After more than a week, the residents of the tiny Louisiana town of Butte LaRose are still waiting and wondering if the flood will come. Many have packed their belongings, some have barricaded their homes behind temporary levees, and others have put the wheels back on their trailers and hit the road.
The early predictions were dire: 15 feet of water could inundate the town within days. The expected crest of the Atchafalaya River was soon lowered by a couple of feet, but the threat of serious flooding remains.
On any given day this past week, a visitor to this town six miles off I-10 would see inmates loading sandbags, Humvees rolling down the main drag and mobile homes creeping along the tiny road back toward the interstate. As people in this self-proclaimed "Swamp capital of the world" wait for the worst, Doucet's Grocery, the only store in Butte LaRose, is keeping its doors open and the beer cold.
At first glance, you'd think the store had already closed. A closer look at the aluminum screen doors reveals a handwritten sign with the hours of operation: 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Peek through the screens, and you see signs of activity inside.
There's no need for a door chime. The clanging of metal crashing against metal announces each customer's arrival as the door slams shut. Step inside past the 12-pack of beer propping the door, give your pupils a few seconds to adjust to the dim fluorescent lighting, and gaze at the aisles of goods ranging from feminine hygiene products to live bait.
Behind the counter, store co-owner Beulah Doucet sits patiently, waiting for her next customer to mosey up with a handful of goods. The sound of chirping crickets fills the air. They're the live bait, bouncing around in a wooden incubator. Overhead, abandoned wasp nest "trophies" the size of volleyballs hang from the ceiling like disco balls.
Doucet's Grocery has been a family business and town landmark for nearly 90 years. Beulah and her husband, Jack, have owned and operated the store for 48 years, ever since her parents retired and gave it to her. She still puts in 16 hours each day, stocking the shelves and working the register.
The 80-year-old Doucet says in spite of the flood warnings and calls to evacuate, she's staying with her store as long she can. She's seen floods here before. "In 1973, the gauge was 27.3, and we didn't have any water on the front of the store," she reminisces. Predictions over the past week started at 29 feet on the river gauge, and have now fallen to just above 24 feet.
The river's waters don't seem to worry Doucet nearly as much as the calamity that can accompany disaster. She's moved much of her merchandise off the lower shelves and to higher ground. The bigger concern is that the power could be cut, thawing her freezers and ruining the frozen fare inside.
Then there's the possibility of looters. Doucet has heard rumors of strangers in town posing as government officials, telling people to leave their homes immediately so they can take what they'd like. While these may only be rumors in a parish that's being heavily patrolled by law enforcement, Doucet says she's got a plan to barricade the door should she be forced to leave.
So far, evacuation remains voluntary. A mandatory order had been planned for Saturday morning, but it has been postponed until at least Monday. Even without a mandatory order, nearly everyone in town is gone. They do come back to check on their homes, but no one is staying just yet.
Doucet's Grocery is still open, and the Doucets are still there with it, even if they're now out of beer and nearly everything else. "If they allow me to stay, this is where I want to be," Beulah Doucet says. "Even if I'll be all isolated, I'll be home."
Former all-star Major League Baseball catcher Gary Carter said Saturday that doctors discovered several “very small” tumors on his brain.
Carter, 57, said he is scheduled for further testing Thursday at Duke Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
In a statement released on the New York Mets website, Carter said the discovery came from an MRI.
"Earlier today, I learned that four very small tumors have been found on my brain, following an MRI on Friday at a West Palm Beach facility," Carter said. "I am scheduled to be examined further Thursday at Duke Medical Center, and we will learn more at that time about my diagnosis.
"My wife, Sandy, and our children and family thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We ask that you please respect our privacy as we learn more about my medical condition," he said in the statement.
There's no word on whether the tumors are malignant or benign.
Carter, known as "The Kid" throughout his career, was a three-time Golden Glove winner, a five-time Silver Slugger award recipient and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2003. At the induction ceremony, he said, "It's nice to know that even though my body feels like an old man now, I will always be a kid at heart."
Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon released a statement about Carter as well. "On behalf of the Mets organization, our thoughts and prayers are with Gary, Sandy and the entire Carter family," it said.
Carter retired in 1992 after 19 seasons with the Montreal Expos; the New York Mets, where he won a pennant; the San Francisco Giants; and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Shackleford won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, edging Animal Kingdom to take the crown.
A full field of 14 horses competed in the 136th Preakness at the track at Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland.
Animal Kingdom was favored to win after finishing first in the Kentucky Derby a couple weeks ago. It was the horse’s fourth start of the year.
The Preakness is one-third of thoroughbred horseracing’s Triple Crown, (Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes).
[Update: 6:57 p.m ET]
The Grimsvotn volcano under the Vatnajokull glacier in Iceland was erupting Saturday, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office.
A dark cloud of smoke was rising from the glacier, and scientists were flying over the scene to evaluate the event, according to CNN affiliate TV2 Iceland.
The last eruption of the volcano was in 2004, TV2 Iceland reported.
Last year, another Icelandic eruption, of the volcano Eyjafjallajokull, attracted worldwide attention after its ash cloud disrupted air travel across Europe.
Sitrun Kapitola, manager of the Islandia Hotel Nupar, which is close to Saturday's eruption, said she could see a cloud of smoke over the mountains, and ash was falling around the hotel.
Police were telling her and others that there was no need to evacuate and there was nothing to fear, Kapitola said.
"We see it very well," she said.
"It's nothing compared to the other one," she added, referring to last year's dramatic eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull.
