August 31st, 2008
02:52 PM ET

Anderson's View: The calm (and crabcakes) before the storm

Anderson Cooper

I'm sitting at a bar.

I know, I know, there's a massive storm coming. Don't worry, I’m not drinking. I hadn't eaten all day and this is the only place I could find open in the French Quarter.

"We never close," the bartender yelled out as he waved me inside. "I knew you would be here," the chef said, rushing into the kitchen, "I'm going to make you up some crabcakes."

How could I say no? It's a small place called the Oceana Grill, and it’s packed with cops and reporters. That's a good sign, it means most of the residents and tourists have left. The Quarter is empty, boarded up, calm. I've spent today walking and driving around, checking up on evacuations and preparations.

So far the differences between the response to this storm and Katrina are obvious. Lessons seem to have been learned. The governor appears on top of the evacuations, city officials seem to be working together.

We haven't gotten a final count on how many of the estimated 30,000 people who needed help to leave have actually gotten out. But there have been buses evacuating people since early yesterday. As for the levees, we simply don't know. The work on them is not completed, and there are serious concerns about how strong they really are. we will be watching them closely.

We will be broadcasting a two hour special tonight. We have a large presence here, and are ready to cover whatever happens. We have staked out multiple locations to be at during the storm, and we hope to stay on the air as long as possible even during the worst of it.

"How long are you staying open for?" I ask the bartender as I pay my check...
"til," he says.
"til what?"
"til we get tired."

Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Hurricane Gustav • TV
soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. Anna Marie


    It is good to see someone who cares down there once more. I do hope that New Orleans does not get the brunt of this hurricane so they can continue to heal and you continue to keep watch over it. I was saddened and embarassed by our own countries response time to Katrina and then to watch our response time to the Tsunami in Sri Lanka and how well we took care of them and forgot about our own.
    I watched you cover Katrina 3 years ago and saw your raw emotion as you went through that city afterward and reported the devestation.
    Keep an eye on those that didn't leave and be safe and keep reporting just as you always have, straight to the point with no punches held back when they are well deserved.
    It seems this time that LA has a much better plan than they did 3 years ago and that people are listening. I just hope that if it misses New Orleans that people don't become passive because one storm misses them and they refuse to leave when the next one comes their way.
    I'll be watching safely from Indiana. We don't get Hurricanes here and obviously one of the many reasons I love this state.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  2. Shaneka


    The comment made by a Mrs./Ms. Sherry Davidson, kind of upset me a little bit. In her comment she is upset about New Orleans getting all the attention. Yes there are several places that are getting hit by tropical storm and hurricane weather. For example NC has a lot of flood areas due to the tropical storm that left tons of rain last week. I was in Hurricane Floyd and Hugo and our state did a fantastic job helping those people out as well as our Federal goverment. In NOLA the reason why CNN and th media pays so much attention is because of the thousands of people killed and the hundreds and thousands of people misplace. Sherry instead of asking Anderson Cooper why he is down there you sould be sending out prayers that no other city in Amrica will have to deal with what happened in NOLA. Just a thought... Be safe Anderson, we will be praying for you.


    August 31, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  3. Eugenia - San Francisco

    I can't find the words to say how I feel. When I saw the resturant sign I was stunned and then started crying. I just know that not all the levees are fixed and the ones that are, are not strong enough. In my heart I feel that Katrina was not the storm of the century that she was a warning of what is to come. Even if every single person and animal was evacuated from there, it is still so heartbreaking to have that livelihood and heritage destroyed.

    My thoughts and prayers with you all

    August 31, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  4. Dave Nickerson

    glad your there... please tell my brother-in-law Mark Penton to leave..

    good luck and stay safe


    August 31, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  5. kaci-coco

    Hi Anderson,

    I'll be watching you as usual. Somehow I am not surprise you'd be
    there, doing what you do best, always.
    Crabcakes sound good but try fresh oysters with salt & pepper and a little bit dash of lemon. Delicious!!!
    I hope the storm lose its power on landing. Please take care.
    God bless you all.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  6. helene

    Hi Anderson.

    Please be careful and thank you for your great reporting.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  7. EJ (USA)

    Looking forward to seeing your reporting Anderson.

    I know you will stay safe as you know you won't hear the end of it if you don't.

