Hurricane Katrina Information --- The following is from The New Orleans Convention Center and Visitors Bureau Official Website

http://www.neworleanscvb.com/static/index.cfm/action/group/contentID/256/sectionID/1/subsectionID/0/
 

Current Summary --- (A Slice of History)
 

As of 9:10 a.m. on Monday, September 5 :

 

 For the latest updates click the link above !!!!  
 


Blaine Kern, Jr. please email your contact info to jstephenperry333@yahoo.com

We offer the deepest and most profound thank you to governments, individuals, trade organizations, and especially our clients, customers, and long-time tourist visitors for the overwhelming show of support and affection for our city and people. You have touched our hearts. Your offers of assistance and your heartfelt expressions of eagerness to return to our city when we are on our feet has moved us beyond words. We love our city and your communication of your love of our New Orleans has buoyed our spirits.

America's most romantic, walkable, historic city is no longer herself. We hope it will only be for a matter of months. Only time will tell the duration. The birthplace of jazz, home of unique French and Spanish architecture, and the originator of the most renowned cuisine on the planet has taken a terrible hit. But, its government, business and tourism industry leaders are pledging that beginning over the next few months the city will begin its efforts to be reborn better than ever.

Right now, however, we are in a mode of rescuing our citizens who are still trapped and without food, water, and healthcare. They are our first priority.

Among the scores of heroic stories are those of hoteliers who have remained on site protecting guests, tourists, and locals in their properties with no regard for their own safety.

The city seemed to turn a corner Saturday as citizens at the Superdome and Convention Center have now been evacuated according to MSNBC. There are now thousands of National Guard troops on the ground and civil order is coming back. The 82nd Airborne is also on the ground in the city.

The Governor and Mayor now believe that the death total will rise into the thousands.

Amtrak trains carrying 1,500 passengers a day out of New Orleans are now running.

Three Carnival Cruise Line Ships have been marshaled by the federal government to move to New Orleans to serve as housing.

The Mayor estimates that 40-50,000 people remain of the 450,000 residents.

The historic French Quarter and nearly all of the hospitality infrastructure survived, though battered. The amazing historic texture and fabric of this unique city...all of those things that draw millions of visitors from around the world resiliently remain.

A single bar opened in the Quarter as a gathering spot for locals to visit and share stories, though it had nothing to sell. A lone artist living on Pirates Alley next to the St. Louis Cathedral hung his paintings on the Jackson Square fence just like normal in a symbolic gesture for others that New  Orleans French Quarter culture would absolutely rebound.

Though we will be down for a period, there is a sense already forming among our leaders and the people that we will successfully be able to preserve all of those things which have made us world famous, and that we will be able to rebuild an even more welcoming vibrant city in which to live, work and do business. It will require all of us to unite. The work will be hard but gratifying. The challenges are immense. We are up to the task.

The tourism leadership is committed to helping lead the greatest urban rebuilding project in our nation's history. We have a historic opportunity to be a living laboratory for taking disaster, infrastructure degradation, and social ills and rebuilding a new city that remains historic and unique, but is a model for rebirth socially and structurally.

It may be quite a while...but one day the riffs of jazz trumpets, the indescribable tempting smells wafting from the kitchens of our great chefs, the aroma of cafe-au-lait and beignets, the buzz of great conventions, that foot-wide magnetic smile of the front bellman, and the romantic strolls through the Quarter will be commonplace again. The spirit of the multicultural people of New Orleans is indefatigable, and though we may be bowed and emotionally stretched, we cannot be defeated and cannot wait to rebuild the world's most authentic city. 

All New Orleans CVB Staff: See Below Instructions in Staff Section: New Information!

National Media: We are working diligently to return your calls but the cell and landline telephone grids are down or overloaded. Only brief windows appear. Mr. Perry has moved to the Lt. Governor's offices in Baton Rouge at 225-342-7009. Please temporarily make requests to the following email address: jstephenperry333@yahoo.com

Meeting Planners: All city-wide conventions are cancelled through December 1. Additional assessments will be made during the next two weeks when we are out of search and rescue mode. Contact the following staff in Washington and Chicago:

Donna
Karl
   630-357-3480

Peggy Hagaman:  847-236-0200

JoAnne Hunsicker:  703-379-2233


Current CVB Activity


The CVB is working with  Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu to establish an alternate office in Baton Rouge. We will have skeletal operations to work with convention and meetings clients and tour operators and leisure industry professionals operational on Monday. The Chicago and Washington offices are fully functional.

