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. shira in california

    I wish we could wake up tomorrow morning to nothing but good news about the Gulf Coast and one of the most unique cities in the world. Take care, and please, please, take care of the strays.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:31 pm |
  2. Mary H. St. Louis, MO

    I really can't believe another storm of this magnitude is going to hit the Gulf. It does look like the city is taking better efforts to get people evacuated. Let's hope the flooding is not as bad, we can only hope...

    Stay safe AC and CNN crew and I hope the officials who are staying, police, firemen, etc also stay safe..

    August 31, 2008 at 9:30 pm |
  3. celeste

    Hey Anderson stay safe please! I am a Loyola alumni from Puerto Rico. Please keep us informed about volunteering after the hurricane. I am willing to go there. thanks

    August 31, 2008 at 9:28 pm |
  4. Bonnie MacKenzie

    I understand why you are there.
    Life pummels all of us.
    It's part of the learning curve and increases our depth.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:27 pm |
  5. Pat McKee

    Hi Anderson I was in New Orleans last year and ate at the Oceana
    The crab cakes were fabulous.
    I was in New Orleans in the spring following Katrina to and it was so sad.
    I can't imagine the residents having to go through this again
    My daughter Sabrina and i are watching you.
    Keep safe

    August 31, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  6. Charlotte D

    OK Anderson,

    You heard the Mayor. Obey the curfew and stay out of trouble. I am glad you will be reporting tonight. Rick Sanchez was driving me crazy last night with his broad misstatements re how messed up things were, only to be contradicted by the reporter on the scene. It was like he wanted things to be going badly and reporting it that way made it so. Remember–fair and balanced.

    I was just in NOLA this June and the thought of all that hard restoration work going under again is heart breaking. If you are out and about, one of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the WWII Museum near the Convention Cengter. Have they battened down the hatches OK there? The docents told visitors not only about their experiences during WWII but how they lost everything to Katrina. I bet those vintage volunteers will be back at their posts before anyone

    Stay safe. As I strolled the Farmer's Market after church this morning, I thought of all those resiliant New Orleanians who were having quite a different Sunday morning than myself. God bless them and keep them safe from harm.

    Charlotte D, Stockton Ca
    PS: And I love crab cakes. I bet yours were yummy.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:20 pm |
  7. Carly,AL

    Hey Anderson,

    like all the others here, i too will keep you and NOLA in my prayers......i do believe that people have learned there lesson from Katrina....the massive evacuation going on is historic its self....i live in the Alabama where i attend a two year college and we are taking people who are being evacuated by the storm... i remember, after Katrina hit, how many people came here......not knowing what happened back home......the damage that was done.......not know if they would be able to rebuild.......or even if they will return back home.....it was really sad and something thing i could not imagen happening.....so I hope you and your crew stay safe.......by the way you are awsome.....just wanted ya to know that....awsome...

    August 31, 2008 at 9:18 pm |
  8. Ann Goth

    Thank you for the awesome coverage of the storm. I have been to New Orleans three times since Katrina to volunteer and to help rebuild. All of the residents that I met their struggles and stories that I have heard are on my mind. I just hope that when I do return to New Orleans, that it is to take a vacation, and to connect with the people that I had helped.
    Stay safe!

    August 31, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  9. Debbie, Denham Springs, Louisiana

    I live in Denham Springs, 12 miles from Baton Rouge. I'm terrified right now. We are under a tornado warning. My dad and aunt had to leave Iberia Parish last night-mandatory evacuation. They arrived here around 8:30 pm. Everyone out there, please pray for us. And thanks to CNN and the Weather Channel for being here with us through this difficult time.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:11 pm |
  10. Kathy, Chicago

    I'm watching the coverage and grateful that you are there. You will cover the story like no one else. I hope NOLA is better prepared and the levees hold this time. This is the last thing this area needs, with the price of oil and NOLA trying to get back on track. Please be safe!

    August 31, 2008 at 9:03 pm |
  11. Gigi

    I lived in New Orleans for 4.5 wonderful years. I had never cried as hard as when Katrina almost destroyed my N'awlins completely. Please Lord, not again.... New Orleans is a jewel which cannot be replaced....

    Cooper and crew stay safe.

    Godspeed Big Easy!!

    August 31, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  12. maureen wheelhouse

    Anderson, My thoughts and prayers are with all of you there in New Orleans...thank you for reporting the news so well and so fairly...
    stay dry and know that everyone is keeping you in their thoughts.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:38 pm |
  13. Zen

    Hey Anderson – Crab cakes! How lucky are you??

