Musicians, artists, tourists empty out of French Quarter



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Posted on August 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 27 at 11:35 PM

NEW ORLEANS — For a city unaccustomed to sleep, New Orleans was pretty quiet on Monday night.

Long-time residents said they are not that worried about Isaac because the Mississippi River is so low — meaning any storm surge wouldn't likely top levees this time.

By Monday night, neither wind nor rain had begun to fall in the French Quarter. Forecasters expect it overnight.

As the sun set in New Orleans, Isaac brought the French Quarter to a halt.

“This is as dead as I’ve ever seen it,” said Sean Steffens, who was behind the bar at Big Easy Daiquiris. His restaurant was among the last to close.

Still, he’s not selling many drinks as the storm approaches.

“You’ve got people that have been through a lot of bad storms and evacuated,” Steffens said. “They’re just not going to deal with it. Other people? I don’t really move for anything over a [Category] 2 or a 3.”

Next door, roofers raced to finish a job before the rain arrived.

Bourbon Street was all but empty Monday night.

There was no line at Café du Monde, and Jax Brewery closed early Monday afternoon.

Across the street, musicians and artists had emptied out of Jackson Square.

Cicadas replaced the sound of brass bands.

Andy Dumas and his crews drove in from Fort Worth on Monday with plastic and plywood. Even if Isaac is only a Category 1 hurricane, Dumas said it’s likely to be lucrative for contractors.

“Typically over a six-month period, a contractor who comes in like us will make $5 to $10-million gross,” Dumas explained.

Scars still remain from Hurricane Katrina but uncertainty seems to outweigh anxiety in this city now.

Tourists have taken off, but not Reginald Ringo, a street performer.

He’s still singing his heart out along an empty sidewalk in the Big Easy — unconvinced that Isaac is big enough to drive him out of town.