August 31st, 2008
04:56 PM ET

NOLA City Hall: Get out, and get out now

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/31/art.nola.bus.jpg]

John Couwels
CNN Producer

"Get out, and get out now" is the first thing I heard from city officials as I began to ride out the storm at New Orleans city hall. At an early Sunday morning press conference officials continued to plead with residents to leave the city. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin also warned following the storm looting would not be tolerated.

For those inside city hall, only 'super' non- essential personnel will be staying in town to ride out the storm. All other local government employees are to leave the city. During the storm those left in the building could be evacuated to the Super Dome across the street if the building was badly damaged said City Council President Jacquelyn Clarkson. The Super Dome following Katrina was reinforced to withstand 200 mph giving city official an alternate plan.

Throughout city hall, desks are covered with plastic, electrical equipment unplugged and tension inside is increasing with the winds outside.

Filed under: Hurricane Gustav
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Big A

    John, great story, stay safe.

    September 1, 2008 at 12:08 am |
  2. Frank in Conway AR

    With the governor and the mayor urging everyone to get out of town before Hurricane Gustov comes,I have but one question. Why were they turning homeless people who may not of had an ID. that wanted to get out of town not allowed to get on a bus and leave like the rest ? I was homeless in that town before and I was treated like I didn't exsist ,so I guess If you are homeless in this country you have no rights and are a disposible comodity! I guess this one way the mayor can get rid of the homeless problem , by arresting them and putting them in Angola prison.

    August 31, 2008 at 11:54 pm |
  3. lois - alabama

    can you please tell me about the shelter etc. that the people are going to. more so, the people that had no means of transportation. there has been no coverage on the places that they are arriving at.

    August 31, 2008 at 11:43 pm |
  4. Anna

    Where are the stories about what has happened to those who needed to be bussed out of town to shelters?

    What is it like in those shelters?

    There seems to be little will to deal with the very painful truth that the same demographic that suffered the aftermath of Katrina is again at the mercy of the Louisiana sensibility.

    A story on the logistics and planning of bussing out a predominantly black and poor population to mostly out of state shelters is necessary. What provisions have been made?

    August 31, 2008 at 11:02 pm |
  5. Anna White

    The interstates out of New Orleans are packed with people trying to get out. There is little information regarding traffic flow, alternate routes, and gas availability. Meanwhile every news outlet has someone camped in a deserted French Quarter discussing what might happen now and what did happen with Katrina. There are thousands of people trying to evacuate, stuck on interstates for hours and hours while a hurricane is rapidly approaching. These people are sitting ducks and nobody is talking about it or trying to alleviate the situation.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:08 pm |
  6. Claude Castellanos


    Stay Safe Little Buddy. You are doing a great job.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:03 pm |
  7. Elizabeth kramer

    CNN’s Abby is on scene with homeless outreach and others choosing to remain – they don’t know if officials will know where they are- abandoned houses -why haven’t citizens been notified way ahead of time how to mark the spot where they are waiting it out so overhead searchers can find them in aftermath. What happened to preemptive???

    August 31, 2008 at 8:51 pm |
  8. Martina Ilstad Germany

    hey Annderson
    it seems there leaned ,because the ask the poeple, to leave this area .
    they evacuation this area .now lets hope that it will be not so terrible.
    all we can do is pray.a lot of respect for you anderson that you see your place now is not on this election,its to be on the poeples place.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:40 pm |
  9. J Taylor

    What actions are being taken to help those persons who are not proficient in English or may not have a proper ID to understand that it is too dangerous to stay in storm prone areas? There was a report that persons without proper ID were turned away or avoiding going to bus pickup points.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:29 pm |
  10. Branden A.

    AC First off I want to tell you I regard your show as THE SOURCE.Im watching liveand your connection was just lost! I know hurricanes are very unpredictable,however,my comment was going to be somewhere along the lines of showing Katrina's path compared to Gustav's I think that would be interesting.Stay safe. News is always going to be here GREAT reporters are hard to find.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:13 pm |
  11. Aida Gonzalez

    I think this time the Government agencieshas done a great job for the most part, its will never be enough for the people because it will be those that would find something wrong.

