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Thread: Hurricane Katrina

  1. #1

    Default Hurricane Katrina

    Immense Hurricane Roars Toward New Orleans

    By ALLEN G. BREED, Associated Press Writer 46 minutes ago

    A monstrous Hurricane Katrina barreled toward New Orleans on Sunday with 160-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.

    "Have God on your side, definitely have God on your side," Nancy Noble said as she sat with her puppy and three friends in six lanes of one-way traffic on gridlocked Interstate 10. "It's very frightening."

    Katrina intensified into a Category 5 giant over the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, reaching top winds of 175 mph before weakening slightly on a path to hit New Orleans around sunrise Monday. That would make it the city's first direct hit in 40 years and the most powerful storm ever to slam the city.

    Forecasters warned that Mississippi and Alabama were also in danger because Katrina was such a big storm, with hurricane-force winds extending up to 105 miles from the center. In addition to 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," National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield, noting that Katrina may yet be more powerful than the last Category 5 storm, 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which at 165 mph 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.

    "New Orleans may never be the same."

    By evening, the first squalls, driving rains and lightning began hitting New Orleans. A grim Mayor C. Ray Nagin earlier ordered the mandatory evacuation for his city of 485,000, conceding Katrina's storm surge pushing up the Mississippi River would swamp the city's 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."

    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, so the city arranged buses to take people to 10 last-resort shelters, including the Superdome.

    For years, forecasters have warned of the nightmare flooding a big storm could bring to New Orleans, a bowl-shaped city bounded by the half-mile-wide Mississippi River and massive Lake Pontchartrain.

    As much as 10 feet below sea level in spots, the city is as the mercy of a network of levees, canals and pumps to keep dry.

    Scientists predicted Katrina could easily overtake that levee system, swamping the city under a 30-feet cesspool of toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins that could leave more than 1 million people homeless.

    "All indications are that this is absolutely worst-case scenario," Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, said Sunday afternoon.

    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.

    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 strengthened rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico as it headed for New Orleans.



    By 8 p.m. EDT, Katrina's eye was about 130 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The storm was moving toward the north-northwest at nearly 11 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."

    Fitter residents waited for hours in the muggy heat and then pouring rain to get in, clutching meager belongings and crying children. By nightfall, at least 8,000 refugees were safely inside, seated in the stands because of fears the field could flood.

    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. But a few stragglers remained.

    Tony Peterson leaned over a balcony above Bourbon Street, festooned with gold, purple and green wreathes as Katrina's first rains pelted his shaved head.

    "I was going to the Superdome and then I saw the two-mile line," the 42-year-old musician said. "I figure if I'm going to die, I'm going to die with cold beer and my best buds."

    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 all day 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. At the peak, 18,000 vehicles an hour were streaming out of southeastern Louisiana.

    "I'm expecting to come back to a slab," said Robert Friday, who didn't bother boarding up his home in suburban Slidell, La., before driving north to Mississippi. "We may not be coming back to anything, but at least we'll be coming back."

    By Sunday night, most major highways were cleared out and state police warned that late escapes would be impossible after high winds hit elevated expressways over the surrounding swamps.

    Evacuation orders were also posted along the Mississippi and Alabama coast, and in barrier islands of the Florida Panhandle, where crashing waves swamped some coastal roads.

    Mississippi's floating casinos packed up their chips and closed. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the Waterford nuclear plant about 20 miles west of New Orleans had also been shut down as a precaution.

    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."



    National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

    ___ Editors Note: Associated Press reporters Mary Foster, Adam Nossiter and Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.


    Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

    Just like Camille, Aug 1969

  2. #2
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    NOAA is talking about all the glass popping out of tall buildings, and the possibility of collapse of some towers. Yikes.

  3. #3
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Disaster in the Making

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency's diminished capacity to handle natural disasters is especially worrisome to Louisiana.

    http://www.bestofneworleans.com/disp...ommentary.html

    Last month, an Associated Press poll showed that Americans were as concerned about being attacked by terrorists as they were about getting burglarized or losing their jobs. With such fears running high, it's natural that the Bush Administration, particularly in an election year, would want to put anti-terrorism efforts at the forefront. But few people, especially in a hurricane-prone state like Louisiana, should agree that anti-terrorism programs must compete for federal money with natural-disaster recovery and prevention efforts. Make no mistake: Natural disasters will occur. Just ask our neighbors in Florida.

