...As Emergency Work Continues
The Baton Rouge tower now is staffed with four positions, up from two, and the radar room has five, up from three. The new staffers came from New Orleans Lakefront Airport, where the ATC facilities remain closed, and two volunteers from Dallas-Fort Worth. Even with the extra staff -- who spent a couple of weeks in RVs parked outside, until hotel rooms could be found for them -- controllers have been working mandatory overtime to keep everything running. Traffic has slowed down, but it's still at least double what it was pre-Katrina, and it may stay elevated for quite a while. Or even forever -- the population of Baton Rouge has just about doubled with evacuees from New Orleans. Nobody knows how many of them will stay, or how they will affect traffic at the airport over the longer term. "There's just a lot of things are in a gray area right now, looking into the future," Bordelon said. The airport could become a major commuter hub for the Gulf Coast region in the years to come as the entire area recovers and rebuilds.