Wednesday, August 31, 2005

It's been a looooooooong day

By Joe Hischer staff writer

On my drive home from volunteering at the emergency triage center at the PMAC I noticed that several gas pumps were taped or bagged off indicating they were empty. Another station had long lines as patrons waited for a gas tanker to finish filling up the station's wells. I managed to find a station up and running and topped off my tank there.

I have a friend from New Olreans that's looking for someone to keep his cat for a while. If you know of a good home, let me know. If you are able to take any animal temporarily, post your contact info in the Comments section below.

It's late and been a long day without much good news. Thanks for all the great emails! I'll update the blog with more info on areas hit by Katrina tomorrow.

St. Tammany update

By Joe Hischer staff writer

I have an update on the condition of some of St. Tammany. I know a lot of you have been asking.

Rep. Tim Burns of Mandeville toured St. Tammany today and spoke about it on WBRZ Channel 2. He says that there is sporadic damage in Covington, mostly from wind and tree damage. Mandeville homes and residents along Lake Ponchartrain suffered flood damage. In Slidell, Burns specifically mentioned Crossgates and French Branch subdivisions as having been flooded, but that the waters had receded.

At this time, evacuees are not allowed to return to their homes in St. Tammany Parish, possibly for several days or weeks. Although I-12 is open for traffic, all exits are blocked.

Sorry guys. I grew up in Crossgates in Slidell and still have many friends in St. Tammany. It would be nice to hear some good news from the area.

People looking for people

By Joe Hischer staff writer

This came from the Louisiana State Police:

Louisiana State Police has requested all individuals who are offering assistance to Hurricane Katrina victims or to the rescue operation to contact the Red Cross via or call 1-800-HELP-NOW (1-800-495-7669). Citizens should not travel to the affected areas with their boats to assist in the rescue operation. Their concern is much appreciated; however, their presence will interfere with emergency personnel's efforts. Those seeking information on friends and loved-ones, who may have remained in the affected areas, should contact or call 1-800-GET-INFO (1-800-438-4636), as Louisiana State Police is not maintaining a databank of rescued individuals.
State Police continues to ask the general public not to utilize the former LSP "Roadway Closure Hotline" for roadway or property damage information. That telephone number has been assigned as a "911" line for those individuals who are currently seeking immediate, emergency assistance in the Orleans Parish area. Individuals utilizing this number requesting information are impeding those emergency calls.

Residents of Orleans and surrounding parishes are not allowed to return at this time. Checkpoints and roadblocks have been established at all entry points, so no one, aside from authorized emergency personnel, will be allowed to enter those restricted areas.

Katrina Day 3 Morning Update

By Joe Hischer staff writer

Good morning all! Here's the latest fringe news I've noticed or that you have sent in:

It looks like the rescue effort is gearing up. What seems to be most of the state's fleet of Wildlife Management boats were staging on Reiger Road near I-1o and Siegen Lane this morning. I also saw several other boats being towed by official vehicles.

SLU and Nichols State University students: these universities have still not decided on when they will open. Check back here for the latest.

This comes from Rebecca Galliot: "Gary and Monica Bell (Algeirs residents) escaped via plane to Indianapolis just in time. She had a baby boy, Gary Jr., on Sunday as Katrina hit New
Orleans. He's 7 lbs 4 oz, 21 1/2" long and in great shape."

A few people have sent in sites to help check on friends and loved ones you haven't been able to contact. Joshua Benton of Dallas created this site:
Shane Toncrey sent this one:
Our friends at have set up popular bulletin board in the "Missing Persons - Lost & Found" box at the bottom of their homepage: Missy has created this site:

If you have any more information to share, post it in the Comments link below, or email it to me:

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

LSU cancels classes until Sept. 6

By Joe Hischer staff writer

LSU cancels classes until Sept. 6, emergency medical operations set up on campus

Any change to the situation that might affect LSU will be posted on this Web site, disseminated through the state's news media, announced on KLSU 91.1 FM and added to LSU's emergency hotline number at 1-800-516-6444.

Read the full announcement here

From LSU School of Veterinary Medicine:
The teaching hospital is now open, with limited services. All year 4 students should report to their blocks as usual Wednesday morning. Students will stay on Block 4A rotations for Wednesday and will move to 4B rotations on Thursday. Classes for phase 1 students (years 1, 2 and 3) will resume on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 8 am. Check back at for the latest.