    There's a possibility that the storm weakens to a 2 before hitting (I heard earlier). Hopefully it won't be as menacing as it appears to be right now.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:12 pm |
  8. LeAnn Phelps

    God bless and may NOLA be spared a direct hit. I have never been there but after watching the devastation of Katrina no one deserves to go through all that again. I have always loved your reporting. You bring a personal touch to every story you cover. May you stay safe and well fed 😉

    August 31, 2008 at 4:12 pm |
  9. Cathleen

    Stay safe. Your reporting is my favorite to watch.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  10. richard damian

    I was just wondering if we can do something to stop or at least lower the strenght of the hurricane. My idea is to launch a missile remotely operated directly to the twister, and it would at least lower it's momentum from category 3 to category 2 then to 1 then to zero. this is possible since we will lauch the attack on the ocean and will just harm the fishes but not the people and property.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  11. RENEE

    I was watching CNN and just said outloud, where is Anderson?
    then checked your blog and got the answer!! You are amazing with your comittment.. Hang on tight. Look forward to seeing you tonight.
    God keep you and your crew safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  12. mary kirk

    Just saw our Katrina hero,Gen Honore,I sure hope he is the next boss of Homeland Security,I don't care if he's a Dem or Rep. Gen Honore's down-to-earth,get the job done,"don't be stuck on stupid"approach is just why we're voting McCain/Palin08.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  13. paula vowell

    Hi Anderson,
    Thanks for the coverage. Most of all you and your crew stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  14. Jim

    Anderson: How appropriate that you are in New Orleans during Southern Decadence. Having fun?

    August 31, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  15. Sharon


    I'm glad to see that the people of New Orleans are taking this storm seriously. I have plenty of family in that area and I am hoping and praying that they make it out of there safely. I don't think you need to be in the middle of it to report on it, though. Good luck!

    August 31, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  16. Tracy Thompson

    Anderson you are just as foolish as can be.

    You will do anything for ratings and photo ops and whatever happens to you is your own fault.

    If the poor folks of NOLA clinging to their rooftops during Katrina received no sympathy from Republican America, then neither should you when Gustav hits.

    You are their for propaganda and sensationalism ONLY.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  17. Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio


    I know you don’t really drink, but in this case I couldn’t really blame you.

    Yesterday Gary mentioned in his blog that there was a “creepy feeling of déjà vu in the city. I understand what he is saying; I have that same feeling sitting here hour after hour watching the reports on Gustav come in.

    For the most part Governor Jindal sounds like he has everything under control, but Mother Nature is unpredictable and she may find a way to thwart his efforts.

    I was so relieved to hear about the provisions being made for the pets this time around although I heard that one of the bus drivers refused to allow a woman on the bus with her large dog. I hope she was able to find a place for him.

    Is it true that only 20% of the work on the levees has been completed? Why is that? The levees should have been top priority! This is a hell of a way to test them.

    Hopefully the locations you “staked out” prove to be safe. I will definitely be watching all night.

    I hope you enjoyed your crabcakes; it sounds like it is going to be a long night!

    Take care,
    Jo Ann

    August 31, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  18. Devin Scottsbluff, NE

    Geez Coop,

    You've got a regular love-fest going on in here! Except for Sherry Davidson.

    Ms. Davidson, I can only imagine how frustrated you are at the situation that has befallen you, but is it really necessary to wish that kind of ill will and contempt to an entire area and its citizens? I wish you the best, and hope for you to have a quick resolution to your problems.

    Coop, you and the crew keep your heads on a swivel. Everybody stay alert and stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  19. Diane N.

    Keep your strength up Anderson. Don't play hero know you can't beat mother nature, just be damn careful.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  20. Krystal in Brooklyn, NY

    I knew you would be one of the first people there. Please stay safe, Anderson.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  21. Carol from Appleton

    God love you, Anderson, for what you and your crew are doing. You are amazing to watch and learn from. Where will you be staying while there? We're always interested in the "behind the scenes" details.

    Your trust level with us is 100%. Thank you and stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  22. Debbie in Arkansas

    Anderson, Please be careful, we like watching you. I went through Gilbert in the Yucatan 20 years ago. The howling is incredible, but the water corosion is worst. Please stay safe. I'll be watching...