Mr. Perry has scheduled a CVB staff meeting Monday at 10:00 a.m. of all personnel in the Baton Rouge area. The meeting will be on the fifth floor of the Capitol Annex adjacent to the State Capitol. All who are able, please attend.

Executive VP for Convention Sales Kitty Ratcliffe will work from Dallas for the next week.

Vice President of Tourism Kim Priez will be working from Pensacola, FL.

Director of Corporate Sales Sallee Pavlovich will be based out of Washington D.C. for the near future.


The Washington and Chicago offices are fully operational and staffed with additional personnel.

The CVB President is fully operational at the Lt. Governor's Office in Baton Rouge on the fifth floor of the Capitol Annex along with Vice President Steve Moeller. Telephone 225-342-7009.

Lt. Governor Landrieu has graciously welcomed our industry leaders and provided us a home to operate from. We are forever in his debt. 

The City of New Orleans has set up in the building with us on a separate floor, and we are in constant contact with Brenda Hatfield, Cynthia Sylvain-Lear, and Don Hutchinson. We have wonderful access as well as with the staffs of the Governor and Lt. Governor. Greater New Orleans Inc. and Mark Drennen are also setting up on the first floor of the Annex at the very gracious invitation of the Secretary of Economic Development, Michael Olivier. The political and business base of New Orleans has thus been set up in the same building  adjacent to our capitol courtesy of our state government. This will  greatly facilitate tactical, policy, and financial discussions over the coming months.


Bill
Langkopp, Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association is also here and working with the CVB team throughout the day.

NOTMC President Sandy Shilstone is established in Houston and is operational and in contact with our team.

Some CVB Senior staff will be making their way from multiple evacuation locations  to join Mr. Perry in Baton Rouge over the weekend to form an executive team with more advanced communications capabilities for next week. Some sales managers are now reaching Baton Rouge and will be joining as well. We will post an inventory of Baton Rouge personnel after the meeting on Monday.

The city-wide meeting calendar through December 1 has been cancelled.  We will be in touch with all planners affected next week. Please understand that we simply cannot answer all of your questions right now until we have time for proper assessment and discussions. These cannot occur while we are in search and rescue and evacuation mode.
 
Our ability to work with and contact our member hotels and other member companies is severely impaired as of this update. Please be patient with our wonderful suppliers and properties who are under incalculable stress at this time.

Planning meetings between tourism and government leaders will likely not occur until next week, as government agencies, companies and individuals remaining in New Orleans are engaged in basic survival, securing property, acquiring water and food, evacuating citizens, and ardently managing their commitments  to citizens, guests, employees, and property preservation.

There are no means currently of bringing  groups together to discuss strategic issues. Public safety issues are the dominant concern at this time.

The CVB office on St. Charles Avenue is closed and is not likely to have power restored for two months in a best case scenario. It could take many more weeks. Reports indicate that our magnificent new headquarters has been significantly damaged. Updates will be regularly given. We will likely be located in Baton Rouge for the remainder of the year.

To our knowledge, all CVB personnel are safe. Virtually all were asked to evacuate and relocate. Those few who remained cannot be contacted or reached for the most part, but are assumed safe. Only those who evacuated are able to work with you at some level at this time. It is estimated that more than 90% of the CVB staff will have sustained major home damage or outright loss of their homes.

I will continue personally to write updates to the website as I am able. We apologize for any inadequacies of information and are doing our best to maintain communication with all emergency preparedness entities and with all travelers, meeting planners, and tour operators. Please work with our regional offices in the meantime.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. I am sorry we cannot speak personally to each of you who have important questions at this time.

J. Stephen Perry
President/CEO


Overview

Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast with devastating force on Monday. Most believe that this is now the greatest natural disaster in the history of the United States.

