This was taken from the Canal St. entrance to our hotel in the French Quarter. As you can see, the wind was pounding down from the north and pushing water up with it... even before the levees broke.
A local news cameraman (crazy, for sure) takes shelter under our walkway as we watch the first palm tree go down. Water is on the street from the pounding rain.
It's a funny note that after spending most of my life in south Louisiana, this was the first hurricane I remember hitting in daylight.
Ronnie G. holds up a copy of the Times Picayunne dated August 29, 2005. We sat and waited for the lights to go out, not really sure of what was about to happen. ...and of course, we were drinking beer.
Yes, there is always an anticipation of rising water when a hurricane approaches. In an upper room, we stocked up on water and food and the means to prepare it... should things get rough. Food crisis are an unusual test for a chef. They take you into modes of survival and obligation to feed those that you are responsible for. This is something that doctors and rescue personnel are expected to deal with, not chefs.
Ok, so at this point we didn't know what was going on. The storm was over, we were alive, there was no communication, and then there was this sudden rising water coming from the north.
This is how we saw the water coming up Iberville St. The Ritz Carlton here seems to be taking on some water. By mid-afternoon that day we all left the hotel in separate cars driving around chaos and looters. A little over a week later I returned to the city.
An hour outside of New Orleans in my hometown area of Lockport and Raceland, a few of us 'refugees' convened and did what any real coonass would do... we cooked food and drank beer. Here's our friend, Vanessa, in her parents' backyard.
I was thrilled to see that my Vespa that I had locked on the 3rd floor of our French Quarter garage was not hit by looters. It ended up being the perfect vehicle to maneuver the streets aound the debris. And of course, it has great gas mileage which is awesome when you can't find any gas to buy.
Once the water receded enough, I trekked up Canal street to my neighborhood above mid-city. This is the Plantation Coffee House by the tracks near Delgado. That's at least 12 feet of water under the railway.
I was able to ride as far as these tracks. After that, I hiked up towards my street where there was still a lot of water. The smell was of death, and I will never forget it... nauseating. You can see the high water mark, and how cars were floated into odd places.
This is how I saw my street after hiking along the tracks. There was really no one allowed in the city at this point, and I had to keep out of sight of the military helicopters that kept flying overhead. There were no birds or other signs of normal life... and course, that smell.
The first view of my house and the watermark half-way up. I was renting the right half of this shotgun double. There was no sign of my cat, Stinky. Yes, I did leave him behind and if you're some nutso animal rights activist who thinks I'm evil for it, then keep your self-serving holier-than-thou opinions to yourself unless you have faced the same catastrophe. And I eat foie gras too.
At least there's no one dead inside. This was a strange shot of reality. For some reason, I became fascinated with everything here. I had visited my house 8 times before moving to Miami. Sometimes it was to recover what little I could, and other times it was to make it more real to me.
This was my first look after finally kicking the door in. There are pictures of the other rooms, but seeing this one gives you an idea. The water that was in here was disgusting beyond belief. Ooh black water, keep on rolling, Mississippi moon won't you keep on shining on.
My old tree fell over onto my neighbor's fence pulling water pipes up from the ground. Shortly after taking this photo, my camera battery died. I wish that I could have taken pictures of everything afterwards while I was still in the city. The surrealness of everything still amazes me.