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. winar,indonesia

    whatever it takes to tell the world the story of survival and the amazing 'fight 'between nature and civilization. Stay safe to all.

    September 1, 2008 at 6:26 am |
  2. Kapmep

    Interesting. I wondered why there were so many comments praising Anderson Cooper. I posted one that was a bit critical of him, and it never appeared.

    September 1, 2008 at 4:40 am |
  3. Audrey

    Anderson and the CNN crew, stay safe and take care!

    September 1, 2008 at 3:21 am |
  4. sydney lauzon

    Hey Anderson!

    Stay safe out there! Cuz if u die who will i watch every night! There goes my social life!


    September 1, 2008 at 3:00 am |
  5. Lisa L

    Dear Anderson,

    I am thinking of you.

    I hope you and your team's safety are not comprised.

    I am praying that the storm will keep losing its intensity.

    I am supporting you from afar.


    Lisa L
    Sydney, Australia

    September 1, 2008 at 2:42 am |
  6. Akita

    You & your crew covered Katrina briliantly, but as most posts here have said, Take Care. We need you to keep them honest.

    September 1, 2008 at 1:15 am |
  7. Adana CA

    Hey Anderson and crew!
    Please stay safe I've never really paid any attention to Hurricane coverage before but there's something about Gustav that gives me chills. Tomorrow's my 18th b-day but I don't think I can celebrate as happily knowing that my MOST FAVORITE POLITICAL TEAM ON TELEVISION is in NOLA. Take good care of yourselves guys and I'll be watching the amazing coverage on my TV. And to all those people above who "tease" you about being crazy for being there I disagree. I understand why you're there risking your life for a story it's important to tell and thanks for bringing it to us live.

    Stay warm and safe,

    September 1, 2008 at 1:06 am |
  8. Caren in Los Angeles/soon-to-be-Boston

    Hey Anderson, CNN crew, and Nola. Anderson, I can't help but to keep thinking of excerpts from your book, and even though things are different this time around, I still got annoyed when I saw footage of everybody thanking each other this afternoon. It seems too soon to do that. I know all my New Orleans friends left already, but it's my Baton Rouge friends who are still there that worries me, with all the tornados and power outages. My friend Dustin said he was without power for 2.5 weeks during Katrina in Baton Rouge. I really hope that isn't even close to the case with Gustav. I hope ya'll aren't being too much of adrenaline-junkies, and will listen when you're told to leave too! Stay as safe as you can!

    September 1, 2008 at 1:03 am |
  9. Genevieve M, TX

    Watch out for flying debris!!! Remember that sign that came too close to you and the camera crew during Katrina?

    August 31, 2008 at 11:57 pm |
  10. deborah, OH

    Just saw the show & your updates, Anderson. Looks like you guys & ladies have it covered all ways.
    Good, also, to see you, Anderson, back doing what you do the best!
    Again, be safe all of you...
    PS-you look great, Anderson!-sorry, HAD to say it!

    August 31, 2008 at 11:39 pm |
  11. Sasha K. from NJ

    Well it's good to know he's alive! Hahahaha... I got really scaried there when he got cut off the air! Jeez, those are some tough bartenders to still be down there. My be with all the people down there...

    August 31, 2008 at 11:38 pm |
  12. Max, Dallas, TX

    Keep safe, 360 producers, cameramen, and Anderson. You're all doing great and important work.

    August 31, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  13. lpfoong, Malaysia

    Are you kidding me? You and your crew are going to stay and be in the thick of this unpredictable hurricane? I'm lost for words.
    When my sister and her family were still in Thailand recently amidst the protests and I wasn't sure whether they will encounter problems getting out on Saturday, I was worried. The people who care about each and everyone of you will worry. Some more, some less depending on how often you put them through these type of situations I guess. Does the word 'worry' exist in your vocabulary?
    Anyway, the elderly gentleman came into mind and if I'm not mistaken, not long ago he brought his wife back home, right? If so, oh dear...now he and his wife have to leave again. I hope they are alright and his home will be too as well as for everyone who are affected by the storm.
    New Orleans is not the only place that will be hit. What about the other areas? Are they equally equipped to face this storm?
    Since the lot of you think it's worth your while to risk your lives reporting on this, do stay safe and we really would like to see you alive and well when the storm is over.
    Take care.

