New Royal Street Annotations….& Photos

 First, a reminder that the giveaway for the new Kindle continues at my sister site HERE. The ebook of Susannah Sandlin’s Redemption is only $3.99 at Amazon right now, and a preorder will get you an extra entry in the Kindle giveaway. See details at Susannah’s site.

On Wednesdays, I’m doing annotations for Royal Street by chapter (for past chapters, click on the tab). Today, we’re looking at inspiration, trivia, and other tidbits from Chapter 7.


As DJ heads back into New Orleans, she has limited options. New Orleans proper is essentially an island, bound by the Mississippi River to the south, Lake Pontchartrain to the north, swamp to the west, and lake/swamp/wetlands to the east. Hurricane Katrina destroyed the main artery from the north and east, the Twin Span bridges of I-10, so this wasn’t an option:

The monstrous Causeway Bridge across 26 miles of the middle of Lake Pontchartrain (in the middle there’s no land visible in any direction….creepy!) was closed except to military traffic:

So the only way into New Orleans was to circle around Lake Pontchartrain and hook up on River Road, a curving, two-lane artery that snakes alongside the Mississippi River from the west. This really was how people slipping into the city early, before the mandatory evacuation was lifted, got in.

DJ evacuates to Winfield, Alabama, which is where I grew up. I think it’s grown to something like 3,500 people now. The drive from Winfield to New Orleans takes about six hours. One thing I didn’t deal with in Royal Street were the gas shortages after Katrina. Not because there was no gas to be had, but because there was no electricity in most of Louisiana and Mississippi so the pumps wouldn’t work. Five days after the storm, when it became clear I wouldn’t be going home anytime soon, I had a harrowing drive from my evacuation hotel in Shreveport to a friend’s house in Montgomery, Alabama, coasting in on fumes.

The descriptions of what DJ sees around the city as she comes back into town are pretty much my own observations. The TV footage didn’t capture it because it couldn’t really show the scope of it, devastation literally around every corner. There were no working traffic lights, so there were homemade “stop signs” stuck up at intersections, and military jeeps EVERYWHERE. Lots of fender-benders.

DJ came back to find a cedar tree on her roof and her slate roof trashed. This was my story. Above’s my trashed backpatio where the tree roots tore up the brick. Below, my sixty-foot tree on the house:

DJ finds an interesting “gift” on the ground in front of her house–a copy of the August 28 Times-Picayune, the last day it was delivered. Here’s what I found at the foot of my steps–it had soaked in over a foot of water in the post-K flooding. I labeled this photo “Irony.”

DJ references looters, and it did become a big problem in New Orleans after the storm. Initially, it was businesses along the main arteries like Canal Street and Magazine Street, but it spread into the uptown neighborhoods, where the flood damage was limited and houses were sitting empty. I was fortunate not to have been looted (remind me to talk about burglar bars sometimes); one of my neighbors wasn’t as lucky.

That’s it for this week! Stop by tomorrow to meet a great paranormal author…and win a book or two!

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

4 thoughts on “New Royal Street Annotations….& Photos

  1. I’m pretty sure you’ve posted it before, but it’s that picture of the newspaper greeting you on your return that really gets me. Crazy, unbelievable, and scary in its way all at the same time.

  2. Yes, I’m sure I’ve posted it–it’s one of my favorites (well, in an odd way) of the shots I took on my first trip home after the hurricane. The other most surreal moment (among many) was going back to work on November first and seeing my desk just like I’d left it for the weekend and with my calendar still sitting on August 26, the last day I’d been there before the hurricane. Just bizarre moments!