Report from Louisiana: The Next Big One

By:  Pat Austin 

SHREVEPORT – I was on the road last week and unable to post; we had a “hurricane” headed our way at the time, and even though I’m in northwest Louisiana and fairly unaffected, they were predicting torrential rains here, then they quickly backed of to oh, say maybe an inch or two.

The Weather Channel sent their top guys down to New Orleans and you get the feeling the media was hoping for “the big one,” the next Katrina, but little ‘ol Tropical Storm Barry just couldn’t deliver.  There was much hand-wringing in the papers and news feeds about the storm surge, the already, historically swollen Mississippi River, and saturated levees, but in the end nothing much came of it all.

The night before the storm was to hit, Bourbon Street was filled with revelers dancing in the streets, broadcast on Facebook Live by the local papers. Everyone had drinks in hand and were unphased by the coming storm, which seemed to reflect the mood of most Louisiana residents who have certainly been through worse.

The best part of Hurricane Barry (it was an actual hurricane for a very brief period) would be the memes; only in Louisiana would we crack on a storm for being too weak. And it’s always good to laugh when you’re nervous. The poor weather girl who could not pronounce “Atchafalaya,” even after multiple tries, was hysterical. Bless her heart. Then, of course, the next meme to come across my feed suggested we should name the next storm Tchoupitoulas and see what happens [pronounced chop a to las].  Then of course the hurricane name list was posted and the meme-makers are in high-anticipation for the “Karen” storm.

We were in Texas for the storm; the grandson had a birthday and you can’t miss that. I don’t think we ever lost power and nary a limb fell from the trees.

There was flooding down south, don’t get me wrong, and I’m not making light of people’s misfortunes. Most of the joking and mirth was at the expense of national media who seems to think every storm is going to be the one that capsizes New Orleans. Storms do bring back terrible memories for a lot of people here and again, sometimes all you can do is laugh. We can’t stop them and we aren’t leaving, so there you have it.

I find myself complaining less than I used to about where I live. Even with the heat, the storms, the crooked politicians, I love Louisiana and I love the people here who are absolutely unlike anywhere else. And the food?  Mais oui, cher, ça, c’st bon!

All kidding aside, we got lucky this time and we know it. Mark Schleifstein and Jeff Adelson at NOLA have a very interesting article about the current state of the Mississippi and what could go wrong; it’s worth a look. The river has been higher than it’s ever been for an historically long period and while normally it has gone down before hurricane season, this year it has not.

But for now, we will sit back and count our blessings. 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.