    My concern is "IS THE GOVERNMENT GOING TO HELP THOSE PEOPLE TO RETURN HOME?" some may not have money or resources to return. I just hope that some system is in place to return those people home if all goes well.

    good luck to everyone on New Orleans.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:10 pm |
  12. SMcKnight

    Harvey Levy has a breach. It is not fixed. Hurricane Gustav will flood New Orleans. Get out now. From there. The levy is not built! The levy is open.

    St. Bernard also has serious problem but not already breached. Use your maps to find Harvey Levy in New Orleans. It cannot hold fifteen feet of water in St. Bernard, but Harvey has a breach now. Today it is open. It cannot hold even lower amounts, as it is open.

    Get out now.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:06 pm |
  13. aslak

    I live in Norway, but have friends and "family" in New Orleans.. I am wondering about the fact that it has taken 3 years(and they are not even done!!) to fiks the walls that should protect the city!!! I mean 3 years??
    I just don't understand that!!! Who is responsible for this, and what is the reason for it?? with these walls/levys(?) not fixed it will be a disaster bigger than katrina, no doubt about that... material damage though... but anyhow... the city wil break its back in this storm I am afraid....
    Who is in charge when it comes to building these walls- and why has it taken so long- and why is it not yet done??

    August 31, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  14. Kate

    Hi JOHN!! How's the best producer on television??? Be safe! Kate

    August 31, 2008 at 8:01 pm |
  15. Rick Kangas

    What six figured engineer submitted plans to what seven or 8 figured exec and how many govenment palms were greased to allow three oil refineries to be built below sea level (in NO)? Geez! I learned in the third grade that water and oil don't mix!

    August 31, 2008 at 7:53 pm |
  16. Bill Davis

    Will the evacuation allow taking what is looted? These shopping sprees only comes once every three years!

    August 31, 2008 at 7:52 pm |
  17. Michael Breaux

    Now is the time for America's Heroes to show their stuff.

    Now is the time for our advancements in technology to be put to full use to warn affected populations of specific dangers and protect lives and property.

    Before the storm leaves, America must mobilize first responders to locate and rescue victims who did not fare well in the storm. These first responders must have the latest in search and rescue equipment. These first responders must see through walls (infrared) and hear a child's cry from a mile away.

    America must mobilize an emergency life support system to ensure food, water, medical care are immediately available to those who need it.

    America must mobilize a damage assessment team that is second to none, utilizing the best America has to offer to paint a clear picture of what damage must be repaired.

    America needs a leader with the resources to see everything, hear everything, and understand everything, and with the skills to coordinate all efforts without political struggles, miscommunication, and ulterior motives.

    Lets get it right this time.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  18. Christine

    I am very curious why earlier today Senator McCain held a strategy conference call with the Governors of the Gulf states? I appreciate Senator McCain's concern and concern is appropriate, but I also feel that the people who can make decisions and give official direction should be holding the conference calls. It appears opportunistic and could be a confusing voice in that he is not the Commander in Chief, nor is he an official spokesman for the Federal Government. He is a Senator from Arizona and there are 99 other Senators that are not taking charge of the situation.

    When you are dealing with multiple jurisdictions it is my opinion that the designated point men/women should be the ones giving advice and direction.

    The public continues to depend on your accurate and unbiased reporting from NOLA.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:36 pm |
  19. F. Shaw

    Why are the hospitals not being evacuated? I know there are probably critical patients that can't be moved, but why are they not getting out everyone they can?

    August 31, 2008 at 7:34 pm |
  20. suzanne

    My heart breaks to see the GulfCoast, and particularly New Orleans, go through this again. I will pray for big and small miracles in the lives of all those in Gustav's path.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:27 pm |
  21. Bill

    Anderson.....are you nuts? Riding out a storm like that close to ground zero is crazy. Sounds like something I would do. Good luck to you. Be safe

    August 31, 2008 at 7:24 pm |
  22. Caroline

    Be careful you guys and gals. Did CNN buy you a humvee? Seems it would be handy for thing like this. I hope you have a lot of food and water.

    What's your favorite comfort food for a big storm? Please, discuss.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:23 pm |
  23. Anthony Sangenito

    I was vacationing in New Orleans and arrived Wednesday night. We received a notice from harrah's Hotel management that they were closing the hotel on Saturday at 5PM. Luckily, we were able to change the flight with Southwest and I arrived in Orlando on Saturday at 7PM.

