Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Big Easy awaits her destiny

An uninvited guest named Gustav is about to crash the usual party of Bourbon Street and environs by mid Monday morning.

As has been documented all day long on CNN, Fox and MSNBC to name a few, Hurricane Gustav is making its beeline for just west of New Orleans.

It marks the second major hurricane in three years for the city so decimated by Hurricane Katrina. A situation that in this instance has seemed to spur the locals there to a more concentrated effort to avoid the wrath of the storm as it comes ashore.

While the early predictions of a Category Four or even a Five storm have been downgraded since those early reports yesterday, the call for evacuations was generally heeded quite seriously by the residents of the city.

They say that there are but 10,000 folks left to face the storm, a number which if accurate is quite a remarkable feat considering the population of the city is somewhere around 300,000 or so.

By bus, train and plane they made their exodus over the last 24 hours, destined for Houston, Memphis and beyond to ride out the storm. Making New Orleans one of the largest near ghost towns on the continent.

Since then the potential rage of the storm has been downgraded to a Category 3 with some suggesting maybe a Category 2 by the time it washes up through the belly of Louisiana. Though as always the unpredictable nature of Hurricanes could mean a sudden intensification or possibly a slight move to the east which the experts suggest would be a very bad situation.

With memories of Katrina forever burned into their minds, officials of the state and city have been quick to set up a pre hurricane program of police, National Guard and medical professionals set to spring into action should disaster come with Gustav.

The Mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin, who is well remembered for his emotional appeals in the hours and days after Katrina, initially had referred to Gustav as potentially the mother of all storms. Since that time he’s revised his thoughts on the status of the storm, calling it still a dangerous storm, but seeming to be less emotional on the pending arrival. Perhaps the reaction of his residents to the evacuation orders has given him comfort that they and his city have been more pro-active in the face of the storm.

The Governor Bobby Jindal seemed to be a permanent fixture on the television for most of the afternoon, conducting what was surely more than one news conference, but at times seemed to be one long rolling public session that stretched over the hours. He provided weather reports, road reports, details on emergency plans and medical alerts all the while still urging the state’s residents in the low lying areas to move on to higher ground before it became too late.

The US Federal Government has been far ahead of the curve this time, with Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff quick on the scene to coordinate the Federal resources ready to await the arrival of the storm.

Canada has even deployed one of our C17 Globemaster lift planes to the area, ready to provide transport for medically vulnerable residents, sending a medical team and supplies while standing ready to lend assistance should the worst that is feared become reality.

Those fears are well founded, Gustav passed over the Western end of Cuba on Saturday, raging in at a Category Four and leaving injured and homeless in its wake. Fortunately there were no deaths there, though Gustav's record of chaos did result in deaths in its run through the Caribbean.

Perhaps Canada might find some time to lend a hand to those disaster scenes as well, parts of the world that are already in need of aid, suddenly found themselves tested by yet another challenge.

For now though, we suspect that all eyes will be on New Orleans, waiting to see if Gustav causes as much havoc or more, than what Katrina visited upon the Southeastern end of Louisiana.

The New Orleans radio stations have been in Hurricane mode for most of the day today, with frequent updates on the progress of the storm, tales from residents on the evacuation trail, coverage of the political scene with its many public updates and calls from those that have chosen to ride out Gustav in their homes, wherever they may be whether on high ground or below the levees.

You can follow along if inclined by checking out their programming at the following stations.


Likewise the local paper the New Orleans Times-Picayune has been updating it’s website with details and stories through the day,

New Orleans Times-Picayune

The three cable networks in the US have been devoting the bulk of their programming today to the storm on the horizon, they will no doubt be following its progress and the fall out of it as the storm arrives.


The next twelve hours will be the test for all on the Southern Gulf states, a nerve wracking half day that will bring much fear and trepidation with each gust of the wind and each drop of rain.

Having seen the human misery that Katrina brought, one hopes that they ride out this one with little in the way of death or injury and that any potential damage does not leave the region once again as devastated as Katrina did three years ago.

No comments: