D and I drove out to St. Charles Parish this afternoon to run some errands. I-10W was pretty clear traffic- and weather-wise until the tail of Gustav unleashed some localized rain on us. On our way back home, we took River Road back all the way to the Carrollton neighborhood and then through Uptown back home. These are some of our observations, with pictures where I could take them:
Portions of Kenner and Metairie along River Road still don’t appear to have power. Traffic lights are out at major intersections on Airline Highway west of the airport and on River Road, so please be careful. A mile or so before we went under the Huey P Long bridge, we saw leaning/broken poles [photo] and broken cables lying in River Road. Traffic barricades have been put up where this occurs, at which point we would go around on Jefferson Highway and come back to River Road.
Big businesses like WalMart, Best Buy and Home Depot have power as do the occasional Rally’s and McDonald’s with expected long lines [photo]. Due to the continuing rains, some streets are flooded but not impassable.
We turned off River Road onto Dante St. Dante’s Kitchen is closed but looks alright. Tree-cutting and Entergy trucks are everywhere along Dante [photo] and cross streets [photo]. Carrollton Station and Saltwater Grill are closed. Once on Carrollton, we saw debris everywhere, especially in the neutral ground. Traffic light at Carrollton and Oak is out (Public Service Announcement: when traffic signals are out, let’s pretend we took driver’s ed and treat it as a four-way stop sign, shall we?). NOPD and Army National Guard trucks are parked outside almost every pharmacy and business center in that area [photo].
On to St. Charles Avenue. Again, tree branches and debris everywhere [photo]. Audubon Park is a mess of branches [photo]. Calhoun to Prytania [photo] to Nashville to Tchoupitoulas. Again, more Army Nation Guard trucks parked outside major pharmacies [photo]. Winn Dixie on Tchoupitoulas is open but with National Guardsmen guarding the front door. Dos Jefes appears to be fine and open, while Hansen’s Sno-Bliz appears fine but is closed. Rouses at corner of Tchoupitoulas & Napoleon is wide open – no police or guard presence – it looked packed. I hear Whole Foods opened at 2pm is not so full of people.
Turn onto Napoleon Ave. where tree cutting work is in progress [photo]. Ms. Mae’s at Napoleon & Magazine looks closed but neon sign is on [photo] with National Guard truck parked across the street [photo]. Hey, we have our priorities here in New Orleans and they are pharmacies and bars. Magazine St. Uptown is deserted [photo]. There are store awnings down in places – whoopdee. The Bulldog looks open but they have a sign on their door that I couldn’t read. Walgreens across the street from The Bulldog is open with guards [photo]. There seems to be more signs of life on Magazine St. in the Garden District [photo]. Rue de la Course and The Rendezvous are open. The Discount Zone [photo] and Shell gas stations on Magazine St. in the Garden District are open. Juan’s Flying Burrito is open, I repeat, Juan’s Flying Burrito in the Lower Garden District is open, as is J’anita’s. Hallelujah, praise the Lord and pass the fish!
All in all, the city looks like it got hit by a major thunderstorm / minor tropical storm and nothing more. Others to the west and southwest of us are not so lucky. The Houma Nation may need our help as may some friends of mine who own a seafood business down in Houma. Once I get more information, I’d like to get a group of us together who are willing to travel down there for a couple of days to assist an existing aid group. Will do more research and keep you posted. If you know of anyone who needs assistance right now and laypeople like us can help, please let us know.
Thinking about hitting the Quarter/Marigny with some other blogger types this evening. It will be nice to see friends again.