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News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Former Saline mayor speaks from eye of storm

Editor's Note: Rick Kuss, a former Saline mayor, is sending updates from New Orleans, where Hurricane Gustav hit mi-day Sept. 1. The storm, predicted to be Category 3, was downgraded to Category 1 that afternoon. It hit west of New Orleans. Kuss is deputy lead environmental and historic preservation officer for the Department of Human Services/Federal Emergency Management Agency. He is the former executive director of Saline Area Chamber of Commerce.
Monday September 8, 2008
I have been working around the clock since the hurricane hit New Orleans. I have been making regular trips throughout southeasterm Louisiana surveying damage. Currently we are watching the next system, Hurrican Ike. Projections have the 3 and 5 day cone with New Orleans in the preliminary path.
One issue that has been a concern to officials has been the enormous amount of returning evacuees.
Rick Kuss

Wednesday September 4, 2008

I have lost track of time and the days are running together. Tuesday was a day that I did not have time to catch my breath or write down my thoughts.
A tornado touched down in the area I was doing windshield surveys. When you think it's safe, another band from the hurricane just slips in.
After all this is over, I take some time to provide a better written summary of my experiences.

For the last few days I have been in meeting after meeting with the wide number of emergency responders discussing planning process for evacuees coming back to the City. People are anxious to get back, but the uncertainty of what condition their homes are in are questionable.
It would be wise if everyone waited until the weekend but that isn't going to be realistic.
Power: 57% back on line.
Number of people without power in Louisiana, OVER 700,000.
New Orleans has limited gasoline stations, convenience stores, and grocery stores.

Airport opened for first plane last night.

City crews throughout the area on 24/7 duty to clear roads and interstate.
Traffic coming back to the city is heavy.
Just imagine over 1 million people headed back here.

And while response and recovery operations are under way, we are all looking at the new hurricanes and tropical storms headed our way.

Rick Kuss

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The weather today is slightly windy. Response efforts have begun in the southern parts of Louisiana. We are still receiving updates and assessments from the state and parishes. In New Orleans electricity and cell phone service has created some problems. I am driving around New Orleans and reporting back with initial sight assessments.Interesting note, a few bars are open in the French Quarter on Bourbon Street and that's another story in itself.Issues that will be facing New Orleans, the need to refill gas supplies to stations and automobiles, returning evacuees, debris cleanup, etc.I wish I could write more, however I have had no sleep for 2 days and it looks as though we still have a lot more work to do.Additionally we need to watch the next two storm systems near the gulf.One thing I would like to add, my respect for first responders was always high. But after working withe police and fire, these guys risk their lives for us. The next time you see either, tell them how much you appreciate what they do.Chief Bunten, Jack Ceo, Chief Hufft and Saine Police and Fire, You guys are the greatest. I have always appreciated what you have done.Elected Officials,Develop an emergency plan, not just from the County, but a City of Saline Emergency Plan. Work hard to not only say you want to promote Regional Planning, Just Do It, Make it happen. It worked down here, we will reassess our needs, But you need a plan.Please excuse my spelling, vocabulary and writing. I am doing this fast and in between resting.And so much has happened in such a short time, I need to sit back and pull all that I have doing together

Peace, Rick Kuss

Monday, September 1, 2008
Concern at the Industrial Canal area near the 9th Ward. The water is overflowing at this area. There are reports of a barge and two ships being loose. While I have heard this from two sources there are many reports that are not verified.

Waiting for the next few hours to see what effect the surge.

A few fires in the city of New Orleans, snapped power lines, other high wind effects.

Once again all the governmental agencies have been extremely cooperative.

Eye right now over the Houma Louisiana area.

Tornadoes reported in other areas throughout Louisiana.

While there are first responders, police and the National Guard throughout the area, Air operations and other assessments will not proceed until the winds are below 45 mph.

We still have a ways to go.

I still have to say, with all governmental units cooperatin, and the regional/local emergency planning efforts that have been developed after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina,Louisiana is much better prepared. The people in Louisiana have done a great job.


--- On Mon, 9/1/08
Evacuations have worked well so far. Plenty of intergovernmental cooperation. We believe after midnight we will be seeing stronger winds and rain. A few tornadoes sighted earlier. I describe this as a quiet period before the storm.

Rick Kuss

Sent: Sun 8/31/2008 5:43 PM
To: Editor - Saline Reporter
Subject: New Orleans

Well, This is Rick Kuss. I am in New Orleans at command center for the hurricane. My direct email is My number is 504-235-2318.


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