OP-ED: Laura’s narrow miss; Carnival curtailed
By ALAN SMASON
We all breathed a sigh of relief when short-lived Hurricane Marco skirted past us last week and when the most destructive storm to ever hit the Louisiana coast in recorded history, Hurricane Laura, took aim at Lake Charles and reached Shreveport with hitherto unheard of hurricane force winds and rain.
It was a frightful reminder that there but for the grace of God, goes New Orleans and, fittingly, the reminder came at the time we remembered the destruction from Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago and the much-less destructive Hurricane Issac eight years ago.
We were very lucky.
We have not been so lucky with regard to the ongoing pandemic from COVID-19, as both Governor John Bel Edwards, Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Jefferson Parish president Cynthia Lee Sheng have all kept the area at a Phase 2 level of recovery. Schools have provided online educational opportunies and have held classes in some areas, while local universities have opened their doors for both in-person and virtual learning.
We are all holding our collective breath to see if we can hold our own and move ever slowly into Phase 3, when restaurants may be able to break even – and maybe not then – at 50% of capacity and bars may be permitted to reopen.
This past week, the Knights of Babylon and Sparta and the Krewes of Thoth and Iris announced the cancellation of their coronation balls and bal masques that are held in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. Other krewes like Carrollton and Argus are awaiting a few more days or weeks before making similar pronouncements. All of them are still planning parades, but the State Fire Marshall has indicated no parades will be possible until the area enters Phase 4 and no one can predict if and when that will be prior to the Carnival season.
So, for now, the parades are still viable, but no one knows for how long.
In a way, the destructive force and economic damage being done to our area restaurants, hotels and subsidiary services for the Carnival krewes by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic may prove to be even more costly than the deadly and devastating landfall of Hurricane Katrina. If Carnival is not held due to the pandemic, the cost will be in the hundreds of millions to our local economy
In the meantime, it’s up to us to continue the safe practices of frequent hand washing and sequestration while we ride this one out. Keep those clean fingers crossed. Hopefully, some of us may be riding atop some Carnival floats, if all goes well.