Tuesday, August 30, 2005Alas, New Orleans
I'm trying to keep up to date on the unfolding catastrophe in New Orleans, but it's a bit difficult since not even people in the city itself seem to know exactly what's going on. Hurricane Katrina itself was purportedly not as bad as it might have been, but now the levees that keep the city above water are breaking and things are deteriorating rapidly.
From the Mayor's statement:
"We have 80 percent of our city underwater. In some parts of the city, the water is as deep as twenty feet.
"We have people still trapped on their roofs.
"We have an incredible amount of water in the city. Both airports are underwater."
"The twin spans in New Orleans East are destroyed. They're gone.
"We have three huge boats that have run aground. We have an oil tanker that is also run aground. And leaking oil.
"We have a serious levee break at 17th Canal. It's causing waters to continue to rise in certain sections of the city.
"We have houses that have literally been picked up off of their foundations and moved.
"The yacht club on the lake has burned and is destroyed.
"I must tell people who are driving around that if you drive on the highrise, we're not sure about the structural soundness of the high-rise, because it appears that a barge has hit one of the main structures of the high-rise.
"This is a briefing that I got from FEMA.
"All of Slidell is under water.
"We have gas leaks that have sprout out, and even when they are under water, you will see a flame shooting out of the water. It's not a pretty picture."
Nobody knows when New Orleans residents can come back. It might be days, it'll probably be at least weeks, it could easily be months -- for a lot of people, it'll be never. Some reports say that bodies -- both new ones and floaters from the city's cemeteries -- are being seen drifting through neighborhood streets; poisonous snakes and alligators are moving into the city; there's at least one major oil spill being reported, and likely a great deal of other contamination from the city's flooded industrial areas -- and don't forget the immense amount of sewage.
Martial law has been declared in New Orleans; the general tone is one of every man for himself. The water level is expected to continue to rise for the next several days, so evacuations of those remaining people are continuing -- they're abandoning the city to the water.
And of course Biloxi and Gulfport have practically been wiped off the map.
Anyway, one local TV station is running an ongoing blog on the situation -- go read.
PS: Things may be on the verge of getting really bad inside the Superdome. The place is full of sick and wounded evacuees from the hospital, people are starting to panic, there's already been one suicide, and with the building completely surrounded by water, there's nowhere for anyone inside to go. Warning: callous statement coming: I hope someone in there brought a video camera, because this would make an incredibly compelling film.
PPS: More information -- much less reliable yet also far more informative (and incredibly poignant) -- can be found on the WWL forums, specifically the one devoted to Katrina. |