    So I was listening to Wolf in my car this afternoon talking about how the RNC may be shortened as a result of the storm; I can't help but think that if the republicans wanted to let the US know that they were on a different wavelength then Bush, they just shoulda had the convention down in NOLA instead of in Michigan. Definitely would have given you guys more helping hands if you needed 'em.

    I bet McCain's got a pair o' sea boots!

    Be safe Anderson (and you're crew), Y'ALL ROCK!! ya hear me?

    August 31, 2008 at 8:38 pm |
  14. Apolonia, Cali

    Anderson, Just like our up and coming next President, Barack Obama you share that same kind of gift... My God continue to bless you because you have so much more to share with the world....

    Our Country needs more amazing human beings like you and Barack Obama.... People 1st!

    Thank your mama from me, 4 u...

    Apolonia 😉

    August 31, 2008 at 8:36 pm |
  15. K in Texas

    There are few places more hospitable than New Orleans, but I pray everyone stays safe and hunkers down through this massive looking hurricane. Anderson, there's dedication to one's job and then there's YOU. Truly one of the hardest working journalist I've ever seen. I have CNN on practically 24/7. Take cover and stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:36 pm |
  16. Dee Stevens

    May God watch over all the CNN staff in New Orleans, my prayers are with all of you. Stay safe Anderson.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:31 pm |
  17. Cherisa

    It's good that many have left but I wonder how anxious they must be, wondering what happens to what they left behind. What will they come home to? And when?

    There's something weird about watching the hurricane on tv. If it feels strange to me, how must it feel for residents of Louisiana watching from a hotel or listening from a shelter?

    Take care, Anderson and crew

    August 31, 2008 at 8:28 pm |
  18. Linda, Los Angeles

    Anderson, my mom who loves you and calls you her boyfriend ( even though she and my dad have been married for 33 years) told me to tell you to be careful and safe. We are from New Orleans. She is a nurse who had to stay at the hospital for 10 days during Katrina, so she knows.

    Be safe!

    August 31, 2008 at 8:27 pm |
  19. Hugh Keough

    Anderson: WEAR A HELMET and a PFD when reporting. You could even make it a helmet camera to look like you are still macho and not trying to really protect yourself. Set a trend. be a leader in the safety department. You could even put the CNN logo on the camera and maybe some other sponsors too, like home depot. These other affiliates follow your lead. The pFD will keep you warm and shield your torso from debeis. You could wear it under you rain gear. Be safe! WEAR A HELMET!
    Hugh Keough, ESQ.
    Davie, FL

    August 31, 2008 at 8:26 pm |
  20. Joe Hunkins

    So, how were the Crab Cakes?

    Good luck to New Orleans!

    August 31, 2008 at 8:26 pm |
  21. Charlene Littleton

    God Bless you for your dedication to news coverage and the City of New Orleans. Hold tight, stand strong, and may Godspeed.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:25 pm |
  22. Opal Bostic

    Hello Anderson,
    When you reported on Hurricane katrina three years ago, I remember you saying that the leveys were being repaired to pre- Katrina Status. If they were not strong enough to hold the water back during a Cat 3 storm, then they will not be strong enough for a Cat 4 or 5. In a conversation with one of your experts we learned that it is indeed possible to build the leveys strong enough to hold the water back and it all comes down to money. If we can spend billions of dollars in Iraq, then surely we can make one of our cities safe by spending whatever it takes to make it safe during a hurricane.. This is a question that I would like to see given to each of our presidential candidates.
    Thank you for doing a great job reporting on Katrina and now Gustav.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:20 pm |
  23. Ruben Sepulveda

    You Cooper are a brave man.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:17 pm |
  24. Jamie in Alabama

    I admire the spirit and the humor of New Orleans residents. I'll pray for their safety and hope that all of my favorite places are still there when I next visit! Stay safe...

    August 31, 2008 at 8:17 pm |
  25. Tracey - Boston

    Hi Anderson,

    I’ve been keeping better track of Gustav than Katrina. When Katrina hit and the people didn’t leave I thought they deserved what they got. I felt ashamed after see the pics and realizing how many people don’t have cars and were unable to leave. I was also furious after watching hundreds of school buses wading in water.

    I hope you enjoyed the crabcakes. My best to you and your crew.

