om Petty said that they waiting is the hardest part. And, so it is. Most of the preparations have been done. I was about to take the trash out when I remembered not to do it. During a hurricane the trash cans get blown around and the trash gets plastered to your house. Or, your neighbors house.
Besides, a trash can launched in a 75 mph wind and becomes an unguided rocket. What goes up always comes down. Maybe through somebody’s roof. It could rip through the roof, blow through the second floor and land on granny sitting in her chair on the first floor.
That would not be good.
In case you are wondering, my humor gets blacker as the big event gets closer. Besides, it’s not yet time to get into my zone. The cold, very clear eyed one that allows me to respond calmly and not in a panicked way. If I started that process now by the time the hurricane arrived I’d fly into the air and try to stop it by myself. It’s a well known fact that I’m not Superman.
Seriously, here’s what I know.
Unless there is a radical change, Hurricane Ida should make landfall upriver from New Orleans, near Baton Rouge, 75 miles away sometime tonight. That may seem like it’s far enough away to not hurt us. That would be wrong. Hurt us it will because we lie within the cone of uncertainty. Landfall can shift anywhere along that cone. Or, the entire cone can move.
Even if it doesn’t, we will get very strong winds, rain and a big storm surge.
Here are the numbers.
Wind gusts. 50-75 mph over the windspeed.
Storm surge. 12 – 15 feet above normal.
Rain. 12 – 15 inches above normal.
The house is armored for storms. That’s how it was built in 1854 when whole parts of town used to get blown away. Once we close the storm shutters we are safe. The biggest fear is loss of power and cellphone service, which also means loss of the internet.
We can deal with loss of power, partially with the hardwired generator and battery system. It only powers the kitchen and not all of that. We also have one of those little in room air conditioners. It’s useless in a big room, but works fine in the kitchen.
That’s all well and good if we have a few power lines down, but Hurricane Katrina knocked down whole power grids. It look weeks for power to be restored. It’ll get awfully old living like a refugee. No disrespect to our Afghan friends.
We cannot do anything about the loss of cellphone and internet service. I recall that after Katrina, we were able to get service after the telco rerouted us through some unaffected region. I don’t know if that’s possible today.
So, this might be it from me for a while.
Have good thought for all of us in Southeastern Louisiana.
The waiting is the hardest part. So, said Tom Petty. I’m trying to get my work done by about noon because Hurricane Zeta should be along a few hours later. That means I should shut down this main machine. And, close the lower storm shutters.
The all seeing dog didn’t like being out this morning. We are just starting to get the outer bands of Zeta. The winds are kicking up a little along with some rain. She does not like being in the rain. The wind felt weird. So, did the atmosphere. Still, we had a 45 minute walk.
I really wasn’t looking to make pictures, the light is ugly. I managed to let one find me, but I think it was trying to escape me. I’m not sure that I’ll do anything with it.
Skulls and abandoned houses. I made this picture a few years ago for a client. I haven’t punished it here. I can’t remember where I found the skull. I think, maybe the French Quarter. I know where I found the old house. Combined, it’s a Halloween picture. The daily picture. I’m not sure about this years masking. We had a plan, but nature undid it with this storm.
It’s just another 2020 thing.
We’ll just have to see how fast it moves through the city. In theory, it will arrive in the late afternoon and be gone by dinner time. It’s the downed power lines that I worry about. Oh well, there’s plenty of work I can do on the phone and laptops. We probably won’t have the internet until power is restored.
That’s the long way of explaining why there might not be a post tomorrow.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after each other and, puhleez vote.
Alabama. Hurricane Sally tuned even further eastward. She made landfall at Alabama. She dumped 24 inches of rain in about three hours. She’s moving so slowly that falling water combined with storm surges is turning catastrophic.
We, in Louisiana and especially in New Orleans, felt the outer bands of wind and a little rain. We are grateful for that. Well, wait a minute. I can’t speak for everybody. So, I am grateful for that.
