New Orleans kababayans prepare for strong winds, tornado watch

NEW ORLEANS, LA — The strong winds and tornado watch over New Orleans, brought by the outer bands of a downgraded tropical storm Harvey, did not stop these Filipino business owners from opening shop at this flea market.

Souvenir shop owner Alfredo Tan says it’s business as usual in the French quarter, as the South bids Harvey goodbye.

“Malaking pasalamat kasi, makatinda ka, makatrabaho ka.”

For hurricane Katrina survivors like Mally Lim, she says the mere thought of having another mega hurricane possibly making its landfall in the Big Easy triggers PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder.

“Ninerbiyos ako kaya yun ang mahirap sa akin, saka hindi ko makalimutan yan, kasi naranasan ko yan, nagkahiwalay kami ng tatay ko saka yung nanay ko, sila sa Houston kami diyan kami sa baton rouge 3 months nag stay kami sa arena,” said Lim.

Lim admits she was among those who did not heed the call for mandatory evacuation, until Katrina made landfall in New Orleans 12 years ago.

“Sinabi na mandatory evacuation na, kami hind pa kami umalis, kinabukasan pa kami umalis, inabutan kami ng malakas na hangin, dun sa mahabang tulay, naawa nga ako sa iba,” said Lim.

But people’s attitude towards mass evacuations have changed since Hurricane Katrina pounded the Gulf coast in 2005, and left more than 1800 people dead.

“Ngayon pag sinabing evacuation — pag-evacuation na, ready to go, wala nang hesitation, you have to go, we’re surrounded by water… natuto na oo, of course, we don’t want to experience,” said Lourdes Washington.

Tropical storm Harvey made it’s second and third land fall earlier today hitting Lake Charles, Louisiana — home to more than 100 Filipino residents.

Honorary Consul Robert Mariano says Filipinos in Harvey’s path did not take any chances this time.

“Lake Charles has already been hit, so far there are oil and gas platform that has already been closed, and a lot of our kababayans our countrymen already evacuated to the outlying areas,” he said. “I have been in constant contact with them, and so far they are still safe.”

The storm that hit Texas Friday as a category 4 hurricane has been downgraded to a tropical depression, as Harvey lost strength over Western Louisiana on Wednesday night.

But the National Hurricane Center warns the expected heavy rains over Louisiana and Kentucky may still lead to flash floods and river flooding.

Meanwhile, the nearly 15,000 passengers and hundreds of Filipino crewmen aboard Carnival cruise ships stranded in New Orleans overnight are relieved.

Two of the three ships have resumed their course to Texas Wednesday afternoon, and are expected to reach the port of Galveston on Friday, while the third one is expected to dock home on Saturday.

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