Staring Gustav in the Eye

I found Meghan Gordon on Twitter, where she's been posting Hurricane Gustav tweets from New Orleans. On Twitter, Gordon is known as "Sazerac Attack," the same name of her blog, a collection of random thoughts about the town she's been calling home for the past five years. When she isn't tweeting,Gordon, who grew up in Texas, is reporting for The Times-Picayune, covering politics in New Orleans's West Bank, where she lives.

I caught up with her via e-mail yesterday, just hours after the storm had passed.

How did you prepare for the storm in the way of food and drink?

Food and drink are typically low on the list when it comes to stocking the hurricane supply chest. I hit the grocery before hysteria starts to build to avoid insane lines and fill a cart with snacks that don't require heating or utensils, bottled water and caffeine of some sort. Coffee is a requirement, so I snagged some of those canned Starbucks espresso drinks just in case I couldn't scare up real coffee. I don't try to eat healthy because I know I won't have time. Peanut butter or cheese crackers can get you a long way.

Did you hole up in your house or move to another location?

I arranged last week to stay with government officials in Gretna (also on the West Bank). Two other reporters and an editor moved into our hurricane pad Sunday night. The digs were incredibly posh -- a jury room inside a courthouse that had comfy chairs, big-screen TVs, a coffee maker, microwave, high-speed Internet connections and desks. We learned that it was too good to be true late that night when we looked up while busily blogging to see dozens of drainage workers streaming in with cots and bedding. Our quiet, spacious workspace became cramped and distracting.

Both Algiers Point, where I live, and Gretna are on the West Bank, which looked like it might be ground zero for Gustav. I would not have stayed in a house, considering the track and intensity that was predicted Saturday night and Sunday morning. Hurricanes can make pretty incredible sounds for hours on end, which would have unnerved me, if the thought of a roof being damaged wasn't enough.

What did you take with you for fear of never seeing it again?

Nothing other than what I needed to do my job. The only thing I stowed up high for Gustav was my desktop computer, just in case. Algiers Point would have been the very last place to flood under the scenario that a huge tidal surge swamped the West Bank. While I knew widespread flooding was possible, I strongly doubted it would get higher than my steps way over in the Point. My landlord reassured me that the bright blue double shotgun has stood since the 1890s, before the Mississippi River that sits a few blocks away at the end of my street had towering levees. Old houses around here were built to stay dry.

Anything food/drink-related of course is most welcome.

I tracked down a mac and cheese MRE to entertain myself during some downtime. They were supplied by a parish contractor and not the Army, so it wasn't in the cool brown pouches that people turned into purses after Katrina. I ate one macaroni noodle but couldn't stomach more.

The first hot meal since Friday was tonight at Coop's Place in the Quarter. They had a pretty full menu, judging on hurricane standards. Our duck quesadillas were served in disposable containers.

Today we turned my house into the (Times-Picayune West Bank) bureau. The day was crazy tracking down other reporters via e-mail and instant messages when cell phones stopped working for a while. Things were flying so fast between possible tornadoes and frustrated evacuees that we only had time to nuke frozen edamame and dump them into a communal bowl next to some whole peanuts.

By Kim ODonnel |  September 3, 2008; 8:44 AM ET New Orleans
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