August 2005

Hurricane Katrina: Chaos, Desperation, Lawlessness…

Yesterday afternoon Dad decided to stay at the hotel through today. He had to (try and) make a lot of phone calls to friends, business associates and creditors. I’m not sure he got a lot accomplished. I was in the hotel room most of the day, watching the news and whatnot. With whatever weather damage put aside in a respect I can’t quite describe, our concerns and a lot of news attention turned to the rampant chaos and lawlessness taking place in New Orleans. The looting of businesses has escalated incredibly. Armed gangs now roam the street of New Orleans, ransacking businesses and homes, terrorizing, perhaps murdering survivors and carjacking vehicles. Seeing a beloved city become a disaster area overnight was pretty hard to comprehend in itself, but seeing New Orleans descent into a war zone in incredibly disheartening. Along with the worst in humanity on display, the best is there as well, although not as prevalent in the news media of course information is still at a premium. Thousands of people have been rescued by boats and helicopters from rooftops. I would assume a lot of the rescuing is taking place in New Orleans East, where the flooding is pretty bad. While I still think it was really stupid of anyone to with the means to evacuate to stay in town, I still feel pretty bad for the tens of thousand who are clamoring for food and water not that that’s worth anything. Even though we’ve probably lost our home and livelihood too, I almost feel guilty as I sit in our air-conditioned hotel room sending emails regarding eBay purchases I won’t receive and wondering why I didn’t pack my lint roller. Dad heard from Stephanie today, one the nurses. She is in Dallas with her family. We know Bianca [last] is in Lafayette. Stephanie said Diedra, who was with her husband who works at the Ritz-Carlton, went home with her kids after the storm and soon after had to be rescued from a roof top. I think Dad said they are all in Houston now. I heard from Bianca online this evening. We had not spoken since Sunday night, when she and her mom evacuated, but only as far as Hattiesburg. She managed to get internet access this evening, even though Hattiesburg is not in good shape. There is no power, water or phone service there, either cell or land line. She said they may leave soon to someplace with better circumstances. I did get out of the hotel room fo a good while this evening. I talked to Khadijah in Florida on the phone for the first time in about a week while sitting outside on the 9th floor pool deck as the sun set. We talked for a couple hours. I guess it goes without saying what the subject matter was. I took a couple pictures of the parts of the city we can see from the hotel. I also walked a mile on a treadmill while I was still talking to Khadijah. Late in the evening I had an IM conversation with Mylena in Costa Rica. She said she hasn’t heard from her boyfriend who lives in New Orleans since Sunday. His family intended on evacuating though. Cell phones are still not very useful so I’d imagine he’s just been unable to reach her by phone. I got to bed shortly before two.

Comments Off on Hurricane Katrina: Chaos, Desperation, Lawlessness…

Hurricane Katrina: Aftermath

I got up before eight this morning and went down to the lobby for some breakfast. Beyond that, I didn’t leave the hotel room much today. We spend most of the day watching the news, both the cable networks and the internet video stream from WWL TV. I could detail what we saw and heard but I really don’t feel like it at the moment. It was all bad. The devastation is incomprehensible. It’s just amazing how much water there is. The west bank and our neighborhood seem to have fared pretty well however, according to shreds of news and two second-hand accounts posted online. I reached Andrew this morning, he is safe in Alabama. I was unable to reach Bianca today. I think she may have forgotten her cell phone charger. Dad said we will most likely leave to stay with some of Dad’s family either tomorrow or the next day. That being the case, I can’t say for sure if this will be my last posted entry for a little while.

Comments Off on Hurricane Katrina: Aftermath

Hurricane Katrina: Landfall

We woke up around eight o’clock this morning, as hurricane Katrina was making landfall. We got some breakfast downstairs and returned to our room to watch the news. In short, there were varying varieties of bad news. Flooding is really bad in some areas. The streets are bone dry in others. We went out to get some dinner in the early evening. We went to the Blues City Cafe. We visited this restaurant once before when we were in Tennessee for the Liberty Bowl. The ribs there are quite good and I ordered a half rack today. After dinner we drove across the river into Arkansas to a Wal-Mart so we could get a few things, mostly food items. We had the news on again when we got back to the hotel. We had the TV on and watched an internet broadcast of New Orleans broadcast TV. I’m not going to detail the news reports we saw. I’ll try and let it suffice to say they were all pretty bad. While New Orleans did not exactly suffer a direct hit, the damage shown on TV was difficult to comprehend. Most of the city is underwater. Almost every road is impassable. The twin spans were “totally destroyed.” High rise buildings down town have windows blown out everywhere. The most striking image in that respect is the right side of the Hyatt hotel, which is missing almost every window on the right face of the structure. The white ‘membrane’ that covered the Superdome roof is mostly gone. None of it seems real.