    Last week's cover story "A Disaster Waiting to Happen" focused on changes that have occurred under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after it was absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security in 2002. FEMA insiders and emergency-management officials nationwide say the move spelled disaster for FEMA and for victims of catastrophic events. From 1993 until 2002, FEMA built a reputation as an effective, independent federal agency that responded to emergencies efficiently and made disaster mitigation a priority. But some FEMA employees and many who work closely with the agency say that when it became a subdivision of the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA's ability to handle natural disasters fell off significantly. Now, it must compete against anti-terrorism efforts for funding.

    "Before FEMA was condensed into Homeland Security it responded much more quickly," says Walter Maestri, director of Jefferson Parish's Office of Emergency Management. Maestri has worked with FEMA for eight years. "Truthfully, you had access to the individuals who were the decision-makers. The FEMA administrator had Cabinet status. Now, you have another layer of bureaucracy. FEMA is headed by an assistant secretary who now has to compete with other assistant secretaries of Homeland Security for available funds. And elevating houses is not as sexy as providing gas masks."

    Maestri is still awaiting word from FEMA officials as to why Louisiana, despite being called the "floodplain of the nation" in a 2002 FEMA report, received no disaster mitigation grant money from FEMA in 2003 ("Homeland Insecurity," Sept. 28). Maestri says the rejection left emergency officials around the state "flabbergasted."

    We're equally flabbergasted. The main criterion of FEMA's Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant program is to repair "repetitive loss structures," those that have been damaged repeatedly by floods. State officials say Louisiana has an abnormally high concentration of repetitive loss structures, with Jefferson Parish containing more than any other parish or county in the nation. "Repetitive loss structures were the number one priority, and we have more than anybody else in the country, and we got nothing," Maestri says.

    In June, Maestri fired off an angry letter to FEMA, asking why Louisiana was excluded from the nearly $60 million available in grant money. Noting that Texas has fewer repetitive loss structures than Louisiana but received the most money from the program (nearly $9 million), Maestri says, "Perhaps it has something to do with the president being from Texas. Fine, let the president take care of Texas. But let Louisiana have a little something."

    His office is still awaiting a response from FEMA, a delay that Maestri says has become typical. Poor communication, he says, is one sign of FEMA's diminished performance. FEMA did not respond to Gambit Weekly's request for information, either.

    Another troubling sign is the agency's lagging responses to natural disasters. Maestri recalls that in 2001, after Tropical Storm Allison, "we got quick response" from FEMA. Then, in 2002 after Tropical Storm Isidore and Hurricane Lili, "response time was much slower," he says. "There was a delay in funding; projects that had already been approved had their funding put on hold and we had to wait. Homeland Security had grabbed the money."

    FEMA's diminished capacity to respond to natural disasters, and to thwart preventable damage from a major catastrophe, is especially worrisome to Louisiana. Areas of Louisiana once received hundreds of thousands of dollars from "Project Impact," FEMA's largest disaster-prevention program, until the Bush Administration eliminated it in 2001. It gets worse: Not only did FEMA reject all disaster-mitigation grant applications from Louisiana for 2003, but the state might not get any funding in 2004. Maestri says that as of Sept. 28, FEMA hadn't notified his office that any grant money was available for fiscal year 2004, which ended Sept. 30. Currently, Maestri's office is contesting a proposal in Washington to remove some hazard-mitigation funding from the FEMA-friendly Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and place it under the Homeland Security Act. "We don't think mitigation for natural disasters should compete with the necessities of first respondents," Maestri says. "They're two separate kinds of needs, and certainly priority goes to the first respondent." Louisiana's entire congressional delegation should unite to fight such a proposal. The federal government must restore FEMA's ability to respond to natural disasters and mitigate the effects of future catastrophes. As vulnerable as we are to hurricanes and floods, Louisiana cannot afford to be tossed about on political seas when real storms loom on the horizon.

  4. #4
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    I am interested in this, but at the same time that was ALL that was on the news this morning.

    Look, I care to know stuff when it happens, but on a Monday Morning before work, i would like to hear some local news and weather too, not a bunch of weathermen and reporters trying to predict what horrible things could happen.

    "News 12 NJ" went so far as to REPEATEDLY site a woman whose kid was going to SCHOOL in LA.

    I feel sorry for her, but really, I do not CARE enough to see this be carrying enough importance to warrant news coverage. This is not the "small-town gazette" where every one of the readers will know who they are talking about!!!!



    Sorry. Rant is over.


