Monday, September 26, 2005

More news from Chris Rose


A ghost town gets more ghostly

It's hard to imagine that it could have felt any lonelier in New Orleans than it has for the past three weeks. But Friday, everything just disappeared.

What little life there was seemed to dissipate into the not-so-thin air of a colossal barometer drop. The Furies, it seems, are aroused.

The wind buffeted cars and put the heavy hand on already weakened trees. Magazine Street boutique signs - most hanging askew by only one chain after Katrina - spun in place like pinwheels. Loose power lines whipped and flapped across Uptown and Lakeview streets like fly fishing rods.

The rain came, misting one minute, blinding the next. Outside of the CBD emergency operations center, anywhere you drove, you saw . . . nobody.

The folks who had been trickling into town for the past week or so, checking on homes and businesses, simply ghosted. Police on the outskirts of town blocked all entry. The big National Guard camps in Audubon Park disappeared overnight without a sign that they were ever there.

So much for the repopulation plan. A TV station reported that there were only 500 civilians left in the city as Hurricane Rita set aim on the Cajun Riviera, all those miles away to the West, and you were hard pressed to find any of them.

A passing truck stopped me, and the guys inside asked for directions to the Nashville Wharf and it was good just to talk to someone.

The isolation can be maddening. The car radio just tells you bad things. You just want to find someone, anyone, and say: "How 'bout dem Saints?"

You know those classic New Orleans characters - the cab drivers, bartenders and bitter poets - who buttonhole you and natter on and on forever about tedious and mundane topics that date back to Mayor Schiro's term and when the Pelicans played out on Tulane Avenue? Usually when you're in a hurry somewhere?

I'd give anything to run into one of those guys right now. Go ahead and tell me about the fishing in Crown Point; I'll listen to just about anything you have to say.

I went to Walgreen's on Tchoupitoulas, which had been open most of the week, figuring there would be life there, but it had shuttered at noon. There was a sign on the door that said: "Now Hiring" and that's funny.

I guess.

The day before, the store's public address system was stuck in a time warp, a perky female voice reminding shoppers (both of them): "Don't let Halloween sneak up on you; stock up on candy early. You'll find great savings now . . . at Walgreen's!"

Truth is, there sure was a hell of a lot of candy there. Trick or treat.

As I drove around, the gray sheets of rain pushed around all the stuff in the street and, trust me, there's a lot of stuff in the street. For as far as you looked up and down every avenue, the same blank vistas.

Across town, the water was rising. Again. I suppose there were people there, trying to save our city again, though the cynical might ask: What's to save?

On dry land, the only place I found people gathered was at the fire station on Magazine Street in the Garden District. I went by to drop off some copies of the newspaper for the local guys and found about 60 firefighters from all over the country hanging out in a rec room watching TV and frying burgers.

That was perhaps the strangest sight of all, these guys just sitting around. Stranger in some ways than the desolation.

Because for once, with all this rain soaking the downed trees and rooftops, and nobody around to do something stupid like start a fire, they had nothing to do.

Just sit and watch TV in a haunted city.

Chris Rose can be reached at


Blogger Quit Smoking said...

Hello fellow fisherman,

Did you know that 16% of the U.S. population goes fishing at least 16 days a year?

Did you also know that over 75% of the nations fishermen do not fish during "prime time"; fish feeding hours?

Those precious few moments before twilight can be absolutely magical. Even up until 11pm at night, the largest predators of any species feed ravenously.

Don't believe me? Check out Daniel Eggertsen's story, and a picture of a couple of his catches here : "Evening Secrets plus more"

I want you to do me a favor and try it out so I can see what you think of it, and if it works for you as well as it did for me.

You will be one of the first to try it out.

Gone Fishin',


Sat Oct 08, 08:12:00 PM  
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Fri Nov 18, 05:51:00 AM  

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