Old Orleans

While Katrina was on approach, I was somewhat bemused, thinking to myself that the dire predictions all over the media were just the usual blowhard fear-mongery. Storm surge! breaking levees! A toxic lake! The storm passed 50 miles to the east, the winds didn't push the water into Lake Ponchatrain, the levees for the most part held. This morning, the news was all about "hey, so when can the Louisianans start heading home?" and "keep tuned right here for the latest news on when I-10 is re-opened at US 641."

I think I was wrong (video link courtesy WWLTV). Some hasty transcription:

80% of our city underwater

some sections, water as deep as 20 feet

incredible amount of water in the city - both airports are under water

the twin spans in new orleans east have been totally destroyed - they're gone

oil tanker run aground, leaking oil

serious levee break at 17th street canal, place where orleans and jefferson parish both drain... causing waters to continue to rise in certain sections of the city

houses literally picked up off their foundations and moved

if you drive on the high rise we are not sure of the structural soundness, it appears as though a barge has hit one of the main structures of the high rise

gas leaks that have sprung up throughout the city, and even when underwater, you will see flame shooting out of the water

These comments were spoken by the Mayor appearing live on WWLTV, he was reading off a list given to him at a FEMA briefing. Other tidbits from the WWLTV website:

Residents of Jefferson Parish will probably be allowed back in town in a week, with identification only, but only to get essentials and clothing. They will then be asked to leave and not come back for one month.

Looting is rampant, and parts of the city are under marshal law.

Helicopters are trying to stem breaches in levees by dropping 3,000 pound sandbags.

Here is an AP photo gallery. Look at #27, #36, #38, #49, #77, #97, #99.

Finally, there's also a Latest Updates Blog at the site which has all sorts of detailed information, including some bright bits of news - for example, classes at LSU will be starting next Tuesday. Overall though, this is beginning to look nothing like the city had "dodged a bullet". New Orleans was not spared.

Also: a blog from the Times-Picayune. Unbelievable narratives.

UPDATE: The Governor of Louisiana has decreed that the whole city must evacuate. Text from AP/WWLTV:

Governor says entire city needs to be evacuated

03:29 PM CDT on Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Associated Press

With conditions in the hurricane-ravaged city of New Orleans rapidly deteriorating, Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Tuesday that people now huddled in the Superdome and other rescue centers need to be evacuated.

"The situation is untenable," Blanco said during a news conference. "It's just heartbreaking."

Because of two levees that broke Tuesday, the city was rapidly filling with water and the prospect of having power was a long time off, the governor said. She also said the storm severed a major water main, leaving the city without drinkable water.

The governor said that at midnight, all of the boat operators trying to rescue people from rooftops were told to take a break.

"They refused. They couldn't do it," Blanco said.

Blanco said some people who were stranded in a tall building, but rescuers couldn't get to that building because of the large number of people "calling to them and jumping from rooftops."

UPDATE 2: The French Quarter is now flooding.

I'll stop updating this post now.

1 comment:

Dan said...

I too thought that Katrina was just a product of media hype. The tabloidism that has gone into storm coverage since the advent of 24 hour cable news made it difficult to know what one should take seriously until it was too late.