by Amy Wold and Will Sentell
Capitol news bureau
August 31, 2012
Lynette Gooden was back in Baton Rouge at midmorning on Tuesday in a dash to stay ahead of Hurricane Isaac.
“I’m going to have to go out and look for supplies,” Gooden said while waiting on a bench at Metro Airport for one of her children to give her a ride.
She left on Saturday for a visit that was supposed to last until Wednesday with her husband, Franklin, who has been in the Navy for 18 years, in Norfolk, Va.
But a turbulent weather forecast for Baton Rouge turned routines topsy turvy.
On Perkins Road near Acadian Thruway, people sat on their ice chests or chatted with their neighbors as they waited for the ice machine to start producing again.
“Ice is the last thing we need. Everything else is pretty much taken care of,” said Betty Lowery, 69, who lives nearby.
She and her husband Val, 69, were surrounded by several ice chests as they waited their turn.
“We’re not only icing up for ourselves, but also for our neighbors,” Val Lowery said.
Although the Lowerys had only been in line about 20 minutes, they said people in front of the line of about 30 people had been waiting for hours.
Cheering and applause from the front indicated that ice was once again flowing.
“A little thing like ice can bring happiness,” Betty Lowery said.
Filling up gas tanks for cars and trucks was a hit-and-miss proposition on Tuesday.
Some stations featured plastic covers on pump handles, a sign that tanks were empty.
Others were working, but just barely.
However, motorists who had to be on the road faced less traffic than on Monday, when hordes of westbound evacuees clogged interstates.
Donald Gage, the manager of a Home Depot, was overseeing a heavy influx of customers buying flashlights, batteries and generators.
Bottled water was another popular item, with a 24-pack selling for $3.27.
“When it started that northwest turn people got into hurricane mode,” Gage said, a reference to the change in Isaac’s path last weekend that put it bound for Louisiana.
He said crews were in the store until 3 a.m. on Tuesday replenishing supplies.
Generators remain popular, especially with memories of power outages which lasted two weeks and longer when Hurricane Gustav struck the Baton Rouge area in 2008.
Al Walker, who worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 40 years, bought a $400 generator after Gustav left him without power for seven days.
Walker, who lives off Sherwood Forest Boulevard, also had a tree tumble onto his boat during Gustav, a mishap that was not covered by insurance.
Shortly before noon on Tuesday he was moving plants to cover and strapping down the fiberglass that covers part of his deck.
In the Garden District, Betsy Harper, 52, watched from the sidewalk as her husband, Hank, 54, and son Douglas, 24, tried to take down a dead branch from a water oak in their front yard.
“I’d rather take it down now instead of hearing it at 1 a.m.,” Betsy Harper said.
Although they did have some damage at their home during Hurricane Gustav in 2008, Betsy Harper said her real concern with Hurricane Isaac is how long the storm would hang over the city.
“You just can’t say this is going to be like Gustav or this is going to be like Katrina,” she said. “Each storm is different.”
Pete and Brenda Williams, who live in Jefferson Terrace, were grappling with last-minute chores of their own.
Pete Williams said he relies on a generator that can power several appliances, including a small air-conditioner and refrigerator, for about four days.
Tree troubles are less of a threat than they were four years ago.
“We had all our trees cut down since then,” he said.
In the Goodwood area, which suffered lots of downed trees during Hurricane Gustav, plywood-covered windows on homes were not an uncommon sight.
Neither were long lines at drugstores, where prescriptions were refilled for anxious customers with an eye on the storm.
At Baton Rouge Beach, Louise Hill, 45, watched as four of her five children tried to get a kite airborne in the already strengthening winds from Hurricane Isaac.
Hill explained that they live nearby and her children were trying to fly the kite in a vacant lot, but there were low lines in the area and it was making her and her husband nervous.
The last pre-storm, incoming flight into Metro Airport was scheduled for around 7 p.m. Tuesday, said Jim Caldwell, marketing and air service development manager for the Greater Baton Rouge Airport District.
“Flights are real full because New Orleans (airport) is not operating,” Caldwell said.
Nearly 3,000 passengers use the airport on a typical weekday, and things were generally running on time amid rising winds and darkening skies Tuesday.
But no flights in or out of Baton Rouge are set for Wednesday, he said.
Caldwell said airport officials hope to resume regular flights around 8:45 a.m. on Thursday.