Surviving Hurricane Katrina: A sysadmin's epic DR (as in Didn't Realise) odyssey

25 days of refugee sex and guns in odd places

Saturday, 27 August

I land in New Orleans at 19:30 on Saturday, 27 August. Still no word from Henry and when I try to call there's no answer. Our office was in the Central Business District, about a mile from Bourbon Street. Traffic was usually a nightmare from the airport into the CBD on Saturday nights.

On this night, the streets were deserted, which was just as well since the highway into New Orleans had already been switched to contraflow in anticipation of the evacuation.

When I got to the office I swapped tapes and started another backup, checked the rsync to my remote location and started looking at what I was not pushing to the remote location.

I finally left the office at 22:30 with a stack of tapes and headed home. It took me an hour to pack up and get out of my apartment. I took clothes, guns, computers, my paper files, and, oddly, my bedding.

My friends tell the story of me evacuating with my bedding to this day. I don't know why, but I couldn't tolerate the thought of my duvet cover being defiled by looters.

Sunday, 28 August: Me, lots of Feds and my guns

I had reservations at a Marriott hotel in Memphis. What was normally a six-hour drive took all night. I arrived at 10:30 on Sunday morning. My room was not available since the hotel was full of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) workers staging for the hurricane.

I spent three hours sitting in the lobby with a luggage cart full of guns and computers. I was still in the south so I figured no one would care about the guns, but with all the Feds around I was just a little paranoid.

By the time I got checked into my room I had been up for twenty-seven hours. An hour later and I had my computers set up and I was still poking around the computers at the office finding new important files to transfer to my remote site.

I was in communication with the CEO but still hadn't heard from Henry. With nothing more to do I went to sleep at 17:00 Sunday.

Monday, 29 August

By the time I woke up on Monday morning my VPN connection to the office was gone. I poked around the remote site and mail had been queuing there for a couple of hours. My rsync had not completed but I had what I thought were the important pieces of data. But still, I wasn't sure. That would continue to gnaw at me.

I spent all of Monday watching the news and answering the same questions from the CEO ('No, I hadn't heard from Henry. Yes, I have backups. I have no idea when you'll be able to check mail again').

At 17:00 Monday evening I told the CEO that we needed to start planning to shift data centre operations to Texas. He told me to sit tight in Memphis and that he was sure I'd be able to head back to New Orleans in a day or two.

That evening Tropical Storm Katrina rolled through Memphis.

I suck at evacuation planning.

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Next page: Tuesday, 30 August

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