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. Jennifer

    Anderson, I wish I was as brave as you. I don't think I'd ever have the courage to do what you do. I hope you and everyone there stays safe, good luck!

    August 31, 2008 at 6:54 pm |
  2. Jeanine

    Will you please just come back to NY so we know you are safe!!!
    There are plenty of places to get crab cakes here!

    August 31, 2008 at 6:54 pm |
  3. Matt Tremblay


    Keep safe and keep your head down! Enjoy the crabcakes, and all of us in Canada are praying for everyone to get out safely, let's not have a repeat of the loss of life from Katrina.

    GOD BLESS YOU ALL IN NEW ORLEANS! We are praying for everyone, including you Anderson!

    Matt Tremblay
    Niagara Falls, Canada

    August 31, 2008 at 6:51 pm |
  4. Jim;Minnesota

    Hey Anderson-
    Just wanted to say thank you for your great work. I am very concerned about everyone's safety down there-yours included. Please take care of yourself during this awful storm. I wish I could help, but can only watch this unfold. Thanks again for all you do.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:40 pm |
  5. Ramona Hartley

    Hope the crab cakes were good.!

    Praying that all of those still in the area will remain safe. We do appreaciate the reporting that you and your crews do.

    Godspeed to all of those remaining to protect and serve in the area.


    August 31, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  6. Susie

    Hey, I didn't know you've become a WEATHERMAN since I moved to Europe! 😉

    Do you want to do something really dangerous? Go and report from the GOP, with all the gun owners, war mongers, oil suckers and tax dodgers who mess up the country. 🙂

    August 31, 2008 at 6:37 pm |
  7. Jolene

    I'm hoping that the people (and pets) get evacuated and I'm praying that everyone else staying to cover the hurricane remains safe and the levees don't break. Thanks for giving us a show tonight so we can be informed. CNN = Hurricane Headquarters!

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    August 31, 2008 at 6:27 pm |
  8. Derek Collie

    Hey Buddy, take care and PLEASE be safe. When Katrina came through those in control were NOT taking responsibilty for handling the problem in such a bad way. I loved how you handled Mary Landrieu. Please do not let these politicians get away with it. You did not last time and I know you will be on your toes and call those out who try to justify themselves. You are "real" and you truly care about others. Never let that change about you. I will be watching. THANKS!

    August 31, 2008 at 6:27 pm |
  9. Sharon Nelson

    I hope you will be safe. I remember well your willingness not to be polite (in fact, you were angry) with Senator Landrieu when she thanked other President Bush and other politicians for what they were doing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Took some guts. I have admired you since.

    I evacuated out of New Orleans, also on a Sunday, before Katrina hit on a Monday three years ago. I remember it well. So much that went wrong in all of it – when some of it didn't need to happen.

    Anderson, keep them honest and be safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:26 pm |
  10. Alina in Miami Fl


    As a Florida resident, we are use to evacuations and storm preparations as well as the impact of these storms. I am glad to see that people have indeed evacuated from the area. Stay safe and I hope you and the other CNN folks stay safe. I will keep you guys in my prayers as well that rest of the Gulf Coast.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:24 pm |
  11. missy

    Anderson, thank you for all of your dedication and hard work on NOLA, Gustav, and Katrina.

    Please remember, though, that NOLA is by far NOT the only place affected by this and other hurricanes, and mention of them now and again would be appreciated. Having spent time in Biloxi helping to rebuild homes there, it is wonderful to know and meet so many thankful people there.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:24 pm |
  12. Martin Nouvell

    Mr. Anderson:

    Your covering of Katrina made me believe a newsperson could actually be capable and competent and indeed make a huge difference for the good. Thank you for all you did then and are donig now for NOLA and the whole area.

    My brother was there with his dog last time and – having worked all this time to help rebuild this special drowned city - is there this time with his dog.

    My gratitude is with you - my prayers are with him, his dog, you, and everyone else.

    May the county's love surround you with safety.


    August 31, 2008 at 6:18 pm |
  13. Betty Ann Taylor, Nacogdoches,TX

    P.S. Do you think we are experiencing global warming much?

    August 31, 2008 at 6:13 pm |
  14. Chris Baton Rouge, LA

    Stay safe dude, I will be riding it out in Baton Rouge. Looking forward to watching your reports at least until we lose power.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:12 pm |
  15. rick

    Hey Anderson, very little coverage of Decadence! If any other group had 100.000 people, saying right up to the last minute they weren't leaving, wouldn't we have heard something

    Have the revellers decoded to leave?

    August 31, 2008 at 6:09 pm |
  16. Liz, Chino Hills, CA


    WIth Gustavo going on, I would be surprises if you were anywhere else! STAY SAFE!!!
    We are praying for the best for New Orleans, and your safe return!

