Sunday, August 31, 2008

Leaving Baton Rouge, reporter told 'Pray for us'

BATON ROUGE, La. - I'm sitting in the airport here at 5:15 a.m Sunday morning., waiting to make my escape after covering the Appalachian State-LSU game.

Hurricane Gustav is bearing down on Louisiana, and is apparently straining to upgrade itself from a category 4 storm into a category 5 monster. It isn't supposed to hit the Louisiana coast until tomorrow, but after the nasty experience this area had with Katrina, it seems no one's taking any chances.

Get out while you can.

On the way to the airport, my cab driver told me Baton Rouge is already nearly out of gasoline and beer; apparently the two necessities. He said both are difficult to find.

Locals are putting up family and friends from coastal areas, and others are packing up and moving farther north. Starting today, all roads, including in-bounds lanes, lead out of New Orleans. They're calling it "the contraflow." They're not taking any chances. The governor even tried to cancel Saturday's LSU game with Appalachian State. They reached a compromise and played at 10 a.m. CDT instead of 4 p.m and still had an impressive crowd, estimated at almost 70,000.

Today is supposed to be fairly nice.

Tomorrow could bring the area as much as 10 inches of rain with wind gusts up to 60 mph. Or it could be worse.

As I checked out of my hotel, the clerk smiled and said, "Pray for us." -- STAN OLSON