    August 31, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  23. patty, texas

    hey Anderson, i hope everyone gets out of there safe and thank you so much for all the hard work you do. It takes a special person to put themselves in harms way. We are watching and waiting for this huge storm, hope everything turns out ok, we are praying for everyone in its path. Stay safe, why dont you have a hurricane too with the crabcakes.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  24. Paula, Colorado

    Hi! It must be strange to be in New Orleans with nearly everyone leaving or gone. Be careful! It's never been easy watching you broadcast during a hurricane.
    I'm glad the people began evacuating early in preparation for the storm. Too much of Katrina was the unexpected weakness of protection–from the levees failing to the lack of adequate response. I'd still hope Gustav would lessen in intensity before it reaches the Gulf Coast–though that doesn't seem to be happening. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
    I look forward to seeing you later.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  25. BARB in Vegas

    The first time I remember seeing you on TV, you were being blown sideways during a hurricane... please be careful. We know it's raining and windy X 1,000,000 – you don't need to stand in the middle of it for us to understand.

    Stay safe.


    August 31, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  26. Rosemarie L.G.

    I'm watching the exodus from New Orleans and see incoming lanes with a couple of cars on it. WHY? They only need one lane for cars to enter the city and they can make the other lanes available for those leaving. As an Engineer, I wrote evacuation procedures for Nuclear Power Plants, they always included changing traffic patterns to accomodate the people evacuating an area. I don't see the logic in having empty lanes available and so many people practically at a standstill; it must be frustrating.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  27. Joe, Phoenix, AZ

    While I appreciate the spirit of the restaurant not closing in spite of the warnings issued by state, local, and federal officials, I wonder what could be driving them to stay open...until...they get tired. Greed? Ignorance?

    I think it would be smart for them to pack up, put the crabcakes and gumbo aside temporarily, and just...go. Get out.

    Wasn't Katrina enough of a wake-up call for area residents (including restaurateurs)? I'm writing this from the safety of the desert out here in Arizona, but I cannot forget the images from three years ago during this time on my little black and white TV; I was in disbelief at the devastation caused by Katrina, and I pray to our Maker that New Orleans is spared this time around.

    Bless you all, and please keep safe, Mr. Cooper!

    August 31, 2008 at 3:45 pm |
  28. Dorinda

    Thanks for reporting on the storm, yet still as much as the public need's & wants to know, it still isn't worth your life... Please take care, as for all the other reporter's, police, firefighter's etc. who are there, as well as those who wish to (no pun) weather this storm out.

    Take care. You are all in my thoughts.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:45 pm |
  29. Phebe

    I've been thinking a lot today about the victims and the heroes of Katrina/Rita. Gustav must be causing terrifying flashbacks for all of them and the first responders.
    Stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  30. Janet

    The defiance of the storm could be many things but a part of me would like to think it's that enduring pioneer spirit Americans seem to have....God bless New Orleans.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  31. Bart, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

    Hi Anderson,

    What is it with news anchors and hurricanes? Are you guys thrill seekers or just insane? You should spend a week with a group of storm chasers in the Midwest, now that's insane!

    Its nice to see that some lessons were learned after Katrina. I just hope that things continue to go smoothly. Good Luck New Orleans and everyone along the Gulf Coast!

    Good Luck and Godspeed to you Anderson and your valiant crew, stay safe and thanks for keeping the rest of us informed!

    Keep up the good work!

    August 31, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  32. K, Texas

    Be safe Anderson. Looking forward to your always amazing coverage.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:41 pm |
  33. Sherry

    Anderson and crew... Thank you for being in NOLA to help make sure mistakes are not repeated... I had hoped this wasn't going to happen again to NOLA quite so soon after Katrina, but all we can do is pray the lessons were learned the first time...
    Stay safe, let nature take it's course, and be sure to get out of the way...

