The mayor said that he would "aggressively recommend" people evacuate, but that it would difficult to order them to do so, because at least 100,000 in the city rely on public transportation and would have no way to leave. In addition, he said 10,000 people were in town for conventions, and there was nowhere for many of them to go except high floors in their hotels.
By midday Tuesday, traffic on Interstate 10, the major hurricane route out of New Orleans, was at a near standstill, and state police turned the interstate west of the city into a one-way route out. U.S. Highway 61, the old major route between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, also was jammed.
In the French Quarter, businesses put up plywood and closed their shutters. A few people were still hanging out at Cafe du Monde, a favorite spot for French roast coffee and beignets, and a man playing a trombone outside had a box full of tips.
"They said get out, but I can't change my flight, so I figure I might as well enjoy myself," said George Senton, of Newark, N.J., who listened to the music. "At least I'll have had some good coffee and some good music before it gets me." Tourist Dee Barkhart, a court reporter from Baltimore, was drinking Hurricane punches at Pat O'Brien's bar.
"I looked into earlier flights, but they were hundreds of dollars more and I wasn't sure I could switch flights," she said. "I figure I'm happier sitting here drinking hurricanes than sitting at the airport worrying about them."
September 14, 2004
Say a prayer for the great city of New Orleans and for the many people who are trapped there!