Thousands still await rescue as 70% of the city is still underwater. Civil safety seems to be improving today.
Insurance exposure and damage estimates are initially estimated at a minimum of $25 billion.
Some 90,000 acres of America, an area the size of Kansas, are totally devastated.

Over 80,000 people have been evacuated to shelters in other locations. Federal relief efforts are finally showing significant results.

Some of the most heroic rescues in our nation's history have occurred over and over. First responders have been brave and stretched to the breaking point by their commitments and efforts.

President Bush was on the ground Friday and consulting with local and state leaders. The local hope was that federal efforts would quickly become more effective with the President's input. And that has been the case.

The presence of the President was reassuring to locals because he already expressed that he believes the federal relief efforts to that point had been totally unacceptable.

After meeting with the Mayor and Governor, the President  toured the New Orleans area by air before departing for his return to Washington D.C.

The President signed a $10.5 billion aid package on Friday which he described Saturday in a White House Press Conference as a down payment.
 
The city seemed to turn a corner Saturday as most of the citizens at the Superdome and Convention Center were evacuated according to MSNBC at 6:00 p.m.

There are now 35,000 National Guard troops on the ground and civil order is coming back. The 82nd Airborne is also on the ground in the city. A large influx of military under the command of General Honore is currently restoring order.

Next Steps

The most important steps right now focus on search and rescue, evacuation, and providing food and water and healthcare to our besieged remaining local residents. The restoration of civil safety is also critical and has begun to occur with the influx of the military.

Once search and rescue is finished and all of our citizens have been stabilized and cared for with food, water and accommodations, we have urged the government leaders to make stabilizing our hotels a priority. 

Many in our hotel industry would serve as the location  and headquarters for emergency workers, construction workers, federal personnel, public safety officers and all other essential persons and provide a base of operations from which to facilitate the rebuilding of the city. As the city is rebuilt, the hotels could also rebuild their own infrastructure and put service workers into jobs that would stabilize their lives and serve the rebuilding worker teams. Then we would have a headstart on rebuilding the economy and the 81,000 jobs provided by the industry. It will be a long process, but our hotels want to do their part. Their current infrastructure would be invaluable to the rebuilding process.

We are also urging the federal government to preserve and protect the integrity of the French Quarter upon which the economy of the city is built and is dependent. We can rebuild modern buildings. The Quarter is what defines us and is not replaceable.

Power Outages

There is no electrical power for the city of New Orleans in the largest power outage in the history of New Orleans or Entergy. Certain areas of the city including the French Quarter, parts of Downtown, the Warehouse District and Convention Center may have power within a month or it may take much longer....other areas may be without power for up to three to five months.

Spotty electrical service has been restored in parts of Jefferson Parish along major thoroughfares. See the Entergy website.

Telecommunications and Internet

There has been no or little cell phone service in the city as all towers are either down or battery charged transponders cannot be reached to be recharged. For the first time Friday, there was intermittent availability of cell service. Cell phone service continues to come back well over the weekend. Lines are still ot esy to gain however.

Only those hotels with corporate housed servers in other cities have any internet possibility. Communication with anyone in the city is extremely difficult.

Long distance lines are sometimes difficult to acquire throughout Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast because of the high traffic.

Return of Evacuees

There is no access to the city of New Orleans by citizens who evacuated whatsoever. The Governor has issued an order barring all evacuees from returning to the city until it is deemed safe. There is no access to the city at this time and none is expected for  two weeks or more.

Some estimates have full return to the city more than a month away. Temporary return of evacuees to collect belongings is being considered by governmental officials but is unlikely until civil order is established firmly and evacuation and search and rescue begins to wind down.

Jefferson Parish will allow residents with ID or proof of address to return beginning Monday at 6:00 a.m. via Airline Highway. A curfew from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. is still in effect.
 
Drinkable Water

Water in the area is no longer potable and must be boiled before consumption.

Evacuations of Tourists and Citizens


The evacuation and rescue of the 40,000 citizens remaining continues.

I-10 East Destroyed

The Twin Span of  Interstate 10 leaving the city to the east toward Mississippi and Florida has been destroyed.

