The group decided to wait one more day in Nashville, then decide whether we head north or south. We can't afford to keep staying in a hotel, and people are getting anxious to be somewhere else after three days in a rather "touristy" part of Nashville (near Opryland). Did you know there is no longer an amusement park at Opryland? They tore it down and put a HUGE shopping mall in its place.
We had the Jeep fixed yesterday. It had a clogged air conditioning drain.
I got another email from an out-of-town Coop's Place customer yesterday. Kelly Boyd and her husband spend their anniversary in New Orleans each year. They live here in Nashville. They remember Adam, and I gave him their phone number. He is going to call them today.
If we go south, we will be heading off to our friend Keith Davis' house, where we will be within an hour or so of New Orleans (depending on traffic and checkpoints). We hope we won't have to be there more than a few days. At this point, the options are to get into the city and stay, get into the city and get back out, or not get into the city at all because they won't let us.
If we decide to go north, we will probably put Adam and Megan on a plane somewhere to Orlando. We will drop Barry off in either Missouri or back in Kentucky (he hasn't decided which, yet), and then we will probably head up to the Chicago-Milwaukee area for a couple of weeks, then try to head south again. At this point, it is really frustrating to know what to do. I totally understand why people who have returned just choose to stay there. At least that would be a different adventure.
Speaking of Keith, he sent me the following email, which went out mostly to friends in the upper midwest:
Sept. 18, 05
The work continues here in Lousiana, Mississippi and Alabama as Tropical Depression 18 gathers strength in the Carribean . Yes, we take a minute every now and then to look at the weather channel......and wonder.
I took a little drive out to the Hammond Regional Airport yesterday after work, just to be nosy. The areas usually occupied by service vehicles and the Air Natl. Guard are now filled tyo overflowing with FEMA, US Border Patrol, row upon row of generating equipment and emergency lighting vehicles, and lots of Olive Drab painted on anything that does or does not move.
Several places around town there are what I can only call supply dumps of loaded tractor-trailers and storage units and temporary trailer villages of FEMA and other agencies, all behind fences and all watched at the gates.
In a way, this does give the city a different, military feeling, sort of like living near an Army Base. However, it also gives me a chill reallizing that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And in this case the the tough have turned out from all over our nation to help the people of the hurricane zone. Every day brings some little surprise or unexpected information. One morning, two young men stood and looked into my violin shop but only came in when I beckoned to them. It turned out that they were from Chicago and are McDonald's employees at some executive level. McDonald's has lost about 170-locations here and lost track of many employees. They were here to help start restuarants back up again, give away free meals and find their employees. McDonald's, like many major employers has made jobs available in Louisiana for any displaced Louisiana employee. Unless you have lost your job and possibly your home in a matter of hours and been displaced you may not be able to grasp hour wonderful the offer of a job you already know is. Walmart, Home Depot, Hibernia Bank and some other firms are doing the same thing.
Where many major areas remain without power, others have been reconstructed and are back in the 21st Century again. A friend in the electric business in Michigan tells me that he can't get transformers and meters right now, EVERYTHING is coming south. I'm not surpirised.
A railroad worker stopped into the shop for guitar strings on Friday. He told me that along the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain there were extensive areas in which the railroad track was left hanging, still spiked to its ties as the entire roadbed had been washed away. This puts the track repair? into the column of Build new railway?.
According to my favorite fish market (in business at the same location in Hammond since 1934) the shrimping industry in Louisiana is dead, at least for the time being. We'll eat Georgia shrimp until things get back on track.
Traffic is still overwhelming in Hammond and Ponchatoula, and anything with a door on it is rented, either for business or residential. The restaurants are all busy and doing very well as many evacuees have money, but no place to cook. My violin shop is still slow as a great portion of my client base is still away someplace.
We have made ourselves stop using the term "when things get back to normal".........as they may never be that way, and instead use the term "when things settle down a little."
Please do your part to support American business and industry. In this time of cleanup and rebuilding it is only American Dollars that work, so lets keep them here in America.
Till next time, Keith Davis
Sept. 20, 05
Once burned, twice wary............and the people of the Gulf Coast are living this one out in real life right now. As Tropical Storm Rita is headed toward Hurricane status AND the Gulf Coast, people are buying plywood and bottled water.
Another hit in the New Orleans/Mississippi area would be a death blow to the cleanup process. Even a light hit in Texas or SW Louisiana will get people's attention as never before.
So, we will fill our water tanks, make sure we have some frozen hamburger in the camper freezer, a (shortened) supply of cash and, yes, fresh batteries.
As we say here, "Good luck, see you after the storm."
I ran across an amazing account of the storm from someone that is one of the key people at the Port of New Orleans. He apparently rode out Katrina at the port facilities, and for 48 hours watched the current of the river flow upstream! Amazing! The force of the storm actually forced water from the bay upriver as far as New Orleans and beyond for 2 days!
- Travis called Cary on Tuesday night. He is safe in Cocoa Beech but has already decided to get back to New Orleans as soon as he can. Cary has a phone number where he can be reached, if anyone is interested in reaching him, but since it is a land line where he is staying, I won't publish it on the site.
- Juli Green sent her story to me. I would really love to publish more stories (including our own). I am still working on ours. If you have a story, please send it to me and I will put it on the site. I want people to be able to read about this event and how it affects our lives long after time is healing the wounds and blurring our memories.
Obviously, Rita is on everyone's minds today. Not to trivalize the storm at all, but the current track takes it into Texas, and it may really emphasize how delicate New Orleans really is - while the damage at landfall and beyond will be substantial and even extraordinary, it will probably pale in comparison to the devestation in New Orleans.
We continue to get reports from New Orleans that lay in question our ability to stay in the city. While we won't make a final decision until we get there, it looks increasingly like we should just get as much of our stuff out that we want and need as possible, and remain nomads for a while.
The Army Corp of Engineers says a three inch rain in an hour will flood the city, as the pumps are not up to it yet (only a third of the pumps are working). Further, the storm surge only has to be three feet to overwhelm a levee again. They are predicting a tidal surge of 3-5 feet above normal as a result of Rita stirring up the gulf. Metal pilings have been placed into the 17th St. Canal bed at a bridge to prevent water from Lake Pontchartrain backing up into the canal and further weakening the levees. This also closes the outlet for water that is pumped out of the area, so if flooding does occur, it will just continue until the pilings are removed.
The city offered free rides out of town. At one point there were 500 busses lined up at the Convention Center. Only 25-people showed up. Some National Guard units are pulling out, both to escape the storm (potential) and to provide relief in Texas if necessary.
Our friend Keith Davis spoke with a client who works in the city with the Army Corp Of Engineers. He has been living on board some Navy ship as he has to work and his house is flooded and ruined. He says the whole city smells pretty bad, a fact verified by his Propane guy who has been delivering every day to various places in the city that are cooking with propane. Both tell him the REAL death toll is much higher than what is being reported on the TV and radio.
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