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. Patricia - Little Rock, AR

    Anderson & Crew–

    I know you and your crew have been through this before, in the same city. It must be like a bad deja vu. That said, please do not become complacent. I have been watching CNN and CNN.com most of the day for updates on this "storm of the century". I am so proud of the way these evauations have been handled this time around. Mayor Nagin has done an outstanding job. I think everyone learned their lesson during, and after, Katrina. Too bad it took something like that to make them proactive instead of reactive. I look forward to your coverage tonight of Gustav and hope you are able to stay on the air throughout this ordeal.

    That said, please be careful and I will be praying for everyone still in NOLA.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  2. anne,newfoundland,canada


    I hope all of you will be safe.......

    please be careful........and take care of yourselves...


    let us hope that lessons WERE learned from Katrina....for now,it is about to be put to the test.

    thoughts and prayers to all the Gulf Coast in the days ahead......

    August 31, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  3. Maureen T

    When everyone is leaving trust you to be running towards the hurricane! You're my hero Anderson!! By the way, I hope you enjoyed the crabcakes. I look forward to your special, but I you I don't need to remind you to please stay safe Anderson! I pray for all of those in the path of the hurricane.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  4. Michelle

    Hi Anderson,

    I was in New Orleans for the first time in my life just a couple of months ago. In June. I was attending a National Charter School Conference. I am so sad to think the progress the city has made thus far will be set back yet again. Some haven't even recovered from Katrina.
    My thoughts are with all the families in the south as they brave yet another possible life changing event.

    Stay Safe all!

    August 31, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  5. Brown

    BTW, our four year old soon is named Cooper.

    Apparently I am a journalism super fan.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  6. Brown

    Stay safe and thank you for your continued coverage.

    I have to admit I laugh as I read these comments. It seems I am not the only lady with a crush on Anderson. It's okay, my husband just laughs too.

    Now I am hungry from some crab cakes.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  7. Serena, Madison Mississippi

    Hi, In response to those who have mentioned the traffic backup on the freeway, as of 4am this morning I-55 out of Louisiana, and I-59 out of the Mississippi Gulf Coast have had both sides of freeway open to northbound traffic only to help relieve some of the congestion. I live in Madison Mississippi just north of Jackson and I have seen MANY Louisiana license plates up here so it is great to see that so many people are taking action and getting out of harms way. Stay Safe!!

    August 31, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  8. Aley


    I watched you cover Katrina and you became my inspiration when you called out Mary Landrieu for her excessive praise of what was being "done"...My students have read your book in my composition class, and we all agreed you were the one who did the best coverage of that storm in 2005.

    Please Anderson..although you explain yourself VERY well in your book, it is incumbent upon me to remind you that there are a host of people in this world that need your presence on the airwaves, long after this storm is in the history books. So do take care of yourself, and remember there is nothing, not one thing that important to risk your life for!

    Sending lots of love and light to you in this stormy time!

    August 31, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  9. OG, Texas

    Hey AC,

    I work at an army depot along the Texas coast and i can honestly say any Labor Day Bar-B-Que parties have been cancelled. I see Coast Guard and Navy personnel checking and double checking gear and heli's. Just call if you need a lift out of there my prayers are with you and your crew, as you once again bring us current coverage and keep them honest.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  10. Ricki from Las Vegas

    Anderson, you are the best, please be careful, I will be watching your show tonight as always (((HUGS))) Ricki

    August 31, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  11. Nancy

    Wish you were with Wolf in MSP preparing for the RNC-your group did a fanastic job at the DNC!

    Your reports from NOLA are greatly appreciated. Thank you for keeping our nation in touch with Gustav. Please be safe and my thoughts and prayers are with you, your crew, and all whose lives are in the path of the storm.

    God Bless, Nancy

    August 31, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  12. Ryan Saylor


    Keep safe and keep 'em honest!

    August 31, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  13. Pat in Michigan

    Anderson and crew, please be careful. I 'll stay tuned and continue to pray for those people who didn't leave and you brave reporters.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  14. Dawn T. Pittsburgh, PA

    Hey Anderson,
    I'm trying to complete a report for work and it's hard for me to concentrate because I keep watching the coverage of this hurricane and the GOP's response to it. I'm riveted and yes, I guess one could argue that I am a geek 🙂 I am an administrator in my profession and I must say I'm impressed by the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina and the coordination of services of all government officials lead by Gov. Jindal.

    Like you, I will do anything for crab cakes 😉 They are my favorite seafood. Be careful.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  15. EJ (USA)

    I’m sitting at a bar.

    I know, I know, there’s a massive storm coming. Don’t worry, I’m not drinking...

    Under the circumstances, perhaps you should be drinking.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  16. Holly Smith

    With prayers for you and others there in the state, stay safe.


