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Watch As Train Tumbles Off Huey P. Long Bridge During Heavy New Orleans Weather – Amazing Video

New Orleans weather seems to be something that loves to make the headlines. Yesterday we had our most severe storm of the year. Heck for a time it seemed almost like a hurricane coming through.

Watch As Train Tumbles Off Huey P. Long Bridge During Heavy New Orleans Weather – Amazing Video

Thankfully although there was extensive damage in some places nothing could compete with what happened to some train cars at the end of a long freight train that was doing its best to make it off the Huey P. Long Bridge and onto a siding for the express purpose of getting out of the high winds.

But the engineer was not able to get it off soon enough as you’ll see in the video above.

The crumpled wreck of train cars blown off during massive storm from Huey P. Long bridge. --

The crumpled wreck of train cars blown off during massive storm from Huey P. Long bridge. —

It is a miracle that no one was hurt and that the cars were empty so there were no dangerous chemicals spilt. But I would bet the the reason the cars did tumble off was because they were empty and light.

I understand that this is not the end of our recent spate of heavy New Orleans weather as another system is going to hit us tonight. Let’s hope that is all clears up by the weekend so Jazz Fest has clear weather.

Posted in New Orleans Life, New Orleans News, New Orleans Videos.

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A Line of Heavy Weather Rips Through New Orleans and My Lesson in Tornadoes

It is a dark New Orleans morning so dark that it looks like the late afternoon like dusk and there is lightning and there is thunder and the trees the branches are moving largely back and forth, can hear an immense rustle of the leaves and there is constant lightning and thunder now, an there is a warning of tornados.

A Line of Heavy Weather Rips Through New Orleans

New Orleans weather in the rain

New Orleans weather — Always be prepared for rain, and lots of it.

I used to think that we would never have a tornado within the city of New Orleans. By that I did not mean Metairie or New Orleans East or across the river which have experienced tornados. I was talking about the old town where there are thick canopies of trees everywhere and it was my thinking that trees mess up the ability of a tornado to form and so we don’t have to worry.

I remember too one day in the middle of the day when it was storming and looking outside I saw the trees swirling like yes what might happen if a tornado was forming. But nothing really happened. We got some wind, some rain and that was it.

So I’ve lived with this idea that well you know we got nothing to worry about because we live in a thickly tree lined neighborhood and no tornado worth its salt would be able to form. My mom who is now 101 had said she had never heard of a tornado hitting within the old city of New Orleans.

I was thinking this until several years ago, a year after Hurricane Katrina, in fact, when one night around 3 AM I heard this horrible sound outside the window. It woke me up. It was a giant sound, something big, something whipping against the window, and moments after I woke up I jumped out of bed and ran through my bedroom door and I soon as I did, wham! the windows blew in and scattered glass all over the floor, the bed, and, I found out the next morning, had impaled shards of glass into the wall right next to where I was sleeping.

As soon as the sound died all was quiet. Within moments I saw people in the street and walking downstairs and through my front door I discovered that the huge pine tree near the street in front of our house had snapped in half sending the upper part toward our house just missing the corner of the house by mere inches but crumpling the cast iron fence and our step railing.

All the furniture and stuff on the screen porch had been pushed together in a pile in the center of the porch and the both ends of the screen on either side of the porch had been blown through.

A house across the street which had been recently purchased and gutted, now this was an old house with plaster and, for some inexplicable reason, they had also removed the lathe so the structure had no lateral stability. Looking at the house straight on you could see where it was completely tilted to one side. Dang, I thought, how were they going to fix his thing?

We discovered that a tornado had formed on the other side of the river, jumped across the river and plowed through the Black Pearl neighborhood and bounced along down the Carrollton section, down the avenue picking and choosing places to damage and finally ending somewhere in New Orleans East where it killed a poor woman in her Katrina trailer.

We were lucky. We six windows broken, all the metal furniture, umbrella and other stuff in our back yard had been pushed into a pile. A day later I walked into our large shed, which had a standing seam roof, and as I opened the door I saw all this light coming down and looking up I realize we had no more roof.