    August 31, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  14. Annette L


    Just wanted to add to the many wishes for you and your crew to stay safe.

    I cannot believe that the Gulf Coast is going to get battered once again. We are praying for all the residents in harms way tonight.

    Take care,

    Annette L in NJ

    August 31, 2008 at 11:07 pm |
  15. Heather,ca


    Forgot the most important thing of all. I want to say thank you to you and extend that to everyone who works with you on your program and at CNN. All of you are selfless people who provide us the home viewing and radio listening audience with important information and at the same time risking your own lives for us. So I say thank you and bravo for the incredible work you have and continue to do.Thank you for always showing the honest truth and not scripted drama for ratings. I know I have a better understanding and appreciation for all that is in involved before during and after a storm. I thank you again for the service you provide.Please stay safe tonight.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:54 pm |
  16. Chuck

    After reading the posts all I can comment is...wow.

    Thanks to all of CNN for the continued coverage.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:54 pm |
  17. shelly

    You (and your hard working crew) are the VERY reason I watch CNN... (I didn't want to say ONLY thought that might get edited out)

    Stay safe... I can't imagine the news without you!

    August 31, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
  18. Beth

    Anderson I have been watching your report and heard that gas prices may reach over 4.00 a gallon next week. When Katrina hit many churches including mine were there to help with food and money and supplies. Three years ago as I wasn't in the position to choose gas or food for my family with a winter heating bill coming that I am not sure how I will pay. I gave money to help victims of Katrina...I can't afford to help this time. I am sure I am not alone and it breaks my heart.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:49 pm |
  19. Rachel

    Hi Anderson:

    No one will cover this better than you and no one will show more compassion to New Orleans. Your coverage of Katrina was honest and moving. I'm a writer who was blessed with the opportunity to interview a family of 9th ward Katrina refugees in Alabama. I know you witnessed the horrors they experienced first hand and gave them a voice. Thank you for that!!

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and all the media in NOLA!
    Be safe!

    August 31, 2008 at 10:46 pm |
  20. Ariston, FL


    I would begin by saying be safe, but I know you all will try to. I'm sure it must be exciting to be there and reporting the pre, during and post storm.

    I wish well to the people of Nola.


    Ariston, Fl

    August 31, 2008 at 10:46 pm |
  21. sophia


    August 31, 2008 at 10:43 pm |
  22. Rick

    Let me commend you on your dedication to the story of New Orleans that began 3 years ago and is taking another turn with Gustav. Your coverage of the devastation and the devastating governmental response to Katrina has been exceptional. May things be much different this time.

    You should have one of your editors listen to "If New Orleans is Beat" by the Tragically Hip. This song was released by the band the year before Katrina hit. It has a particular poignancy when listened to now and might be something worth using in one of your next pieces about this ongoing tragedy.

    God bless.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
  23. Debbie, Denham Springs, Louisiana

    To Jim:

    I don't really think this is the appropriate forum for you to bash New Orleans, but since you brought it up...my ancestors were KICKED out of Cananda and forced to find places to live after many of them were killed. What the Cajuns endured was what we now call ethnic cleansing. As a direct descendent of the Acadians, I take offense at your suggestion that New Orleans shouldn't have been rebuilt. And by the way...you obviously haven't been there lately otherwise you'd alter your opinion of what is considered to be " rebuilt." The Cajuns made a life out of nothing in South Louisiana and this is OUR HOME. How dare you minimize what NOLA has gone through. You wouldn't recognize empathy if it bit you on the butt.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:30 pm |
  24. Joy

    Hi Anderson and all the staff down there with you, Keep up the great reporting and coverage, Anderson you do such a good job you really get to the human side of each story we need more reporters like you! Please stay safe, and keep wearing those black t-shirts. This is for the blooger who thinks the RNC is in Mich. it's in St.Paul Minn.! Anyhow stay safe we need you in this world!! Godspeed AC!

