Weathering the storm: “Am I ready?”

August 31, 2008

(Charles Abbyad, 58, is the maitre d’ at Arnaud’s, a classic creole restaurant in the center of New Orleans. With his wife, Jill, he keeps a guesthouse called The Chimes in the city’s historic Garden District. While thousands of residents are packing their cars and fleeing Hurricane Gustav, Abbyad is staying behind with Reuters reporters Matt Bigg and Tim Gaynor to ride out the storm.

It’s 4 p.m. Charles has been up a stepladder most of the day, putting up shutters and preparing for the gathering storm. This is probably his last post for today.)

abbyad1.jpg “In the last couple of days we didn’t have a speck of wind, but now it’s starting. It’s overcast, and the outer reaches of the storm are with us. Most people don’t realize it, but when they are dealing with a storm, they’re on edge. I want it to come and get it over with.”

“I’ve shuttered the four big windows on the front of the house, the small windows on the side and now I’m putting in some extra screws. Last time, when we came back after Katrina, my palm tree was leaning into the guest house. I’ve tied it to another tree, and this will hopefully keep it in place.

“Am I ready? Well, as an innkeeper I am ready. As a new steam helper, I’m not sure. If the Reuters news team do an excessive amount of driving, I don’t know if the 21 gallons of gasoline I bought will be enough.”

Follow Abbyad and Reuters reporters Matt Bigg and Tim Gaynor here as they weather the storm in New Orleans. 

Above: Charles Abbyad holds a plank of wood he plans to nail to the outside of his home to protect it against Hurricane Gustav. Photo by Matthew Bigg/REUTERS.

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