Botnst - 1/24/2006 10:46 PM
kvining - 1/24/2006 9:26 PM
Botnst - 1/24/2006 7:16 PM
I rarely stay in NOLA (I live only a couple hours away), but when I stay there I like this hotel: http://www.prytaniaparkhotel.com/.
It's small and clean.
We won't be going into Norlans - we've been working in the Sulphur area. Stayed at the Delta Downs last night, but tonight we couldn't get rooms there, so we had to bunk out in Sulphur. We are getting royally boned on room rates here, double te usual for the most part. Sulphur is like a little wild West boomtown with all the Houston oil people here. There are also a zillion Hispanic tree trimmers all over the place. Looks like hurricanes are darn good for local economies for the places that survive.
Tommorrow we will be working in Cameron. We get apocalyptic descriptions of the place from the pipeline guys. It's where Rita's eye came ashore. We are getting terms like "wiped off the face of the Earth", "ceased to exist", etc to describe the place. One guy said the whole town is now a big dozer pile, being hauled off to the scrapyards by the semi-load. Read a gruesome news report from there that said residents are still finding coffins that popped out of flooded cemeteries, under brushpiles and overpasses. They have found 1500 so far.
Concerning coffins, one of my colleagues si from Johnson's Bayou (west Cameron). Both his parents died over the previous 3 years and both of their coffins were lifted and lost. Remember that most burial vaults are above ground. If FEMA is still feeding contractors from their facility east of Cameron, you'll pass by a couple of small cemetaries on your way to the FEMA camp. Last i saw most of the vaults were still open. There's one right near the former Air Logistics (I think that's who it is, maybe PHI) heliport.
I've been going to or flying over Cameron Parish since the day after Rita. It has cleaned-up a lot. But it is still horribly depressing. I have to go through a conscious unwinding everytime I return from working over there. The NRCS cty agent guy estimated that they lost 60k head of cattle in cameron parish alone. I spoke to one rancher near Grand Chenier (east of the town of Cameron) who lost over 800 that'd he'd found dead and was still missing 40 head. he and his neighbors had found 40-50 of his so he lost damn-near everything. The saltwater stayed so high down there that the winter grass is mostly dead so people that still have cattle must buy hay and truck it in because of course, they lost all of their hay, too.
The one good thing to come out of Katrina was that the people of Cameron and Iberia Parishes hauled-ass when Hurricane Rita began it's swing northward. The images of Katrina's impact were so frightful that those people got the hell out. I firmly believe that had Katrina NOT happened, that most of the people from Johnson's Bayou to Erath would've died. The storm surge was just freaking huge. It reached over 20 miles (miles!) inland. The average velocity of the surge was 2m/sec with a 5 degree slope on the wave-front. It lifted and transported damn near anything not firmly attached.
Kirk, something to look for along the chenier east from Creole to the Mermentau River (if you get a chance to go sight-seeing) is what looks like chainsaw cuts in the liveoaks adjacent to the north side of the road. That is where the electrical cables were whip-sawed after the poles were uprooted and carried northward. As the poles surged they pulled the cables across the trees slicing through 2-8" of bark and wood. For me it was one of the most eerily amazing things I saw.
Other interesting things: I also saw a dead bird, a ruby-crowned kinglet, that the wind had smacked into a broken tree. A single splinter on the tree got driven through the tiney bird's eyes.
I counted 230-something dead nutria in 1/4 mile on a single trip, a week post-Rita. Multiply that number by the length of the highway (80 miles) overtopped by the storm surge west of Calcasieu Lake.
Using a YSI, I measured salinities from .5 PPT on the far east of the highway increasing to 19.5 PPT near the Mermentau River, 1 month post-hurricane. the salinity should have been between 0 and 1. The storm surge water was held inland because storm debris had clogged all of the natural and artificial drainage and immediately post-hurricane we entered a 3 month drought. As the water evaporated from the rice fields it wicked the salt up the rice stubble resulting in rice fields that looked looked like they were covered with frost. It is unlikely that they will produce rice for several to many years. Same with crawfish.
I've been eating raw oysters and other seafood since December. No illness.
If you can possibly do it, take a camera. This is a story that you'll want passed down for generations (if the planet survives...).
I'll be going over there again next week. If you're still there I'll come over to Sulphur and let you buy me a beer.
PS If you're interested I can post some URL's of imagery.
PPS I'm glad you're doing this. We need all the help and good wishes we can get. I know you're getting compensated. But even so, you don't have to do it. Good on ye.