Gustav: Time to Panic?

The internet news headline says the people of New Orleans are “nervous” about Hurricane Gustav which at this moment is battering Haiti, but is headed toward Jamaica and the Caymans and then into the Gulf. After that, who knows?

Well sir, all the prognosticators we check with show the storm coming this way. They’ll say that, then turn right around and say, “But no one knows; it’s too early.”

Local radio talk shows today are dealing with 90 percent Gustav and 10 percent the Democratic convention. They “take you live” to a briefing by the city, the parish, the highway patrol, this emergency board or that one, and they all say the same thing: “Too early to say where Gustav is coming, but it’s not too early for citizens to begin preparing to leave. Better start planning your exit and your destination.”

A friend in Jackson, Mississippi, has invited us to come to their place. My son Neil contacted his aunt Carolyn in Jasper, Alabama, to see if her guest rooms were available. Hotels up and down the interstates are working overtime taking reservations for the weekend.

Governor Bobby Jindal has indicated that if Gustav does come toward Louisiana, he will begin the contraflow on Saturday. For you highlanders, a contraflow is when all lanes of a highway become one way and that way is “out of here.”

I had lunch with a pastor today, Wednesday, who tells me his church is ready, that they have all the contact information on his church members in case they evacuate, and that they are fine financially if they have to miss a Sunday or two.

Lynn Gehrmann, our office’s administrative assistant, canceled a scheduled medical procedure set for tomorrow, Thursday, in order to handle some office financial things we need to have with us in case of evacuation and shutdown.

We think the city is safer than it has ever been, thanks to the steady work of the Corps of Engineers and FEMA over these three years, but the question no one can answer is, “Is it enough?”

On the East side of New Orleans, the Industrial Canal which burst its levees into the Lower Ninth Ward has been secured, however the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, called MR GO, is still in place, ready to funnel in massive amounts of water from the Gulf just as it did three years ago. The Corps has planned to close it off, but that is a major undertaking and has not been done.

The river levees held firm last time and have received no further attention, to my knowledge, but canal, lake, and bayou levees all over the city have been raised and fortified. Out on the lakefront, the levees were raised five feet. That sounds good, however, there’s a problem: the streets that intersect and ride over those raised levees have not been raised. Therefore, the higher levees are worthless at the moment.

On the West Bank, we’re told that the Algiers Canal and Harvey Canal are still vulnerable to flooding.

One thing we can pretty much agree on: if New Orleans gets hit anywhere near the way we did in Katrina, it’s all over for this city. The federal government is not going to want to invest another 100 billion dollars in rebuilding the city, the state government is going to tire of it, and churches and denominational groups around the country are surely going to say, “Sorry, New Orleans. Been there; done that. No more.”

If we incur massive devastation again, thousands of citizens who are “on the bubble” about leaving will decide “that’s it for me” and relocate.

You can see why a direct hit by a hurricane is the last thing we need around here.

Thanks for praying for us. Not that we wish a hurricane on anyone else. But in some respects, we’re still on life support around here and do not need Gustav to unplug the IV.

16 thoughts on “Gustav: Time to Panic?

  1. I’m praying for all of you and New Orleans, Joe. I am watching this very closely. If you need anything at all, there’s a church in Montgomery, AL that will be there for you.

  2. There are churches in Greenville, MS ready to help, too. Second Baptist is easy to get to.

    662-335-3343 or call me 332-3385


  3. Bro. Joe, Beth & I shudder at the possibility of another hurricane hitting New Orleans. If it does, we will be there for you. God bless you. Tom & Beth Carlton

  4. Bro Joe – I venture to guess, churches around the country will respond much the way we did before – God’s plans are not for us to understand but if it means He keeps sending us back to New Orleans to miniter to your needs then we’ll answer the call!

  5. The Churches of the Florida Panhandle stand ready to assist in any way they can. come and visit our area.

  6. Bro.Joe and family, here in Clinton our church(Morrison Heights Baptist Church) is on alert and preparing to help again.God’s people will answer the call. You will be welcomed. Praying for strength and safety. You are loved.

  7. Praise God for FAITHFUL servants of the Lord. All the comments brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Christians brothers and sisters.

  8. Please know that you are in our prayers during the coming storm. At our prayer meeting last night we sang “Keep Me Safe ’til the Storm Passes By” in honor of the fine folks along the Gulf Coast. I know Cammack Indiana is quite a distance away but we stand ready to help however we can.

  9. So true, Joe. It’s all in God’s hands. We shouldn’t worry but be prepared. How does the saying go? “Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.” Thanks for recruiting your network to send up prayers for our city.

  10. Joe, we’re praying for you here in Houston. We’re in the “cone of uncertainty” too, but I think I’d rather it hit us than you guys. I posted your comments on my blog as well, so hopefully many of my church members are praying, too.


  11. to further lara’s comments about Second baptist in Greenville. Greenville helped alot for katrina…if a reader of this blog needs to get out they can head to Greenville. Any church in the city would love to help.

    here is another church, my home church, Emmanuel Baptist 662-335-3296.

    I am a new seminary student and I am waiting to hear from the seminary about their decision…if i go i will be in Greenville.

  12. Joe, Margaret and all — we are praying for you and thinking of you daily as we watch the predictions. You are always welcome in South Carolina and First Baptist will help in whatever way it can.

  13. This is our first evacuation and I must say the fear in this city is palpable. We have been taken in by some of our wonderful volunteers that live in Grand Cane,LA. It is awesome to be a part of the family of God! We are being well taken care of. Steve and I are resigned to the fact that our mobile home, provided by the ministry, may not be there when we return but we do not fear because we KNOW that if we need ANYTHING, God has a mighty army in place to lend a hand, a heart and an ear. What a mighty God we serve!

  14. yes, Ann, God will provide! my husband and I experienced that tragedy with Katrina. God more than provided for our needs! God bless Dr. McKeever. We love you!

  15. Brother Joe: I am living in Richland, Mississippi which is very close to Jackson. Glad to hear that you will be coming our way for these days. Maybe you can come to worship with us at FBC Richland while you are nearby. I will be praying for you and all of my dear loved ones there at the seminary as they relocate once again to make way for another storm. Thank the Lord you all are well acquainted with the Lord of the storm. I appreciate your writings as always. You helped hold all of us together during the Katrina aftermath. That work was NOT in vain. The Lord is using you, sir. +B+B+

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