    I started to watch and you were gone. GET OUTTA THERE!!

    August 31, 2008 at 8:16 pm |
  26. Lori, Boston

    Hi Anderson,

    Thank you for all you do. Stay safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:14 pm |
  27. Laura in Chicago

    One more thing; before Katrina I and probably most of us in the U.S. had a false sense of security regarding our gov't's ability to respond, after all; it's our tax dollars and they have multiple agencies full of "experts" in emergency response. What we saw during Katrina was eye-opening for the nation. I've formed the opinion that newscasters on-site during these types of situations is critical to our country's continued safety and success. I'm not sure how many people realize the number of oil rigs and the importance of the Mississippi River for barge traffic; which for example moves coal to heat & cool homes from Louisiana to Chicago. NOLA is much more than jazz and gumbo. We have to fight to make sure that government does not forbid these guys from being present; which they might like to do in some situations to prevent us from knowing the whole story. Thanks.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:07 pm |
  28. Martina Ilstad Germany

    Hey Anderson
    Take care for yourself.you do a hard work.i watch what happen there.
    i wish you a good night,from far away ingermany.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:01 pm |
  29. Bobby


    We are keeping the city of New Orleans and you all in our prayers. Thanks for keeping everyone on their toes and protecting this very important city. I have friends in the city and I know that they are safe in Atlanta. Please be safe as well.

    Take care

    August 31, 2008 at 8:00 pm |
  30. RR Princeton, NJ

    Hello Anderson. Although I am both impressed & grateful for the courageous on-the-spot coverage you provide during disasters, your safety & that of your CNN crew concerns me. You have become like family to those of us who have watched you over the years. I hope that you will not take unnecessary risks just for the sake of a story during this horrible storm.

    Your safety is worth much more than the story, Anderson. Stay well.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  31. Andrew

    Where do you stay during the storm?

    August 31, 2008 at 7:52 pm |
  32. Minou, New York City

    Hi Anderson,
    I'm glad you are in New Orleans.

    Got a question : has anybody looked after the homeless people??
    Many of them are mentally ill, and shouldn't be on the street to begin with. It breaks my heart to think some might die, just because they don't understand what's going on. Were social workers deployed to collect the homeless and bring them to a shelter?

    Looking forward to your special tonite.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:50 pm |
  33. Claire in NH

    Even way up north at the top of the country, I will be riveted to my television watching your coverage. It is so difficult to know that such devastation is happening right here in the US, while we are so far away and feeling so powerless. Thank you for bringing us there to see it firsthand. Stay safe Anderson and crew!

    August 31, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  34. Michael


    When do you sleep? Being where you are now is a big change from last week. Thanks for the hard work you do....I bet Wolf wishes he was with you.....Stay safe!

    August 31, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  35. suzanne

    Thank you to you and your crew for putting yourselves in harm's way. Be safe. It's not like we need to see how long you can stand against the wind again. It's the progress of the storm, and especially it's aftermath, that will help us all find a way to help, even from the distance.

    I think it was a reporter in London who said that Katrina exposed the underbelly of the United States. Hopefully, with all the agencies better prepared, America will do a better job this time.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  36. Pamela Jordan

    Hi, Anderson!

    This is why I love this City- unwavering faith in what was, what is, and what is to be no matter what that turns out to be. This wonderful place has more heart than any other place I know and will always stand in some way, shape, or form, storm battered or rebuilt 3x over.

    To my beloved NOLA, Godspeed and take care of each other out there.

    Now I need to go find some of those crabcakes here in D.C. You got me craving!!


    August 31, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  37. F. Shaw

    Looking forward to the show tonight. It's nice to see that lessons have been learned, but I do have to say, I am wondering where they are putting all these people that have been evacuated, and if the devestation is as bad as they think it will be, how long with the "govenment response" last? We all know how much was still left undone from Katrina.
    On an up note, hope the crab cakes were good. Keep safe, and keep writing. I'm thinking you might have more "dispatches from the edge" in you after this one.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:27 pm |
  38. Heather


    I heard and I am sorry to say I forget which network(I was listening to the news on Sirius).I heard that the homeless have been denied evacuation out of N.O. because they had no identification. Could you please find out if this is true. I hope it's a incorrect report. People involved with the evacuation need to remember that there are people who are homeless living in NO. It's time for compassion. Please find out if it's true and if it is if the officials have found a way to help these people. Just because they are homeless doesn't make them bad people.

