Hurricane Gustav


I hate to take a break from the regularly scheduled programming here at Plagiarism Today but situations far outside of my control have forced me to take some time today to talk about the current situation in New Orleans, my plans for dealing with it and what it means for this site.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to take some time to answer the questions I’ve been dealing with for the past 48 hours and the questions some of you have been asking me.

What is the Current Situation?

From what I can gather, the national media has painted a much more grim picture than the local one. The current track of Gustav has it making landfall sometime Tuesday about 100 miles (give or take) West of New Orleans as either a category 2 or 3 storm.

Katrina, by contrast, passed directly over New Orleans East and was a category four at its first landfall south of the city and a 3 at its second closer in.

Right now there is a very wide margin of error both in terms of intensity and track. There are a lot of reasons to believe it will steer away from us and a lot of reason to believe it will be weaker. On the other hand, there are reasons to believe the contrary in both accounts.

The current situation can be summed up as “We don’t know”.

What Are Your Plans?

Right now, we’re only making potential plans. It is too early for something definite. We have stockpiled food and supplies as well as having gassed up the car. We are both prepared to leave and prepared to stay, whichever we feel is safer.

On the current track with the current intensity, we are leaning toward staying, only because our evacuation destinations are all more in the path of the storm (albeit more inland). We’ll be watching very closely over the next 24 hours or so and have a decision soon. If current trends continue, that plan will likely change.

If we evacuate, we plan to do so either very late tonight or early Saturday morning, either way, we will be doing so well before any mandatory evacuation is issued.

Also, if the storm suddenly increases in intensity and our current destinations are not safe, we have plans to head east. However, that is an absolute last-ditch plan due to finances and uncertainty about a place to stay.

What About this Site?

I am spending this morning preparing this site for any catastrophe. My plans right now are to first forward post the linkroll and create the show notes for the Copyright 2.0 Show now.

If I am evacuated, due to a lack of broadband access, I will not be able to participate in the show. However, I have made arrangements with Chris for him to do it solo this week (perhaps he’ll even bring his wife along again).

Since Monday is a holiday regardless of what happens, I was planning on posting that Tuesday. By then, I should have a good feel for my situation. I maintained Plagiarism Today during my evacuation for Hurricane Katrina (it happened a mere three weeks after I started the site) so I anticipate very few challenges doing it here.

I will have all of my equipment with me so the only challenge will be finding good Web access.

As for updates, I will likely be updating this post first until I get settled in since it is easier to edit an existing post than to create a new one with this template. Also, you can follow me on Twitter and I’ll likely be posting regular updates on Inelegant Solutions since it is a much more simple blog to update.

What About Your Consulting Clients?

To all of those who use my consulting services, I’ll be emailing all of my clients in a bit with information related to their projects. Please stay tuned.

How Are You Doing?

The questions above are the ones I’ve been asking myself, these are the questions others have been asking me.

I am actually doing very good under the circumstances. We are well prepared and, even though we did almost everything right in Katrina/Rita, we did learn lessons from that experience which we are applying to this one. We feel that we are better prepared than before.

We still have to make agonizing decisions about whether to leave or to stay and what we do after making such a decision. These are not easy conversations to have.

Still, no matter where we do decide to go or what we decide to do, I think we will be fine.

Is There Anything We Can Do To Help?

At this time, sadly, no.

Right now, the biggest frustration facing potential evacuees is a lack of a place to go outside of shelters. The problem is two-fold. First, spooked residents reserved hotel rooms almost a week ago. Most hotels are booked solid. Second, St. Tammany Parish may issue a parish-wide evacuation, despite being well inland and out of the current path of the storm. This effectively closes all of the closest safe hotels.

If you want to help right now, the best thing you can do is open your home to a potential evacuee, especially one with pets. This does not go for just me as I am actually in pretty fair shape with destinations.

Still, talking with friends down here, that is the service most in need.


On my final thought, I just wanted to thank everyone for their support and understanding. I will update THIS POST as decisions are made and events unfold as well as post on Inelegant Solutions and Twitter.

I will keep you up to date.

Thank you all for everything. You do not realize how much it means.


1 PM – August 30, 2008: As those who have been following me on Twitter already know, my wife and evacuated late last night to the upstate. We are with her parents in rural Louisiana north of Alexandria. Though this is not an ideal location to evacuate to due to its location, given the latest tracks the storm is projected to take, it is better than being in New Orleans.

The evacuation was relatively smooth. We came home, boarded up and barricaded, grabbed everything portable with a value greater than $100 or that was very sentimental and left. Our car was very full, actually bottoming out in the driveway, but it made it fine.

All in all, I think we did a much better job with this storm than Katrina, which left us stranded with just our computers and some clothes. We clearly know what we are doing now. Should the worst happen, we are as prepared as can be.

Speaking of the worst, we are worried about this storm due to its estimated landfall. The reason is that, if it hits West of the city, it is my side of the river that is in the most danger. Though my house is in a decent spot. A) Many areas near it are in very bad shape and B) This side of the river remains untested.

Regardless, my access here is very limited so I may be updating more slowly for a while. However, be patient with me and I will let everyone know what is going on.

10 AM – August 31, 2008: Gustav is now heading more toward the city and there seems to be a dispute about whether it will be a cat 4 or 3 at landfall. Either way, people are talking about Hurricane Betsy, which was in 1969 and flooded much of the city. Fortunately, in Betsy, my area was still dry but that doesn’t give me much hope for this time around.

We are in full wait and see mode here. I’m preparing to go buy supplies for the next few days and then I need to do my writing before the power goes out tonight.

I will talk to you all soon!

9:30 AM – September 1, 2008: Not much to report today. Gustav is coming onshore as a Cat. 2 storm pretty much as I am writing this. It appears that the city will be spared the worst of the storm but that there will still likely be damage and other problems related to it. I’ll be watching things close today and then, worrying about what I do when the storm comes my way here.

It is going to be an eventful day.

10:30 AM – September 3, 2008: My apologies for the lack of updates. The upstate area I was staying in was hit very hard by the storm. The home I am in is without power, phone or cell reception. I am currently visiting a nearby McDonald’s to use the local wifi.

Right now it appears as if the city will be reopened later today. We will be heading back either tonight or tomorrow morning. We first need to make sure that family up here are ok as well.

Thank you everyone for your patience.

8:30 AM – September 5, 2008: We are making final preparations to head home. We should be arriving in the city just shy of one week to the hour after we left.

The bad news is that multiple checks show we have now phone or Web access at our house. I have it at my office just a few blocks away, but not at home. This could greatly slow down my efforts to get back up and running.

I will keep everyone posted the best that I can.

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