The picture. This might be the extent of our damage. A few downed branches that are laying on the ground. I’m pretty sure that we can recover. Besides, the tree needed trimming.
I saw the scene. I pressed the button. I cleaned it up a little and straightened the vertical lines. I added a weird frame that seem to fit it, called torn paper.
As you can see, I’m still experimenting with design ability. In can you are wondering, I set this page up with two columns and went of from there.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Enjoy every po’boy.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. Time doesn’t matter. Like anyone who was in New Orleans at the time, I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember evacuating from Hurricane Katrina. I remember coming home to see my house had flooded. I remember my neighborhood looking destroyed. I remember seeing neighbors in far away places. I remember all of us being so happy that we were alive that when we ran into each other we danced in the streets. I’m sure New Mexicans thought we were nuts. We were.
I remember the essential goodness of people. I remember trading computer lessons for home cooked plates of soul food. I remember neighbors helping neighbors. I remember my friend helping me carry the big furniture out of my house and piling it up along the curb. I remember my neighbor, who I call Uncle Joe, telling me not to go see the other neighborhoods because it was all too much. I remember taking a self tour and coming back to my house, shell shocked. I remember Uncle Joe saying, ” like a moth to a flame…”
I remember this day, fourteen years ago.
Today, we all still get a little weird. I suspect we all have a form of PTSD that peaks on this day. I’m pretty sure that we all learned a lot. We learned about our strength. And, our resilience. We learned to get angry with the proper people — FEMA. We learned how to rebuild.
Make no mistake. We aren’t done yet. There are still wide swathes of the city that still aren’t anywhere near whole. The Lower 9th Ward is one of them. I’m not sure it will ever be. There are streets and houses that still carry the scars of the storm.
There are daily reminders too. A car was pulled out of an underground canal just last week. It’s likely it was there for fourteen years. It is also likely that it is a Katrina car.
Today is a day to reflect. A day to mourn the folks who died. And, a day to celebrate those who made it back.
As I write, Hurricane Dorian is churning through the Caribbean. It looks like it will be a category 4 hurricane when it makes landfall somewhere in the middle of the eastern Florida cost. God speed to those folks. It may continue on, striking the gulf side of the state. For now, it look like it will turn to the north. At least that’s what the predictive models say. Or, it could head towards us.
By around 10:30 pm, the night before the big event, everything changed. No storm surge. The river would only rise to 17 feet. Well below flood level. And, the rain will average around 6 inches over 24 hours in New Orleans.
Yes. It’s windy. We may still lose power. So, I’m writing this around midnight just in case.
A grateful city is happy. I’m happy.
I’m so disappointed in national news coverage. The Washington Post flat out printed fake news. NOLA Twitter responded as only we could. The same thing happened with national television stations. Worse, the gold standard, The BBC went beyond fake news.
As many of you know, I started my career as a photojournalist. I made pictures. I edited. I managed photo staffs. I built a chain of weekly newspapers within a daily newspaper. I would have never published the nonsense I read today.
The Post said something about how fearful we were. And, that we were fleeing. Nobody that I know was fearful. Some people with children left. Family first. But, they weren’t panicked. We’ve been through this before.
The city, state, even the federal government got involved. We had emails, tweets and texts. There were the obligatory press conferences and so on. That was all good.
I remember that prior to the evacuation for Hurricane Katrina, a lot of my neighbors said they weren’t leaving because the city always reacted to potential hurricanes extremely and nothing ever came of it.
The rest is history.
When do people start disregarding hurricane lead ups again? What happens when the real deal occurs again and people don’t take it seriously?
Beyond my pay grade. I guess the Mercedes Dome will be a place of last refuge again.
One more thing.
I’m speaking only about New Orleans. I’m sure it will be rough when Barry makes landfall, wherever it makes landfall.
They said it as late as last night’s 6 pm news. They said a hurricane was coming. They said a tropical storm was coming. They all lied. At least they did that late in the day. When anybody could log into NOAA, the national weather service, and see nothing was coming.
No rain. No wind. Not a drop. Not a breeze.
