Wednesday, August 31, 2005
The situation in New Orleans is extremely grim in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
New Orleans is undergoing a total evacuation due to widespread flooding from Lake Pontchartrain caused by hurricane Katrina. I tried to contact several resorts in the area, but with no success. Though reports are conflicting, I’m going to summarize what I know so far about conditions in this city and the other areas affected by Katrina.
Yesterday, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin issued a statement saying that because of rising floodwaters, the entire city would have to be evacuated. The rising water is carrying sewage, human bodies and industrial waste, and it is feared that these contaminants will pose health risks to any who stay behind.
Today, people taking shelter from Katrina in the New Orleans Superdome have been relocated to the Astrodome in Houston, Texas.
Yesterday the death toll was reportedly 55 in New Orleans, 80 in Mississippi. Estimates vary widely, but the number of people dead or missing is likely to increase in the next few days. Rescuers in New Orleans are primarily focused on helping survivors rather than counting the dead.
Reports say that the flooding has been stabilized, and that the French Quarter remains dry. Because the French Quarter lies at a slightly higher elevation than the rest of the city, it may escape with only minor flooding. However looting is widespread throughout the city. At this time there have been reports of at least one shooting. There is no electricity, no fresh water, and minimal phone service. Contaminated floodwaters pose a severe hygiene risk, and cannot be pumped out of the city until the levves have been repaired. Because of this, only rescue personnel are allowed to enter the city at this time.
Mayor Nagin also advises that it may take as long as 12-16 weeks before people can enter New Orleans again.
For local news coverage of the situation in New Orleans, go to http://www.nola.com/.