drinks, and a secure building rebuilt after being flooded from Hurricane Katrina.

My wife and son evacuated to my mom’s house in the Mobile, Alabama metro area. They left late Saturday night, going along I-10 from Louisiana through Mississippi and into Alabama — in a Honda Odyssey minivan packed with as many of our necessary and non-replaceable possessions as they could fit into the van — and it took many more hours for them to arrive there safely than it would have normally. All around them were other folks from Louisiana heading east, evacuating away from the projected path of the hurricane. They are fine there now and helping my mom. I wish I could be there with them — and I miss all of them very much.

I got a few hours of sleep last night, in a quiet room here at the station, on a comfortable air mattress on the floor, with a pillow and blanket from home — my iPhone next to me. It helped relax me to use the iPhone to browse the internet before falling asleep.

It was also comforting to hear Bob Breck, our FOX 8 chief meteorologist, yesterday. His update was good news! Here are short versions of what he said (and showed, but I can’t show you, these are just my version of the words he said…)

“This is not Katrina.” (it is weaker)

“The bullseye has shifted westward.”

“It is stronger on its west side.”

“Is it going to be bad? Yeah. Is it going to be catastrophic? No.”

“I don’t see it intensifying.”

“Rain is my main concern.”

“The dry slot of air on the west is killing its east side.”

“Concerns: wave height now is 24 feet. Getting caught under a rain band will bring substantial amounts of rain. Falling pressure is bad because it happens before a hurricane gets stronger.”

“I was right predicting it would weaken as it approached land.”

“It might curve more and go along the coast of Louisiana — and the worst weather of it is south of the storm.” (which would be in the Gulf)

“It might hang around the area for days, so winds wouldn’t be the big worry, it could be severe flooding in LA this week.”

“All the computer models have shifted west. Even one of the western-most tracks could be the accurate one.”

“The further west and lower the category number, the lower the storm surge.’

“The East Bank” (downtown New Orleans and such) “and Northshore” (where I live) “won’t have worries from the lake water like Katrina” (probably will be far less).

Please God, make it so! (That’s what I, Rich, say.)

Our anchorman pointed out that Bob Breck was smiling during that update. A good sign!

This morning, we’ve had some short power hits, but our generator is handling things well. I am appreciative of all the prayers family and friends are doing for me and all the people of this area affected by Hurricane Gustav. Thanks to you all!

It’s 5 am CDT now and Bob Breck is back on the air with another report — noting that the winds aren’t bad in the city at this point… even the power is still on in the city. You can see live streaming video of him here. He says the next six hours or so will be the worst for us in New Orleans if Gustav keeps its current speed. When it stalls later over land, it will hopefully be far enough away from us to not impact us too much.

6:00 am CDT: Some areas of the city have power, some neighborhoods do not.

Belle Chasse, LA, in Plaquemines Parish just lost power.

Feeder bands from Gustav are bringing rain and winds to New Orleans.

7:35 am CDT: Another feeder band is passing through the city.

This is right in front of WVUE-TV FOX 8, across the street from us. Bob Breck just said “We will survive this a whole lot better than we did Katrina.”

7 am CDT: Bob Breck says this is probably the worst we’re going to get in New Orleans. “This is not Katrina, by far.”

New Orleans French Quarter at 7 am CDT with Hurricane Gustav approaching

New Orleans French Quarter at 7 am CDT with Hurricane Gustav approaching

Lights can be seen on I-10 but power is out at Xavier University and the neighborhood near it, right next door

Lights can be seen on I-10 but power is out at Xavier University and the neighborhood near it, right next door

05 am

Bob Breck points to Hurricane Gustav as the worst of the storm impacts New Orleans at 7:05 am CDT

If this is the worst we will get from Hurricane Gustav in the city, it isn’t bad at all. We’ve only had short wind gusts to 71 mph maximum around the city. We’re doing great inside the station.

Meanwhile, at 7:30 am CDT, Cypress Street at Grand Isle, LA is flooded…

This is a still picture from live video from a house at Grand Isle, looking north. That’s not a river — it is a street covered by the Gulf of Mexico.

The pumps in New Orleans are keeping up with the amount of rain we’re getting.

This is a large drainage canal along Washington Avenue in the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans…

…and a wider view further along the canal. It isn’t unusual during heavy thunderstorms for these canals to fill up nearly to the brim. The amount of water in this canal stayed comfortably below that level through all Hurricane Gustav threw at us.

This is a palm tree that was blown down by the wind gusts…

…and others are bending over very close to power lines.

An overhead view of the palm tree that was blown down.

Meanwhile, in the French Quarter at 7:45 am it is raining hard and windy, but not too bad.

Compare that shot to one above taken earlier this morning.

8:00 am CDT: There are 90,000 customers without power in the New Orleans metro area right now and 130,000 without power in Southeastern Louisiana.

