A Force 5 hurricane is set to slam into New Orleans tomorrow, possibly overwhelming the city's levee system and submerging the city under 18-25 feet of water. The storm was a category 3 storm but abnormally high temperatures over the Gulf of Mexico have allowed it to suck up extra force on its trip from Florida to Louisiana. The Louisiana National Guard has only 1500 men available to help with the disaster, as most of it is in Iraq.
Only three hurricanes of this strength have ever hit land in the United States since the category was recorded: the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Camille in 1969, and Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the hurricane center said. -- The New York Times
Like most natural disasters, this one has a few human elements. Although Republicans like to pretend that global warming doesn't exist, glaciers and permafrost in Alaska are melting. Anybody want to guess why the Gulf is particularly hot these days?
Meanwhile, Louisiana has been cutting holes in its barrier islands -- the ones that normally block storm surges -- to make it easier for oil tankers.
Louisiana has also been draining its wetlands -- which normally serve to soak up floods.
Then, there's the fact that New Orleans itself has been built below sea level. You can get away with that in Holland, where the sea is always nasty but never crazy. But in hurricane alley? That's like building a shingled roof in the Santa Monica Mountains (which is illegal). Or building without a storm cellar in Kansas. You're asking for trouble.
Katrina hitting New Orleans is shaping up to be a massive human disaster. People are going to die and much of the city is going to be uninhabitable. That's awful. My father-in-law is evacuating his house, which he may lose, so it's personal. But it's not an accident, anymore than was the Mississippi flooding of a few years ago, which had a lot to do with, again, draining wetlands and building in the flood plain itself.
We're arrogant and reckless. Nature is slapping us down, and it's going to hurt.
Since it now appears that New Orleans is directly in the path of Katrina...one can only pray. Hope your father-in-law made it to higher and safer ground.
Lets also hope he didn't take highway 10 out of town which is gridlocked both ways which are going north.
Unfortunately, the LA Governor said we should all pray instead of saying what was happening, what they were doing about it, and how they wanted the public to react in order to save the most lives...
Estimates say that there will be 1 million homeless in the area by the time it's over. 60-80% of the housing in southern LA will either be destroyed or uninhabitable.
But let's not take the sane, rational approach and work toward saving lives today and in the future. Let's just pray for a miracle instead of making one happen...
Alex, I'm sorry for the trouble your Father-in-law is going through. I know how it is to have family in the middle of "storm central" - my folks live in SC, and I check the weather every hour to see if this hurricane switches course...
Let us know if we can do something practical to help - donate to the Red Cross, United Way, etc...
My cousin & her family live in New Orleans, too, (but they are safely in Memphis now)& we couldn't agree with you more, Alex. We were talking just last Thanksgiving about the environmental reprecussions of the wetlands being damaged beyond repair. I never knew they were also damaging their barrier islands, but it's no wonder. For some reason, too many of us believe we can take whatever we want from this Earth and not have to pay the price. Well, this is the price & if we don't start listening to what Mother Nature is trying to teach us, it'll only get worse.
The LA Governor told people that they sould leave town three days before- she then told them they had to get out 24 hours before. Then with gridlock on the only three roads out of the bowl that is New Orleans, she told the people remaining to leave their homes and get to the shelters of last resort and to pray. Hard fact is that all the planning and preparations can only go so far before a Force 5 storm. Getting out and hunkering down are it. No technology exists at this point in time to make it safer than that. We made the mess and we can only react to something this big by coming in afterwards and cleaning up. Hopefully in the future people will think twice about living on barrier islands, in areas that NEED to be swamps and of course, paving every square inch of land not otherwise used for growing corn and tomatoes.
My best wishes for your family, Alex. I live in Atlanta and we are (right now) experiencing the effects of Katrina's outer bands. Howling winds and driving rain is not the sum of it. She's a viciously powerful storm and has spawned some tornados in her wake. There've been several to touch down here in Georgia. I can't imagine how horrid it must be to be in the middle of all that fury. I hope your family remains safe.
As for those who wish to donate to the Red Cross, John Rogers of Kung Fu Monkey has a charity-a-month thing going. He contributes a matching amount to those given by his readers (go even if you don't read him), and September's charity is to be the Red Cross. If you feel inspired, consider giving something to August's charity... the Army Emergency Relief fund. They take care of the soliders and their families. Many of whom are in Iraq. Thier families are struggling since there can be a huge disparity between a civilian salary and that of a PFC.
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