Carson City contractor Tom Metcalf is anxiously listening for news coming out of the path of Hurricane Katrina. Somewhere in the destruction should be a 15-story glass-walled building that he invested two years of his professional life into remodeling.
"We think it's still standing," Metcalf said Tuesday.
He is planning a trip to Metairie, La., soon after Sept. 9, the earliest time anyone is allowed to fly to the area, to assess damage to the Executive Office Tower. After Katrina it may need another remodel, or more.
The tower is in Metairie, Jefferson Parish, south of Interstate 10 and Lake Pontchartrain, near where 200 feet of the levy broke.
Metcalf Builders started renovating the exterior of the 30-year-old tower in 2002. The design team installed a new glass curtain wall system for the building. He traveled to Metairie every month for two years during its renovation. The Hyatt Regency in New Orleans lost its entire glass curtain wall because of wind whipping around the Superdome.
He heard a rumor third-hand that the 190,000-square-foot Executive Office Tower is in 7 feet of water. All the area is below sea level.
Metcalf said he hopes the 72,000-square-foot glass wall held up to the 145 mph winds.
"As of this morning, I saw a glimpse of it on Fox News as the helicopter was going around so I know it's still standing," Metcalf said.
His client, Security National Properties of Baton Rouge, also owns a smaller building about 10 blocks off the Mississippi River that Metcalf will inspect.
Anna Hackett of Carson City is frantically waiting for any news about her nephew, 47-year-old Robert Halvorson, his wife and in-laws, who live in Ocean Springs, Miss., which is near Gulfport.
"We're pretty frantic as this point because we can't communicate with them," she said Tuesday.
Hackett called the American Red Cross and a representative wrote down their names, which is the only option open to families searching for relatives who either evacuated or remained in the area to weather the storm. The Red Cross recommends that families wait to hear from relatives when they reach an area that has phone or Internet connections.
A Red Cross spokeswoman said that they are crippled by the same communication issues as everyone else hit by the hurricane. The Red Cross cannot provide any information about families, but for general information contact the organization at 856-1000.
The last time Hackett heard from her family was Sunday night before the storm hit. One of her in-laws is on oxygen.
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.