Columbia Co. Woman Stuck in New Orleans

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August 30, 2005
A Columbia County man wants to go to the Gulf and get his wife. Cindy Leonard, the wife of Sheriff’s Captain Jim Leonard, is stuck in downtown New Orleans. She thought she’d escape the storm, but wound up in the heart of it.

It’s a tense start to the work week for Captain Jim Leonard. His wife, Cindy, is stuck in a Marriott Hotel in downtown New Orleans.

“There’s absolutely no ETA. I’m hoping she’ll get out by Friday,” Leonard said.

But there’s no guarantee. Cindy Leonard could be there much longer, surrounded by flood waters and devastation.
It was supposed to be a vacation away from the storm.

“Unfortunately, when they planned the departure on Wednesday, there was no forecasted storm. The first they heard it was coming over Augusta,” Leonard said. “She had an airline reservation out on Sunday. Unfortunately a lot of the airline schedules changed and her flight was cancelled and she could not get out.”

For now Cindy calls her husband every six hours, on a cell phone with a dying battery.

The ominous clouds in Appling are a result of Hurricane Katrina. These are the extreme outer bands of the storm that created some gusty wind conditions and a tornado watch that lasted through much of the day.

Across town, Columbia County’s mobile operations center is on the move, but not towards the hurricane zone.

“Homeland Security has placed these in so many locations in all of the states. There are probably 50 or more that would be closer than we would be,” said Pam Tucker, Emergency Operations.

For now, it stays put. But everyone else on standby in case the call comes to help out.

Pam Tucker says her staff is waiting for word from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency on relief efforts from Columbia County, if needed. As for Captain Leonard, he says he might drive to New Orleans later this week to pick up his wife, if the roads are cleared up.