Flooding

New Orleans glimpsed a possible turning point Wednesday as floodwaters that had risen harrowingly for two days reached equilibrium and began spilling back into Lake Pontchartrain through breaches in the levee system, officials said.

At least 60% of the city is still under water. Official estimate that after the levees are repaired, it may still take 30-45 days to significantly drain large sections of the city.

The French Quarter, Uptown and the CBD had initially suffered the least amount of flooding and water damage and have been doing relatively well from the standing water perspective.
 
The Warehouse and Arts District and CBD and Convention Center Area are relatively dry today . Some hotels fared poorly and others did well, relatively speaking.

Most internal roads in the city are impassable with water or downed tree limbs or other storm debris.

French Quarter

The historic character of the French Quarter has otherwise survived and many of the buildings have suffered far less wind damage than those in other parts of the city. Mayor Nagin estimates that 60% of the city is still under water at this time. Restoring the integrity of the levees will determine the level of water damage in the Quarter and Downtown. Currently the Quarter is in acceptable condition considering what has occurred.

The fires at Canal Place adjacent to the Quarter on the River Side did not destroy the building structurally. They have not spread to any other part of the Quarter at this time. Saks has been destroyed although firefighters saved the structure.

Convention Center

The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center had fared well from the hurricane winds in a part of the city having less damage than most. Damage assessments are forthcoming but early views were very optimistic. Unconfirmed secondary sources report that the center  suffered minor window breakage and wind damage. Water damage is limited to two halls and is very manageable at this time. Thus, structural issues are positive.

Unfortunately, the interiors of the Center have been under considerable duress from large crowds which had gathered and inhabited the center as shelter. The citizens there were not been provided with water or food for more than three days, resulting in civil unrest through mass frustration. The interiors will require considerable cleaning and renovation.

All citizens have been evacuated from the Center now. No time is able to be estimated yet for the beginning of renovations and cleaning.
 

Superdome

Significant wind damage to the Superdome has been sustained and to many high rise buildings in downtown as additional wind torque with the storm blew out many windows including those at several large hotels. The Hyatt near the Superdome has sustained serious damage to its windows on one side.

The 15,000 survivors staying in the Dome have been relocated to the Astrodome in Houston.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue
of the NFL announced that it was unlikely the New Orleans Saints would be able to play football in the Dome for the entire NFL season.

Commissioner David Stern of the NBA is considering relocating the New Orleans Hornets to another city according to ESPN.

Curfew

A mandatory curfew is instituted in the evening hours and has cleared New Orleans' streets of people, cars and public transit at night. All ferry service has been discontinued, and New Orleans area bridges have been closed.

No Entrance to City

The Governor has issued an order barring all evacuees from returning to the city until it is deemed safe. There is no access to the city at this time and none is expected for the next week or more.


Jefferson Parish will allow residents with ID or proof of address to return beginning Monday at 6:00 a.m. via Airline Highway. A curfew from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. is still in effect. Television news in Baton Rouge reported that Entergy and Bell South are very concerned about the decision and believe that the crowds of returning citizens will clog the roadways and greatly impede restoration of power and telecommunications. Lines on Airline Highway are already reported as citizens line up to return to the parish. Caution and patience are urged.

For specific information regarding traffic management and evacuation protocol, check the Louisiana Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness
Web site.

For information regarding statewide shelters, please call 1-800-469-4828.

Hotels & Lodging


Currently, a number of New Orleans hotels still remain open and are accommodating guests and survivors and public safety personnel. 

The Canal Place complex is currently on fire according to CNN. Status of the Wyndham is unknown at this time.

However, in accordance with mandatory evacuation orders in effect for Orleans Parish, and the status of the city after the storm, all have been working to evacuate remaining tourists. These efforts have been largely successful.

The focus of hotels has been managing water and food supplies to their guests and making them as comfortable as possible under exceedingly difficult disaster conditions. They have been Herculean in their attention to and management of water and food supplies with only skeleton staffs, and their amazing efforts to ease the difficulties of stranded locals and tourists and to the families of public safety personnel remaining behind.