    August 31, 2008 at 3:40 pm |
  34. jnoguera

    Okay, you are nutty for being down there but I understand that this is also pretty personal for you too and I was so impressed with your reporting during Katrina. With that, stay safe and have the poboy next time. It's fabulous. 🙂

    August 31, 2008 at 3:40 pm |
  35. Sherry Davidson

    Mr. Cooper,

    I admire your dedication in bringing up to date news from New Orleans. I am infuriated at the assistance New Orleans is receiving, while those in Central Florida continue to suffer with flooding. The St. John's hasn't crested and it continues to rain. Central Florida residents was denied FEMA help, unless one owned a government business. Granted, we only experienced a ?Tropical Storm", however the damage is still massive to those flooded by her waters. Everyday it rains worsens our flooding. Why should New Orleans be treated better than other cities who are often devastated by hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. I hope everyone in New Orleans gets out safely, then I hope it falls deep in the ocean. I am sick of all the "Special Attention" New Orleans gets. This city is no more special than any other. And FEMA, where are our Visa Cards?

    August 31, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  36. Kim

    Touching article. God save New Orleans.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  37. Chris Dickey

    It should be easy to build a temporary road to connect the 2 sides of the outbound freeway from New Orleans to help with the traffic jam. The news reports show that one side of the freeway is empty and the other is packed. The military knows how to build temporary runways fast. A small road connecting the 2 sides should be easy. Where is the planning? Why another outbound traffic jam? At least they realized that registering people before allowing them to get on outboard transport was dumb. It looks like things are going pretty well but still a bunch of dumb admin stuff. For what the planning guys get paid it doesn't look like we get our moneys worth.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  38. Claire, Buffalo, NY

    Good luck guys and stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  39. Arrington E. Thomas


    Thanks for covering the storm.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  40. Debb, Tucson, AZ


    August 31, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  41. Jana, Indiana


    Thanks for letting us know what is going on. They really do seemed more prepared this time around. I just hope all the people have heeded the warnings and have gotten out.

    I am glad there is a plan in place for the pets to be evacuated this time. I imagine you are thrilled with this as well, seeing how bad that was handled before.

    Also glad to hear that you and the CNN team have stalked out some places to stay safe as you can during the storm.

    I am sure most of us will be watching your coverage tonight and throughout this ordeal.

    I also like the idea that the RNC is thinking of turning their convention into a telethon.

    Please all of you stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  42. Judith, Cologne Germany

    Hi Anderson,

    I hope you stay safe down there! I have friends in Lousiana, who have seen many hurricans, but I don't remember them ever being as nervous about a hurrican as they are now about Gustav...
    I hope and pray that Gustav will loose power before landfall

    August 31, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  43. Mary Anne

    It's really tiring watching all that is going on down in the Gulf Coast, but not as tiring as trying to get out of the city before Gustav comes a calling. There was a Q&A in the NYTimes Magazine this morning with Gov Bobby Jindal and the man is so on top of things its amazing. Hopefully Gustav will decided to downsize before he makes landfall. The city really can't afford any more problems.

    Anderson did you have hushpuppies with those crab cakes?

    August 31, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  44. Kristien,Antwerp, Belgium

    Hey Anderson,

    It's a good thing indeed that most people have been evacuated and that lessons have been learned. Let's hope those people can come back to their homes still standing and dry!!

    I hope the show will be on CNN Int. too, but it's great to get updates from this blog if they don't scedule it.

    Stay save!!! Kristien

    August 31, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  45. Sarah Atlanta, GA

    Anderson, I hope you and the CNN crew stay safe during this stom. Hopefully the residents of NOLA took the warning and left.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  46. liz


    May you be kept safe throughout the storm, and may God bless you for being willing to report when so many others are not.

    We are praying for you and for everyone in NOLA, may God be with you.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  47. Barbara

    Why do you guys get out there in the storm and warn us to take cover and protect ourselves and our property, and none of you wear any hear or eye gear to protect yourselves? Isn't this a little hypocrical and insane?

    August 31, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  48. Presley

    I know people are allowed to bring their pets but I hope if you guys see strays or ones left behind, I hope you scoop them up and get them somewhere safe. It was heart breaking to see all the dogs and cats and animals stranded last time.

    Much love, stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  49. canadiangirl

    I look forward to seeing your on air coverage. Stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  50. Lilibeth

    Hi Anderson, I understand you'll have a show tonight. I'm actually travelling; I'm in a room where there's no TV, so I won't be able to watch, but I'm praying for all the residents there. Hope they'll all get to evacuate and be in a safe place. They shouldn't take any chances. Stay safe please, all of you. Take care,

    Edmonds, Washington

    August 31, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
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