Gustav’s First Gust

At about 7 pm cst tonight while my neighbor Lisa and I were chatting, Gustav came in with bluster.  We were watching hundreds of birds chatter and line up on the phone lines in what was a nice sunny evening.  I was headed for the hurricane party which I understand was broken up at about 6 pm by the National Guard.  The mighty mustang is on higher ground and it’s tailpipe is duct taped up …precaution against rising water. 

Here’s my first pictures:

Looking at the darkness coming in over the East
Looking at the darkness coming in over the East

Minutes later the first rain bands hit and it was quite dark.  The first gust was at least 50 mph.  I still have power and the TV stations say that Plaquemines Parish is under a tornado warning.  That cloud definitely had the feel of a wall cloud. 

UPDATE : we just have light rain now.  some of us have been sitting on the porch of the look out inn having cocktails and misc. libations.  only traffic we see is military and police. they just dropped a troop transport vehicle off at the back door of the hebert defense complex which is a few doors up from us.  i could go give some good key around the block but am staying put for the moment.  it’s quiet now. still not trusting the dog to NOT kill Em’s kitten… AC is here and down the  street in the FQ.  Seems like old times.  I’m trying to hone up on my third world living skills while praying the electricity stays on as long as possible.  have to tell you, found that i am much more motivated by gas service than electricity … gas service    = stove works and hot water works which = baths at the end of the day.  I’ll let you know if any of those cute national guard guys come by this way.  One of my favorite post katrina memories was offering hot coffee to the national guard of washington state ( a bunch of babes from tacoma, mostly) who wanted more southern hospitality than the hot coffee.  Ah, me,  and here I am just off the busline named Desire …

Peace out …

oh, and did i mention how much I’d like General Honore to be Hillary’s VP choice?

Pre Gustav Jitters: Live Blogging from the Upper 9

You can tell the powers that be don’t want to be caught looking as stunned and inept as they did during Katrina.  Senator Obama is talking on the phone to my favorite local TV station now.  President Bush and Vice President Cheney have said they will not be attending the Republican Convention.  Mayor Ray Nagin (in serious need of meds and obviously pissed that Governor Jindal upstaged him) panicked every friend and family member I had with his “Mother of All Storms” comment. I’ve been answering the phone about every two hours since about 10 pm last night once his usual histrionics got on CNN. 

Okay, so facts from the ground. Every one who is going, is going east into Mississippi and Alabama. (Read it’s a parking lot on every road eastbound)  Every one that evacuated earlier to Baton Rouge is no longer feeling smug.  It appears the brunt of the winds and rain may be worse there then here.  I’ve ordered the youngest to stay in her dorm and follow the orders of the campus.  I’ve come to respect the strength of buildings built pre-world war 2.  These things were built to last and be passed on.  Like i said, my little barge board house is built of side by side boards that are about 20 inches wide and 8 inches thick.   Trees are no longer available to produce that kind of wood.

City of New Orleans is moving all of its busses to high ground … the Poland Avenue wharf which is two blocks down the street for me … exactly where the mighty mustang is going.  I’m hoping that every one on the westbank and the other side of the canal from me are going elsewhere.  The story from this hurricane will be the surge which is expected to swamp the same areas Katrina did, plus the north shore and the west bank.  These were two areas spared during Katrina.

There is a very large national guard presence here in town.   They are REALLY serious about looters this time.  There are still some businesses that refuse to come back because their property was left to looters while the majority of the police force and national guard were watching folks in the super dome.  They have even sealed off the super dome completely.  Folks with out rides are being bussed out or put on trains to Memphis and are taking pets with them.  I’m sure this is making the elderly more willing to go.

Most of my neighbors are planning to stay at this point.  Again, we’re the highest ground in the area and if you’re hit by a tornado, you might as well be in a ditch.  The only wild card here, again, is the levees.  I know my house is on the lid of the bowl and won’t flood, but I also know that every one on the high ground becomes an island that the rats swim too.  (Ask me about the use of my office and classrooms for toilets during Katrina.)  Leather chairs went outside.  Everything inside our building became a public toilet. 

