Exactly one month ago, we were watching in horror as the hopes and dreams of so many people were washed away as Hurricane Katrina ravaged the central gulf coast including New Orleans. That evening, it was thought and even reported that New Orleans had dodged another bullet. At 1:39 AM on August 29th I wrote the following in Update #6:
Katrina is swerving a bit to the right, which is good news. It is now forecast to be a Category 4 and to go east of New Orleans by about 5 or 10 miles further than originally thought. Flooding is virtually assured, but they are now thinking winds will be between 50 and 100 mph - which means we may actually have a home to go to at some point.
At 10:23 AM I wrote the following in Update #7:
In all, we won't know the total extent of the damage for a few days, but it is starting to look like New Orleans may have dodged another bullet - that, while the damage will still be significant to extensive, it will not be the doomsday scenario officials were predicting yesterday.
By 6:02 PM I was reporting (in Update #8) that we were already planning on going back to the city on Thursday or Friday of that week. At 10:16 PM I was still reporting (in Update #9) that things didn't look all that bad, and we would probably head back into the city by the end of the week. Of course, the worst was yet to come, as the levee's would break the next day.
Back in the present, it is time to start moving towards what can only be described as a "new normal." Cary and I took Adam & Megan to meet up with Sean & Juli in Chicago last night. Sean & Juli were going to make sure they got to the airport in time for their 2PM flight from O'Hare to Orlando. They plan to acquire a car there and then head back to New Orleans perhaps as soon as next week. Once there, they will decide if they are staying in New Orleans or heading back to Florida to try to make some money while the city rebuilds.
We had a great time at The Twisted Spoke, an old hangout of Sean & Juli's from when they lived in Chicago. Here's a picture:
From left to right: Sean, Juli, Adam, Chuck, Megan, and Cary
Janis, Jarret, and Andrea stayed in Racine so we wouldn't have to take 2 cars. Good thing, too. It was raining and it took us almost 3 hours to drive the 72 miles from Racine to downtown Chicago. Juli practically hugged the stuffing out of Cary, Adam, and me. There were hugs all around, as there is just nothing like good friends to help you get through times like these. Once we settled down, we ordered several appetizers, including Flaming Hot Wings:
Flaming Wings at the Twisted Spoke
Maybe I should have told them I wanted them "extra spicy" instead of "flaming." They weren't all that spicy, actually, but they did taste good and, of course, it was a great show.
A good friend in California has arranged for Janis and I to spend the night at the Lochnaiar Inn on Racine's lakefront (Lochnaiar is Gaelic for "on the water."). We are looking forward to it, as we are very travel-worn and weary. Tomorrow, it is back on the road for at least Cary and me, who intend to start our trek back to New Orleans, picking up Barry Franklin in Missouri on the way.
I received another great email from more out-of-town Coop's Place regulars:
Chuck, I just wanted to thank you for giving these updates. My husband and I own a timeshare in the French Quarter and have been coming to New Orleans each year for the last 7 years. Before that we were there off and on ever since the 60's. We love New Orleans and especially Coop's Place. We have at least one meal there, if not more, whenever we are there. Your updates have been so much better than what the news could tell us. We have prayed for all of you and for our wonderful New Orleans. I have been reading your webpage since you began. I know you and your family are tired of moving from place to place. I hope that you can be back in New Orleans soon.
Mary Sue and Pete
It is obvious that we aren't the only ones who need to settle down, and want to stop waiting or moving around:
- Laura reports that Mr. Lewis was evacuated to Butte, Montana. If anyone reading this is in that area, perhaps you could check with the Red Cross to see if he can be located. She also reports that she has taken to sleeping on the pool table at Coop's Place, since it has electricity (and therefore air conditioning).
- I spoke with Coop last night. He opened the bar on Tuesday. Not many customers, but Wednesday was busier. He is serving a couple of soups as part of a very limited menu. Suppliers have come in and already told him they are making deliveries and ready to bring stuff to the bar as necessary.
- Jesse text messaged me with his new phone number, which you can find on the People page. He reports he is headed to Little Rock, Arkansas.
- Lia and Steve and are staying in St. Petersburg, FL indefinitely. Lia is back in school working towards her MBA. They are going back to the city tomorrow and meeting up with Zak and Angelique in Hammond. The four of them are renting a UHaul and are going in to collect their belongings. They will be sharing a house in St. Pete, getting jobs etc. Steve and Lia met up with Jaclyn and Fay for a weekend in Orlando. They also had a reunion with Laura, Mama, Kattai and Allan in St. Pete. Lia reports there was much drunkenness.
The city will be open for almost everyone to return by next Wednesday, with the only exception being the lower 9th ward. There is some excellent information on the City of New Orleans web site. We think we will probably have electricity upon our return, and may even have drinkable water within the next week or so. I think we (like many other residents) will probably continue to boil the water before cooking with it, and may opt for bottled water for drinking purposes for some time.
As you are probably aware, New Orleans' Police Superintendent Eddie Compass has resigned. Nola.com is reporting that the mayor forced him to resign, after several "heated conversations." I think the resignation or retirement, as he is calling it has to do with either a disagreement with bringing so many people back into the city when the police force is not up to dealing with them, or perhaps the reports of officers looting. Either way, there is no doubt Eddie was a sincere and honest individual. I always wondered if he was actually up to the task of being top cop, however.
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