In the first entry of "Hunkering Down," the similarities between hurricanes and pandemics become obvious. Where is Jim Cantore?
- story and photos by Ellis Anderson
The coronavirus crisis reminds me of a hurricane.
As a veteran of 20+ storms, including Katrina, I recognize identical elements. We have the nervous Nellies who’ve gone overboard in preparation and hoarded the baby wipes and toilet paper. There’s the crowd that goes the denial route and reaches for liquid courage - or any substance - that will give them the temporary illusion of invulnerability.
The build-ups beforehand are identical, only this time, our main source of info is the World Health Organization instead of Jim Cantore and the Weather channel. There are the forecasts of areas that will be hardest hit, the predictions of how this might be “the big one.” We’ve repeatedly heard the complete rundown of this particular Armageddon's long-term consequences presented by pompous prognosticators.
The privileged have a decision to make, stay in place or evacuate to presumably safer territory. Stay urban where health care facilities might be more prepared, or go country, where chances of infection might be lower? Once the first real squalls start rolling in, it's too late to move.
There are more similarities: When a hurricane’s just a cone on a map, coast residents hope - even pray - that it will change course before landfall, which, of course, means it will hit someone else. We wish for a wind sheer or high-pressure system that will steal the storm’s power.
Even the most rational among us work to convince ourselves that projections of the hurricane's severity have been ramped up by a media machine bent on driving up ratings. But that's rarely the case. People are hurt. People die.
Nobody knows squat really, with either hurricanes or pandemics. We’re all in unknown territory.
I'm one of the privileged folks with some resources and options - at least at this point. I could drive to Bay St. Louis, just an hour east of New Orleans and social distance from my home there. But I've been working in the French Quarter for weeks, with lots of international contact. Might I already carry the fiendish virus?Chances are slim, but if it hitched a ride with me, could I infect my husband? While he's in fine health, he's in his mid-70s.
The focus of my work the past few years has been exploring the French Quarter as a community instead of a commodity. Without a million or more tourists filtering through each month, I'll have the rare opportunity to witness and document the neighborhood at its bare-bones and quirky best.
So with eyes wide open, I'm casting my lot with the Quarter.
Support this project.
Like what you're reading?
Give a one-time amount or subscribe below to help support our writers and our publication.