    While we were following the storm, we were debating whether to change the flights sooner as we realized that regardless of the actual path that Gustav would ultimately take, we needed to react and get out of New Orleans. Everyone in New Orleans from the waitress at Harrah's to the shuttle bus driver who took us to the airport were very helpful to us and genuinely seemed more interested in our safety than their own. The bus driver was a local who knew the roads around the airport and when we hit a complete stop on the highway, this gentleman was able to use local roads to get us to the airport in time for our flight. We did wind up leaving 4 hours early to get to the airport on time, and although the lines were very long, we only waited about 1 hour to get into the airport and check our bags, which was on Saturday at 2PM. The security line was very short and the flight was full but on time.

    I remember walking along canal street on Friday afternoon and some of the merchants were boarding up the windows and laying sand bags in front of the doors. This really hit home that this is a serious threat and that we should no longer be in New Orleans. I love to travel during the labor day weekend and this is one of the things you need to be aware of when you travel during the hurricane season.

    I arrived in Orlando at 7PM and am now tracking Hanna as the next threat. I will be returning home to New York on Tuesday, long before Hanna can have a great impact on Florida.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:20 pm |
  24. Anna White

    just found these on the internet.

    Mississippi dept of transportation number 601-3597017.

    Alabama dept of transportation number 1-888-588-2848.

    they can tell you information on alternate routes as well as information about gas stations.

    Good luck!

    August 31, 2008 at 7:08 pm |
  25. Luis Sanchez

    The state of TX ask for buses from all over to go there to be ready for the storm. When the bus drivers reached San Antonio and went to where they were directed to go I believe it was a milatary base they advised the driver once they go in they can not leave. Is this true? Can the goverment do this keep people hostage? If they are going to try to help people and then they are treated like animals sleeping on the floor using Port a Potties and going to be in berrecks for god knows how long. The drivers told me that they told them that if they go in they are the property of the goverment and they can not leave. How certain is that? The drivers parked the bus and left to the airport and flew home.

    August 31, 2008 at 7:03 pm |
  26. Guy Hebert (A'bear)

    New Oreleans will be the story but the BIG story will be all the communities on and south of I-10 in the huge swath of 'non-levied' bayou lands from Beaumont, Tx to Grand Ile, LA.

    What will be the search and rescue response for these communities with all the attention on New Orleans? The communities of 1,000 to 25,000 south of I-10 and all the people left there and not evacuated can easily add up to much more people affected by this potential disaster than those left in NOLA. Please ensure the 'little guys' aren't left out of the news.

    Thanks for all your great coverage!

    August 31, 2008 at 6:58 pm |
  27. Heather

    As a woman I was offended by McCain's selection for Vice President. Clearly he's not looking for the best person for the job, but rather looking to play the gender card in order to receive more votes. But I was ENRAGED by the idea that McCain is going through with the Republican Convention in this time of great devastation to a part of our country. This is a clear example of his lack of compassion for not only the middle to lower class, but the entire country as a whole. I expect John McCain to exploit this horrific natural disaster to play in his favor, get more votes and try to convince the general public that he is for the people. It's clear that McCain is only concerned about himself and the votes he can get. I have never been more nauseated by politics than I am today.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:49 pm |
  28. Matt Tremblay


    You are truly a great American to ride the storm out at the City Hall Bldg. disregarding your own safety to ensure we all know what's happening. IF it get's too bad, keep your head down and we will pray for you and your team to come out safely. GOD BLESS and GOD SPEED!

    Matt Tremblay
    Niagara Falls, Canada

    August 31, 2008 at 6:46 pm |
  29. Jimmy Nojne

    I'm sorry, but anyone staying there has no recourse to blame anyone for anything that happens to them. If you are told to evacuate, then get out! Why are people so stubborn? It's going to result in death, plain and simple. And before anyone starts asking for financial help from the citizens of this great country, has the question of Red Cross' handling of Katrina and where the money went been answered? Why are there still trailers of food and water sitting idle, or even being sent back to the places from where they came? I sure FEMA and the Red Cross has learned something in the past, but I still have a hard time trusting Red Cross.....I'd rather sponsor a family directly.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:36 pm |
  30. Johnny Schuster

    Anderson, Thanks again for your support on NO durring both this Hurrican and Katrina...