    August 31, 2008 at 4:46 pm |
  17. Sarah, Canterbury - UK

    Puts a lot into perspective dosn't it.

    I really admire the spirit of the bar owners. It sounds a little like London after the July 7 bombings. The day after the attack the streets were empty, the tourists left and the only people milling about were those that had to get to work.

    Keep safe and we all know you and the team will do a great job in reporting what happens.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:46 pm |
  18. Claire in Birmingham, AL

    Please be careful Anderson. Make sure whatever is tying you to the floor is knotted tight and duck when you see debris flying. Stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:46 pm |
  19. John

    I feel sad for New Orleans, but not for the Republicans. If there is a testament that their message and brand has been rejected, this is it. Nature has rejected their message and so has God. This is a huge sign. This is Urim and Thummim at play here. In their case, this is Thummim. If we are really christians as we profess to the world, we must heed this warning. Hurricane is disastrous and symbolises disaster; and the deeper meaning of this sign is we should watch out in this election to make the right choice. The wise men located Jesus through signs and all thru the old testament, the use of signs abound and never failed to come true as predicted. This is a bad omen and we have been forewarned. Students of mystical kabbalah I am sure, will concur.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:45 pm |
  20. Sassy


    Thanks for your great coverage on Gustav. I was in NO on business during Katrina and fortunately had a rental car to get out of town. We did not get to see actual coverage on Katrina until 5 days later when we finally got to the Dallas/Fort Worth airport.

    Stay safe, look forward to your show later today.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  21. Zach

    At the risk of being random and somewhat insensitive, good writing Anderson! Succinct yet wonderfully descriptive. Anderson Cooper, the Ernest Hemmingway of bloggers...

    August 31, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  22. chezmere

    AC-I am so happy you are there to give us the real story.
    Please stay safe & have a crabcake for me.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  23. Carrie

    Crab cakes at Oceana's, I love that place. Anderson and crew stay safe. So far local community, state and federal officials have done an excellent job working together. Same with the universities in the area in communicating with students and getting them safely evacuated. All in all at an individual level folks did a good job preparing and evacuating in an orderly, calm fashion. God bless the Gulf Coast. Our prayers are with everyone.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:39 pm |
  24. Alyce

    Hey, Anderson. Just wanted to thank you for your dedication to always getting the story right. Take care of yourself, be careful–we'll be watching in admiration.

    -Alyce, Ohio-

    August 31, 2008 at 4:39 pm |
  25. Erin

    Be so very careful. I admire the work you are doing! Sending prayers for every ones safety your way. Erin

    August 31, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  26. Cara

    I am a native of Louisiana and I will always miss it.
    The best part of this article are the last four lines.
    That is so typical of the way my Cajun friends talk!

    August 31, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  27. Gigi

    Best of luck on your coverage. Crab cakes sound good, even in the face of disaster. I grew up in Puerto Rico, so I understand all too well, what it is like to face a massive storm, while keeping up with life as usual. You yearn for normalcy and a sense of being. Leaving "home" is incredibly difficult. I not for once question people who decide to stay. I think you just want to be there for it all...even it it means the end. It is, after all, your story.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  28. leslie

    Hi. Hope you'll weather the storm well.

    I come from New Orleans, and most of the hurricanes that looked like they were going to hit the city head on actually turned to the North and East, sideswiping the city. I'd hate to see the gulf coast catch it again, but I hope it misses New Orleans.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  29. frank

    Anderson and CNN thanks for all the hype on the storm its really going to help make gas prices higher, CNN richer, and most of us (your customers) miserible.

    I won't be watching CNN.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:36 pm |
  30. Derek

    Please, protect yourself and stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  31. Dave in Montreal

    AC rocks ....... and pays his bar tab ( crabcakes !!!! ..... be honest, you have to have cold beer with crabcakes .... even as a disaster looms )...... keep safe and good luck ..... Esquire had a story ( fiction ) a few years back about this guy floating out to sea while holding on to a wooden Jesus statue ..... totally sureal ...... God Bless

    August 31, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  32. Debbie - Arkansas

    I don't know who is using "Debbie in Arkansas", as that is MY user name! I did write a comment yesterday, saying that Anderson, and the other CNN reporters, need to 'be careful', and I DO like watching CNN...but I have NEVER been to the Yucatan...so I have no idea about the 'howling winds' there...further, I DID say, that Anderson's Mom probably has to pray a LOT for him as travels the world bring news to us...and he needs to remember to..."Call your Mother!"...and I will keep watching...but , get it right...and to ALL, take care.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  33. ape

    i wish i could have a pre-disaster crabcake too!!!!

