Hammond, LA, Sunday Afternoon
Hammond, LA, Sunday Afternoon
Jay Forman, a soon-to-be-married freelance writer from New Orleans who for some reason measures distance in nautical miles, is documenting Katrina for us from his bunker in a hotel room in Hammond, LA.
Friday afternoon the storm track shifted over 150 nautical miles to the west of the previous official National Hurricane Center post. What was supposed to slam into Appilachicola was now pointed right at New Orleans. That evening I was at a Saints Pre-Season game. I had extra tickets and took a friend from work. “Are you going to evacuate for the hurricane?” I asked.
“What hurricane?” he replied, which pretty much summs up the prevailing mood on both Friday and Saturday, especially troublesome because that was about the only day locals had to prepare and head out. For the most part, people didn’t seem to take it seriously, at least from what I saw driving around town. The media fulfilled their role as alarmist, and locals — probably sick of false alarms and evcauations — pretty much fulfilled their role as brainless, daquiri-swilling sheep. Others, like my sister, went into a weird sense of denial and went shopping for party supplies at Pier 1 for a wedding shower to be held in my honor next weekend. “Do you have any clear plates to pass around hors d’ourves?” she asked when I called to see if she was going to evacuate.
Saturday I spent boarding up my house and them helping my brother-in-law board up his. A friend of mine from the Miami Herald came into town that evening to cover the storm and spent the night. Sunday morning at 6 am we parted ways, he headed downtown to cover the story from the superdome and I headed north to a small town called Hammond to ride it out with my fiance, her mother and stepdad.
Right now I am at a Days Inn in Hammond Louisiana and I am kinda wishing we had kept on heading north. Frankly, as evacuations go, we probably could have done a little better. We are only about 40 miles north of New Orleans. Still, we are on higher ground and are not at risk of catastrophic flooding. But we are still at risk from the winds.
I saw the latest storm stats and thought 175 mph was a typo. Hurricanes don’t get that strong. Then I saw the following warning online from the NHC:
URGENT – WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
1011 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005
…DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED…
.HURRICANE KATRINA…A MOST POWERFUL HURRICANE WITH UNPRECEDENTED STRENGTH…RIVALING THE INTENSITY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969.
MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS…PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL…LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.
THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL. PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE…INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.
HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY…A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.
AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD…AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS…PETS…AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.
POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS…AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING…BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BEKILLED.
AN INLAND HURRICANE WIND WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WINDS NEAR HURRICANE FORCE…OR FREQUENT GUSTS AT OR ABOVE HURRICANE FORCE…ARE CERTAIN WITHIN THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS.
ONCE TROPICAL STORM AND HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ONSET…DO NOT VENTURE OUTSIDE!
I did not show this to my fiance. I simply went into the bathroom and put on my other pair of underwear, and turned up the volume on the Discovery Channel which was showing a program about cheetahs. We’re supposed to stuff wedding invitations later — we brought all that stuff with us so that we had something to do.