French Quarter residents, businesses prepare to evacuate ahead of scheduled implosion

French Quarter residents, businesses prepare to evacuate ahead of scheduled implosion
Business owners and residents in the evacuation and exclusion zones are trying to plan ahead. Though some say they're still not sure whether they'll be forced to leave tomorrow, they want to be prepared.

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Business owners and residents in the evacuation and exclusion zones are trying to plan ahead. Though some say they're still not sure whether they'll be forced to leave tomorrow, they want to be prepared.

“We had a last-minute bridal shower call us today, which is great because we could definitely use the business and the income,” said hair stylist and French Quarter salon owner Diana Thomas-Weder.

Thomas-Weder says, since the collapse, she's had fewer phone calls and walk-ins.

"I think people felt, when they saw where it was, they didn't want to try to come this way. It's making it a little stressful because we don't know whether we're evacuation or not. No one told us anything," Thomas-Weder explained.

Yet, she's still planning as though she'll have to leave, set to come in early and scheduling "house calls".

"A mobile stylist," joked Thomas-Weder.

In the heart of the French Quarter, there are a number of businesses within the evacuation and exclusion zones but not all are feeling the financial effect, at least not like Thomas-Weder.

"There's been a lot of people walking down Conti Street because they can't walk down Bienville and Iberville, so I think a lot of people have been stopping to see the costumes," said Carl Mack with a smile.

Mack heads up the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture.

“The fire marshal came by and said we could stay open but tomorrow I expect they’ll come by and tell us we gotta get out for a little while,” Mack said. It’s fine by Mack but it does require a little pre-planning for the entertainment portion of his business. He says performers will take their costumes home, Friday.

“At least if we can’t get back into the building, the show can go on,” said Mack.

It's not just businesses reassessing their weekends. Resident Bill Sarpalius and his 12-year-old companion live so close to the construction site, he used to watch the workers from his patio.

“Everyday for the last five weeks and, to see it just stop, it looks like a ghost town now,” said Sarpalius. “All the streets are blocked off which makes it real inconvenient but there’s nothing you can do about it. Have to walk this little fella a long ways to find some grass."

Scarpalius referenced his dog, a Bichon Frise named Marcelle.

Though Sarpalius and others are hoping to soon see an end to barricades and detours, they say they’re also sensitive to the situation.

“I guess we should be thankful there wasn’t more lost,” Sarpalius said.

“It’s definitely unfortunate. People died so trying to deal with that but it’s also a huge inconvenience,” Thomas-Weder explained.

New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell says firefighters and police officers will be going door to door in the expanded evacuation zone, ensuring everyone is out before the implosion.

Copyright 2019 WVUE. All rights reserved.