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Hurricane Gustav

Houma, Louisiana - Sept. 01 2008
Gustav_Satellite

  • For a while, it looked like Hurricane Gustav was poised to do the one thing that Katrina couldn't do 3 years earlier... Totally demolish New Orleans. The forecast track originally had it hitting the city directly as a major hurricane. The city was mostly evacuated when I pulled into town after an all night drive. It was an eerie feeling, driving through the empty streets of the French Quarter with nobody else on the road except police and National Guard troops. Luckily, as the storm got closer, it became very clear that the worst of it was going to pass to the west of New Orleans. The night before landfall, we repositioned to the town of Houma,, Louisiana with an NBC cameraman in tow.
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    Animal carriers in New Orleans, getting ready to evacuate pets.

    Evacuation lineups at the New Orleans bus terminal.
  • In Houma, we took refuge in a police vehicle storage area where the cops had brought all their vehicles. It was great to be hanging out with the police since we could give them the latest info on the storm and in return, we set up for the night. I slung my hammock between two posts and got a couple hours sleep before the morning arrival of Gustav. By morning, the winds had picked up and Gustav was making his presence known. We drove into town and filmed as bits of the town came apart. There were at least 2 instances when I was almost hit by debris. One was a flying sign and the other was a large tree branch that fell, moments after I had passed beneath it.
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    Checking the computer to see where the center of Gustav is headed.

    A road sign goes sliding down the street.

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    Downed power lines were a common sight.

    Roof damage.
  • My chase partners for this storm were Peter, Rowe, Tim Millar, Mark Robinson, Dave Lewison and Scott McPartland. All of whom I've chased hurricanes with before and everything was going smoothly until Scott & Dave's passenger window shattered after being hit by flying debris of some kind. With rain streaming in, that pretty much signaled the end of their chase. They quickly headed back to the dry garage and performed a makeshift repair.
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  • Although the damage was extensive, and parts of Louisiana were without power for weeks, the impact of Gustav was far less than anticipated. The residents of New Orleans suffered only minor damage and flooding from this one but it was a close call which could happen again any time during hurricane season.
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    A row of damaged poles in Houma.

    A main road, blocked by debris.

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    Toppled gas station awning.