Not only that when I went to look outside for the roof it was nowhere to be found. It was only till a couple years later at a party at our neighbors house did I find out that it had completely peeled off and landed in their back yard. Wow.

After bouncing down our street the tornado hit the next street completely ripping the roof off a house on the corner, then next to it tearing off the front of a two story house making it look like a doll house where you could see all the front rooms filled with furniture.

It did little damage to the house next to it but another house over it tore up their roof. Then it bounced to another house down the street did some damage and made a path down Carrollton Avenue and eventually all the way out to New Orleans East.

So now when I hear about tornado warnings I am not so confident that we’ll not experience another on our street. Just this morning while typing this I closed the curtains next to my desk just in case a window broke through scattering glass, rain and debris all over it and possibly damaging the computer.

At the height of the storm the sky was almost dark as night and I could see the trees swirling and whipping. At times the wind was driving hard and fast down the street, must have been at least 50 miles an hour or more. And when I stepped outside on our porch to retrieve our still surviving and thriving large poinsettia from two Christmases ago which had been knocked over by the wind, I could feel the air was very cool. It felt nice and refreshing.

Now as I finish this the rain has let up but the wind is back not as strong as before but letting us know that this thing is not done yet as the back end of the dangerous storm passes over us. New Orleans has been spared any tornadoes this time.

Posted in New Orleans History, New Orleans Life, New Orleans News.

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Save our New Orleans Public Libraries: Vote For the Millage Increase

New Orleans Public Libraries has 14 libraries in its system that serve everyone. Yes, everyone… even if you don’t use a library. I explain below. I use the Nix library on Carrollton Avenue and I check out books from there several times a year.

Save our New Orleans Public Libraries: Vote For the Millage Increase

If I go on Amazon and look for a book before I buy it I usually go to the New Orleans public libraries site,, and see if it’s available. A click here and a click there and I am able to find out if the library has it in its system. If it does I can order it with another click and have it sent to the Nix library.

Through email and text they notify me when the book is ready to be picked up. This usually only takes a day or two. I pick it up and enjoy it for a couple weeks and if I haven’t finished it I can renew it pretty easily either by making a phone call any time of day to a recorded message system or with one easy click on the library website. And, boom, within a matter of a couple minutes I get to keep the book for another 3 weeks. Pretty cool.

As things get more expensive and salaries need to be raised to keep up with inflation the New Orleans public library system demands more funds to keep operating.

But did you know that not only can you get books, you can get music CDs and Hollywood movies from the library? And importantly for our under-privileged citizens it also provides a place for those without computers or Internet access to go online and apply for jobs. It also provides access to courses and information so that they can improve themselves and get a better education.

And you know this whole thing with people thinking “why the heck do we need libraries any more with everything going digital.” Well, here is the thing: I hate to read things on a computer screen or any kind of screen.

It’s been discovered that your brain reacts differently to stuff you read on a screen as compared to actual words in a book or newspaper or magazine. Your eye scans the words differently. It’s been discovered that you retain the information you read in a book better than what you read on a screen.

You know when TV came about people were saying, well, it’s the end of radio. They also said it was the end of movies. Ha. That didn’t happen.

When the DVD came out they also said it was the end of movies. Also, not true. In fact, we have more movie theaters than ever. So just because we can read a book on a screen does not mean that is the end of real books.

Nor are we old-fogeys because we prefer to do our reading in actual print form. There is nothing better than sitting comfortably with a physical book in your hands that you can flip back and forth and actually see with your own eyes how many pages you have left to read.

You can’t flip through a screen no matter how good the technology is. Physical books will never go away. That is just the reality of it. And neither will digital books either. They complement each other now. But there ain’t nothing better than reading a real book.

If the library does not get a millage increase they will have to lay people off, close seven libraries and cut back on services. The Nix library which has been open for decades would have to close. That would be a shame, not only for people who get books from there but for people who use the library day in and day out.

Even if you don’t use the library it still serves you. It provides opportunity for people in the community who don’t have the personal resources to better their lives. And that is good for everyone.

So vote for the millage increase. Help save our New Orleans public libraries. It’s important.

Posted in New Orleans Books, New Orleans Life, New Orleans News, New Orleans Videos.