Hurricane Gustav will be making landfall in the next couple of hours as a Category 2 hurricane.

For live streaming coverage, go to the FOX 8 website.

8:50 am CDT: AT&T cellphone and EDGE service is no longer getting to my cellphone and another person here with an iPhone also now has no service. I have the original iPhone and he has the iPhone 3G. I don’t know if it is just out in this part of New Orleans or a wider area. I do know that others here with other carriers like T-Mobile, Verizon, etc. still have service on their cellphones.

The problem developing now in New Orleans is a dramatic overtopping of the Industrial Canal. Check out streaming video on FOX 8 now for details and video of it. (Update: When the winds died down a few hours later, the waves no longer were pushed over the side of the canal — and the canal did not breach, did not fail.)

The mayor is on FOX 8 now saying there are also two loose barges in the Industrial Canal — currently pinned against a wharf, according to the mayor — and they’ve been in the canal for quite some time, being prepared to be scrapped. The question is, why weren’t they taken out of the canal before the storm!?!?

There have been a lot of very nice comments about what I’ve posted here by EchoEars on the Disney Echo. Here’s one from my friend Lisa:

Rich, I love your positive, cheery outlook!

Well, Lisa…
Fortuosity, that’s me byword
Fortuosity, me twinkle in the eye word
Sometimes castles fall to the ground
But that’s where four leaf clovers are found

Fortuosity, lucky chances
Fortuitious little happy happen-stances
I don’t worry ’cause everywhere I see
That every bit of life is lit by Fortuosity

Fortuosity, that’s me own word
Fortuosity, me never feel alone word
`Round the corner, under a tree
Good fortune’s waitin’, just wait and see

Fortuosity, lucky chances
Fortuitious little happy happen-stances
I keep smilin’, ’cause my philosophy
Is do your best and leave the rest to Fortuosity!

I hope all you EchoEars know what that song is from!

Hint: It isn’t from Disney’s “Pollyanna” — but here are some quotes from the “Pollyanna” movie:

POLLYANNA: There are eight hundred happy texts, did you know that?

REVEREND: No, I didn’t know that.

POLLYANNA: Yes, well there are. And do you know, my father said that if GOD took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must have wanted us to do it.

8:30 pm CDT: AT&T cellphone service just came back! State police say it might be days before they’ll let people return home — because of clearing trees and power lines. It has been said that it might be weeks until electricity is fully restored, but that was probably just a guess made before the amount of damage done is even fully known. Hopefully in a couple of days we’ll be allowed to return to our home when we can find out if it came through the storm okay. Before we ended our continuous live coverage on FOX 8 late tonight, we could see from our tower camera that many more neighborhoods in the city were already getting power back on.

Welcome to my bedroom for the night! I loaned my blanket to a fellow co-worker who has to get up earlier than me tomorrow for the morning news. Tonight I’ll use my son’s cot, which I brought with me to the TV station Saturday from home (other nights I was lucky enough to sleep on a large air mattress on the floor but it was already taken tonight). I have my comfortable pillow and a good book to read. The jacket will probably be good enough as a cover, since I’m so exhausted. I’m very tired, but relieved to have made it safely through another hurricane at a TV station (the first one was Hurricane Frederic in Mobile). Goodnight all, and thank you again so very much for all your prayers and good wishes. Most of all, thank you, Lord, for keeping my wife, son, mom, and me safe — and for making this hurricane far less powerful than it had been predicted to be at landfall.

-Rich
Photos taken with and most comments written on my iPhone, and thankfully AT&T cellphone coverage came back on in New Orleans tonight.

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5 Responses to “Hurricane Gustav and New Orleans”


  1. 1 suzanne September 1, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Hi Cuz,

    glad to hear it’s good so far – 10:11

    saw a report that there’s a break in the industrial levee

    Kyle and family are at her aunt Jan’s in Florida – new baby Ike,
    dogs and cats and all. hope they don’t have to redo the house again.

    Love you

  2. 2 disneyecho September 1, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Good to hear from you, too, Suzanne!

    The problem developing now in New Orleans is a dramatic overtopping of the Industrial Canal, not a break (yet). See above for a link to the streaming video on FOX 8 for details and you’ll be able to watch this developing news story.

  3. 3 suzanne September 1, 2008 at 10:26 am

    did that – watched the phone interview/video with Nagin
    that’s scary with the barge loose & I’m sure it’s
    maddening for all concerned!

  4. 4 Pat Staba September 4, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Hi Rich

    Thanks so much for the email. We always think about and pray for y”all when there’s a storm marching toward the Gulf. So happy that Gustav hit with less vengeance and that everyone is safe. We’ll all be watching the parade of the next three as they wander. Hopefully we’ll all be spared. Love to all


  1. 1 Dear Kitty. Some blog :: Hurricane Gustav threatens New Orleans :: September :: 2008 Trackback on September 1, 2008 at 3:46 am

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