Anyway, still trying to get the plywood on the north side of the house.  Got the front storm shutters up yesterday.  I’ll make a final go or stay decision after the 4 pm update.  It looks like it’s going farther west and experiencing shear.  If that trend continues, I’m safer here than just about any place else in Louisiana.

I’m powering up the cameras and such.  As long as the electricity and batteries hold, I’ll try to post some direct information.  I’ll only get really worried if Jim Cantrelle of the Weather Channel AND Anderson Cooper show up here at the same time AND Johnny White’s closes….  Most of Bourbon street is closed but of course, NEVER NEVER NEVER Johnny White’s.

Here’s a side pick of the kathouse a few days after Katrina.

kat house post katrina

kat house post katrina

Here he comes …

Well, I have my trusty drill out and I’m currently boarding up the little kathouse windows.  I’ll make the decision to leave some time tomorrow.  I’m thinking, hmmmm, Florida Beaches, drinks with umbrellas, and the dance of the cabana boys.  (And yes, that is Hanna right there coming in next!)  Hate to wish this on any one else, but have to say, any one hit by Rita and Katrina deserve a break from mother nature.  Unfortunately, I know there’s no cosmic teapot coming to the rescue … so, let’s hope the laws of nature and physics are working in manner that brings the least amount of harm to critters and people.

Remembering Katrina, Watching Gustav: Life in the Big Easy

Life here in New Orleans has been tipped up and down and sidewise since Hurricane Katrina showed us how little we can trust the government to build a better levee.  I can tell how many folks trust the upgrades by the amount of traffic I saw leaving town as I was coming back in from Hammond today.  Katrina was the first hurricane that got me to evacuate.  I was less afraid of the storm than the after storm chaos.  I was suprised the levees broke, however, the total human drama afterwards was no suprise to me.  I was kept pent up in my french quarter home for three days while the Morial adminstration was trying to figure out how to let the folks out of the superdome peacefully after Hurricane Georges.  They were upset they only had hotdogs to eat and were allowed to bring an aresenal inside. While they corrected some of that after Katrina, more huge mistakes were made.  They are really really anxious down here not to repeat either of these experiences.

I think that is why they are evacuating every one earlier than usual.  I just hope they are sending folks to places where they may not get torrential rain or tornadoes.  My little kathouse stood up to katrina and experienced superficial damage.  I’d rather be in a ditch than a motel built in the 80s if there’s tornadoes and flooding.   I was born in Oklahoma, raised in Iowa and Nebraska, and moved down here from Minnesota.  I know floods and tornadoes well.

So, the question is, do I stay or do I go?  Right now, I’m staying put.  Like I said, I don’t want to head to Florida and be creamed two days later by Hanna or head to Texas and then have Gustav go west and rain hail and tornadoes on me in some poorly built motel room.   So, stay tuned folks as the center of my life the next few days becomes getting my house and act together.  Emily insists she’s okay at LSU and wants to see the football game now scheduled at 10 am.  LSU has underground generators and very sturdy buildings so I have no doubt she’ll be safe there.  I have a kitten, a cat that think its a doberman, and an goofy old retriever mix.  That’s always a consideration too, however, after Katrina, I have to say the chances for animals actually being cared for is good this time.  They’re making arrangements to evacuate pets if people have to take buses and seek public shelters.  Hopefully, that will make the vulnerable and old more willing to go.

I just thought I’d post a few more Katrina pictures here for you so you could remember three years ago.  What I’m actually going to post is the pictures I took after we got home and shared our common love of our wonderful city. Just remember, we’re a resilient lot down here.

McCain makes Political and Puma Savvy VP Choice

If there were ever an indicator that McCain was going after PUMA voters his selection of Governor Sarah Palin sealed the deal.  A savvy selection, Palin will not irritate the social conservatives in the party while intriguing PUMAs and other disaffected Hillary backers.

Palin is a first-term governor credited with reforms of her out-of-the-way state. Newly minted Democratic nominee Barack Obama is making an aggressive play for the traditional GOP stronghold and its three electoral votes, and polls show the race close.

At 44, Palin is younger than Obama and, like McCain, she calls herself a maverick.

source: The Associated Press,  Friday August 29, 2008, 9:47 AM

I want my money back! (AND my country!)

