Published August 28, 2005
NEW ORLEANS – The bands were blaring on Bourbon Street (search), the bar tables were packed and the drinks were flowing.
"The only dangerous hurricanes so far are the ones we've been drinking," said Fred Wilson of San Francisco, as he sipped on the famous drink at Pat O'Brien's Bar (search). "We can't get out, so we might as well have fun."
As Hurricane Katrina (search) whipped its way through the Gulf of Mexico toward New Orleans (search), some tourists were forced to stay put because flights and rental cars were booked up. Others were lucky enough to change reservations early and get out of town.
Mayor C. Ray Nagin called for a voluntary evacuation of the city at 5 p.m. Saturday. He said he would most likely be more forceful about making people leave Sunday. For the tourists stuck in town, he had some different advice.
"The only thing I can say to them is I hope they have a hotel room, and it's a hotel room that's at least on the third floor and up," Nagin said. "Unfortunately, unless they can rent a car to get out of town, which I doubt they can at this point, they're probably in the position of riding the storm out."
In the French Quarter, the revelers, street musicians, tarot card readers and fortune tellers carried on like it was any other Saturday.
"I'll be here tomorrow, I'm not leaving," said trombonist Eddie "Doc" Lewis. "I've been through typhoons, monsoons, tornadoes, hurricanes and every other phoon, soon or storm. I'm not worried."
Down the street, psychic Jackie Wilson waited for customers at a card table, advertising "Free sample readings."
"I'm not leaving, we live in a 100-year-old building a block away," she said. "It's survived all that time. But I tell you, this is ground-X right here. This storm is heading right for us. Get ready."