Monday, September 26, 2005

Tigers v. Vols

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

LSU plays Tennessee today at 6:30 p.m., but you shouldn't take your time getting to LSU's campus. Traffic is bad enough already due to the one-two punch of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and game day traffic is going to create even more road congestion.

I drove through campus this morning to report and trouble spots. Most of campus looks fine -- there are several small branches and debris littering tailgating spots, but campus clean-up crews are doing their best to clear it. The ground is still wet and in some places, especially in the fields between campus and Walk-Ons restaurant on the southwest side of LSU, have standing water. Tailgaters are already setting up so you may want to leave now to stake your claim. Take note that the Music and Dramatic Arts building is fenced off for official use only, so no tailgating there.

I'm still looking for more tailgating photos and recipes. You can email them to me here. Go Tigers!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Area closings and postponements

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

Although Rita's eye probably won't come near Baton Rouge, we will still feel the effects of the storm. Several schools and offices have been closed and events have been cancelled or postponed. Here is a list of the latest information we have available. It will be updated periodically.

Also,a tornado warning has been issued for Ascension Parish, including the city of Gonzales, St. Charles, St. James and St. John until 10:30 a.m. Check back with us for the latest.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Here we go again?

Well if you haven't already heard the return to selected parts of New Orleans has been called off. As someone who watched hurricane Katrina develop from a small Caribbean storm to massive Category 5 storm that decimated the Gulf Coast this all seems eerily similar. Well the exception of the wall to wall coverage on cable news channels.
Here is a link to the latest story.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Going home

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer


The New Orleans area was opened up to residents over the weekend. There was a lot to clean up, but several homes and businesses now have power, although the water is not safe to drink in some areas.

If you went back to your home, let us know what you saw in our Comments link below. You can email photos to me at jhischer@theadvocate.com.

Next up: Rita

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

It looks like the hurricane season isn't done with us yet. Tropical Storm (and soon-to-be-Hurricane) Rita is due to arrive in the Gulf of Mexico later this week. Most predict it will hit the east coast of Texas, but there is some speculation that it may possibly follow Katrina's track to the Louisiana coastline. Either way, this will affect Louisiana citizens. Our state is still recovering from storm and flood damage, and several thousand evacuees have taken up residence in eastern Texas communities like Houston. With danger still looming, are we prepared for another disaster so soon after Katrina? Tell me what you think in the Comments link below.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Mmmm...mmmm...M.R.E.s!

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

I thought I had seen the last of M.R.E.s (Meals-Ready-to-Eat) after I finished my stint with the military. But it seems that they've made a comeback recently in the areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Contrary to what your fathers or grandfathers may have told you, they're not that bad to eat -- especially the newer recipes. They do have a day's worth of calories in each meal, though, so don't gorge!

Back when I was in the Air Force, we used to create our recipes using the raw ingredients each M.R.E. contained. One was called "ranger pudding." We opened up a package of hot cocoa mix, poured in our package of coffee creamer, then added just a little bit of water and stirred it into a thick paste. The result was a really grainy, but tasty, chocolate pudding.

So this call goes out to all of those in the military that are stationed overseas and have been writing in on how they can help: send in YOUR special M.R.E. recipes! You can email them to me at jhischer@theadvocate.com or post them in the Comments section below.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Week 3

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

What a great weekend for football! LSU came from behind to beat Arizona State University and the Saints kicked in a last-minute field goal to defeat Carolina. Both great games and I won $50 on LSU!!!

The PMAC's triage clinic is now closed down, so I am out of a volunteering job. If anyone knows of any shelters in Baton Rouge that are shorthanded, post them in the Comments area below so everyone can share.

Local artist Ross Zietz designed a Hurricane Katrina t-shirt to raise money for the Red Cross. It looks great, so you can look good and help out. Check it out here: http://www.threadless.com/product/304/Regrowth:_Katrina

Friday, September 09, 2005

New guy in charge

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

Well, it looks like FEMA boss Michael Brown has been told to "head back to Washington from Louisiana to oversee the big picture." Taking his place as the on-site head of hurricane relief efforts will be Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen. He will be working closely with Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré who is in charge of military forces in the New Orleans area.

How do you feel about this new change? How do you think our leaders are handling this situation? Post your thoughts in the Comments link below.

Are you sharing your home?

