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Gulf Hurricane Veterans Stay Put

September 26, 2002

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EMPIRE, La. (AP) _ They use everything from plywood to shrimp boats. Veterans of Gulf Coast storms have many tricks for surviving hurricanes.

Residents of small south Louisiana towns turned their noses up at Hurricane Isidore on Wednesday, unimpressed by forecasters’ predictions that the storm would cause widespread flooding and property damage.

``Everybody around here is sticking it out,″ said Brandi Cooper, 19.

Cooper said she and others planned to spend Wednesday night on a family friend’s 80-foot shrimp boat tied to a pylon in a nearby canal. On the boat, they’d stay on top of the rising water and remain far from the trees and power lines that the hurricane’s winds were expected to pull down.

``We’ll be tied. We’ll be safe. We’ll have a hurricane party,″ she said.

Pete Ulmer spent Wednesday morning drilling boards over the door and windows of his air conditioning business in Empire. He boarded up half the windows on his house, but left the others unprotected because he didn’t think Isidore’s winds would be too dangerous. He strapped his motor boat and Mardi Gras float to the ground and planned to stay home with his wife.

``It’s more dangerous for me to get out on the road with those aggravated drivers than it is to stay home,″ he said.

Pam LeNormand cooked and served sandwiches at her restaurant, Pam’s Place, and had no intentions of obeying the evacuation order. She was not allowed to serve alcohol because of the order, and deputies would eventually order her to close the restaurant. But they couldn’t force her to leave home, she said.

``It’s a hassle to leave, to evacuate,″ she said. ``I don’t like spending money on gas and hotel rooms when you don’t have to.″

Major John Marie, spokesman for the Plaquemines Parish sheriff, said the order to leave could not be enforced.

``Some people just want to stay in their homes, no matter how low-lying they are,″ he said.

Rising floodwater surrounded Eric Tiser’s mobile home in nearby Boothville on Wednesday, and his two sons, 4 and 5, splashed and played in the three feet of water in his front yard. Tiser said his home had weathered worse storms.

``We’re used to this here. This here’s not a big deal at all,″ said Tiser, 39, a fisherman. ``We go through squalls with winds 80, 90 miles an hour around here.″

John Taliancich Jr. said he would be safe in his mobile home if Isidore’s winds stayed around 60 miles per hour. He was concerned, though, that the storm would gather strength in the Gulf before heading inland.

``If it was 80, 85 miles an hour winds, I wouldn’t be sitting here,″ said Taliancich, eating chicken and French fries while watching the Weather Channel at LeNormand’s restaurant. ``If those winds pick up, I’m heading north.″

Phillip Simmons, a farmer, moved his bulldozer, pickup trucks, all-terrain vehicles and tractors atop the levee on the east bank of the Mississippi River. His 500 head of cattle were still grazing along the levee, and he was confident they would protect themselves from flood waters by wandering to higher ground when necessary.

``Those animals are dumb. But they’re not that dumb,″ he said.

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