    But if they have a topping over of the dykes, they are going to have a really hard time getting everything back together again........

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    It was like watching a trainwreck coming last night. It was just so tediously slow. I got up to pee at 5:00AM - switched on the TV - and STILL nothing.

    I know it sounds horrible, but I'm hearing reports that a section of the Superdome roof was blown off and I am mortified that I feel some sort of satisfaction after having watched this thing for hours yesterday.

  6. #6

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    They could have better structured this sentence:
    Scientists predicted Katrina could easily overtake that levee system, swamping the city under a 30-feet cesspool of toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins that could leave more than 1 million people homeless.

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    So people live in coffins down there?

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    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    All the coffins are above ground there, for the already dead people -

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    Katrina Lashes Louisiana, Mississippi Coasts
    By ADAM NOSSITER, AP


    NEW ORLEANS (Aug. 29) - Hurricane Katrina plowed into this below-sea-level city Monday with shrieking, 145-mph winds and blinding rain that submerged entire neighborhoods up to the rooflines and peeled away part of the Superdome, where thousands of people had taken shelter. The storm unleashed more chaos as it moved into Mississippi, hurling boats into buildings and ripping billboards to shreds.

    Katrina weakened overnight to a Category 4 storm and made a slight turn to the right before hitting land at 6:10 a.m. CDT near the bayou town of Buras. It passed just to the east of New Orleans as it moved inland and later dropped to a 105-mph Category 2 storm, sparing this vulnerable city its full fury.

    But destruction was everywhere along Gulf Coast, including an estimated 40,000 homes flooded in St. Bernard Parish just east of New Orleans, said state Sen. Walter Boasso.

    Katrina recorded a storm surge of at least 20 feet in Mississippi, where windows of a major hospital were blown out, utility poles dangled in the wind, and casinos were flooded. In some areas, authorities pulled stranded homeowners from roofs or rescued them from attics. In Alabama, exploding transformers lit up the early morning sky as power outages spread.

    "Let me tell you something folks. I've been out there. It's complete devastation," said Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan, who ventured into the hurricane to check threatened areas.

    There were no immediate reports of deaths or serious injuries as of midday, but emergency officials have not been able to reach some of the hardest-hit areas. Gov. Haley Barbour said he feared loss of life among those who chose to ignore evacuation orders.

    "We know some people got trapped and we pray they are OK," Barbour said.

    National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield warned that New Orleans would be pounded throughout the day and that Katrina's potential 15-foot storm surge, down from a feared 28 feet, was still enough to cause extensive flooding. Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the hurricane center, estimated that the highest winds in New Orleans were about 100 mph.

    "I'm not doing too good right now," Chris Robinson said via cellphone from his home east of the city's downtown. "The water's rising pretty fast. I got a hammer and an ax and a crowbar, but I'm holding off on breaking through the roof until the last minute. Tell someone to come get me please. I want to live."

    On the south shore of Lake Ponchartrain, entire neighborhoods of one-story, homes were flooded up to the rooflines. The Interstate 10 off-ramps nearby looked like boat ramps amid the whitecapped waves. Garbage cans and tires bobbed in the water.

    Two people were stranded on the roof as murky water lapped at the gutters.

    "Get us a boat!" a man in a black slicker shouted over the howling winds.

    Across the street, a woman leaned from the second-story window of a brick home and shouted for assistance.

    "There are three kids in here," the woman said. "Can you help us?"

    Elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, the storm flung boats onto land in Mississippi, lashed street lamps and flooded roads in Alabama, and swamped highway bridges in the Florida Panhandle. At least a half-million people were without power from Louisiana to Florida's Panhandle, including 370,000 in southeastern Louisiana and 116,400 in Alabama, mostly in the Mobile area.

    At New Orleans' Superdome, home to 9,000 storm refugees, the wind ripped pieces of metal from the golden roof, leaving two holes that let water drip in. People inside were moved out of the way. Others stayed and watched as sheets of metal flapped and rumbled loudly 19 stories above the floor. Outside, one of the 10-foot, concrete clock pylons set up around the Superdome blew over.

    Elsewhere in the city, the storm shattered scores of windows in high-rise office buildings and on five floors of the Charity Hospital, forcing patients to be moved to lower levels. At the Windsor Court Hotel, guests were told to go into the interior hallways with blankets and pillows and to keep the doors to the rooms closed to avoid flying glass.

