Isaac eye-witness: "Awed by the sheer magnitude of it all"

What a day! First day to get out to the area and survey the damage, and it's a mixed bag of tricks out there. My first issue: leaving my parking garage. What a mess. That place ended up with people parking wherever they could, and the negotiation of getting out became a practice in spatial relations and guts.

I started off driving north and east along the highways I-10 to I-12 since most roads to the west were closed due to standing water, and the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway was closed as well. So the long way I went. The "twin spans" took me over the eastern side of the lake where there was heaps of debris that had been pushed off to the side of the road. I saw a lot of seaweed and wood (that I later learned was crab traps).

Saw some serious flooding from the road way into Slidell like a shrimp/fishing boat that was half in a tree, half in the water. I also saw trucks, cars and people floating by them on small fishing boats. It's a tragic scene really, but you can't help but be awed by the sheer magnitude of it all.

Fallen traffic light after Isaac (photo: Austin Tucker)

Austin Tucker: "There are mainly non-working traffic lights which is leading to a lot of people running their cars through intersections with reckless abandon."

The North Shore was in decent shape; most grocery stores were open though only partially - no fresh foods, frozen or cold foods, though pallets of ice were at the exits where you show your receipt to the man by the pallets and he hands you the number of bags you've paid for.

The New Orleans area is doing well for the most part. It's all dry and not much standing water from what I saw. There is still minimal electricity (900,000 homes without power state-wide), and there are mainly non-working traffic lights which is leading to a lot of people running their cars through intersections with reckless abandon. The number of times either I or other cars avoided being broadsided is high.

Most neighborhoods I went through today had streets filled with tree limbs that weren't very large, but there was a TON of leaves everywhere, clogging the drains and piling up in the streets. Driving down streets with this issue is like driving on ice.

Lots of convoys around the city, mainly of electrical company trucks. The largest one I saw was 13 trucks heading into the Metairie area and, reportedly, they are being cheered as they enter neighborhoods, though their task may not have been to help that neighborhood. Most of the day today had the electric company representatives repeatedly telling people that neighborhoods were not their first priority in restoring power. The first priority was hospitals and civil service buildings like fire and police departments. Apparently this is just the first wave, the next wave from out of state is expected tonight.

So the curfew has been lifted here in New Orleans. You think that has something to do with the New Orleans Saints playing a football game tonight in Nashville? The mayor promised a win tonight as well, which was a nice moment of levity in these doldrums of multiple news conferences.

Streets covered in leaves after Hurricane Isaac (photo: Austin Tucker)

Driving on streets covered with fallen leaves is like driving on ice, Austin Tucker writes.

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Katerina Piro
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