A WWL TV message board has posts related to conditions in individual neighborhoods. “Stella” wrote the following, which pertains to our subdivision:

I just spoke to a relative who is a firefighter in Algiers. They rode the hurricane out in the Mary Joseph home on Woodland. Here’s a summary of his report of an hour and a half trip out and about, although they were not able to get far.

 1. There is about 2 feet of water in the streets of Tall Timbers. Definitely not in some of the houses they were able to check, but not guarenteeing it wasn’t in some.

2. Trees are down everywhere. Anything of 3 inches diameter or less was definitely knocked down. DeGaulle is impassable due to fallen trees. Berkely is impassable due to fallen trees. The report was “take Cindy tree damage and multiply by 10”.

3. There was NO water in the streets of Bocage or anywhere else they were able to get to around the lower Eton/MacArthur area.

 4. Now for the worst part. Of the areas they saw (very limited), 1/4 to 1/3 had significant roof damage or no roofs.

 I was unable to reach any friends of mine today. Cell phones are little more than paper-weights right now.

Comments Off on Hurricane Katrina: Landfall

Hurricane Katrina: Evacuation

Dad woke us up at quarter to five this morning with bad news. Hurricane Katrina strengthened to a category five hurricane and was on a beeline for New Orleans. That being the case, evacuation was no longer a matter of debate. Having packed last night, I didn’t have too much to do before being ready to leave this morning. We did a lot of double checking and I got a number of things off the ground in my room, most notably my computer and everything at the bottom of my book shelf. We managed to pack the trunk with comparative ease as everyone packed pretty light as we were expecting Jeff’s stuff for college to take a lot of trunk space. We left the house at 6:15 this morning. We got off the highway just after crossing the bridge, the interstate was well backed up. We got on Airline highway where there was smooth sailing. We made a stop at Doc’s apartment to drop off a room key for the Astor Crown Plaza on Canal. As he is unable to evacuate, staying in a hotel on the 9th floor would at least be a somewhat better circumstance. After making that stop we headed down I-10 towards Slidell. As we were in New Orleans East, Dad remembered that he did not unplug the automatic garage door opener or lock the door inside the garage. This was a matter of concern to him as the opener acted up briefly a couple weeks ago, opening and closing on its own. I thought it was sheer lunacy to turn around. Traffic was fine for us and I was afraid that we could be set back by several hours as more people would be leaving as the morning wore on. We did go back and secure the garage and leave again. I think we got pretty lucky as traffic was just fine and in the end it only cost us an hour, about what it would be any other day. With New Orleans East behind us, again, we continued through Slidell. Contraflow started where I-10 meets I-59, which caused a mild bottleneck. Traffic was perfectly smooth again once we got past the fork. The only other slowdown we experienced occurred where Contraflow ended. As far as traffic is concerned, I’d say we were remarkably lucky, or maybe just responsible, as traffic grew exponentially worse as the hours went by. We continued down I-59 and made a stop in Hattiesburg for gas, to switch drivers and get something to eat. There was a Subway attached to the gas station and we Andrew, Dad and I got sandwiches… ham and cheddar for me, they were out of swiss. After getting back on the road we made our way to Jackson, Mississippi. As I look at a map, however, I don’t recall getting on I-20 and heading due west to get there. I was sleeping on and off for that part of the trip though. We stopped there again and one other time before reaching Memphis. Once we reached Memphis it took only a short while to find our hotel downtown. We arrived there at about five in the afternoon. With all our bags in our room on the ’14th’ floor, we got settled in and I got my laptop online. I was able to immediately get in touch with Christy, who went to Atlanta and Khadijah, who is currently residing in the Florida panhandle. I also called Andrey. When we spoke last night he said he and is family were staying, but this afternoon they left after a mandatory evacuation for Orleans parish was called. Unfortunately, left late like so many people and was caught is parking lot traffic. He told me he left at 11:30 from the westbank. At 5:30, he was still in Slidell. I was also in touch with Bianca while on the road. Bianca and her mother hit the road at about 1:45 this afternoon and headed north towards Hattiesburg. About an hour after arriving at the hotel, we took a short walk to get something to eat. We ended up at a restaurant called Big Foot, a small, sharp looking place serving burgers, ribs and sandwiches. I got the club sandwich myself. I fed a little money to the jukebox while there. We walked right back to the hotel after dinner. We had the TV on the weather channel. We were also able to watch local TV, WWL, via a live video stream online. I must say it was very good of them to offer that service free of charge. Nothing we saw was especially encouraging. There was still a category five hurricane heading right for New Orleans. At about nine o’clock, Dad, Jeff and I left the hotel to go to the train station. Jeff was leaving tonight to go to Michigan for college. We waited with him for about an hour until he boarded the train at about quarter past 10. After seeing Jeff off, Dad and I went to Silky O’Sullivan’s on Beale St. for a couple drinks. After that we went back to the hotel. We watched some more TV, I took a shower and typed this entry. I talked to Bianca at about 1:30 AM. She said she and her mother were ‘lucky’ enough to find a hotel room in Hattiesburg. I was hoping she would have reached at least Jackson as there will be severe weather in Hattiesburg. Even so, I was glad to know she was safe. If she is going to be close to the coast, at least she’s not stuck in a car. Throughout the day, I did my best to stay positive, and I think I was pretty successful. While there’s a good chance we won’t have a home to return to, my family, friends and MP3 collection are safe. Money can replace most of what may have been lost although my parents were unable to take a good number of photographs.