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

We've heard that some VERY generous citizens have been letting large families stay at their homes. Our reporter J.D. Ventura is looking for "a home that is full of evacuees (like 10-15 displaced people), please let me know. I want to do a story on a household that is attempting to function with so many people in limbo." If you know of any, email him at jventura@theadvocate.com.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

LSU Vet school needs help with sheltering animals

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

This comes from Lee Eisenberg:

I have just come from the emergency animal shelter on the LSU campus. The night shift volunteers, many of whom are students, are literally running around trying to get the work done.

There is a crying need for volunteers-especially mature people who know a little about animals and are prepared to do what it takes to care for these animals. If anyone can help, or has friends that can help, it would be greatly appreciated.

The veterinary and vet tech students have done a magnificent job, but they are exhausted and need relief.

These beloved pets may be all that New Orleanians have left of their shattered lives.

C'mon guys! Cute and cuddly! Give them a hand.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

What to do...what to do...

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

In case you haven't heard, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has ordered a forced evacuation of the city. Yeah, that's how bad it is.

So, I've noticed we have a lot of out-of-towners now. Many have asked, "What is there to do in Baton Rouge?" Well, let's see:

For the kids: there is a bowling alley and miniture golf course with batting cages right off of Airline Hwy. and I-12; there are parks with playground equipment throughout the city; we have a zoo; there is a neat battleship to tour; there is a lazer tag place off of Sherwood Forest Blvd.; Jambalaya Park in Gonzales has a "spray ground"; and several movie theaters.

For the adults: See above, plus there is the Chimes Street area near LSU with restaurants and bars (mostly bars); downtown Baton Rouge has several museums and little shops; there are two large shopping malls -- one near Florida Blvd. and Airline Hwy. and one off of Bluebonnet Blvd.

That's everything off the top of my head, but here is a link with more things to do in Baton Rouge: http://www.2theadvocate.com/visitors. There is a link to the bus schedule on this page as well.

If you can think of anything else fun to do in the Baton Rouge area, list it in the Comments link below. Take a break and have fun!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Welcome back!

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

Welcome back to school / work / home, etc. after the Labor Day holiday. I think the gas shortage is over. Even though there are still stations without gas and long lines of cars waiting to fill up, there are still a LOT of cars on the road. It just seems impossible to have a gas crisis and traffic jams at the same time. What do you think? Oh yeah, a couple of first responders have asked that you PLEASE move out of the way when you see an ambulance coming. I know most of us don't need reminding, but...

There's nothing really big to report this morning -- more evacuees are coming through Baton Rouge but most of New Orleans is now empty.

Actually, I've received several emails from people in the St. Bernard area and from Bogalusa saying there are still people there that haven't been rescued and that aid hasn't reached them yet. They want to know when help is coming. If anyone reading this is associated with agencies in that area, let them know by posting in the comments section below. I'm getting conflicting reports here.

My friend is moving in with me from Slidell. His job is being transferred to Baton Rouge temporarily until the office is back up and running. There are still a lot of people out there without a place to stay. If you would like to house a new roommate or need a room, check out this link here: http://www.shareyourhome.org/

Monday, September 05, 2005

LSU game has been moved!

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

LSU's Sept. 10 game against Arizona State University has been moved to Tempe, Ariz. Check back on 2theadvocate.com for more info.

Little donations

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

Every little bit counts. Donna Simoneaux sends this: Katrina has affected all of us, even my 6 year old niece in Jacksonville, FL. This past weekend she lost her first tooth and the tooth fairy gave her $5. She has chosen to donate the $5 to the hurricane relief fund!!!

How cute is that?!?! Around town I've noticed children setting up lemonade stands to contribute to Hurricane Katrina charities. Way to go, kids! If you see one, stop in for some lemonade and tip well.

Hurricane arts

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

Several of you have submitted poems and songs about the recent tragedy following Hurricane Katrina. Here are a few:

This one comes from Karla Glaser:

On August 29th, we fell to our knees
and wondered to ourselves how could this be.

A city of gumbo, and all that jazz
The place that we loved, we no longer have
Families, elders, and so many others
Babies were found with no trace of mothers
People were begging for water and food, trying to survive and make it through
This awful time that we never imagined
How could something like this ever happen?
But through this hard time we are pulling together
To improve this disaster and make things get better.
Katrina may have knocked us off of our feet.
But Louisiana will restore the beautiful southeast.
Through this trying time of tears and madness
We will stick together to ease the sadness
The Cabildo, Du Monde, and the D-day museum
The Aquarium, and Bourbon, we will all see again.
We will pull together and dry our tears.
We will hug, and donate, and volunteer.
Victims of Katrina, hold on tight
Keep your faith you will soon see the light.
Lets put aside race and forget about class,
Lets all join together, to make this our past.
We will strive and succeed at restoring the land
Of this place named New Orleans, the city so grand.