    In suburban Jefferson Parish, Sheriff Harry Lee said residents of a building on the west bank of the Mississippi River called 911 to say the building had collapsed and people might be trapped. He said deputies were not immediately able to check out the building because their vehicles were unable to reach the scene.

    At 1 p.m. EDT, Katrina was centered moving to the north at 17 mph.

    Katrina was a terrifying, 175-mph Category 5 behemoth - the most powerful category on the scale - before weakening.

    By midday, the brunt of the storm had moved beyond New Orleans to Mississippi's coast, home to the state's floating casinos, where Katrina washed sailboats onto a coastal four-lane highway. The Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino, one of the premier gambling spots in Biloxi, had water on the first floor, and Barbour said other casinos were flooded as well.

    Katrina was the most powerful storm to affect Mississippi since Hurricane Camille came in as a Category 5 in 1969, killing 143 people along the Gulf Coast.

    "This is a devastating hit - we've got boats that have gone into buildings," Gulfport, Miss., Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said as he maneuvered around downed trees in the city. "What you're looking at is Camille II."

    In New Orleans' historic French Quarter of Napoleonic-era buildings with wrought-iron balconies, water pooled in the streets from the driving rain, but the area appeared to have escaped the catastrophic flooding that forecasters had predicted.

    On Jackson Square, two massive oak trees outside the 278-year-old St. Louis Cathedral came out by the roots, ripping out a 30-foot section of ornamental iron fence and straddling a marble statue of Jesus Christ, snapping off only the thumb and forefinger of his outstretched hand.

    At the hotel Le Richelieu, the winds blew open sets of balcony French doors shortly after dawn. Seventy-three-year-old Josephine Elow of New Orleans pressed her weight against the broken doors as a hotel employee tried to secure them.

    "It's not life-threatening," Mrs. Elow said as rain water dripped from her face. "God's got our back."

    Elow's daughter, Darcel Elow, was awakened before dawn by a high-pitched howling that sounded like a trumpeting elephant. "I thought it was the horn to tell everybody to leave out the hotel," she said as she walked the hall in her nightgown.

    For years, forecasters have warned of the nightmare scenario a big storm could bring to New Orleans, a bowl of a city that is up to 10 feet below sea level in spots and relies on a network of levees, canals and pumps to keep dry from the Mississippi River on one side, Lake Pontchartrain on the other.

    The fear was that flooding could overrun the levees and turn New Orleans into a toxic lake filled with chemicals and petroleum from refineries, as well as waste from ruined septic systems.

    The National Weather Service reported that a levee broke on the Industrial Canal near the St. Bernard-Orleans parish line, and 3 to 8 feet of flooding was possible. The Industrial Canal is a 5.5-mile waterway that connects the Mississippi River to the Intracoastal Waterway.

    Crude oil futures spiked to more than $70 a barrel in Singapore for the first time Monday as Katrina targeted an area crucial to the country's energy infrastructure, but the price had slipped back to $68.95 by midday in Europe. The storm already forced the shutdown of an estimated 1 million barrels of refining capacity.

    Calling it a once-in-a-lifetime storm, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had ordered a mandatory evacuation over the weekend for the 480,000 residents of the vulnerable city, and he estimated about 80 percent heeded the call.

    The evacuation itself claimed lives. Three New Orleans nursing home residents died Sunday after being taken by bus to a Baton Rouge church. Officials said the cause was probably dehydration.

    New Orleans has not taken a direct hit from a hurricane since Betsy in 1965, when an 8- to 10-foot storm surge submerged parts of the city in seven feet of water. Betsy, a Category 3 storm, was blamed for 74 deaths in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

    Katrina hit the southern tip of Florida as a much weaker storm Thursday and was blamed for 11 deaths. It left miles of streets and homes flooded and knocked out power to 1.45 million customers. It was the sixth hurricane to hit Florida in just over a year.

    Associated Press reporters Mary Foster, Holbrook Mohr, Brett Martel and Allen G. Breed contributed to this report.

    08-29-05 14:14 EDT

    Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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    Not quite like Camille. "Lucky" Gulf coast.

  11. #11
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Yes, it easily could have been much worse.

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    If only W was vacationing in Biloxi this week...

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynRider
    If only W was vacationing in Biloxi this week...
    What a nightmare! Then Cheney would be President!

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    Has anyone PMed or gotten any word from James Kovata? He lives in New Orleans.

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    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    I read a report from the Times that stray, abandoned and feral dogs are on the high ground areas and they do not want humans to join them.

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