School closings

By Joe Hischer staff writer
For those of you asking about school closings, here is the latest list:

Please pass this along. SLU and Nicholls are now closed until Sept. 6.

Your photos

By Joe Hischer staff writer

Here are some photos you have submitted:

Wendy Hutton sends in these photos attributed to Guy Fruge, Acadian Ambulance Offshore Paramedic. They show a work boat stranded on levee and crew boats washed up on Hwy. 23 near Port Sulphur.

This picture comes from Starr Breaux of Prairieville and "shows from Norton Ave. to Village Square, from St.Bernard Hwy to The Levees behind Buccaneer Villa. This confirms everything. You may not want to see it. It shows Andrew Jackson, Regions Building, WalMart, Home Depot, and more. I lived behind Home Depot. We lost everything. I guess we should all just take comfort in the fact that we have our lives and did not stay. And, do what we can to help get those who stayed out."

These photos of Baton Rouge were submitted by Monique Dunn. The power line that was falling down was located on Comite in Baton Rouge. The big tree that was down as located in Brownsfield off Kleinpeter in Baton Rouge.

This one comes from Dale Craft. Ironically, he says, this house off of Coursey was up for sale.

Thanks guys! If you would like to submit your photos, email them with a description to me at

LSU vs. North Texas game postponed

By Joe Hischer staff writer

For those of you who were planning on coming to Baton Rouge for the LSU - North Texas game, that has been postponed. You can read all about it here:

Finding friends, family

By Joe Hischer staff writer

Our friends at have a great forum to find friends and family in the New Orleans and St. Tammany Parish areas. Go to their Web site at and scroll to the bottom of the page. You can view and post messages by area there.

Good luck!

How to help or get help

By Joe Hischer staff writer

I've received a lot of emails from concerned citizens wanting to know how to help out. Here's a link to FEMA's Web site with a list of charities and organizations:

If you are seeking help, here is the link for you:

Thanks to all!

Good neighbors in Houston

By Joe Hischer staff writer

This comes from Leyla Perkins of Covington who traveled to Houston with her family to get away from Hurricane Katrina:

Yesterday, we went to the IKEA in Houston. There were signs all over telling Louisiana residents that they could eat for free in the restaraunt because of the hurricane. We enjoyed dessert and coffee, but we could have had a full meal for all of us if we'd chosen to. This morning, the local paper has a list of things to do in the city for people from LA, MS, and AL. Everything is free. All museums and the zoo are letting residents of those states in for free, and many of them will do so until the end of October. I guess that's because they know that people may be stuck here for quite some time.

Thanks Leyla! If anyone else has any stories about how outlying communities are helping out, post them in the Comments link below or send them to me:


Here are a few more links of things to do at reduced cost in Houston provided by Dirk Van Tuerenhout:

A new day

By Joe Hischer staff writer

It looked like a lovely day this morning...not a cloud in the sky, a nice breeze and birds singing in the trees. That was me looking up. When I looked down, though, I was reminded there was a hurricane yesterday. Branches and other debris still litter most of Baton Rouge this morning.

Public Works crews are on the job clearing roads and power lines of felled trees and branches. Give them a friendly honk and wave as you pass -- that seems like a hot and thankless job today.

Power is still out in several Baton Rouge neighborhoods. Many key intersections still do not have a working traffic light, so plan on road delays all day.

Baton Rougeans are making do today dealing with damaged property and loss of power. Sister Maria Christela of the Dominican Convent was cooking chicken over a make-shift stove at her house on Hunderd Oaks this morning while she cleaned up her yard.

I still haven't heard anything official about the Northshore (for those of you who have asked) other than I-1o from New Olreans to Slidell has been destroyed. Unofficially, the rest of the area sounds pretty bad. I have friends that live there that I have not been able to contact, so if anyone can send information about that area, send them to me here:

Monday, August 29, 2005

Tell us your story

By Joe Hischer staff writer

Do you have an interesting story to tell about your experience with Hurricane Katrina? Post it in with the "Comments" link under this post -- or -- you can email stories and photos to me at

Ham radio operators helping to deliver messages to disaster areas

By Joe Hischer staff writer

This comes from Dagmar Whittemore:

The Ham Radio operators from Lafayette are now handling Messages for the general public into and out of the disaster areas....