    You have not left us and have tried to keep NO in the national spotlight..

    Looks like, HERE WE GO AGAIN...

    August 31, 2008 at 6:34 pm |
  31. Del

    America ! America, while are we continue to go through these horroble situation. The Lord God said that the whole world has turn to sodom and Gomorah. God said we should seek his face. If we don't do so, we are no different from Sodom and Gomorah. God said he God can destroy this world any time he wants to. God said the next time he speaks, there will be no radar to detect His action. Therefore, He God want for the world, especially New Orleans to read the below Scriptures and thing of Sodom and Gomorah in the bible.
    Read: plasm 51: 1 – to the ending, and Isaiah 1: 18 – 20
    I hope we all will abid by the Message of the holy spirit.

    From: New Jersey

    August 31, 2008 at 6:32 pm |
  32. Lezlie Taylor

    I really appreciate the sincerity of Anderson Cooper. He works hard to provide you with the facts so that the intelligent, thoughtful viewing audience can draw their own conclusions. That being said, CNN executives should strongly encourage Rick Sanchez to take note of Anderson Cooper's professionalism and style.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:22 pm |
  33. Dennis

    Now if only they could harness the energy of a hurricane.

    I hope the homeless are all evacuated.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:20 pm |
  34. mary kirk

    sara,without CHNO until emptied and West Jeff MC(in greatest dangerw/Gustav) many many more would've perished during and after Katrina. Am a R.N. we were ASKED and have made our individual decision(s) to volunteer to stay behind. This time the patients are in process of being transported to safety before landfall. Instead of Katrina,where the region attempted and failed to maintain usual service thru the storm. VOLUNTEER hospital staff during Gustav are strictly dedicated to emergency service.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:16 pm |
  35. spotlope

    "For those inside city hall, only ’super’ non- essential personnel will be staying in town to ride out the storm. All other local government employees are to leave the city."

    Shouldn't that be only 'super' essential personnel? Seems like the super non-essentials would be a long way from NOLA by now.

    August 31, 2008 at 6:11 pm |
  36. Robert Wooller from Bradford, England, UK

    Just get out of town, save yourselves!!! We can't afford a repeat of Katrina in 2005. I also can't believe that there are still people staying behind such as a man who's wife was taken by Katrina? I just hope he and others left behind can hide somewhere safe!!! As a Democratic supporter, I must take my hat off to McCain, who said today that we must not be political, that we must act like Americans!!! Pity Bush and crew didn't think like that three years ago, but justice – by God – is being done at this moment, hopefully without loss of life.

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

    This is the kind of evacuation system the city and state should have been doing during Katrina, I'm glad they are organized this time and that they aren't allowing people to stay in shelters in the city.

    I would think it would be very normal to have bumper to bumper traffic leaving the coastal areas, it will just take time, people need to be patient, at least they are all leaving this time.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  38. sara johns

    Mr. Anderson cooper, you are my last hope!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    LSU Hospital is holding 120 medical staff/Physicians for Hurricane Gustav. City is going to flood, it will be greatest tragedy and disaster to rescue lives of these doctors. Helicopter and EMS scwad should be transporting patients to nearby areas where they can be treated safely.

    LSU Hospital has not learnt lesson from last time. when there is wind and water flood damage none of the hospital could do their function it was a burden and liability to save lives of staff then.

    Please ask Governor Jindal/Mayor Nagin to order 100% evacuation

    God Bless You....................................

    August 31, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  39. Neil

    This is really bad news for New Orleans, my thoughts and prayers are with those families residing in the city, good luck!!!

    August 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  40. Anna White

    My husband, along with countless others evacuating New Orleans, is stuck in bumper to bumper traffic in Mississippi. My husband could not leave until this morning. It would be most helpful if there were news updates regarding alternate traffic routes. I-59 is backed up to the Alabama state line. Most of the coverage so far has been inside New Orleans, however there are thousands of people trying to get out before the hurricane hits.

    August 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  41. Barb Dunsmore

    While you're at in the City Hall building, please look for the new bronze statue of a dog & cat, a memorial that was erected in memory of all the animals lost during Katrina...unveiling was just this past Friday by HSLA Jeff Dorson...I'm told it is being housed at City Hall until they find a more suitable location.

    Be safe!

    August 31, 2008 at 5:14 pm |