Hurricane Gustav Slams Ashore In Louisiana
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
This is Day to Day. I'm Alex Chadwick. Anyone with good sense and a radio has left New Orleans by now. And for the other side of the story, we're going to Johnny White's Sports Bar open for business today and doing some on the city's fabled Bourbon Street. Hello, Lauri Merlin(ph) are you there?
Ms. LAURI MERLIN (Bartender): Yes, I'm here.
CHADWICK: You're the bartender. How are things?
Ms. MERLIN: Everything is fine.
CHADWICK: Lauri, how many people are there at Johnny White's?
Ms. MERLIN: Well, there's only about 20, but we're a very small bar.
CHADWICK: 20 people? You know...
Ms. MERLIN: Mostly locals.
CHADWICK: They're locals. Why are they there when everyone has fled the city, because of the hurricane?
Ms. MERLIN: Because everybody's very hard headed and everybody wants to stay, and keep a hold of their place.
CHADWICK: Aren't these people who went through hurricane Katrina three years ago.
Ms. MERLIN: Yeah, these are pretty much the same people who never left for Katrina.
CHADWICK: They stayed for Katrina? And..
Ms. MERLIN: Yes, yes.
CHADWICK: And they're staying again?
Ms. MERLIN: Yes.
CHADWICK: Do you have any customer we could speak to there?
Ms. MERLIN: Yes, hold on one minute. Here Kim.
(Soundbite of dog barking)
CHADWICK: We're going to check back at Johnny White's later in the show. First, hurricane Gustav did make landfall this morning, about 70 miles south-west of New Orleans. It was a category-two storm. Earlier, meteorologists had feared it would hit land as a category-four hurricane. For more we are going to New Orleans again. And now to NPR's Greg Allen. Greg what's it like there? What are you seeing?
GREG ALLEN: Well, Alex, actually right now, getting a lot of wind here and some of the high gusts are rattling the windows and shaking the trees dramatically outside. But we're not seeing anything near the wind speeds we saw during Katrina. I was here - there as well and that was truly frightening. What we think we're seeing here today are tropical storm force winds or low category, hurricane category one winds. So, certainly nothing to sneeze at, but not the scary thing that we thought we could be seeing today.
CHADWICK: So, how's the city holding up? What's going on there?
ALLEN: Well, of course as you know, most people have left. The city is amazingly deserted and that's been something that just surprised many of us driving through town, you find very few people. No one's on the roads of course, but if you do go through town, you do find some people out on their porch watching the wind and the rain come down.
You know, we talked to some folks, a family out there who were drinking a bottle of some nice champagne and getting ready to make steak and eggs for breakfast, so doing it in real New Orleans style.
We talked to some folks who said they're disappointed the storm wasn't even worse. You know, the feeling here today so far, is that the city's holding up well and that it all could've been a lot worse.
CHADWICK: People watching CNN or other cable channels are seeing pictures of water overflowing the industrial canal, or at least a part of it. It's just washing right over there, it's hard to know how bad this is going to be.
ALLEN: That's true and that's - of course one of the areas of real concern is the industrial canal. Where really there's - the repairs are far from complete. In the last few days, they've been doing all these temporary emergency repairs down there, filling big baskets full of sand to try to shore up the levees. So, there are many sections along there that we would be concerned about.
What the Corps has been saying today is that, the water they've been seeing mostly is just lapping - waves lapping over the top. They've told us that there is nothing to be overly concerned about. They don't expect that it will - they say it's not actual overtopping. They don't expect a breach, but we'll have to wait and see. This is the kind of thing that could lead to a breach and cause a lot of water to come to the city. The good thing is the Corps have crews down there to monitor conditions and to respond when - if a response is necessary.
CHADWICK: So, when are we going to know exactly the extent of the damage there in New Orleans? And of course, that matters because it's the biggest population center around there.
ALLEN: That's right, and we'll have to wait for - throughout the day. There's teams ready to go out and do assessments as soon as the storm lets up. The Army Corps of Engineers has teams, the Fish and Wildlife will send out search and rescue teams looking for people who might need help. So we have - that's one big difference, we have a lot of people ready to go out and do immediate assessment, and to take action. So, by late today, early tomorrow we should have a real sense of what this storm has done to New Orleans.
CHADWICK: NPR's Greg Allen riding out the storm in New Orleans. Greg, thanks.
ALLEN: My pleasure, Alex.
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