    August 31, 2008 at 6:06 pm |
  17. Patrick


    As the Hurricane bears down on the Gulf Coast we are once again reminded of Katrina and while we are all lost in all these and making comparisons, let's not forget that the christian religion teaches that we shouldn't wish ill upon our brothers and sisters. It wasn't too long ago that some conservative christian group begged for people to pray for it to rain during the DNC convention. It now seems the RNC convention is in a mess because of GUSTAV. While their prayers were answered it seems to me that the good lord decided to wait untill a few days later. Lessons Learned or NOT!!!

    August 31, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  18. Christian

    Stay safe Anderson.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  19. Nikki

    Hi Anderson

    Please stay safe, I love watching your coverage
    you are the Best on CNN - I love your
    commentary and your delivery. Please stay safe
    and be careful -
    I will be watching your show tonight
    I love Anderson Cooper - I am so glad CNN gave
    you your own show

    Take care, Nikki in California

    August 31, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  20. Naissa, Texas, USA

    Hey Anderson,

    Wow, I cannot believe you are staying there through the storm, but at the same time, I am extremely proud of you for doing so. When Dolly hit us earlier this year, it was frightening. I can only imagine what the people of NOLA feel like right now.

    If you see any stray animals, please find a way to get them to safety, too!

    Please be careful, and stay safe..all of you.

    Love, Nai

    August 31, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
  21. Isabella, California

    I bet those crabcakes were good, stay safe!

    August 31, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
  22. Betty Ann Taylor, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hi Anderson,
    Well here we go again. ;-( I'm here in Nacogdoches,TX. where The first hurricane that ever hit this oldest town in Texas was Rita. Now Gustav is promising to hit Nac with hurricane force winds.
    I'm glad you are there to cover New Orleans. Do you feel a little de ja vu-doo? YIKES!
    Take care and take cover Anderson. I knew we could count on you to be in NOLA!
    Let's all be careful out there.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:54 pm |
  23. lucius D. brettell

    Hi Anderson; I hope and pray that you will be O.K. i am sitting here and enjoying the fine sunshine and the nice weather. I guess we are lucky that we have not had a bad storm. THE BEST LOCATION IN THE NATION. brettelllucius@yahoo.com

    August 31, 2008 at 5:53 pm |
  24. H-Man in San Antonio

    Semper Gumby, Anderson. "Always Flexible."

    Keep you people as safe as you can as you do such an important job. These are times where the Founding Fathers did it right by recognizing the Fifth Estate

    August 31, 2008 at 5:45 pm |
  25. Emma

    Anderson and the CNN crew, please be careful. I've heard Gustav will be worse than Katrina. I look forward to seeing you this evening.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:45 pm |
  26. Colleen

    It must be so scary to have to leave your home not knowing if it will be there when you come back.

    This whole situation is tragic, especially when you start to think that evacuations and danger will probably plague this area indefinitely. I sympathize with all those who live in and love this area, but the federal dollars that have and will continue to have to pour into this area is massive. All this money pouring into this small area, and with global warming bringing higher sea levels, what is the solution for a city that is already below the current sea level? It is such a terrible situation for everyone.

    I hope everyone is safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  27. Olivia in Boston

    Anderson, Please be safe, we absolutely love watching your show. Also wanted to tell you that you are by far the best news TV personality in the World. Keep up the outstanding work you are always doing! We will be praying for you and the people of NOLA.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  28. Brenda

    J'anita's on Magazine is open. Breakfast, BBQ and More. 1906 Magazine (Walmart is a few blocks behind them). 504-373-5337

    Tell Craig Brenda from FWB sent you.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  29. Janice

    Hey Anderson – Stay safe

    August 31, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  30. WesK in Skokie

    Anderson, Your desire to bring the news sometimes trumps your common sense. Just the same, stay safe because we need people like you to bring the full story to the rest of us normal people. Anderson, in my family you are known as "The Man". Good luck.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  31. Cath in Ontario Canada

    My warm thoughts and prayers for the folks in Gustav's path. No matter that some dont have the $ to leave. Go now ! ...leave...scoot..... vamoooooose .... LEAVE NOW!

    I am certain you that you can get to a shelter & be cared for. Leave now & be safe !

    And please God .... look after the cats 'n dogs and birds and critters.
    I pray that shelters will take in the residents & their pets.

    Thanks Anderson for being there ( for us) Stay safe & dont risk anything...

    Cath, in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:37 pm |
  32. Corey


    Stay safe, I evacuated the W hotel around the corner from Oceana (those Crabcakes are good) on Saturday morning. They were very organized and calm. The city had a buzz around it and even as I partied for Decadence for two nights prior you could feel the defiant tension. People danced and cried, every now and then stopping to look at each other and hug. Gustav was on everyone's mind. It was like an unspoken vow between everyone on Boubon Street to keep the spirit of New Orleans alive until the second we had to evacuate.

