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Reporter’s Notebook: Areas of New Orleans experience flooding as Tropical Storm Cristobal makes landfall

NEW ORLEANS – This is Day 2 of covering Tropical Storm Cristobal in New Orleans.

More owners have boarded up their businesses, and sandbags are a common sight around the area.

Sunday

9:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.

New Orleans was one of the first coronavirus hot spots in the U.S. and is still quite a way behind Texas in terms of re-opening. Between COVID-19 and the storm, not many businesses are open, which made finding food tough.

10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

I heard about some major flooding close to the New Orleans Yacht Club. We headed that way and were not disappointed. The water-front restaurants seem to have taken a blow near the marina. A few boats had taken on water too.

Lake Ponchartrain no longer looks like a lake. There are whitecaps breaking and waves are crashing into the marina dock.

One man I spoke with was taking his little girl out for a walk during a brief break from the rain. He told me this area is one of the first to flood and pointed me in the direction of more flooded roadways.

One road we came across was washed out. At its worst, I estimate about 3 or 4 feet of water covered the pavement.

A lot of cars were turning around, some chanced their luck and made it through.

One young man, in a sedan, didn’t have much luck. Colin Lacoste told me his car stalled in the middle of the water.

“I was pretty confident,” Lacoste said. “I’ve gone through higher water than this before. I had to get out and start pushing.”

About 20 minutes later, Lacoste’s saving grace arrived, a tow truck driver named Michael Taylor.

Taylor told me this was his fifth car to tow today and he’s expecting more.

“If it keeps raining, probably about 13 or 14,” Taylor said.

He was dressed for the part, waders and rain boots. I pointed it out and he laughed.

“Last time I got caught slipping without these boots on, and I got wet too," he said.

Keep in mind I’m trying to track down people and interview them in the pouring rain. It’s tough!

3:00 p.m.

I found two men with their dogs near the marina and they were heading out onto Lake Ponchartrain.

“We’re going storm sailing,” one of the men said enthusiastically.

He didn’t want to give me his real name but said he goes by ‘Captain Jack Sparrow,' and he had a photo to prove it!

I asked him why on earth he’d be taking his boat out in these conditions.

“It’s a little bit windy, it’s a little rough,” he said. “But I can’t stand losing the boat where it’s at. It’s got to move."

He said he needed to move his small sailboat to the safety of the marina, which is just a short trip away, around the rocky breakwater.

The water conditions are horrendous. I was concerned for their safety, so we stuck around to make sure they were okay.

He assured me he’s ‘storm sailed’ in plenty of bad weather.

About 35 minutes later, ‘Captain Sparrow’ and his co-captain, Wes, showed up on dry land.

“I’m pretty shaken up,” Wes said before rolling up his window and taking off.

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

I listened back through all the interviews of the day and began writing my story.

4:30 p.m.

My story was completed, approved and voiced. It’s time to find something (finally) to eat.

I get lucky with a Subway close by. I had a feeling this will be my breakfast, lunch and dinner!

5:00 p.m.

We go on air for the 5:00 newscast. Before I throw to my story we take a quick look at the flooded area with help from the camera mounted on top of our storm tracking truck.

5:20 p.m.

Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall close to where we are. Rainfall varies in severity but has been consistent all day.

5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.

I met a man in an orange poncho. His two Labrador retrievers, Bella and Lucy, are what caught my eye!

Rollins Colomb told me he is a local and enjoys watching storms come in.

“We’re just documenting what the storm is doing and I’ve seen a few of them, so every time there’s one I come out and take a look,” Colomb said.

He told me so far, this storm hasn’t put on much of a show.

“Nothing major this time,” Colomb said. “I think it’s going to be a glancing blow. The worst is about here.”

I had to google the term ‘glancing blow’ – “a blow with less than the full force that falls off to one side.” I love learning new phrases!

6:45 p.m.

I began to log and write my story for the 10 p.m. newscast.

7:10 p.m.

We chose to go live at the marina. However, we saw the storm surge rising and decided it would be wise to get out while we can.

We moved to higher ground in fear we’d have been trapped there all night. I watched as two other guys head out on a boat before we left the area.

7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.

We’re back at the flooded road we were at earlier but it’s way worse now. Only one car has attempted to make it across, and it was an old army-green Humvee.

As my photographer edited my story, I continued to watch as drivers think about driving through the flooded street.

10:00 p.m.

We went live. The rain is still falling, but not nearly as bad as it was earlier. That’s a wrap, back to the hotel for a hot shower and a clean bed!

I’m coming back to Houston tomorrow!