Tourists at the hotel were excited to see the eruption, watching the events unfold while eating dinner, she said.
"It happens every 10 years," she said. "It mostly produces water."
Grimsvotn is Iceland's most frequently active volcano. In 1783, a 16.7-mile fissure system from the volcano produced the world's largest known historical lava flow over a seven-month period, damaging crops and livestock, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. A resulting famine resulted in the loss of one-fifth of Iceland's population, according to the Smithsonian website.
In a bid to recover sunken artifacts – and as an excuse just to say “Aarrrgh” to each other – divers plan an expedition next week off North Carolina to the flagship of famed 18th century pirate Blackbeard.
Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, is believed to have run aground in the shallow waters off Beaufort, North Carolina, in 1718. The ship was discovered by excavators in 1996, with piecemeal recovery of artifacts intensifying only a few years ago.
Staff from the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Branch will enter the waters Monday for a two-week mission focused on “conducting a detailed assessment of the main mound to determine strategies for disassembly and recovery,” according to the Queen Anne’s Revenge website.
Mark Wilde-Ramsing, project director for the Queen Anne’s Revenge dive, told WUNC 91.5 the expedition hopes to score a trove of 18th century goods, which then can be used to educate the public and raise awareness of underwater preservation efforts.
He said divers could "hopefully recover a large anchor that is on the main ballast pile. There's a lot of these rock, stones and these anchors, two of them, plus a lot of cannon underneath,” he told 91.5.
Blackbeard, known for his dark, braided facial hair, evidently used a lot of cannons.
An article published in March on the Smithsonian website said the Queen Anne’s Revenge was found to have about 225,000 pieces of lead shot and at least 25 cannons, many of them still loaded.
Romanticized in history books as a notorious ruffian, Blackbeard, born in Britain as Edward Teach, terrorized Atlantic seafarers from the shores of the American colonies to the Caribbean.
The Queen Anne dive is part of a conservation project that has been years in the making. Wilde-Ramsing said divers will try anti-corrosion agents and devices to stop or even reverse years of saltwater decay, according to 91.5.
For more information, see the Queen Anne's Revenge website.
For those of you who haven't been paying attention, it could be your last day here on Earth.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, according to radio host Harold Camping, the Day of Rapture and the start of Judgment Day begins.
At this writing there have been no reports of people being taken up into heaven, but plenty of folks are talking about it.
Jim Brenneman, a cartoonist and CNN iReporter in Marcellus, New York, said he expects to remain on Earth, but you never know.
"Although I assume that I've lived a sinful life and will probably be here on Sunday, there is a small chance that maybe I was better than I thought and might get sucked up into the heavens on Saturday with all the other self-righteous wing nuts," he said. "If that happens, feel free to have my stuff. But probably not! Let the Looting Begin! HAPPY APOCALYPSE EVERYONE!!"
Brenneman posted a cartoon envisioning himself being caught up.
Another iReporter, Greg Reese, created an entertaining – and thought-provoking – video from interviews with people on the streets of Cincinnati.
The top Twitter trend on Saturday morning was #endoftheworldconfessions. Among them:
Lord_Valdemort7: "I 'let the dogs out.' It was me."
Firenzeii: "You know your cute little bunny rabbit? The one you called Fluffy and loved more than anything else? I ate him."
BiebersNachos: "I loved, I love and I will always love this sexy badass singer called Justin Drew Bieber :)"
WagTheFox: "You really do look fat in those jeans. There. I said it."
CNN iReporter Jutka T. Emoke Barabas from Honolulu just isn't that into the Rapture.
"We have better things to do, like take care of our environment," the iReporter said. "Today we should reflect about what we could do that our planet would be a better and more livable place for everyone in the future and not think about the end of our planet."
She said she drew a picture of Earth covered with different trees because she was tired of hearing about all this "doomsday business." While still on the Earth, Barabas suggested, "just plant a tree."
She said she plans to do just that on Sunday for the people affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
CNN iReporter Cameron Harrelson, 16, from southern Georgia, started researching the idea of Saturday as Judgment Day after his literature teacher had students express their thoughts on the day in their class journals.
"The Bible tells us no man, not even Jesus, knows the day he will return," Harrelson said, and so those predicting the day are trying to elevate themselves to the status of God.
"I am ready if it happens tonight a 6 o'clock, but I don't think it is very likely," he said.
A probe into the evidence against Amanda Knox, the American student convicted of murder in Italy, was extended Saturday for another 40 days, according to her attorney.
The results of new DNA tests were due Saturday, but forensic experts were not able to complete their work in time.
Knox, 23, was sentenced in December to 26 years in prison for the death of Meredith Kercher at the villa the two shared in Perugia, the central Italian town where both were students.FULL STORY
Pope Benedict XVI spoke Saturday with the astronauts aboard the international space station, specifically mentioning Cmdr. Mark Kelly's wife, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is recuperating from recent surgery on her skull.
"I know that Mark and his wife were the victim of a serious attack, and I hope that her health continues to improve," the pope said.
Kelly thanked the pope for mentioning Giffords. The Arizona congresswoman was shot in the head in a January assassination attempt.
Six people were killed and 26 injured in a suicide bombing at a military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday, authorities said.
A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility, and said 51 people had died.
At least 26 people were injured, said Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the ministry of defense.
Two Taliban members carried out suicide attacks on the Charsd Bester military hospital, Zabiullah Mojahed, a spokesman for the militant group, told CNN
"One of them detonated inside the eating place and the second one was shot to death and now the operation is over," he said. "As a result, 51 people (have) been killed, including foreigners."