    And we did....

    Im glad I made those memories and I hope everyone still there is safe and sound.

    See you back at the gym here in NYC soon Anderson!

    August 31, 2008 at 5:37 pm |
  33. Judy in Ontario, Canada

    Take cover, and be safe Anderson. We are watching here in Canada, and praying for all those on the gulf coast.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  34. Deborah Roelandts

    Be Safe Anderson.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  35. Nicoletta

    I really enjoy your programs , and i will be watching tonight Please be safe. I know how hard it is to do the job you do and i applause it . My son is studying Journalism at UT Austin and he really loves it . BE SAFE

    August 31, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  36. Dave Duddingston

    Anderson –

    Smart thinking to be where the real news is taking place but, aren't you coming to Saint Paul ?

    Dave in Saint Paul, MN

    August 31, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  37. Thomas

    Please don't do the stupid "Look at me! Look at me! I'm standing outside in a hurricane" bit. It's such a cliche in journalism.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  38. Susan, Mi

    Hi Anderson:

    I will be looking forward to tonight's show. Please stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  39. Tammie

    I like the fact that you guys are brave enough to broadcast during the storm. Anderson, when people see you in town to cover a storm story, they know it's serious and they get out.

    But more importantly PLEASE BE SAFE!!!

    I'm in Baton Rouge and I'll be watching your coverage tonight.

    PS – If you and your crew want an adrenaline rush that doesn't involve weather watching or wearing a bullet proof vest, go to an LSU football game in Tiger Stadium. Go early in the day, get in on the tailgating and see what southern pride and hospitality are all about.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  40. S Callahan

    I don't know if you're brave or crazy for being there..does that tell us the brunt of the storm is going south west from where you are? .I admire your desire to keep us inform. I wonder, when Jesus returns will he get the same coverage?
    Aside from that, if this turns into the whopper I think it may be... you'll need some prayer coverage for you, and your coworkers, so we'll do our best at home to keep all of you in our prayers, and for Mr. Gore as well. God's speed to you for safety and well being.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  41. Melva in Nova Scotia

    To everyone still in New Orleans, for whatever reason......be safe.....

    August 31, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  42. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    It looks like Mother Nature is going to slam us again. My thoughts and prayers will be for zero loss of life. It will be a time when all of America will be needed to help where we can.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  43. Julie & Lisa Isaac Antigua, W.I.

    P.S. Were the crab cakes good?

    August 31, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  44. Julie & Lisa Isaac Antigua, W.I.

    Please stay safe! We'll be saying a special prayer for you; look forward to seeing the 2 hour special tonight.

    We in Antigua have experienced many bad storms. We understand the devastation that can occur to lives and property.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  45. Carol in North Carolina

    Anderson, Be safe we will be watching you. Take care, Carol

    August 31, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  46. Larry

    I am glad that a "majority" of the people decided to leave. I do question the reasons of why anyone would want to stay in the way of this beast after Katrina. To think after this people will be sitting on their roofs asking to be saved because they waited. These people are putting countless lives on the line due to their stubborness or ignorance..I hope you and the crew remain safe throughout your coverage good luck and may the lord take you all into his mercy.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  47. Neil

    Stay safe Anderson, dont do anything crazy just for a story. I dont know what i would do without this blog and your show 😉 God bless

    August 31, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  48. Dave Nelson


    Stay safe as always. where do you plan on being and how will your crews get information from other crews in the field.

    How do you compare this to Katrina so far...and what do you expect to see compared to what you saw moments before Katrina hit last time

    August 31, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  49. Laura in Chicago

    One very imp't reason to have good coverage of these situations from the "inside"; is so the rest of us in America can see if our gov't is truly prepared for disasters; and how well (or how poorly) the different branches of gov't and charitable org's work together. Mother Nature and terrorism can hit you anywhere you live, and I depend on people like Anderson to show us what's really going on; like they did during Katrina. If not for the news coverage of Katrina, I don't think we'd be seeing the response we are seeing now for Gustav. Thanks Anderson; you're the best.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  50. Maureen

    Thanks for your reassuring remarks about New Orleans. It's good to hear that it seems that lessons have been learned from the lack of preparedness with Katrina. The true definition of success is learning from past failures and not repeating them, but only focusing on those things that will bring betterment to any situation in your own life or in the lives of others. Failure is a good way to find success as long as we can turn it around for good. I keep hearing so many great things about how the gulf cities have truly made great advances in correcting the past mistakes of the Katrina time. Your article confirms these stories and it is such a good feeling for Americans to hear about how we, as citizens, working with government agencies, city agencies, and non-profit agencies can make such a difference for our communities and for our future. Thanks Anderson for covering this story by staying in the middle of the storm. Prayers and blessings to all the Gulf Cities!

    August 31, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
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