    August 31, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  25. Sarah( florida)


    I just saw your broadcast. Please, please stay safe. I sort of figured you'd be there covering this natural disaster.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  26. Luis A. Guzman


    Thank you for being there and reporting. I know–not easy. May God protect you and the crew. Take care!!


    August 31, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  27. Jill

    Anderson & the CNN Crew,

    This is exactly how I first got started watching CNN, when I was glued to the screen during Katrina. Three years later and 6 months spent in the Gulf Coast through AmeriCorps, I can't tell you how much it means to me personally that, through it all, you guys never forgot the people down there.

    Keep up the good work, keep us posted and stay safe.

    I'll be back with the first wave of rebuilders. See you then.
    Thanks again.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  28. Diane N.

    Excellent post Sherry Davidson. We here in Florida are still getting the outer bands of this storm despite not being in cone, we're getting the feeder bands on the east coast at that and still have Hanna to contend with. I think of Mississippi also, lost many lives, you don't hear about them much either. I think it's time for CNN to Keep New Orleans honest.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:11 pm |
  29. Carolyn

    My family stopped to have a moment of silence and send our prayers to all the potential victims. As a Nurse Practitioner, I am very concerned as to the triage system for evacuation with Gustav. How did they determine who was unable to move? The sickest patients require the most technological intervention. And what about their families. Did we learn enough to train them in how to fully participate or are they alone in their dual anxiety. I hope we gained some insight for these patients' cared if a post Katrina scenario ensues. Could we here from Dr Gupta on these challenged and vulnerable folks.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:09 pm |
  30. C.L., Chicago


    I'm an ex New Orleanian watching from Chicago. As you well know, you can leave the city, but it remains in your heart forever. This is surreal.

    Thank you for your always thoughtful coverage of 'home'.
    Be safe and well. We need you in one piece!


    P.S. Wellington & Co. is about 20' to the left of where you're broadcasting... it belongs to friends of mine... keep an eye out for it???

    August 31, 2008 at 10:09 pm |
  31. Jim

    A long time ago there was a Man who knew a storm was comming.
    He told his neibors as He made preperations- His neibors didn't listen & when the storm came he was the only one ready- He & his wife & his 3 sons & their wives survided.- Does the name NOAH ring any bells?
    A wise man learns from the past- the fool does not learn & does the same things done in the past expecting different results.
    When the Governor says " GET YOUR BUTT OUT NOW" It does not mean sit there & ride out the Storm or cover the news NO story is worth a life, no property is worth a life.Things can be rebuilt & replaced- PEOPLE cannot be.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:07 pm |
  32. Lynne Watson

    Hi Anderson,

    Please stay safe, I look forward to your reports you always do them so well, don't put yourself in any danger just for a good story.

    Lynne Watson

    August 31, 2008 at 10:02 pm |
  33. Marjorie

    Hi Anderson,
    Glad to hear you were able to enjoy a good meal before the storm. I'm sure that would make your Mom happy. You are reporting that the people are able to take their pets with them but another report showed some birds that had to be left behind at the airport because people were told not to bring their pets. I also saw a report that fees were being lowered for anyone interested in adopting pets from the evacuaton. So do these folks get their pets back if they leave with them? How is the system for evacuating pets working? I'm sure there are still many people who will not leave without their animals. Stay safe Anderson and company.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  34. teri kirby

    anderson and 360 crew. please be safe as you give us honest reports as to what is happening. anderson you are my and my grandchildren's favorite news person. you have a special gift of compassion, humility and most of all you give us the truth. stay safe as you keep us informed.
    teri and grandchildren

    August 31, 2008 at 9:53 pm |
  35. Susan Lemarie


    I hope you got some of those crab cakes to go! I also hope you have a nice supply of PowerBars for the days ahead. Bless you for staying with the story - stay safe.

