Hurricane Hospitality

  E-mail Rick!

Sept. 15, 2004 9:08 p.m.

[Ed. note: Stay locked on FNC for Hurricane Ivan coverage you won't see anywhere else. Rick is LIVE from New Orleans, then Alabama all day.]

I know the danger and fury of hurricanes firsthand, having covered more than a dozen of them over the years. I love the thrill of seeing Mother Nature at her fiercest, but hope and pray people at risk respect the storms and seek safe shelter.

As Hugo roared around me, I spent the scariest night of my life in Charleston, South Carolina, in November 1989, trembling and praying as I hugged a brick wall, desperately trying to reach my hotel room with winds topping 110 miles-per-hour.

My home in Miami suffered thousands of dollars in damages when Andrew blasted through. We lost power for three weeks.

Now I stand on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain, watching the edge of Ivan whip the water into a frenzy, flooding Lakeshore Drive, threatening the levees separating the huge body of water from the city of New Orleans. The Big Easy is in big danger of being buried underwater, if not this time, then one day soon. And that would be a disaster. [Click video tap to the right to watch Rick's report.]

We set up our satellite truck to go live by the lake Wednesday morning, almost a full week since we first left New York in search of Ivan's landfall. Now finally, we were seeing and feeling the effects; strong winds whipping the waves, blasting them into the steps of the lake wall, spraying us with surf — the water rising fast, from puddles on stretches of the road to a full calf-deep layer of water. A field between the road and the grassy levee quickly fills with several feet of water, and as the winds intensify, and the waters rise, we move the truck once, to higher ground, then again when the dish starts to shake.

This is an exciting story and it's been a thrilling three weeks, but I'm eager to go home and catch up on my life.

First, though, I have to give big thanks to Debbie Landry, who demonstrated wonderful kindness and generosity towards my crew and I. She walked up between live shots by the lake to tell me she and her family watched during the war and really appreciated my reporting during my embed, and FNC's overall coverage. Then she came back a short time later asking if my crew and I were hungry! The truth is, we were all starving for a good meal. All we had were breakfast bars, dry cereal, and chips. Normally I'd refuse such offers, but knowing all the restaurants were closed (a 24-hour curfew had gone into effect), knowing we had no other shot at hot food, and feeling the sincerity of her offer, I told her we might just take her up on it. And we did.

After our 5 p.m. hit for “The Big Story,” and before our 6:45 p.m. pre-tape for O'Reilly and 7 p.m. “FOX Report” shots, we drove to the Landry home about a half-mile away.  Debbie welcomed us at the door and invited us in with a smile. We met her husband and several of their kids and their boyfriends/girlfriends, and sat down to a delicious meal of red beans, rice, sausage, and salad, with homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Debbie told us she has eight (or nine?) brothers and sisters, and 89 people in their immediate family. She showed us a family photo that resembled a group shot of a graduating class and its faculty!  She boasted of her kids accomplishments like any proud mom, and packed a bag lunch for our engineer, who had to stay behind with the truck. The Landrys were warm and wonderful and their hospitality is greatly appreciated.

Mr. Leventhal,

I'd like to thank you for posting the Hurricane Hospitality story about the Landry's.  Such acts are the cornerstone of our great country and are as equally deserving of airtime as any other story.  In fact, I'd much rather hear about the compassion of our homeland than "The Memoes."

Stay safe, for you are a welcome part of my family every time we turned to FOX News.

E. Ray (Knoxville, TN)


I enjoyed reading your article titled "Hurricane Hospitality."  Congratulations to Debbie Landry and her family for showing you out-of-towners what true southern hospitality really is. You may know by now that the warmth and caring she showed to you and your crew is very common in this part of the country.

You need to find some time to come back and allow us to show you a good time under better conditions.  Y'all come back now, ya hear!

Charlie (Baton Rouge, LA)

Coming from a New Orleanian native who evacuated to Arkansas, I really enjoyed your coverage over in New Orleans, especially near Lake Pontchartrain. What a trooper you were to stay out there for all those hours while still keeping a great attitude.  Just another reason why FOX News is my only choice for fair, balanced, and all around excellent reporting.  Hopefully your next trip to the Big Easy will be drier!
Geaux Tigers!!

— Jodee

Hi Rick,
Hope you got some rest. I have been watching the news about Pensacola. It looks really bad. We really enjoyed reading your article. I had to laugh about the family picture resembling the graduating class and faculty.
Please know you are welcomed any time for a meal while in New Orleans. Take care.

Great job covering Ivan as well as your other storm coverages and embeds in Iraq. Glad you got the chance to experience some New Orleans hospitality. Considering that you were in Key West early for Ivan and it didn't go there, and Ivan skipped New Orleans and you were down there waiting, please feel free to come back anytime we have a natural disaster bearing down on us.
Baton Rouge

Dear Rick,

I’m not much of a fan of people or things, but you, my man, are the star of the show at FOX. Is there anywhere they don’t send you? My wife and I were talking, if there is a chance of someone getting hurt or even killed Rick is the guy FOX puts out in the middle of it. Great job, but take care of yourself, we like you!



You did a terrific job reporting from New Orleans and your calm, steady style was a welcome respite from the hysteria found on other stations/networks.  FNC has strong credibility due to reporters such as yourself and this viewer, one of many, is very appreciative.
I'm glad that you experienced some New Orleans hospitality; but for the curfew, be assured that you and your crew would have been inundated by invitations.  Perhaps you will return to our fair city to report on our very serious wetlands erosion issue... at which time you may enjoy some of our famous restaurants.
— Mary 
PS - Your reporting (and FNC's coverage) from Iraq during your embed was also much appreciated.  It was an eye-opener!