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Brennan’s Buys Napoleon House Causing a Rupture in the Fabric of New Orleans French Quarter

OK, I admit that title might be a little overdone but the age-old Napoleon House in the New Orleans French Quarter run for 100 years by the Impastato family is now in the hands of Ralph Brennan who has built a modest empire of excellent restaurants in and around New Orleans.

Brennan’s Buys Napoleon House Causing a Rupture in the Fabric of New Orleans French Quarter

Brennan buys Napoleon House. Will he mess with what makes it great?

Brennan buys Napoleon House. Will he mess with what makes it great?

Here is the concern that immediately came to mind when I read the news in The New Orleans Advocate last week: will he keep this famous place like it is or will he change it?

What I and the people who love it, love about the Napoleon House is that it oozes history and character. The walls are stained and peeling paint, in the summer they open the big french doors onto St. Louis street and the cool patio in the back has a huge fan that keeps the air fresh.

Also, the food is great, just typical Creole New Orleans fare with red beans and rice, gumbo, poboys and, of course, the great refreshing drink the Pimm’s Cup, Napoleon House’s signature drink.

And the prices, well, just cannot be beat. You get a lot of food that’s good and, by anyone’s standards, cheap. The waiters dress in white shirt and bow tie and classical music plays continually on the stereo system. I would call this quintessential New Orleans.

OK, so what concerns me about a Brennan taking over? Well, I don’t know of any Brennan restaurant that has inexpensive food. I mean their food is great but heck, c’mon, it aint’ cheap. They are also known for their excellent service, something at which Napoleon House already excels.

And now Brennan has hired his own chef to “update” the menu. Really? If there is one place in New Orleans that does not need an update on the menu is Napoleon House. But Brennan says he’s not going to mess with what makes this famous, quirky, magnificent hole-in-the-wall restaurant unique. We’ll see.

So my question is, will he keep the walls the way they are with their timeless multicolored, natural patina or will he feel he needs to paint them? With the new chef and the new menu will he keep the prices the same to make it affordable to all comers?

Will he open the big doors in the summer so you can sit there with your Pimm’s cup and enjoy the scenery of the the tourists and quarter mavens as they walk by?

Another thing, every time I went to Napoleon House the owner, Mr. Impastato, was always there greeting guests and just being downright friendly. Will Mr. Brennan be present to do the same?

Brennan just recently completed are total revamp and wonderful remodeling of the famous Brennan’s on Royal Street after having wrested the falling down and failing restaurant from other members of his extended family. He’s been able to return that restaurant to its former glory.

But with the Napoleon House there is really no former glory it needs to be returned to because it is perfect like it is. Anyone who is a fan of this place, and this is my favorite place to go in New Orleans, knows that its uniqueness lies in the fact that it ain’t fancy. It just feels so good to be there among the history, the music, the great food and good people that have run it for a century.

It’s authentic, a rare thing to find in our culture of digital goings-on and fast pace. It’s really a world apart and that’s what people love about it. Let’s just hope that Mr. Brennan does not ruin what makes this historic restaurant-bar in the New Orleans French Quarter so special.


Posted in New Orleans Business, New Orleans Food, New Orleans History, New Orleans Landmarks, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Neighborhoods, New Orleans News, New Orleans Restaurants.

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Watch How These Young People Spend a Cool Twenty Four Hours in New Orleans – Video

Every once in a while I really delight in doing a post about something cool some folks have done about New Orleans. In this video we got a group of young people from London who contacted Marriott Hotels to fund them to travel to three American cities and shoot a video covering 24 hours in each city.

Watch How These Young People Spend a Cool Twenty Four Hours in New Orleans – Video

This video is made by a group of young artists and designers who set about each year raising funds and awareness for causes they care about. They’ve chosen to delay going to university to nurture a brand called named after the creator, the smart and engaging chief filmmaker Jack Harries.

It is amazing what you can do nowadays with a inexpensive video camera, a vision and the ability to excite your fellows to be part of your ideas. And of course, Youtube where you can engage the whole world with what you are doing.

This little film about New Orleans is only a sample of the kind of stuff they do.


Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Videos.

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