The Acadiana Amaetur Radio Asso. with the help of the Red Cross and the Salavation army, Is assisting the general public to get brief messages delivered. Call the Red Cross at (337) 234-7371 and request Health and welfare traffic. You will need to leave your name and a phone number ( so a return message can be delivered ) as well as the name address and any phone numbers for the person you are trying to contact. The Red Cross will relay the info to us and in turn we will relay the information Via the Ham Bands.

I have delivered messages into the Super Dome today. City emergency traffic takes priority, It could take up to 48 hrs to get a message delivered, depending on the emergency trafic of the area contacted

Thanks to Dagmar and all who are helping.

Hurricane Haiku

By Joe Hischer staff writer

Here is a hurricane haiku submitted by Francis Toche:

A Hurricane Haiku

Heavy branches down
Wind speaks of Katrina's wrath
Hurricane is here

Thanks Francis! If anyone else would like to send in a poem or thoughts, post them in the comments below.

Around town

By Joe Hischer staff writer

I just returned from a drive around town to see how everyone is fairing. There is a lot of damage, but nothing catastrophic that I've seen.

Highland Road and the surrounding neighborhoods have extensive tree damage. Branches have fallen on houses and taken down powerlines. Remember: don't monkey around powerlines!

Highland Road itself looks like an abandoned, ancient street where the forest has started to reclaim it. Leaves and branches litter the road and make it almost impassable.

At the intersection of Highland and Knox Hill, East Baton Rouge Deputy Jacky Brown, Sr. was turning around traffic because of a large tree that had fallen across the road. He said the Department of Public Works had been called, but didn't know when it would be cleaned up.

Nearby a tree had just fallen on a house. The owner came out in a t-shirt and boxers, took a quick look and then ran back inside. Across the street from him another tree had taken down some power lines.

At the Bank One building near Highland and Kenilworth, a group of friends had gathered to watch the storm from the bank's patio. From left to right, Beaux Nesbit, Greg Metzler, Kaitlyn Hoychick, Elizabeth Bowie, Lindsay Hoychick and Gabe Miller enjoyed the storm while sipping brews. If you get a chance you can join them, but Lindsay will be back at work at The Chimes later today.

Florida Boulevard was eerily devoid of traffic for this early in the morning. Many signs were flapping from their posts, some with pieces in the middle of the street.

At Gerry Lane Chevrolet on Florida Boulevard, a light pole had fallen on a new Chevy SSR damaging the bed slightly. An American flag sadly drooped from the window.

Closer to downtown, the Uptown sign was upside down! It had fallen from the roof into the parking lot on its top.

When I returned to my desk, water had come through the walls and pooled under my computer, so it had to be moved.

The wind is picking up now. It's some crazy times, people!

Katrina imminent

By Joe Hischer staff writer

"I didn't think it would actually happen." I'm sure that was a shared thought by many of us. But it looks like it will: Hurricane Katrina is upon us.

There were large gusts of wind and rain on my way to work this morning. Parking lots are filled with families sleeping in their cars -- I guess there are no more rooms to be found. There are still several gas stations and convenience stores that have remained open, as well as at least one Waffle House on Siegen Lane.

The network talking heads have all made their apocalyptic predictions for Southeast Louisiana and according to them, our doom is near. In the end Hurricane Katrina will be measured by her strength, the number of lives she took and the amount of damage she caused.

But, I believe, the true measure that matters will be how we react and deal with the aftermath. The homeless will need shelter, the hungry will need food and all victims, volunteers and emergency workers will need support. Help if you can.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Don't get too carried away tonight!

By Joe Hischer staff writer

My boss says there may be a curfew tonight, so stay posted for that. Also, the roads are getting crazy, so stay at home if you don't need to be out.

But if you are going out despite all of Katrina's potential dangers, email me at and tell me what you're doing. Send photos if you want.

Getting ready for Katrina

By Joe Hischer staff writer

I zipped around town this morning to see what people were doing to prepare for Hurricane Katrina. As you'd expect, gas station lines are getting longer, grocery store shelves are emptying and roads have more traffic than usual.

Of the many hard-working people out there today, one group that caught my attention was the Fire Engine Co. #9 located on Perkins Road and Valley Street. They are toiling in the hot sun filling sandbags for area residents. So, if you need sandbags or want to pitch in, go check them out.

Home owners are preparing by picking up loose furniture or ornmanents from their lawns and patios. Some swimming pool owners like Cypress Lakes Apartments are securing their furniture by throwing it into the pool.
A few people are preparing for hurricane parties tonight. I'll be "covering" that, so stay tuned.