The U.S. taxpayers provide $50 million per party for these shams called conventions. After watching the chicago version of a staged roll call and what amounted to a real deathblow to democracy, I want to ask every one to write their congressional representatives and senators and demand their money back!  I don’t feel like I need to pay for advertising rigged elections, false unity, and forced results.

I didn’t blog yesterday on Hillary’s speech and I’m really reluctant to do so on Bill’s speech because they both did an excellent job doing exactly what the party demanded.  They were brilliant speeches making the case against McCain and any continuation of the Bush 43 policies.  This was supposed to make the case for Senator Obama.  I felt they tried, but since the case FOR Obama is basically nothing BUT the case AGAINST McCain, even the brilliant oratory of skilled politicians couldn’t do it for me.  I’m glad that many AA’s will get the chance to vote for a black presidential candidate, but there has to be something going for a presidential candidate other than an opponent that doesn’t share your views and historical opportunities.  That candidate has to have a proven record that shows he’s up for the job.  Senator Obama falls woefully short on that account and I cannot turn my country over to another President that requires training wheels and is so obviously over his head on issues regarding the economy and national security.  He may get to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, but he also has to decide what to do with the resurgence of Russian Aggression, Osama Bin Laden, and a stagnant economy that is not providing equal opportunities for all Americans.

I am so damned tired of feeling that the Democratic Party has offered us the lesser of two evils and I just need to fall in, I could scream.  I want to feel inspired by a presidential candidate, not feel like I have to reluctantly go along with whatever the party insiders offer up.  I think, PUMAS, it’s time for a party of our own making.

I’ve spoken about this election to what I consider typical Americans.  I asked several of the women I teach with at the University if they’ve been watching any of the convention.  I’ve talked to my dad and sister in Seattle.  Every one pretty much agrees, once again, we have two choices that none of us really want.  Dad–a Republican–doesn’t want McCain.  Most of the folks I speak to, other than my young students, really don’t want Obama.  I hear so many folks saying that this is the worse choice they’ve had for a long time and they feel like staying home rather than exercising their most sacred duty and wonderful gift from our ancestors, the right to vote for who will lead us.

So what I want to know is why do have to pay for this sham upfront if I’m going to spend the next four years paying for this Hobson’s choice?  Why do I want to scream and say, not again!  This is just another set of mediocre politicans that have pandered to the worst of their party’s interests.

Something has to be done about the two party system.  Since the birth of the televised convention, democracy is becoming less and less vibrant.  It is more a televised attempt at giving us what they want. I even felt that the primaries and caucuses this year were a complete waste of money.  They’ve been fixed and gamed to produce a desired result.  Caucuses need to be eliminated.  Primaries need to be held on a rotating calander and a regional basis with a very short election cycle.  Iowa keeps creating these losers and needs to be put into a pack with the rest of the heartland and no state should have any kind of special status.

Last presidential election cycle, I felt I got stuck with John Kerry by the time Louisiana had it’s primary.  I knew he was a complete loser but went along any way.  By that time, I had no choice in it.  My vote was meaningless.  I also felt that when I voted for him, I knew I was voting for a predestined loser.  This time, I refuse to do it.  Obama cannot win and I refuse to put any effort into pretending he will.  I’m frankly expecting a repeat of the McGovern-Nixon election.  Have any of you ever heard of a situation where a candidate gets a negative bounce with a vp selection and during a convention?  The DNC is too caught up with itself to stop this disaster in process.

I’d like to put my two cents in for the future of the PUMA movement.  It’s something I’ve been putting forward here for some time.  We need to spend the next four years building the infrastructure for a viable THIRD party.  One that is based on the American people.  One that removes itself from corporate control and the control of those loud and obnoxious interest groups we see every convention time.  I don’t want to pander to evangelicals, I don’t want us split up by skin color,  and I definitely don’t want to obsess on wedge issues.  I just want a party that is interested in the economic issues and the safety issues we face every day as americans.  I want to focus on our shared interests.  I want to focus on  our health, our safety, the future of our children, jobs, and an equitable tax system.

Is that too much to ask?

“Experience Counts–I don’t care what anyone tells you”

From Delegate Anne Price Mills.