This poem comes from Ruth Atwell Pierre:

Where Were You And What Did You DO (When Katrina Blew )

Where were you when Katrina hewn her path
when she poured out her wrath.
When she opened her horrid mouth,
And devoured America's beautiful south.
Were you carefree,
living in a haven of safety
Were you fearfully seeking shelter from her catastrophic winds.
while franticly looking for kin and friends
Did the survivor in you arise as hunger began to take its toll.
Or did lustful greed have you looting a television in exchange for
your soul.
While forced to live like a beast in a cage,
Were you a gentle one or did you violate others with a rapist's rage.'
Did you lend the vulnerable your hand,
Or bury your head in the sand.
Were you in the spirit of prayer for those who were in harms way,
Or were you consumed by your day.
What did you do with this news,
while the winds were calm and the skies still sunny and blue
Did you prepare for the worst and pray for the best,
Or were you of a slothful spirit of which God detests.
Did you fall with a prayerful spirit upon your knees,
Or in Him do you not believe.
I can tell you where I was and what I did do.
And hope you can say it was the same for you.
In my home is where I was nestled in place.
surrounded by the Father's arms, spared by His mercy and grace.
Why or how I do not understand, that it was me,
One of many that was spared from Katrina's reign of tyranny.
For myself I find my eyes filling with tears of relief,
intertwined with tears for others of astronomical proportions of
grief.
In my heart resides and attitude of eternal praise,
As my hands to God, I do raise.
Katrina's winds blow no more.
Rest assured the South shall be restored!


Alex Kashevaroff sends a link to a CD he recorded here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/kashalex5
You can order the CD or listen to them for free from his site.

If you would like to contribute, post them in the comments below.

Leadership and Labor Day

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

Whew! I just made it home after a shift at the PMAC. The supplies keep rolling in from around the country. Thanks to everyone who's donated!

The triage center is a lot more organized than it was when it first opened earlier last week. The officials and leadership at the PMAC are to be commended. There are few people who could run it better, in my opinion.

What's even more exciting are some of the non-professional leaders that have emerged. Two students that I'm familiar with are Josh and Robert. It seems without prompting they have become leaders of most of the volunteer labor force, working around 12 hours a day. Their organizational and motivational skills are superb, and even when chaos erupts they find away to fix it quickly and efficiently. If you've volunteered up at the PMAC, I'm sure you've noticed them. Give them a pat on the back if you see them.

It looks like a lot of areas hit by Katrina are opening up tomorrow for residents. Be careful going back to your homes. Your houses may not be structurally safe to walk in, and there's a lot of broken glass and sharp metal littering most of the city streets.

By the way, Happy Labor Day! I know a lot of people will be barbecuing and cooking out, some because they don't have a choice without power or homes. So if you have a little free time, do a little "labor" and volunteer at one of the many shelters in the Baton Rouge area.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Welcome our neighbors from the east

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

I received a few comments about how "the criminal element has entered our town," referring to some New Orleanians. I did some research on The Advocate police archives and found that there has been a considerable amount of crime here in Baton Rouge prior to Hurricane Katrina. We've even had two serial killers where New Orleans has had none in recent history. So for those people who make comments like that, double-check your stats. If someone breaks into a car it may not be one of "those" people -- it could very well be one of "our" people.

Others have said it's not fair that we have to take in these many people. If you need justification, other than they've all just lost their homes, there are two big reasons why we should open our arms to these evacuees: Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras. This deed we do now in small part makes up for all the trash, vomit, urine and other unmentionables we've left behind when we've visited their hometown.

For the less decadent who still have complaints about the influx of refugees, just know that it is the right thing to do. Like it or not, our population has grown and they will be here for a long time. Welcome our neighbors from the east.

The gas lines seem to be going down. Although the gas supply has obviously diminished in Baton Rouge, most stations have kept the price within reasonable levels. To those stations -- thanks! I know where I'll be shopping for gas when all of this is over. To the "gougers" -- I'll remember you, too.

No, I didn't make it to Slidell or Diamondhead over the weekend. I was able to get in touch with my friends. Telephones (especially cell phones) seem to be working better now. Thanks for all the travel tips you sent in.

