Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

NOLA: Devastated!

New Orleans and the coast have been devastated. This is a natural and man-made disaster of biblical proportions. We are talking about whether, or not, one of America’s greatest cities will survive.

State and city officials were initially relieved when Katrina weakened to a Category 4 storm and delivered its central blow about 63 miles southeast of New Orleans when it made landfall Monday morning, sparing the city the huge storm surge of up to 28 feet that had been feared. Initially, the levees that protect the city appeared to have largely held.

But the sense of relief faded Monday night and Tuesday morning, replaced with growing dread because of breaches in the levees that keep out water from Lake Pontchartrain just north of New Orleans. Officials and residents feared that the floodwaters could have the same catastrophic effects as the storm surge, even though they were unfolding more slowly.

The Corps of Engineers said in a statement that the city's 17th Street Canal floodwall was breached overnight following Katrina's passage and that another breach occurred on the Industrial Canal during the storm.

Closing the gaps is "essential so that water can be removed from the city," the statement said.

"The Corps is working with the U.S. Coast Guard, Army National Guard and other state and federal authorities to bring in all assets available to expedite the process," the statement said. Walter Baumy, Engineering Division chief and project manager for closing the breach, said the Corps was attempting to contract for materials such as rock, super-sized sand bags, cranes, barges, helicopters and other equipment "to close the gap and stop the flow of water from Lake Pontchartrain into the city."

New Orleans has 350 miles of hurricane levees built to withstand a fast-moving Category 3 storm, the Corps said. "The fact that Katrina, a Category 4-plus hurricane, didn't cause more damage is a testament to the structural integrity of the hurricane levee protection system," the statement said.

In Baton Rouge, a National Guard commander told reporters that the breach in the 17th Street Canal floodwall was almost 300 feet long. The one in the Industrial Canal floodwall is reportedly much smaller.

He said one proposal is to fill large shipping containers with sand and insert them into the breach to plug it.

Gov. Blanco told a late-afternoon news conference that thousands of people have been rescued from flooded homes and rooftops, "and there are many more that have to be saved."

"The volume of the work is incredible," she said. "I just think our people are just going to have to draw on their inner strength." Some neighborhoods will require "total rebuilding," she said. "Many buildings are totally devastated. . . . Some are in shards."

Parts of Intlanco said.

Many of the people who needed to be rescued were residents trying to return to their homes, she said.

As seen from a helicopter, "most of the roads and highways are impassible, and water is still coming into the city of New Orleans," said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). She said the water was "up to the rooftops" in some parishes.

Said Blanco, "There's water lapping at the foot of the Superdome now." Generators at the huge stadium, which was designated a refuge of last resort as the storm approached, are being jeopardized by the rising floodwaters, she said.

At Tulane University Hospital, officials were trying to evacuate about 200 patients, including 60 who were brought to the hospital from the Superdome during the storm.

"If the water continues to rise, we will lose all our backup generator power in the building," hospital spokeswoman Karen Troyer Caraway told CNN.

Blanco said the first priorities are to rescue people and bring in enough supplies to sustain those who are still in New Orleans. Then, she said, they will be evacuated.

Water levels in Lake Pontchartrain and the connecting 17th Street Canal are normally six feet higher than the surrounding city. The levees keep the waters from flowing down into this low-lying city, much of which is below sea level.

The damage to the 17th Street Canal and its levee means that the water from Lake Pontchartrain is now free to flow down to inundate hundreds of thousands of homes and other buildings here.

Once it flows in, the water will not drain from New Orleans because of the very levees that protect the city and that largely held during the hurricane. Those levees, built to keep water out, are now keeping the water in, and reports from across the city indicate that water levels are rising.

As the floodwaters rose, looting was reported -- some of it in full view of National Guard troops and New Orleans police. Amid the flooding, looters raided clothing, jewelry, grocery and drug stores, sometimes filling garbage cans and floating them away on pieces of wood and other building materials in waist-high waters.

"It's downtown Baghdad," said Denise Bollinger, a tourist from Philadelphia, as she watched looting in the French Quarter, the Associated Press reported. "It's insane. . . . I thought this was a sophisticated city. I guess not."

"We're getting reports of sporadic looting," said Lt. Lawrence McLeary, a Louisiana State Police spokesman. The looting began Monday and was continuing Tuesday in a number of areas that are "inaccessible from the outside," he said in a telephone interview from Baton Rouge.

Even in areas that can be reached by New Orleans police, "it's pretty difficult for them to make any arrests, because there's no place to facilitate those arrests," McLeary said. He said police "are just trying to stop that looting and get people out of there."


"The city of New Orleans is in a state of devastation," Mayor Nagin told local television station WWL last night. "We probably have 80 percent of our city under water," in some places as deep as 20 feet. He said both airports were under water, and people were on roofs awaiting rescue.

Michael D. Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, warned in an interview on CBS that residents may not be able to return to their homes anytime soon. In some places, he said, "it's going to be weeks at least before people can get back."

This situation has called for Martial Law in parts of the region.

The states of Alabama and Mississippi have been devastated by Katrina as well.

Here are places to make a difference and the Times-Picayune Update Site.

Help and Visualize Mother Nature giving them a break.

May the Goddess help them all.


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