    August 31, 2008 at 4:33 pm |
  34. mzmullerz

    good on you, anderson.
    stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  35. Kristen

    Anderson and crew,

    Your coverage of Katrina made me proud to be a journalist. Truly amazing work. Crossing my fingers for you that you stay out of harm's way. I'll definitely be watching tonight. Best of luck.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  36. C

    Anderson Cooper,

    You must understand that if anything bad happens to you, millions of women will die of grief. I, however, expect you know that as long as you stay in New Orleans, you are solely responsible for whatever ills visit you. That of course is true any time one goes to New Orleans, which is why people should–as a general rule–stay the hell out of New Orleans.

    In conclusion, Anderson Cooper, I will say "godspeed," and hope that neither strong winds nor stray bullets strike you down in NOLA.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  37. Vickie In NC

    I wonder if our Wonderful Government will bail out other states as well,when a natural disater is BEFORE striking???It's a sad time when people can not take responsibility for their own safety! It appears that the Government and LA state felt these people were not smart enough to save their own life.I would feel ashamed if I were in those shoes,but then again I doubt they are ashamed of too much.This is pitiful to say the least.Even putting them on planes..ppppfffttt.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  38. Amy


    I am glad you got something good to eat today. Please be sure to stay hydrated to. I appreciate you and the rest of the 360 crew so much for keeping everyone informed during this uneasy time. Please be sure to take care of yourself- so many people count on you.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  39. sydney, so cal

    Sherry Davidson, New Orleans isn't getting "special attention", they're getting attention they deserve and were once neglected of. If Florida isn't getting proper care, it shouldn't get it at the cost of another area, thats a quite childish and hateful idea. Both should get help, ideally.

    Thank you Anderson for your coverage of New Orleans, and for being dedicated to what you do, you actually make me enjoy the news!

    August 31, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  40. Gloren (Florida)

    Goodness gracious. I had this “feeling” that somehow you would have remained there after your show this past Friday, which was superb! Being in a storm of such strength is no joke. I truly hope the places you guys select are safe enough and the storm spares the town as much as possible. I’ll be glued to the tv screen tonight in anticipation of your special show and I am praying for your safety and everyone else’s. Please be safe and know that our thoughts and prayers are with the entire town and with you all. 🙂 xoxo – Gloren

    August 31, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  41. Brian Kingsley

    So...How were the crab cakes?

    August 31, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  42. Fay, CA

    Anderson, it's good to hear that NOLA is better prepared for this storm and that more has been done to provide transportation to get people out of harms way. I saw some reports awhile ago about the state of the levees which didn't leave me feeling too confident about their strength, but hopefully they will hold. I hope you and the CNN crew stay safe down there.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  43. anne,newfoundland,canada

    This is in regards to a comment here from RATNA,NEW YORK,NY,3:14 pm:

    "'dont' drown,otherwise the 6 bag lady will be left widowed before marrying you......"

    well,that was a charming comment!


    It is tasteless,humorless,tacky,insensitive,and wrong.....not to mention stupid.......

    could you simply not say...."stay safe,and take care of yourself" perhaps??

    And,I doubt that IF Anderson were reading the comments today,HE would find it very amusing,either......

    I am sure YOU thought it funny......

    I for one,am not amused.......

    August 31, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  44. Jules in Florida


    At least we know we'll get competent AND compassionate reporting since you are there. The two are not mutually exclusive, as you and Solidad proved during your Katrina reporting. I'm not religious, but we all need to pray the levees hold. God Bless New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf coast...


    August 31, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  45. maria

    Anderson, we love you here in New Orleans, but next time you want to visit, let's hope it's not during another hurricane.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  46. Danielle

    Ahhh, that's so like Louisiana people... there are always those who will stay in harm's way to help others. My mom is not evacuating because she is a Registered Nurse and feels she can be helpful during the triage stage, and my dad helps to maintain a fleet of med-evac helicopters. I love and miss this state (and my folks) so much!

    Danielle L.

    Vandenberg AFB, CA

    August 31, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  47. Aimee, Colorado

    for the entire CNN crew, stay safe, rest when you can, and stay positive for the residents of NOLA. crossing my fingers that anderson will not have to grill any politicians about why there are dead people floating in the streets. jindal is mobilizing NO like he has some sense.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  48. Pamina

    Hi Anderson,
    I hope all the people are able to get out safely and that Gustav causes less damage than anticipated. Stay safe!

    August 31, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  49. Judy Stage/Brooklyn MI

    Hey Anderson,
    As a reporter, I guess you are right where your supposed to be to get the story. My prayers are with you and all of those in the path of this hurricane. Take care and stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  50. Julie San Diego, CA

    "I'm sitting at a bar."

    Love it.

    Have a drink, Honey. You're gonna need it.

    Bars do have the best food, don't they?

    Stay safe, take care, get a good meal in you because goodness knows when you're going to get another...

    August 31, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
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