Arrangements are being made to evacuate all remaining stranded hotel guests as soon as possible from every property still protecting guests. Many of those evacuations have already begun and many have been completed. Hotels simply have no staff or supplies to handle the situation much longer. Federal and state assistance will be necessary soon for those remaining open.

Damage to hotels has been much less compared to the other parts of the city from a structural or wind perspective. Damage assessments however cannot really begin for some time.

If you had plans to travel to New Orleans during the next three months, it is important that you check this website, the national news, and check directly with your hotel regarding the status of the city and your reservation. Local TV website links are provided below.

Meeting Planners

 

All city-wide conventions are cancelled through December 1.

Additional assessments will be made during the next two weeks when we are out of search and rescue mode. Contact the following staff in Washington and Chicago:

Donna Karl   630-357-3480

Peggy Hagaman:  847-236-0200

JoAnne Hunsicker:  703-379-2233


If you are a meeting planner, please understand that the CVB and most hotels have no telephone or cell service, nor internet access at this time. Nor is there access to electronic files and databases to contact customers. The staffs of the CVB and your hotel will contact you directly as soon as it is physically possible.

All office electronic files should be restored by Tuesday. We will be in touch with all of you next week.

Airport & Airlines

Armstrong International Airport
remains closed at this time to commercial traffic due to power outages throughout the region. There is no timeline for the resumption of commercial air service into the New Orleans area.  

The airport is currently being utilized as a critical care medical triage facility for the evacuation of patients.
 
Passengers will not be allowed to retrieve vehicles left in the airport parking garages until further notice.

Only emergency supply flights are now allowed into the city.


Airlines are working with the Baton Rouge airport to add significant new flights there to help service the region.

We will work with airlines over the next few days to ask for forbearance on issues related to fees on rescheduling flights, particularly as they relate to meetings and conventions. We expect the airlines to respond appropriately and assist you, particularly in a natural disaster situation such as this one. However, you must work directly with the airlines yourself on your individual situations as we do not have the manpower or communications systems to do so.

Port of New Orleans & Cruise Lines


All in-coming access into New Orleans and the Port is now closed due to the condition of the city. Guests that parked at the pier in New Orleans will not be able to access their cars for an undetermined period and there is a complete assessment of the area. The Port of New Orleans hotline (1-866-476-7866) will provide updated information about access to the port area as it becomes available.

Three Carnival Cruise Line ships have been marshaled by the federal government to move next week to New Orleans to serve as temporary housing.

Public Transportation

The Regional Transit Authority suspended all bus and Para transit services. Streetcars are not operating.

RTA will inform the public when service can be reinstated.

Ferry service has been suspended and virtually all area bridges have been closed.  For a list of closed bridges, click here.

New Orleans CVB  Staff

Unfortunately, the CVB emergency team has had no power or internet or telephone access along with all of the other residents and businesses. Virtually all staff were evacuated pursuant to the orders of the Mayor. For remaining staff , there is no access possible to telephone messages at the office or to internet communications. This website is hosted in California and will continue to operate. Mr. Perry will continue to update the website himself and use it to send messages to staff.

All CVB  employees who evacuated and are in a secure location, please email Mr. Perry at jstephenperry333@yahoo.com. Please include your location and a landline number and your status and safety update.

All CVB staff who are in the Baton Rouge area are asked to attend a meeting on the 5th floor of the Capitol Annex on the river side of the Capitol Building at 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning.

We believe that we will be able to process CVB payroll on Tuesday. We will keep you informed.

CVB staff members are just now able to communicate with or reach each other.

This website will continue to be updated as is possible with any information from city and state officials as announcements are made.

Recorded CVB Information Line: 504-566-5011 This line may not maintain functionality.

 

 
Official Government Communications:

CITY Office of Emergency Preparedness

Latest Info from the Office of the LA State Police

Louisiana State Office of Emergency Preparedness

 

Conventions  and Meetings Status


 


Status of the Airport, Airlines
and Cruise Lines

 

Status of the
New Orleans Hotels


Official Weather Sites
and Local TV News Sites

 

Status of Citywide Transportation
 


Status of the Convention Center,
Louisiana Superdome, and
N.O. Arena


 

Evacuation Routes
 


 

Emergency Preparation
 

 

 

 

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