    Susan Lemarie, Fairfax, VA

    August 31, 2008 at 9:50 pm |
  36. Uma, Liverpool, UK

    Dear Anderson,

    Of course I'm a fan! ;-D

    Your 'reporter's notebook' entries are some of the most beautiful, effective, evocative, potent, poetic uses of the English language that I've run across in *any* medium. You paint mind-pictures with the finest calligraphy strokes. Your gift with language is beyond exceptional. I do not praise people often, for the sheer elegance of their writing. Alas, there is all too little to praise.

    Your prose/poetry is like finding a hand-loomed Persian rug, in an ocean of wall-to-wall carpeting.

    That's why I stay up for your show.

    Be safe. Thank you.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:50 pm |
  37. Elizabeth Harvey

    Hi Anderson and the Best Political Team in the world. I am originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast - Gulfport, Mississippi, and I went through Hurricane Katrina. While we all appreciate CNN's coverage of Hurricane Gustav and so much media coverage in New Orleans, I am asking that CNN also provide sufficient coverage on the surrounding cities in close proximity. You, Wolf Blitzer, and other members of the CNN media team, keep saying that Hurricane Gustav will hit either southwest Loiusiana or south Louisiana. Please let the nation know what cities and towns make up Southwest and Southern Louisiana – those cities that are south of New Orleans – Houma, Morgan City, and other towns. Everyone is aware that New Orleans will be affected by Hurricane Gustav, but it is only fair to let the world know about the other cities and towns that may be affected by Hurricane Gustav more so than New Orleans. The way that CNN is covering the Hurricane, It looks like New Orleans is the only city on the Gulf Coast. I love New Orleans, and I love CNN. Thanks.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:45 pm |
  38. Darlene - Niagara Falls, Canada

    I've been watching CNN's coverage of the national convention(s) & of the coverage of Hurricane Gustav. It's habit, I come home from work & I have to watch CNN.

    I was watching your broadcast at 8pm tonight, & I don't think that the actual gravity of the situation that you, your colleagues & those who stay actually hit me until your signal was lost. I mean, I know that hurricanes & high winds are devastating. But the little glimpse that I had when the weather moved in so fast & your signal was lost really hit home. Where I live we have snow storms, and if we have one that's really bad, we can put the snow in dump truck and truck it away. Whereas with storms such as hurricanes, it leaves behind destruction and damage and WATER. What can you do with the water? You can't drink it, you can't use it for any reason really. We are at the mercy of how fast the water recedes before decisions can be made about rebuilding or moving.
    All those that live in NOLA, all the police & security personnel and those like yourself, that will put their lives in danger so that the rest of the world can have a bird's eye view are in my thoughts & prayers this evening.
    Be safe! We like seeing you every night. I personally know I speak for many when I say that the world wouldn't be the same without you here.
    Take care & I look forward to seeing you on Monday. ...:)

    August 31, 2008 at 9:45 pm |
  39. Kat, North Carolina

    Hi Anderson,

    I love the way you cover a story...the human side. Please be safe.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:45 pm |
  40. Karen


    We love you on Canada's far east coast.

    Stay safe and please, keep doing what you and your fine crew do best.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:44 pm |
  41. Steve in Calrsbad

    Be safe, I cannot imagine Wolf turned loose without your thumb on the facts!!

    August 31, 2008 at 9:43 pm |
  42. Cindy Kimbrell

    Hello to Mr. Anderson Cooper. I first noticed you in the coverage of Katrina. I was very impressed and try to watch everything you cover.
    I actually was surprised to see you on 60 min. tonite!
    You are a great reporter, and show an interest in what you are covering....a genuine interest.. Thank you.
    I am keeping you all in my prayers from Tallahasse Florida.
    I noticed you already got a proposal! So, I won't go there. LOL
    I will wait and meet you first.
    God be with you!