I've been working at the PMAC pretty regularly. Yesterday I worked almost ten hours, probably a little more than I should. The problem with volunteering I see is that if most people just work a few hours at a time, there is little continuity in setting up procedures, so I'm trying to work a little longer and pass on what I've done to a new person who can dedicate 6 - 8 hours and then in turn pass on what he or she has done, etc. So, I guess I'm asking that if you can afford it, volunteer as many hours as possible.

Speaking of which, do you know anyone that is going out of their way to help out? Post it in the comments link below, even if it's you! You deserve credit just as much as anyone.

Friday, September 02, 2005

TGIF?

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

Well, it's Friday and for most of us nine-to-fivers we have three days off for Labor Day. But it's not really time for a holiday. I know I'll be helping clean up and volunteering. I don't know when I'll have a real weekend again.

Good news today! The National Guard made it in force to New Orleans and most other needed areas. I was able to pick up my friend, a nurse in a hospital in New Orleans, who had been trapped with her patients. She confirmed most of the rumors I had heard about looters breaking into the hospitals and patients dying from the miserable conditions. I'm taking her to The Chimes tonight for sure.

I'm going to try and go to Slidell and Diamondhead tomorrow to find out about some friends of mine. My big worry is finding enough fuel for the round-trip. I'll let you know what happens.

Gas & guns

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

Goooood morning Baton Rooooouge!!! It's time to get some things cleaned up! Be careful with those chainsaws and axes when chopping up fallen trees and branches. You've made it this far -- be patient and don't hurt yourself now.

I'm sure you've all noticed that several gas stations are out of fuel, and I'm sure you've also noticed people filling up several canisters and drums of gas as well as their own vehicle. Do us all a favor -- don't take more gas than you need. More gas is on the way. If you need a lot of gas to run generators at your home, that's fine. Everyone will understand that. But if you're hoarding because you think the gas apocalypse is around the corner, relax -- we're not there yet. I know it's "corny" to suggest, but try to form carpools or use the bus system. Here are the routes and schedules: http://www.brcats.com/

Also, I've noticed some citizens have started to brandish pistols. Again, we're not there yet. Guns in the wrong hands will do more to alienate or to cause panic than to dissuade. Everyone treat our guests with sympathy and respect, guests show your hosts your appreciation.

On a related subject, let's keep the rumors and exaggerations to ourselves. Rumors lead to suspicion, suspicion leads to fear, and fear leads to federal and state offices, banks and other businesses being shut down unnecessarily. That goes for idle office gossip, guests who call in on radio talk shows, and local leaders. Don't be THAT person.

I've talked some more people into volunteering with me at the PMAC tomorrow. One person said it was the least he could do. No, that's incorrect. The LEAST you could do is to sit in front of the television all day and comment on how bad things are or how badly our leaders are acting or how terribly our fellow citizens are behaving. The MOST you can do is to donate your worldly possessions to charity and work 24 hours a day doing volunteer work. But don't get crazy, folks. And don't be lazy either. Volunteer a few hours a week. Dig through your closet and donate the clothes or towels you don't need. It's not asking too much.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Satellite view of New Orleans

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

DigitalGlobe.com has these photos on their Web site taken on Aug. 31, 2005: http://www.digitalglobe.com/katrina_gallery.html

You can see several areas of New Orleans are still underwater, but popular landmarks like the French Quarter and The Aquarium of the Americas look pretty dry.

Gas and shelter

By Joe Hischer
2theadvocate.com staff writer

Driving around today I could see long lines at gas stations. Everyone seems to be pretty civil at the pumps, so let's keep it up! I know fuel is becoming scarce, but more is on the way. Baton Rouge is lucky enough to have open roads for fuel tankers to travel, so be patient -- more is on the way.

Thanks for all the people that wrote in willing to take in stranded pets! You've put a lot of pet owner's minds at ease. Now it's time to start thinking about stranded people. I've seen too many families living out of cars in parking lots or under bridges. K. Nelson of Baton Rouge suggests opening up some of the abandoned "super-stores" such as " Schwegmann's (on Coursey); The Superstore (Greenwell Springs Rd.); K-Mart Supercenter (Millerville); Wal-Mart (Cortana Mall) and also the State Fairgrounds for a tent city. Sounds good to me. Get in touch with your local officials and let them know you've heard of a few available shelters.

Apartments are filling up fast. My apartment is at 100% occupancy (first time ever) and I'm sure other rental properties are almost maxed out. If you know of any open rental properties, or if you have extra room in your place, post them in the Comments link below.

Thanks to everyone who's helping out!