Nearly on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a fresh tropical storm is building in the Gulf of Mexico. Crescent City visitors need to stay alert — and take a few simple precautions.
It’s hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico, and there is no one who lives in that region who does not understand what that means.
Now, with the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina almost upon us, a fresh new tropical storm code-named Isaac is building toward hurricane strength — and the city of New Orleans is officially under hurricane watch.
If you live in the Crescent City, especially if you were a resident in 2005, you already know what to do. You’ve been there and done that.
If you’re a visitor to the NOLA, your situation may be a bit different.
For those whose travel plans could have them arriving in New Orleans at the same time as Isaac, now might be a good time to do a little contingency planning. Check with your travel agent (if you have one) about what happens with your air, hotel or cruise reservations if the storm hits.
If you don’t have an agent, you’ll need to check with those various folks yourself.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t already done so, now would be a really good time to look to buying some travel insurance.
If you’re already in New Orleans, and your scheduled stay falls within Isaac’s timeline, a few good-sense precautions are in order.
The first is to stay informed on what the weather is doing.
Gulf storms are almost willful in their unpredictability. They may build to hurricane strength, or not. They may turn in your direction, or not. They may speed up, slow down, or do any number of other things that no one expects.
In other words, they’re a lot like teenagers, only larger, louder and wetter. Not to mention potentially much more destructive.
** URGENT **
Tropical Storm Isaac is now expected to reach hurricane strength after crossing through the Florida Keys and is currently on a path that could take it into the city of New Orleans. The city is now on HURRICANE WARNING. The city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana are now officially under a state of emergency.
WATCH V. WARNING
A hurricane watch is serious, but it only means that a storm has the potential to strike your locale. It’s not the same as saying, “You’re going to be hit with hurricane-force winds sometime in the next day and a half.”
That’s essentially what a hurricane warning means. When that happens, it’s time to either batten down — to the best extent that a visitor can do that — or get out of Dodge.
I would lean toward Door Number Two, the one with the Exit sign over it. If you lean the same way, you need to take a few steps before things get to the point.
You need to keep your car’s gas tank filled. Decide in advance which direction you’re going to take out of town if it comes to that. Stash a gallon or two of bottled water and some non-perishable high-energy snacks in the trunk, enough for maybe a day or two on the road.
If the car is a rental, contact the rental car company, let them know the situation.
If you have airline reservations, call the airline and see if you can fly out a day or so early. Do this sooner rather than later; you won’t be the only one thinking along those lines.
DON’T GIVE UP THE ROOM
If weather conditions deteriorate rapidly, not only might you not be able to fly out early, you might not be able to fly out at all, as the airlines may well cancel all flights in anticipation of the storm.
If you’re due to check out of your hotel around the time the storm is due to arrive, ask about keeping your room an extra day or two, just in case. New Orleans hotel operators especially understand this situation and generally will do their best for you.
In any case, keeping the room you’ve already got could be a lot easier than trying to find a new hotel with a hurricane bearing down on the city.
Once you feel sure that you’ve taken all the sensible precautions you can, there’s only one thing left to do: Go back to enjoying your visit to the NOLA. Down an extra po’boy. Catch some good music. Dance the night into dawn.
Hell, in this town, you can even drink a hurricane.
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