Monday, August 29, 2005
The first major hurricane to hit New Orleans in thirty years, Katrina has caused widespread damage. Though initial estimates are optimistic, very little information is available now.
Earlier this morning, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Louisiana peninsula at a speed of 145 mph. The eye of the storm moved within 30 miles of New Orleans late this morning, and this storm’s effects have been felt through most of Louisiana and Alabama and nearly all of Mississippi.
The information so far has been sparse, though optimistic. Official news sources say that for the most part, the many levees and dams that surround New Orleans are holding back dangerous high waters from both the Mississippi river and Lake Ponchartrain. Because most of New Orleans lies below sea level, the city is especially vulnerable to a hurricane of this force. One troubled area is the neighborhood of the Ninth Ward, where severe flooding has occurred. There have been reports of many buildings being stripped of their roofs by heavy winds.
Though the current damage estimates fall short of previous worst-case scenarios, the situation in New Orleans is extremely dangerous. Earlier, panels from the roof of the Superdome were dislodged by high winds. These panels slammed into the nearby Hyatt Regency Hotel, causing massive structural damage to a hotel that has already been battered by the storm. Most of the guests were taking shelter in a third-floor conference room, and there are so far no reports of injuries or fatalities among those seeking shelter at the Hyatt. On Lake Ponchartrain’s south shore, floodwaters have completely submerged the ground floors of many homes and businesses.
Earlier I made several attempts to communicate with two timeshare resorts located in the French Quarter. I was not able to reach anyone. When more information becomes available, I will post it here.