For the weather folks on all the local channels it’s about market share. They howl. They scream. They scare people. For bigger ad revenue. You wonder why the guy in The White Houses whines so much about fake news. This is a perfect reason. And, it’s getting worse everywhere.
They used to say in the HAM Radio world, “all noise, no signal.” Back then it meant all they could get was static and couldn’t find a clear signal to communicate. The internet latched onto that saying a few years ago. With all sorts of social media to compete with traditional mainstream news sources, it ‘s gotten much worse. It’s gotten to the point that everybody has to scream in order to be heard.
And, nobody is heard.
Nike and Colin Kaepernick did an end run. One advertisement. No words from Kaepernick except retweets. Silence. Golden silence. And, the whole world is listening. Some people are destroying their clothes. How silly. Some people are burning their shoes. I just hope they aren’t wearing them while they do that. Other people, like me, think it’s great. Since Nike provides NFL uniforms, they put them back on their heels by taking a stand. A strong stand.
My point isn’t about the rightness or wrongness of Nike’s or Kaepernick’s actions. My point is that he and they broke through all the noise. They were quiet.
Maybe we should take a lesson from that.
The picture. Clear, wonderful skies. Just like last night, just like this morning.
One more thing. I am not saying we shouldn’t talk when we have something to say. Absolutely talk. Don’t be silent about what matters to you or to me.
And, yet another thing. Make no mistake. I’m grateful that nothing happened here. Where the tropical storm did land, a child was killed in a mobile home. I’m very sorry for that. Even then, I’m happy that was the extent. It could have been a large number of deaths. Think Puerto Rico. Think Hurricane Katrina. Yes. I’m very grateful.
I’ll shut up now. It’s time to listen to my own words.
As of now, the storm has slowed down a bit. We should get rain and winds along towards the end of the afternoon with the storm passing through around midnight. Or, after midnight as J.J, Cale wrote and Eric Clapton sang.
It’s a Category 1 Hurricane, which means the lowest possible wind speed that you can classify as a hurricane. It should make landfall at the Mississippi – Alabama border. I mention all of this again, because my friends have been calling and texting. When something like this makes the national news it becomes something frightening.
And, we’ll be alright.
The picture. I had something else planned for today, but I saw this on a dog walk. It was funny. She — the dog — walked to this place and kept circling around. It wasn’t like she does when she’s looking for a place. It was more like every time I wanted to move on, she kept coming back. To the place that you see in the picture. So, I made a bunch of pictures. After all, she’s usually right about a lot of things.
She also wanted to be outside longer than normal. She won’t go out in the rain. She knows something is coming.
I owe you all an apology. I haven’t been telling many stories lately. My efforts have been half-baked. I’m not sure why.
Yeah. It’s been un-Godly hot. Many of us have been talking about it. It’s a different kind of heat than we are used to. There is a second line on August 23rd. A week or so from now. The season is starting. Already. Seems like it just ended. I was talking to a photographer friend of mine about it. He’s like me. He’s out on the street every week. He’s not looking forward to it. I’m not either.
But, that’s not it. That’s an easy excuse.
I’ve just been in a weird funk. I feel like I’ve lost a little of my mojo. I can work when I get paid. I can’t work for myself. You tell me. Which on is really more important? There seems to be a lot of that going on. Some of my blogging buddies have been talking about writing blocks. Some took a break. A few took a break saying that they would return. They’ve yet to return.
I’ve been also sort of denying a few things. We are two weeks away from the ten-year anniversary of something that changed my life. My city’s life. Just about everybody’s life who lived in New Orleans. I lost a house. I relocated to New Mexico for a time. I came back. Some of us did and some of us didn’t. For those of us who returned, so much changed. For a while that was okay. But, then it wasn’t.
