Sunday, August 28, 2005

Dear Katrina: Please Go Easy on the Big Easy.
Thanks, Kev

One of the biggest news stories of the moment is that Hurricane Katrina seems to be headed straight for New Orleans. Since much of the city is below sea level, it's long been known that a direct hit from a really strong hurricane could leave a good portion of the area underwater. A mandatory evacuation has been ordered, but plenty of stranded tourists (the victims of cancelled flights and empty car-rental lots) will have to wait it out in places like the Superdome, which has been designated as an emergency shelter.

Hurricanes are unpredictable, so there's always the chance it could veer off in another direction or even lose steam before making landfall (which is scheduled for sometime tomorrow morning). Still, it's chilling to imagine that, in the city that's one of my top vacation destinations, some of my favorite places--Preservation Hall, the Cafe du Monde, Cafe Maspero, the Hotel Monteleone, Copeland's--might sustain severe damage. Much worse, of course, would be the potential loss of life.

So if you're the praying type, remember the Big Easy tonight; I know I will. It may have a (not entirely undeserved) reputation as a den of iniquity, but it's also possible to completely bypass said iniquity and still have a great time; the music and the food guarantee that by themselves. Sure, it's a funky, gritty place, but that funkiness and grittiness are what make it so special. It's one of the spiciest places in our American casserole, and I for one hope to wake up in the morning and find out that Katrina has landed elsewhere or at least muted her bluster a bit.

IRONIC QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. The Cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It closes only on Christmas Day and on the day an occasional Hurricane passes too close to New Orleans."--from the Cafe's website.


Shawn said...

Went there last summer. I loved it. It was really nice, and I looked old enough to have fun on Bourbon Street. I wish there was more jazz around the French Quarter. Most of what I encountered was blues... and even classic rock.

Eric Grubbs said...

I was born in New Orleans. I haven't been there in years. Now is not a great time to go back . . .

Kev said...

"It was really nice, and I looked old enough to have fun on Bourbon Street."

LOL, Shawn, that's great. I've always had the feeling that if you look older than, oh, 16, they'll let you into certain places.

" I wish there was more jazz around the French Quarter."

Yeah, no argument there, although there are a few places like Preservation Hall and Maison Bourbon. Granted, they're traditional New Orleans jazz (evidently, the locals don't like hearing it called "Dixieland"), but, hey, it's the birthplace, whatcha gonna do?

You have to go a bit out of the Quarter to get to the good jazz clubs; the names Tipitina's and Snug Harbor seem to come up a lot.

Eric--do you have any family still in the area?

Eric Grubbs said...

Nobody from either side of my family still lives in New Orleans. Now that I think of it, we were the only the part that lived there between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s. Seeing your old hometown be devasted was sad though I'm glad it wasn't as bad as they thought it would be.

Gary P. said...

The damage caused by Katrina has just devastated me. I grew up in SW Louisiana (Lake Charles area), always been around the water, even helped my grandfather evacuate and move items from the 1st to 2nd floor in his lake camp after walking a couple hundred yards in chest-high water just to reach the camp. That was just flood water though, not hurricane destruction, but it was similar. I've never actually been through a hurricane (although I once recall a tropical storm making landfall over Lake Charles..... well technically it made landfall over Cameron which is south of LC but on the Gulf Coast, but you get the idea...). News stories of hurricane landfalls and damage are interesting to me because I'm a closet weather nut, but I've never been as thoroughly engrossed in hurricane news coverage as I have been for this one.

Back around the end of last year and the beginning of this year, I was entertaining the idea of moving back to the Lake Charles area to be closer to my parents and grandparents. One of the jobs I considered applying for was a Senior RF Engineer position with Verizon, but it wasn't close enough. I think I would have stood a good chance of getting it with all the experience I have working with Verizon already. The job description read like a "What do I do for Nortel?" primer. After very careful deliberation and consideration, I decided that I wasn't going to uproot us from this area that we like so I could be closer to my parents, sister, grandparents, etc but *still* have a 3 or 4 hour drive instead of a 6 hour drive to get there.

That job with Verizon was in Metairie which, like New Orleans, is wedged between the Mississippi River to the south and Lake Pontchartrain to the north. I suspect the damage is just as bad in Metairie as is N.O., just the media can't get there to report on it. Given the critical necessity of cell phone communications in this situation, it's quite likely I would have tried to ride the storm out in order to bring up cell phone service as quickly as possible. With my wife's EMT training, she probably would have stayed too. Even if we would have survived the storm, our house and all of our stuff would most likely be gone or damaged beyond repair. Maybe that's why I find it so hard to tear myself away from media coverage of the aftermath. They could have very easily been talking about me too.