Comments Off on Hurricane Katrina: Evacuation

Hurricane Katrina: Preperation

I woke up at about 10:30 this morning. I had hoped to see the hurricane track adjusted to me moving more northward or eastward, but it was still forecast to head right over New Orleans. That being the case, the family spent most of the day preparing to leave and watching the weather channel and local TV coverage. Dad left sometime after noon to take his car to the long term parking garage at the airport. He stopped to see a friend at the Astor Crown Plaza on Canal St. When mom and I went to pick up dad from the ferry landing, he told us about how he made a reservation at the hotel ‘just in case.’ With the storm getting closer and holding to the forecast, the idea of staying seemed insane. It was ‘just in case’ though. We boarded up the windows to the house not long after we got home. It must have been sometime around 6:00 by then. We used the same wood as we had up for Ivan so it didn’t take long. I was up late this evening packing my things. I packed about five days worth of clothing, both of my laptops, both cameras, two hard drives with most of my accumulated data, DVD-R backups of everything, my scrapbook and a photo album, which contain a majority of artifacts of sentimental value to me, and the painting Ami did for me, which I really need to get around to framing. Overall, I packed pretty light. Everything fit in a duffle back and two backpacks. As I was packing I realized how few of my possessions hold sentimental value. I guess that’s just because I’m young and haven’t taken too many pictures or maybe it’s just because I have everything packaged to where I can get at it easily.

Comments Off on Hurricane Katrina: Preperation


I had to get up rather early to leave the house at 7:30 this morning. Andrew had to ride with Dad and I to school this morning as Mom was unable to bring him today. After dropping Andrew off, Dad stopped to wash the car. We made another quick stop on the way to the office at a convenience store across from the Orleans Parish Courthouse for some breakfast. We arrived at the office shortly before nine. I had some reasonably steady work through the day, just enough reports to make me feel occupied. Doc was at the office late today. We left sometime after four. This evening, I went with my Mom and my brother to a potluck dinner at church. There was a pretty decent turnout. The food was good, but the ‘fellowship’ left a lot to be desired as there were no similarly aged individuals at this event. I wished I'd made some plans o see a movi with a friend or something. We left at nine. Later this evening I finished some work on the website I barely started yesterday. I added 26 additional desktops to the Vaio wallpaper page on my website. As I hand code my website it was pretty tedious work, although simple. I had to spend a bit of time finding little errors I made to the get the page back up to valid XHTML. While I was doing that, Hurricane Katrina was a topic of conversation. It was entering the Gulf of Mexico this morning, at which time it was projected to make a sharp turn north and head into the Florida panhandle. The track was shifted through the day and this evening is predicted to make landfall very near to New Orleans. Dad made hotel reservations in Memphis and reserved additional seats on the train Jeff will bet taking to Ann Arbor on Sunday.