My way of dealing with the decade anniversary of the storm making landfall at Buras, Louisiana on August 29, 2005, was to ignore it. But, that’s not possible. There is no media outlet in world that is letting this pass without publishing as many stories as possible about it. My hometown newspaper, which has morphed into NOLA.com, published a story that contains a database of every possible story that they published about Katrina. They should. They worked throughout the earliest days of storm recovery. They were journalistic heroes. The New York Times has been publishing at least three stories a week about New Orleans and our recovery. The Chicago Tribune chimed in with an editorial written by an idiot — yes, that’s the only way to describe her — saying that Chicago needs their own Hurricane Katrina to serve as sort of a reset button. Yes. The Tribune is backtracking. But, still… I would never wish a storm like Katrina on anybody.
Anyway. My friend and fellow photographer, George Long, posted something on the local photographer’s group on Facebook about this place. It is the New Orleans Katrina Memorial. He asked if we knew it existed. I certainly didn’t. But, as you already have learned about me, there’s a lot I don’t know. There are things I discover that people have known about for years. Oh well. Perfection is for angels.
I decided to go there yesterday. I decided a lot. In about ten minutes. Here’s some of what I decided.
I went to the memorial at around noon. The worst time of day to work. And, around the hottest part of the day. I want to feel the heat of the day. I wanted to feel what it felt like during the summer of Katrina. Nobody was there. Just me. I want to make you feel it too. Light shouldn’t matter. Deal with it.
I decide to photograph the memorial through my eyes. There are traditional ways to photograph these things. There is also a more personal way. I chose the latter way of working. I need to do that more often.
I put myself back on a picture a day schedule. For 14 days. Two weeks. I will post my own memorial to the storm. Everything you see will be a day old. At most. You will see it the way I see it. The pictures will all have some storm reference. I will take you back to places you may have seen in the past. Maybe not. That’s a lot of work. It’s worth it. For me. For you.
On August 29th, there will be memorials all over the city and region. I don’t know which one I’ll photograph. But rest assured, I’ll be there. Somewhere.
All of those points are a real change in my thinking. You know that if you been reading Storyteller for any length of time.
Okay? Good? Any ideas?
So. These pictures. First, I didn’t mess around with them most in post production. Mostly, I’ve corrected contrast, highlights and shadows. I’ve helped the color. But, that’s it. This is more like photojournalism, Magnum style. One more thing. I didn’t touch or move anything. You see what I found and photographed.
I found the stuffed animal almost right off. Somebody left it as their own memorial. It hasn’t been there long, but already mold is starting to claim it.
The second picture is a very short version of the Katrina story. The things to know about this place was that it was given birth by the Coroner of New Orleans. Every funeral home helped out. There are 21 unidentified bodies here. There are an additional 62 unclaimed bodies buried. That makes a total of 83. Nobody knows why some bodies weren’t claimed. Likely, they belonged to families who had no idea what happened to their kin. They probably still don’t know.
The third picture is a summer picture. The wreath is faded. Grass cuttings have been spewed onto the memorial stone. By the way, there are no names on these stones.
The fourth picture is about me. Dried flowers and my shadow. I think I said it. This is personal.
The fifth picture is a study in contrasts. Pine branches are evergreen. They grow forever. Supposedly. The stuff in the background is left over from either the storm itself, or, from the building of the memorial. I’m not sure which one. There was nobody around to ask.
The sixth picture is the memorial logo on the memorial fence.
Not to worry. Not every post on every day will be this long. Or, anywhere near this long. I just had a lot to tell you today.
While I was poking around in The Lower Ninth Ward and I found that odd little house displaying The American Flag, I also made pictures of broken glass, broken windows and rusty walls. I just sort of photographed whatever I saw. When I was editing my take — no, make that curating my take — I sort of watched a little collection of pictures come together without my help. Yep. They did it by themselves. That’s probably just as well. Pictures are better at doing that than I am.
Anyway. It’s just a little exercise in seeing details.
But, it seems to be a really good metaphor for the entire Lower Ninth Ward. Everything is broken. Even the newly repaired stuff.
Seeing the picture is just a matter of looking. And reacting. Post production is simple. Mostly, I just made sure the details are as sharp as they can be without looking overdone.