Taking the proper precautions meant taping Xs on windows everywhere to diminish the possibility of flying glass--and sawing, hammering and covering over bits and pieces of houses anywhere from 100 to 175 years old.
In one neighborhood, 81-year-old Louie Riedl opened a beer and laughed.
"I've been here all of my life," he said, "and everyone's always getting worried about the hurricane that's going to smash the city. All I know is, it ain't happened yet, so I'll be damned if I'm going to start worrying about it now."
By dusk, most of New Orleans, well known for its busy and musical streets, was a fortress against nature.
"I've got all the supplies I need for a couple of days," said Karen Jones, an architecture student whose dog slept peacefully on her living room couch. "I'm not coming out until I know, really know, this thing is over."
Victor Whitacre, manager of a downtown Walgreens drug store, paced his aisles looking for shoplifters as people jammed the aisles and kept all of his employees busy at the cash register.
"I see lots of bulging pockets," Whitacre barked at one employee while surveying the frenzy. He said he was having difficulty arranging delivery of more supplies. "We've been out of ice for a while," he said. "We're out of everything."
Outside the store, a homeless woman who would give her name only as Rita, said she could not understand all the fuss. Carrying all her belongings in a small wire basket, she said she planned to spend the night in "some big building that is closed."
She added: "I'm not worried. I've been through it before. You stay closed in, play cards, have a drink, do something. . . . You can't fight a hurricane. You accept it as such."
Police said many of the homeless ignored their warnings to take shelter.
"Tourists have already fled and the locals are doing one of two things--going north or to evacuation centers," said Sgt. Brian Monteverde. "We advise (the homeless) to go to shelters, but you can't force them."
In the French Quarter, there was no jazz. But some bars refused to close.
Seated on a bar stool and holding the leashes to two cocker spaniels, Mike Ortalano said he never considered evacuating.
"This is New Orleans," he said. "We have a reputation to maintain."
Frantz reported from Delcambre and Lafayette and Bunting from New Orleans. Also contributing to this story were Times staff writer Richard E. Meyer in Los Angeles and special correspondent Gary Boulard in New Orleans.
Louisiana's Worst Nightmare
Cities along the Louisiana coast are protected by levees--earth and cement mounds rising 18 to 50 feet high along rivers, lakes and canals. But the low-lying coastal areas still dread "storm surges," high water pumped ashore by hurricanes:
The eye: Hurricane winds swirl around the eye, a calm area measuring about 20 miles across. After the eye passes over, winds whip up again, but from the opposite direction.
Wall clouds: The strongest winds and heaviest rain occur in the storm clouds surrounding the eye.
The fuel source: Warm water gives hurricanes their fuel. As water condenses and cools, it releases heat into the storm, causing winds to become more and more powerful.
Storm surges: Within the storm's eye, a violent drop in pressure has a plunger effect, creating walls of water that can flood coastal areas.
The Force of a Hurricane Wind
+ A hand held outside a car window at 70 m.p.h. is subjected to one-quarter the force of 140 m.p.h. winds*
+ A person could lean at a 45-degree angle into a 70 m.p.h. wind without falling
+ It is impossible to walk into an 80 m.p.h. wind without support from a hand railing or some other structure
+ At 120 m.p.h., a flying object such as a tree limb or lawn chair becomes lethal
+ A person caught in 130 m.p.h. wind would be lifted off the ground
+ A 160 m.p.h. wind is equal to 600 pounds of drag force
* Wind force increases four times because calculation is based on squaring the two speeds, as opposed to a linear calculation.
\o7 Source: Prof. Hans Hornung, California Institute of Technology\f7
Location at 1 a.m. EDT today: About 90 miles south-southwest of New Orleans and 85 miles southeast of Lafayette.
Winds: 125 m.p.h
Storm direction: Northwest at 11 m.p.h.
\o7 Source: WeatherData, Inc., National Weather Service\f7
(Orange County Edition, A14) How to Help Hurricane Victims
The Orange County chapter of the American Red Cross appealed Tuesday for money to help victims of Hurricane Andrew.
The Red Cross is urging people to send money rather than food or clothing, said Judy Iannaccone, a spokeswoman for the Orange County chapter.
Donations can be sent to:
Orange County Chapter of the American Red Cross
P.O. Box 11364
Santa Ana, Calif. 92711
Donations can also be charged to a credit card by calling (800) 842-2200. Spanish speakers can instead call (800) 257-7575.