    Stay safe Anderson and all of you. Be careful. Reporting isn't worth your life. All of you at CNN are the best!

    August 31, 2008 at 7:22 pm |
  39. Russ in Kansas City

    Anderson and everyone at CNN....

    You guys have been amazing and a blessing to watch on tv. I honestly wonder if Wolf Blitzer gets food and sleep with as much as I have seen him on tv during the DNC and now this hurricane mess. The way things are shaping up, Gustav is going to be a worse hurricane than Katrina. I am not sure how much more devastating it could be, but I try not to think that way. Lots of women I talk to say they love Anderson Cooper. I love Anderson, but not because of the reasons many women talk of, but because Anderson and all of CNN are really great reporters and broadcasters. Many other networks and local affiliates need to learn what it takes to put on a great broadcast.

    Now while I sit back and drink some suds, I am pondering if the RNC will even begin tomorrow...

    August 31, 2008 at 7:19 pm |
  40. Clint


    Stay safe and thanks for your reporting!

    Hurricanes won't stop hitting New Orleans.
    Sea levels are rising. All the experts new the a hurricane like Katrina would eventually hit the city and flood it. And experts knew another hurricane like Gustav would come again.

    It's not a secret that New Orleans will be flooded over and over during the decades to come. But, people don't want to hear that they should relocate.

    Tell people what they want to hear & you get elected. Tell them the truth and you save lives. It's obvious what is important to our politicians.

    I pray for the safety of the people of New Orleans and all affected by Gustav.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:16 pm |
  41. Julie


    Thank you so much for covering this scary storm. Our prayers will be with you and the folks on the gulf coast! Stay Safe!

    Julie and Oliver
    Carlsbad, CA

    August 31, 2008 at 7:16 pm |
  42. Julie


    Thank you so much for covering this scary storm. Our prayers will be with you and the folks on the gulf coast! Stay Safe!

    Julie and Oliver

    August 31, 2008 at 7:15 pm |
  43. deborah, OH

    PS. Just read the rest of the stories-really good coverage!
    Stay safe & be careful Drew, Kay, David, Jim, & Ric, too.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:14 pm |
  44. deborah, OH

    Thanks for keeping us informed, Anderson. Your story is really great, & makes us feel like we are there. Stay safe, & try not to get blown sideways again! Please be careful.

    To all CNN reporters, Gary, Don, Ali, etc., be safe & be careful as you can.

    Looking forward to your show. Again, take care.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:08 pm |
  45. sheila johnson

    hey i agree with sherry davidson. i too live in fla. i guess we floridians just know how to take care of ourselves. we certainly did not get any national coverage of this sort last week when fay hit. i really don't even remember being mentioned at all during the DNC. what is so special about new orleans?

    August 31, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  46. Amy

    I appreciate all the efforts of you and your crew.I know that you will do what you do( being best as always ),but for God's sake take care of yourself!
    This time,hopefully, New Orleans residents will be safe and sound after this hurricane..
    Bless you all..

    August 31, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  47. marlon

    Anderson, stay safe and may god bless you guys for a well done job. May god also bless everybody from the city of New Orleans. CNN Rules!

    August 31, 2008 at 7:05 pm |
  48. Mac - San Jose Calif

    Hope that everyone fares better this time, especially including dogs & cats & all other critters.

    Thanks for being there - at least you're well fed (hope those crab cakes were served with caper sauce).

    August 31, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
  49. Ms Cindy

    Thank You Mr Cooper for continuing to cover our city through Katrina and now through Gustav. My city is a family place and we all are loyal to most and you Mr. Cooper are a part of our family. I currently live in the ninth ward and plan on returning when everything is over. I pray that FEMA will support all states involved from Florida to Texas and whoever else is affected by any disaster. We are as strong as New York and California and will rebuild and start over as many times as we need to. Please world don't judge us or the husband who lost his wife because he chose to ride the storm, just pray that God will see him through this because God already knows his plan.Stay safe and Thank God for Mr Cooper.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:03 pm |
  50. Paul in Calgary


    First of all, our prayers are with all the folks across the Golf coast. Secondly, to everyone staying behind and putting themselves in harms way...stay safe! Covering these storms seems to come naturally to you now. What kind of preparations does your production crew go through? I find it fascinating that how you have covered these natual disasters. My family and I will be watching.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:55 pm |
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