Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Raid - Part 3 Reconnaissance

Checking out the CBD

From Annunciation street, we entered the CBD uneventfully and went to check out our building. It was locked and there were no signs anyone had entered it since the flood, although one of the glass entrance doors was broken out. There was a National Guardsman with an M-16 on the corner. We decided to try to find someone to let us in or if there someone we knew had a locksmith available. We split up and They went to find our landlord. I went on foot to find someone else we knew. Our cell phones were only working sporadically.

The scene in the CBD was incredible. There were military personnel on virtually every corner armed with machine guns. There was private security in force, also armed with assault weapons. There were police from just about every city in the country speeding around the streets. There was even a dump truck in the loading dock at the Federal Reserve cordoned off by M-16 armed guards who politely asked me to walk in the street, around their cordon.

I went from building to building trying to connect with someone I knew. Either they weren't there at all or more hopefully had just left. Since our cell phones only occasionally worked (just enough to keep trying), I kept trying to call people.

I walked up an down Poydras. On of the most surprising sights was the number of people working to clean up the city. Several major Disaster recovery contractors were out in full force. There were crews cleaning out buildings, boarding up broken glass and in some cases sweeping down the side walks. There were many many people around the BellSouth building on Poydras, running in and out. All in all the damage looked manageable, about what you might expect.

As I got closer to the Dome more damage became evident, the first sign was the draperies in the trees along Poydras. As I could see the east face of the Hyatt it was evident that most of the windows on that face of the building had blown out and some of the contents of the hotel rooms had been blown out as well. The adjacent buildings had suffered more apparent damage than those on the other end of the street. As I approached New Orleans Center there was still water in the street, not much it was only about curb depth but is was deeper on the Girod Street side of the building.
I was surprised nobody paid any attention at all to me. I was out of uniform, wearing shorts a Hawaiian shirt, open shoes and no weapon. I had opted for coolness over attitude since I intended to enter an un air conditioned high rise building and carry several computers down almost twenty floors. The standard Uniform on the street was black or navy Cargo Pants, with a matching t shirt and ball cap, and of course a big gun. There were even black helicopters hovering overhead.We gathered again at our building about noon to re-group and have some lunch.
I don't know what comes over people when there is a disaster. When we decided to make this trip She went to the grocery and got cold cuts, and sandwich fixings. Some of the stuff She bought was expected bread, salami, sliced ham, sliced turkey, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, mustard and mayo. I don't understand what compelled her to buy bologna. I haven't eaten bologna, well I don't know when I last ate bologna. Its sort of like the milk and white bread everyone buys when a hurricane threatens, although if its bad both the milk and the bread will spoil in a matter of a day or so.We opened the tail gate and She made sandwiches for all of us. I don't remember if anyone ate bologna but I know I didn't.

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