Comments Off on Potluck

Half a Touch of Evil

Before making it to the office today, Dad and I stopped at the soon to be new office building to take a few pictures of the exterior for insurance purposes. It was my first time seeing the new building. I also got a peek in the new suite. It will certainly be a significant improvement. I worked from 10:30 to sometime after five today. There were enough reports to keep me busy for a good while. Beyond that I don’t remember any details of the work day. I watched a good portion of Touch of Evil late this evening, although I grew too tired to finish.

Comments Off on Half a Touch of Evil

Working Wednesday

I actually went to work this Wednesday, which is usually a day off. There was a lot of housekeeping that needed doing at the mid city office in preparation for the upcoming move so I spend the day cleaning out the closets and doing other such things. There were a couple reports to do as well. Mom picked me up from the office this evening as Dad was out east late. I had mom drop me off to get a haircut today, as I’ve needed one. I walked across the parking lot after the haircut to a Chinese buffet for some dinner. In retrospect it was kind of stupid as I felt incredibly pathetic eating there by myself. The food was acceptable about as good as one can expect when dining out on the westbank. Stomach full and pocked almost $10 lighter, I walked around Sav-a-Center briefly. Dad called me during dinner to say he was on his way home and would pick me up. He met m in the store. We needed a few groceries, which he bought and we went home. Later in the evening, I watched The Machinist. While it was certainly an interesting movie with cinematic merits, dank and bland look of the film made it a chore to watch. Seeing Christian Bale as a pale and sickly skinny man was certainly shocking having seen him recently in Batman Begins, where he must have been 100 pounds heavier.

Comments Off on Working Wednesday


I was at the office from 10:30 to about 6:30 this evening. I did a good bit of filing work in the morning but I was largely unoccupied after that. We had white beans for dinner. In the evening I watched the second part of a ‘documentary’ on the TV show Six Feet Under.

Comments Off on Tuesday

TVs and Boxes

I worked from ten to four today. There were three tapes waiting for me from Friday and I had no trouble keeping occupied until Dad and I left for the day at four. We stopped to pick up Andrew from school on the way home. I wanted to get a haircut this evening but the place had a long wait. Dad and I went to Best Buy and Office Depot this evening, to look at televisions and buy some boxes respectively. I managed not to buy anything, likely because the items I was interested in cost more than my entire bank balance.

Comments Off on TVs and Boxes

Another Photo Session

I accompanied Bianca on another photo session this morning at city park with Phil Casper. This shoot seemed shorter, likely because it was a bit cooler with all the shade and they got started a lot earlier, sometime before ten. Phil took pictures around a boat house and some other structures in the park, a couple bridges and a pavilion. They were done shortly after 11. Phil dropped off Bianca and I at Bennigan’s for lunch. Phil dropped by the restaurant as we were getting ready to leave to give Bianca of the photos he took today. Phil took us home afterward. Grandma came by the house this evening for dinner. Dad grilled a few things

Comments Off on Another Photo Session

Pictures and Shopping

I ‘chaperoned’ a photo shoot with Bianca and Dorcas. We met the photographer, Leonard Gray, at Keller Homeplace plantation in Hahnville sometime before 11. We were something like 45 minutes late because the girls had trouble printing out a map to the place. I’ve driven down the River Road myself before but I don’t recall ever seeing this particular plantation before. It was rather hot outside, but we managed. The guy took pictures for a couple hours. He shot the girls in a couple different outfits around the house and immediate surrounding area, including a barn in the back, which I’m told was built for the filming of the 1990 film, Convicts. I had my digicam with me and took some pictures of pictures being taken. They finally finished after one. After stopping at a gas station for water, we went to the Olive Garden in Metairie for lunch afterward. I don’t think I’ve been to one since living on Colorado. I had a plate with lasagna, alfredo pasta and some sort of breaded chicken. The picture in the menu made the dish look like a little sampler plate but it was pretty imposing and I barely ate half of it of course the salad, breadsticks and spinach and artichoke dip may have had something to do with it. After lunch, we decided to walk around the Esplanade mall for a little while. The restaurant is in the mall parking lot. As far as I know, I’ve never been to the Esplanade, although I’ve heard more than my share of the annoying radio commercials. We were there for a good while, I’m not gonna bother detailing it much. Our browsing was interrupted for a good while when we left the mall to pick up a couple of Dorcas’s friends that were at Winn Dixie. The store wasn’t far, but it took a while for us to retrieve them as we first went to the wrong grocery store, another nearby Winn Dixie. Anyway we eventually got them, it was shortly before five o’clock, and took them back to the mall with up. With that out of the way we got back to what we were doing. Evan joined us not terribly long after our little trip and we stopped at the food court. I got some cookies and a milk shake. We walked around for a little while longer before leaving. Before I got home Dorcas went to pick up Juan, which took a good while. I got home sometime around eight.

