August 28, 2005

Not "Walking on Sunshine."

I guess we'll never think of Katrina and the Waves the same way again. Say a prayer for New Orleans:
"This is a once in a lifetime event," the mayor said. "The city of New Orleans has never seen a hurricane of this magnitude hit it directly."

The mayor said Katrina's storm surge would likely top the levees that protect the city from the surrounding water of Lake Pontchartrain, the Mississippi River and marshes. The bowl-shaped city must pump water out even during normal times, and the hurricane threatened electricity that runs the pumps.


ALH ipinions said...

As natural disasters go, Katrina is hardly life threatening. Those who want to survive her have more than enough time and resources at their disposal to do so.

Yet for the next 24 hours, we'll be treated to serial "breaking news" about Katrina's wind gusts and potential flooding as if she were an armada of French legionnaires gathering to storm the shores of Louisiana to reclaim their land...

Calm down people: A watery Pompey New Orleans will not become!

Sanna said...

First Florida, then least Katrina won't be a one-hit wonder this time.

As natural disasters go, its looking pretty scary. There's plenty of advance warning, but too often people think they can "ride it out". Hopefully no dumb@$$ journalists try doing liveshots while the wind tears them to ribbons!

ploopusgirl said...

Um, ALH.. that's the most idiotic thing I've ever read. And that's saying something, I read the comment threads of this blog daily.

Hardly life threatening as natural disasters go? Yeah, cause damage to personal property is something that is easily laughed off and repaired. Buildings being ripped apart, traffic lights and cars flung around (given the 200mph SUSTAINED winds). Also, everyone has hundreds of extra dollars lying around to just up and leave the coastline, I'm sure.

And then on top of that, you contradict yourself! Now it's apparently not quite as life-threatening as one would think because there's so much time (and everyone apparently has so many resources), but then you complain that there are too many "breaking news" stories of wind gusts and potential flooding! LOLOL potential flooding!! GOD it's JUST WATER!! If you take away all those obnoxious news breaks, then there's not as much forewarning as you claim there is. Make up your damn mind.

God your entire post is infuriating..

Stiles said...

Yes, ALH is way off base on this one.

Katrina is a remarkable storm in the worst way. If her forecasted intensity and track bear out, New Orleans will be devastated in a manner none of us have seen in an American city in our lifetimes. Should the levies fail, which is very possible, the city will be inundated and will take a long time to drain since it is below sea level. It won't become a watery Pompeii, permanently flooded and abandoned, but the worst case scenario is not a brief inconvenience.

ALH also seems to be unaware that there are some people who lack the means (transportation) to evacuate the N.O. metro area. I am guessing that they want to survive as much as someone who owns a car, but many of them will have to remain behind is places of last refuge.

We do live in an age of media hype, but the threat of Katrina is not being over-hyped and the danger to New Orleans and the entire northern gulf region is very severe as we head into Monday.

And if the worst does come to pass, there will be economic impacts that will add a national cast to what may be an awful human tragedy for the region.

Susan said...

Jeeze, ALH, I don't know what world you live in, but in the real world a lot of people don't have the resources at their disposal to leave. New Orleans is a city with lots of urban poor and Louisiana has lots of rural poor. Many people don't have cars or the money to rent one (as if they'd be readily available now) or even to afford public transportation. Tourists who didn't drive in are now stuck.

You've obviously never (a) been really poor (b) taken care of an elderly incapacitated person (c) been through a massive evacuation or (d) boarded up your house, hunkered down and riden out a hurricane.

Sanna said...

It sounds like a lot of people have to take cover in the Superdome. I wonder if that is even safe at this point.

Even if people escape with their lives, their homes and jobs and livelihoods will likely be destroyed.

Finn Kristiansen said...

In Ahl's defense, they do know how to swim in New Orleans, don't they? Good pair of scooba fins on your feet and you are good to go, ready to ride it out.

Gawd you women are sooo sensitive.

dick said...


Good to go - you and the water moccasins and cottonmouths and coral snakes and copperheads and alligators and crocodiles. Have a good swim!!

Elizabeth said...


The keys are in my shed. You're welcome to go spend tonight in the house we evacuated. It's at the point now where we have to entertain the question of what we will do if it falls down.

I have a suitcase, my pets, and my laptop here in our hotel. And it may be all I have left in the world. And I'm so much better off than the people with no resources who had to stay, so I'm not complaining. I'm just stunned and grieving.

If we were in face to face, I'd slap you and challenge you to a duel. But I didn't pack my .38--it will blow away with the rest of everything I own. What an idiot you are.

Ann Althouse said...

Aw, Elizabeth. Good luck!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, Ann. Belicosity aside, we're grateful to have had a clear road west and the means to leave early.

vbspurs said...

Hey Ann, everyone.

We in South Florida have just come to life after a devastating 3 days without power, TV/cable/internet, and the basic amenities of life in the First World.

Although I live in Miami Beach, and we had power earliest of all (because of the VMAs and the ensuing attention tonight, I suppose), there are still many parts of South Florida which are without power, and have to spend another night sweating and waking up every 2 hours due to the supernatural sticky heat.

Ugh, it was awful.

My prayers go out to those in the path of now cat 5 Hurricane Katrina, of whom, if you want, you can hear a .wav I made -- just before we lost power at 8:20 PM EDT Thursday.

It's a Geocities link, so give it a while in case it overloads. I couldn't find another free .wav host.


vbspurs said...

Best of luck to you and yours, Elizabeth.

Although there were special needs shelters which accepted pets, my parents and I braved cat 1 Katrina in our condo, with our pet.

We survived, and you all will too.


Simon Kenton said...

From a geologic perspective, all delta rivers anastomose more or less constantly. No city on a distributary can expect its economic viability to last long; the river will abandon it for another path to the sea. The Corp of Engineers has tried to keep the Mississippi in its banks and in New Orleans since its inception, with some success. It has also tried to create deepwater ports in the midwest, by dam construction and channelization. One of many results of this has been the aggradation of the river bed, which in turn has to be countered by raising the levees. The Corps will not be able to do this indefinitely. You can look at this as a matter of probabilities - the geomorphic effect of the Corps is to lower the probability that the event - abandonment of New Orleans by the Mississippi - will take place, but the probability will never reach 0. So a rarer, more extraordinary event will be required to make it happen. From the human perspective the great, rare events assymptotically approach cataclysm. The light spill of an annual flood over the levee is easily remedied. The self-diversion of the entire Mississippi to a new mouth on the Gulf, perhaps hundreds of miles from New Orleans, in a 500-year event may be more than even the US can afford to remedy.

I worry more about this, than about the immediate serious rainfall flooding and wind damage this storm will bring. There are places we should inhabit only as transients.

Kathy Herrmann said...

Best wishes to Elizabeth and other storm victims.

In response to ALH, a category 4 storm is life threatening at worst, and freaking scary at best. I've been through category 3's and they're scary enough.

Elizabeth said...

Simon notes "There are places we should inhabit only as transients."

Before Europeans settled New Orleans, it was a meeting and trading spot for tribes living across the lake. They'd use waterways to get to what is now Armstrong Park across from the French Quarter and hold gatherings for trade and religious practices, then they'd go home. They seem to have agreed with your assessment.

cylon said...
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