The menu for Rusty Welch's Tiger Tailgate on Saturday was scheduled to include sausage, brisket and stuffed potatoes. But there was no football this weekend in Baton Rouge, where residents are still dealing with extensive damage from Hurricane Gustav, causing the postponement of Saturday's LSU-Troy game.
Six days after the hurricane hit, Rusty -- a diehard LSU fan and tailgating extraordinaire whom I met last year at a book signing -- was still without power as of Saturday morning. His roof suffered extensive damage (including the chimney blowing off).
I asked him to chronicle how he spent his first post-hurricane Saturday as compared with a normal game day:
Game day, 5:30 a.m.: Wake and go to the tailgate area, set up tents, generator, satellite dish, flat-panel TV and start the BBQ pit.
Hurricane Day 6 a.m.: Wake at 5 a.m. to check gas in the generator powering our refrigerator and 5,000 BTU window A/C unit, go to gas station at 6 a.m. in order to beat the crowd to refuel. Non-working traffic signals increase driving time tremendously.
Game day, 7 a.m.: Place six briskets on the BBQ to begin slow cooking to serve around 4 p.m.
Hurricane Day 6, 7 a.m.: Drive to McDonald's to purchase breakfast from a limited menu. During the drive, take notice of neighbors removing debris from crushed cars, houses and roofs.
Game day, 8 am to Noon: Watch GameDay, cook burgers and sausage for 75 and 100 people at our tailgate.
Hurricane Day 6, 8 a.m. to Noon: Remove debris from my house, repair broken fence, try to determine if there is a way to plug the second hole in our roof.
Game day, Noon to 4 p.m.: Visit with family, friends and business folks while enjoying beverages and games on the flat-panel TV, serve briskets and stuffed potatoes.
Hurricane Day, Noon to 4 p.m.: Spend two hours on a conference call regarding Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center (BRCIC), which is currently receiving over 2,000 phone calls per day. Go to in-laws to wash clothes since they got electricity back Friday night.
Game day 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.: Continue visiting, watching games and enjoying beverages, then head to the stadium to watch LSU football.
Hurricane Day 6, 4 pm to 11 p.m.: Go to a friend's house so I can access the Internet and try to get additional work accomplished. Go to another friend's house and watch the Florida-Miami game until 9 p.m. before leaving in order to meet the city's mandatory 10 p.m. curfew.
Rusty and his family received some good news by the end of the night: Their electricity had been restored. About half the city, however, remains in the dark.
Meanwhile, state officials are bracing for a possible follow-up blow later this week from Hurricane Ike. It remains to be seen whether Saturday's LSU-North Texas game will be affected.
Hopefully Ike will be merciful. The good people of Baton Rouge could sure use some relief next weekend -- not to mention Rusty will be cooking fajitas.
To donate to the Hurricane Gustav Relief and Recovery Fund, click here.