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News :: Social Welfare
new orleans
28 Aug 2005
i hope not everyone here has "killed their television." i've debated it, but it's for times like this i'm glad i kept it...i'm not religious, but if i were, i'd say a prayer for the people of new orleans. some of america's poorest are facing an unprecedented disaster - 28 foot storm surge is going to directly hit a city that sits below the water level. up to 1 million could be homeless and countless could die. think a good thought for them.
New Orleans Braces for Powerful Katrina

By ALLEN G. BREED, Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS - A monstrous Hurricane Katrina barreled toward New Orleans on Sunday with 165-mph wind and a threat of a 28-foot storm surge, forcing a mandatory evacuation of the below-sea-level city and prayers for those who remained to face a doomsday scenario.

Katrina intensified into a Category 5 giant over the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday as cars jammed highways leading out of the region.

A direct hit on New Orleans, as expected around sunrise Monday, would be the city's first direct hit in 40 years and the most powerful storm to ever slam the city of 458,000. By early evening, the first squalls and driving rains were lashing its buildings.

A grim Mayor C. Ray Nagin conceded Katrina's storm surge pushing up the Mississippi River would swamp New Orleans' system of levees, flooding the bowl-shaped city and causing potentially months of misery.

"We are facing a storm that most of us have long feared," he said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event."

Forecasters warned that Mississippi and Alabama were also in danger. Because of Katrina's size — its hurricane-force winds extended 105 miles from the center — even areas far from the landfall could be devastated. Beyond the winds, the storm packed the potential for a surge of 18 to 28 feet, 30-foot waves and as much as 15 inches of rain.

"The conditions have to be absolutely perfect to have a hurricane become this strong," said
National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield, noting that Katrina may yet be more powerful than 1992's Hurricane Andrew. Andrew, with 165 mph winds, leveled parts of South Florida, killed 43 people and caused $31 billion in damage.

"It's capable of causing catastrophic damage," Mayfield said. "Even well-built structures will have tremendous damage. Of course, what we're really worried about is the loss of lives."

As many as 100,000 inner-city residents didn't have the means to leave, and an untold number of tourists were stranded by the closing of the airport. The city arranged buses to take people to 10 last-resort shelters, including the Superdome.

Nagin also dispatched police and firefighters to rouse people out with sirens and bullhorns, and even gave them the authority to commandeer vehicles to aid in the evacuation.

Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard said some who have ridden out previous storms in the New Orleans area may not be so lucky this time.

"I'm expecting that some people who are die-hards will die hard," he said.

For years, forecasters have warned of the nightmare scenario a big storm could bring to New Orleans, a bowl of a city that's up to 10 feet below sea level in spots and dependent on a network of levees, canals and pumps to keep dry. It's built between the half-mile-wide Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, half the size of the state of Rhode Island.

Estimates have been made of tens of thousands of deaths from flooding that could overrun the levees and turn New Orleans into a 30-foot-deep toxic lake filled with chemicals and petroleum from refineries, and waste from ruined septic systems.

Katrina was a Category 1 storm with 80-mph wind when it hit South Florida with a soggy punch Thursday that flooded neighborhoods and left nine people dead. It reformed over the warm waters of the Gulf Mexico, strengthening rapidly over the warm water.

By 5 p.m. EDT, Katrina's eye was about 150 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The storm was moving toward the northwest at nearly 13 mph and was expected to turn toward the north. A hurricane warning was in effect for the north-central Gulf Coast from Morgan City, La., to the Alabama-Florida line.

Despite the dire predictions, a group of residents in a poor neighborhood of central New Orleans sat on a porch with no car, no way out and, surprisingly, no fear.

"We're not evacuating," said Julie Paul, 57. "None of us have any place to go. We're counting on the Superdome. That's our lifesaver."

The 70,000-seat Superdome, the home of football's Saints, opened at daybreak Sunday, giving first priority to frail, elderly people on walkers, some with oxygen tanks. They were told to bring enough food, water and medicine to last up to five days.

"They told us not to stay in our houses because it wasn't safe," said Victoria Young, 76, who sat amid plastic bags and a metal walker. "It's not safe anywhere when you're in the shape we're in."

By afternoon, fitter residents seeking to get in lined up for blocks in the muggy heat, clutching meager belongings and crying children.

In the French Quarter, most bars that stayed open through the threat of past hurricanes were boarded up and the few people on the streets were battening down their businesses and getting out. In a worst case scenerio, the district could end up under 20 feet of water.

Sasha Gayer tried to get an Amtrak train out of town but couldn't. So she walked back to the French Quarter, buying supplies on the way, and then stopped at one of the few bars open on Bourbon Street.

"This is how you know it's a serious hurricane," she said. "You can't find a slice of white bread in the city, but you can still buy beer."

Airport Holiday Inn manager Joyce Tillis spent the morning calling her 140 guests to tell them about the evacuation order. Tillis, who lives inside the flood zone, also called her three daughters to tell them to get out.

"If I'm stuck, I'm stuck," Tillis said. "I'd rather save my second generation if I can."

But the evacuation was slow going. Highways in Louisiana and Mississippi were jammed as people headed away from Katrina's expected landfall. All lanes were limited to northbound traffic on Interstates 55 and 59, and westbound on I-10.

Evacuation orders were also posted all along the Mississippi coast, and the area's casinos, built on barges, were closed.

Residents of several barrier islands in the western Florida Panhandle were urged to evacuate as Katrina pushed several inches of water onto coastal roads and near homes.

Alabama officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for low-lying coastal areas. Mobile Mayor Michael C. Dow said flooding could be worse than the 9-foot surge that soaked downtown during Hurricane Georges in 1998.

New Orleans has not taken a major direct hit from a hurricane since Betsy blasted the Gulf Coast in 1965. Flood waters approached 20 feet in some areas, fishing villages were flattened, and the storm surge left almost half of New Orleans under water and 60,000 residents homeless. Seventy-four people died in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

Tourists stranded by the shutdown of New Orleans' Louis Armstrong Airport and the lack of rental cars packed the lobbies of high-rise hotels, which were exempt from the evacuation order to give people a place for "vertical evacuation."

Tina and Bryan Steven, of Forest Lake, Minn., sat glumly on the sidewalk outside their hotel in the French Quarter.

"We're choosing the best of two evils," said Bryan Steven. "It's either be stuck in the hotel or stuck on the road. ... We'll make it through it."

His wife, wearing a Bourbon Street T-shirt with a lewd message, interjected: "I just don't want to die in this shirt."

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Re: new orleans
29 Aug 2005
1. My symapathy to the residents of New Orleans who did not have the means to live. I hope they survive this.

2. A hearty "fuck you" to those who had the means to leave and chose to pack their vehicles woth posessions rather than offering a ride to a person of lesser means.

3. Another hearty "fuck you" to the merchants and hotel owners who are using this as an excuse to price-gouge.

4. I don't care about the tourists. Fuck 'em!