    August 31, 2008 at 9:42 pm |
  43. Linda Ames

    Anderson, all is not well with the evacuation. Family members are on I-59 now (9:40 p.m.) – they left Gretna LA at 6:00 a.m. and have not even reached Hattiesburg MS. All exits are closed off. The southbound lane that was open to northbound traffic has now been reversed. Maybe you need to report on that... find out what can be done to improve that situation. As I said, all is not well as one might think or as you have reported. Please help, if you can. Thank you.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:41 pm |
  44. Sarah, Indiana

    Are we really doing this again? I can't believe this is happening.....Be careful, stay safe. Thanks for not only covering the storm, but also not letting us forget after the storm. We're watching you and waiting to see if we'll be needed in the aftermath...I pray we're not.

    Bless you...

    August 31, 2008 at 9:41 pm |
  45. Sandra, Wadley Ga.

    Dear Anderson and CNN Crew:

    I hope you all get a little rest tonight. In anticipation of a storm of this magnitude, sleep will probably not come easy. Please be safe and may God Bless you and all who reside in the path of this storm. I am so glad the good folks at the Oceana Grill fed you (crabcakes, yummy).

    August 31, 2008 at 9:41 pm |
  46. Uma, Liverpool, UK

    Dear Anderson,

    I stay up until stupid o'clock in the mornings (here) to watch your show. I guess you might call me a fan. 😎

    Godspeed to you and your colleagues this night. All of your courage, and dedication, to bring the reality of Gustav into the homes of people all over the world, is most laudable. Most laudable, indeed. Possibly reckless and foolhardy, (not words I ever associated with Ali Velshi before 😉 ) but truly laudable.

    It was good to see the evacuation and so forth, moving efficiently.

    During Katrina, I was dumb and useless, in Denver. 🙁 My blood is apparently counterfeit, as no blood bank has ever accepted it. I have skills they needed, but it was too late, by the time I was trying to sign on.

    Now, I watch from Liverpool, and consider the melting Arctic, and the port-cities of Britain. I fret pointlessly about the millions of flood victims in Bihar.

    Mostly, I watch you, and look at my still-valid CO driver's licence, ;'( wishing I were there... to help in any way I could.

    Be safe. Thank you all.

    Uma Devidatta,
    Liverpool, UK

    August 31, 2008 at 9:37 pm |
  47. m.l.

    I lived in new orleans while working on the Katrina Aid Today project post Katrina. While I had mixed feeling about the city while living there, I am saddened that the city must endure this whole process again. It is almost not what will happen, but the fact that as I watch Anderson's newscast I realize that America has no real concept that the city is still not recovered. The number of people who cant afford insurance, are still rebuilding, and are still grieving is astronomical. It is so much more than just New Orleans too. Every parish in the surrounding areas is still struggling. I hope that there is a real process in place to take care of these people when this is over. The case management of these people will be essential. Watching the relief work on t.v. is easy. The govt does not want to look bad twice. But the follow-up of what happens 90 days, 6 mos and 1 year from now is what we need to be looking for. It will be just like Katrina after November 4th. Out of site, out of mind. Thanks, Anderson, for trying to keep this topic in the news.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:35 pm |
  48. Edward


    I really enjoy your coverage of Hurricane Gustav and admire your bravery to be standing in the path of what could be a devastating storm. I really hope everyone evacutates New Orleans and southern parts of Louisiana and I pray that everything will be okay once the storm makes landfall. Until then I'll be watching what unfolds...

    August 31, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
  49. jim

    What are you guys crazy. New Orleans should have never been rebuilt. It is a city built 9feet under sea level. Was Katrina not enough of a show of mother natures force for people understand that you should not try and live under water level in an area wear storms can come in with little notice?

    August 31, 2008 at 9:32 pm |
  50. Wendell

    Hi Anderson!

    Thanks for the coverage. I will be intently watching the outcome of this hurricane.

    Be safe!

    August 31, 2008 at 9:31 pm |
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