I woke up this morning looking forward to my typical Sunday morning ritual: This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, and Face the Nation followed by Meet the Press.
I knew there was activity in the Gulf and that Hurricane Isaac had been felt by Haiti. It was my understanding that Isaac would meander around Florida, maybe putting a dent in the Republican National Convention but not expected to be anything major.
I didn't get a chance to watch Meet the Press today, our local NBC affiliate switched to weather updates once it was realized that Isaac seemed to be headed more west than previously projected. I figured it'd be a tropical storm or maybe even a category 2 hurricane; these are not buzzwords for people of the Gulf. A couple of years ago, I slept through a tropical storm and I'm a light sleeper. Rain and lots of it, even flooding, is a part of NOLA summers. Then, I saw the tweet...
NOLA.com, the website version of New Orleans’s Times-Picayune live-tweeted the press conferences of NOLA Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. One of the site's tweets was how I discovered we were under a State of Emergency. I knew residents of Grand Isle were to be evacuated but it's a town in Jefferson Parish that is connected to the state by Highway 1 and is on a barrier island in the Gulf. That's to be expected, right?
What I wasn't expecting was for Greater New Orleans to be in danger of a direct hit, local schools to close until Thursday, grocery store parking lots full to capacity, overcrowded gas stations and lines to ATMs that stretch out into the street. I wasn't expecting friends from other parts of the country to send their well wishes or for other friends to make sure my tank was full and I had my evacuation plan together. It's amazing how quickly things change.
I know and am thankful that I am fortunate, I was able to fill my tank and I have several places to go in the event I need to evacuate. My prayers are with those who do not have those opportunities and options. It was just yesterday that I mentioned a hurricane at the end of the month is deadly, literally. Toward the end of the month, so many people are low on resources, especially those who survive on fixed incomes. I'm sure the world sees us as an adventurous lot, but many people don't evacuate because they lack resources; that's worth noting and keeping in mind.
I don't have a clue where this journey will lead. Hopefully, nowhere (right now, it looks like we'll just have a lot of rain and wind). Maybe, with my family in Shreveport. No matter where I go or with whom I travel, my heart will be with the people of this city I so terribly love. How cruel that a Hurricane is scheduled to hit New Orleans exactly -- exactly as in the same day, August 29 -- seven years after Hurricane Katrina.
This is merely a collection of thoughts that are likely as mumbled as they are in my brain. It is my hope that this is a short-lived adventure and next week I'll be laughing at myself for seeming overly dramatic. Either way, I'll keep you posted if I can and if there's something to say.
Aug. 27, 11:30 AM
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is now giving a press conference to provide updates on Isaac. 20 parishes (Louisiana's version of counties) are under hurricane warnings. 20 - 30% chance of hurricane force winds in SE Louisiana, these winds can last 8 - 10 hours. Because Hurricane Isaac is predicted to be a slow-moving system, the region will expect lost of rain. Up to five feet of surges.
SE Louisiana can start to see tropical storm weather as early as late tonight.
For updates on mandatory evacuations, visit: http://topics.nola.com/tag/isaac-evacuations/index.html
Twenty-three parishes have called a State of Emergency.
St. Charles Parish is the currently the only one to call a parish-wide mandatory evacuation.
Shelters are open in Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Shreveport, and Bastrop.
"If anyone is considering evacuating, today is the day to do it," say Jindal.
Contraflow is ready if needed, but does not seem needed at this point.
Aug. 27, 12:00 PM
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has advised residents who are not protected by levees (Venetians Island and Irish Bayou) to evacuate today. He also notes there is a chance for significant flooding within the city.
Winds will be 75 - 90 MPH with gusts even stronger.
Landrieu: If you plan to go, now would be the time...follow common sense guidelines.
New Orleans city hall will be closed, at least, until Thursday.
Mayor Landrieu reports that the White House is fully engaged and working with the city.
After both press conferences, the sense of urgency is not as strong as yesterday. Many residents have decided to remain in the area due to Isaac being expected to land as a category 1 storm.