NPR logo Patience, Grasshopper

Patience, Grasshopper

A bird's-eye view of the Louisiana coastline. Jeff Brady, NPR hide caption

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Jeff Brady, NPR

A bird's-eye view of the Louisiana coastline.

Jeff Brady, NPR

Louisiana's grasshoppers appear to be on steroids. Jeff Brady, NPR hide caption

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Jeff Brady, NPR

Reporter Jeff Brady has spent the last week in Louisiana, where he's following the progress of repairs to the hundreds of oil and gas platforms and pipelines damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Although the weather hasn't yet allowed him to get out to a platform in the Gulf, Jeff's been able to commune with the nature of the Deep South.

Superior Offshore International has a large ship with divers who are working on the damaged and destroyed pipelines. The company offered to take me and a few other reporters out to see how the work is accomplished.

We arrived at the Lafayette Airport early this morning. At the time, weight seemed to be the biggest concern. There were six passengers instead of five and the cameras and audio equipment weighed a lot. But as we got out into the Gulf, an approaching storm started to worry the pilot.

We diverted to Morgan City, La., to wait out the storm. Every 30 minutes, our pilot would return from the weather briefing room with more bad news... First the storm was moving one way, then back again, then it had completely surrounded the ship that was our target.

The game shows on the lounge television could hold our interest only so long. A few of us ventured outside where we discovered something about Louisiana: the bugs here are huge! There were two to three-inch black grasshoppers all over the sidewalk, the garbage cans and even hanging from the eaves. And these aren't the skittish kind of grasshoppers we have back home in Colorado. They don't seem to hop; they just crawl around. Maybe it's the hot, humid weather, but when one reporter picked up the bug, it barely even registered a protest.

(A very helpful Web site says this is an Eastern Lubber Grasshopper. They've caused all sorts of damage throughout the south over the years.)

In the end, I never got out to see the divers fixing the underwater pipeline. The storm strengthened throughout the afternoon and it was too dangerous to fly. But I did take some decent pictures of the Louisiana coastline from the helicopter. We'll have to try again in a few days when the weather settles back down.