Comments Off on Pictures and Shopping

Thursday and Friday

Seeing as how I’m late with these entries again, I can’t really remember many specifics. I worked on Thursday. The Deli which closed reopened as a Chinese restaurant on Wednesday. I decided to give the place a try for lunch today. The food was ok, but it was downright depressing seeing the the deli butchered as it was. For a month of ‘renovations,’ very little was changed, and not for the better. I'm pretty sure Thursday night is when I watched All About Eve. I worked on Friday too. That evening, I watched Downfall, a foreign film depicting the last days of the Third Reich.

Comments Off on Thursday and Friday


I had the day off as usual today, although I actually got out of the house this afternoon. Bianca, Dorcas and I went to the mall this afternoon around 12. Dorcas did the driving. Lunch was the first order of business. The girls were both looking forward to Chick-fil-A and I have nothing against chicken nuggets so we all got food from there. It’s only been a few hours and my memory is already fading as so exactly what sores we visited but I guess it’s all water under the bridge anyway. I think the Body Shop was the first place we visited. I happened to remember this place because Jessica got an outfit from there once that I was especially fond of. While the girls were there I went next door to a shoe store. I found and purchased a pair of Chuck Taylor Converse shoes I like, black leather hi tops. I had since given up hope on finding a particular triple tone variety. This pair is nice a good material and the logo is embroidered rather than screen printed on like the canvas ones, which is actually a pretty big deal to me, sadly enough. $65 poorer, we must have peeked in another store or two before we went back to the food court to meet Dorcas’s boyfriend, Evan, who came down for lunch. I’ve met him before. I’m not sure is he was particularly unsociable today or just rude. He barely said a word to me or Bianca. While they were visiting I stopped in for a round of my favorite Arcade game, San Francisco Rush 2049. I did exceptionally poorly today. I didn’t even get the car to the finish line. This must have been my first time playing with ‘advanced’ handling. It was a real pain in the ass to keep control of the car. Usually, my arm muscles keep the force-feedback wheel in line. With Evan on his way back to work, we went to the Gap. We must have been in there at least an hour. Between Bianca and Dorcas, they must have tried on fifty pairs of pants. I resolved to get one shirt while I was there. I had this dark blue shirt with stripes picked up for a while but I changed my mind and picked a solid burgundy one instead. Even after I decided on the shirt, Bianca continued to try on pants for a good while. It’s hard for her to find stuff that fits, for reasons those acquainted with Bianca are well aware. We heard some thunder while were at the Gap. Eventually Dorcas and Bianca each found something they liked and bought it. I think we stopped in Sears soon after that. I just wanted to browse around the electronics section briefly. I ended up getting a pair of headphones. We also stopped in Rainbow, Mervyn’s and Radio Shack. The last store we visited was B.Dalton. We were in there for a little while. I didn’t see anything I wanted from there today. We browsed in the store for a while before leaving. Bianca and Dorcas got smoothies and I got a milk shake before we left the mall, which must have been sometime before five. We stopped at Wal-Mart on the way home. I’m not entirely sure why. I got something I needed though. Before making it all the way home, we had to stop at Dorcas’s house, which was on the way anyhow. I got home sometime before six. It was pretty obvious that there had been some severe weather near the house while we were gone. I was told hail actually fell, in spite of the heat outside. The wind must have been bad as well, as there was an awful lot of foliage in the street. It looked very much like right after the recent hurricane. We had dinner a bit late as we waited a while for Dad. We had the red beans cooked yesterday. I didn’t do much in the evening outside of lacing my new shoes. Clean laundry is still in a pile in my room.

Comments Off on Shopping