The announcement was released about an hour ago that a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans has been issued. I can’t believe that the worst case scenario for New Orleans has finally happened (or is about to). As I sit here writing this hurricane Katrina is heading for the mouth of the Mississippi River and will be unleashing untold havoc and damage on my hometown of NOLA.
I am sitting here remembering all of the storms that we faced here in the Tampa Bay area last year and all of the damage that was released on the Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda areas. Some of the pictures that I got from that area were just terrible, it looked like a war zone down there. So many people without housing, without food for several days, without power for weeks on end, without clean water, without showers, without phones, and some without hope. These areas are still not recovered from the destructive power of the 2004 storms (Charley, Frances & Jeanne).
I can only imagine what the fate of New Orleans will be after this storm. The last time the are was hit by a storm of this magnitude was Camille; back in the 1960’s and that wasn’t even directly to the NOLA area. I remember as a child growing up in the city it would flood at the drop of a hat. Hell, just a couple of inches of rain and you would have 2-3′ (yes feet!) of water in your front yard. When I was a kid I would go play in the flood water with everyone else in the neighborhood (gross!). Anyway, it floods very badly there and most of the levees around the city are not tall enough to protect against a storm surge of 15-25′ that is currently being predicted. Heavy rains, storm surge and levees that are not able to adequately protect the city all add up to a grim prognosis.
I haven’t kept in touch with anyone from my life in New Orleans but my thoughts go out to all of you today and through the upcoming weeks. You will have a long hard road ahead of you after the storm passes. I wish there was something that I could offer other than my hopes that everyone there makes it through with their lives intact. Godspeed and good luck to everyone there.
Footnote: In another article CNN states:
The last hurricane to score a direct hit on New Orleans was Hurricane Betsy, a Category 2 with 105 mph winds when it came ashore in 1965. Betsy killed more than 70 people, its storm surge overflowing the levees and reaching the eaves of many buildings.
“After Betsy these levies were designed for a Category 3,” said Sheriff Jeff Hingle of Placquemines Parish, just southeast of New Orleans. “You’re now looking at a Category 5. You’re looking at a storm that is as strong as Camille was, but bigger than Betsy was size-wise. These levies will not hold the water back. So we’re urging people to leave. You’re looking at these levies having 10 feet of water over the top of them easily.”
A lot of good that is going to do.
Update: Hurricane katrina has just been upgraded to a Cat 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
This is what it looks like right now.
Update: Things are looking worse now that the levees are giving way in NOLA.