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La., Miss., Ala. feel Hurricane Katrina's pain


FU Spanos and Dundon
Staff member

I hope this storm passes quickly and that no one else gets killed. Those of us living in SoCal are very lucky that we don't see storms of this magnitude.

NEW ORLEANS - Hurricane Katrina plowed into the Gulf Coast at daybreak Monday with shrieking, 145-mph winds and blinding rain, submerging entire neighborhoods up to the rooflines in New Orleans, hurling boats onto land and sending water pouring into Mississippi’s strip of beachfront casinos.

At least two highways deaths in Alabama were blamed on the storm, and an untold number of others were feared dead in flooded neighborhoods.

"Some of them, it was their last night on earth," Terry Ebbert, chief of homeland security for New Orleans, said of people who ignored evacuation orders. "That's a hard way to learn a lesson."

The storm remained so severe that officials in many of the hardest-hit areas said they could not yet send out emergency teams to assess the damage and respond to 911 calls.

Katrina weakened overnight to a Category 4 storm and made a slight turn to the right before coming ashore at 6:10 a.m. CT near the Louisiana 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 below-sea-level city its full fury. Monday afternoon it was downgraded to a Category 1 storm.

The storm passed just to the east of New Orleans as it moved inland. But there was plenty of destruction in the city, and a clearer picture of the damage emerged after the storm had passed: Mangled street signs, crumbled brick walls in the French Quarter, fallen trees on streetcar tracks, high-rises with almost all of their windows blown out. White curtains that were sucked out of the shattered windows of a hotel became tangled in treetops.

There was destruction all along the Gulf Coast, including an estimated 40,000 homes flooded in St. Bernard Parish just east of New Orleans, according to state Sen. Walter Boasso.

20-foot surge
Katrina recorded a storm surge of more than 20 feet in Mississippi, where windows of a major hospital were blown out, utility poles dangled in the wind, and billboards were ripped to shreds. 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, Miss., Fire Chief Pat Sullivan, who ventured into the hurricane to check threatened areas.

It was unclear whether there were more deaths from the storm, because but emergency responders had not yet been able to reach some of the hardest-hit areas. Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour said he feared deaths among those who chose to ignore evacuation orders.

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

Elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, the storm 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.

Storm modelers said Hurricane Katrina may be the most expensive hurricane ever to hit the United States, costing insurers up to $26 billion.

Even so, it may prove less costly than some had feared because it weakened overnight and its eye veered slightly east of low-lying New Orleans, by far the most populous city in Katrina’s path.

“We expect the bulk of damage to be wind-related, but there is significant flood risk to commercial insurers,” said Thomas Larsen, senior vice president at one modeler, Eqecat Inc. of Oakland, California. “The track shifted east 25 miles, which relieved some pressure on New Orleans.”

Swamped in New Orleans
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.

One resident trapped by the water appealed for help.

“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 Pontchartrain, entire neighborhoods of one-story homes were flooded up to the rooflines. 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?”

At New Orleans’ Superdome, home to about 8,000 storm refugees, the wind ripped pieces of metal from the golden roof, leaving 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 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, a sheriff said residents of a building on the west bank of the Mississippi River said the building had collapsed and people might be trapped. He said vehicles were not immediately to reach the scene.

Weaker, but still a monster
At 3 p.m. ET, a rapidly weakening Katrina was centered about 20 miles southwest of Hattiesburg, Miss., moving northward at about 19 mph. Its winds had dropped to about 95 mph, making it a Category 1 storm.

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 1969 when Hurricane Camille killed 143 people along the Gulf Coast.

“This is a devastating hit — we’ve got boats that have gone into buildings,” said Sullivan, the Gulfport fire chief, 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.

'God's got our back'
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,” Elow said as rain water dripped from her face. “God’s got our back.”

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.

Contamination fears
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 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.

President Bush, urging prayer for Gulf Coast communities “hit hard” Monday by Hurricane Katrina, weighed whether to release oil from petroleum reserves to help refiners, administration officials said.

“I want the folks there on our Gulf Coast to know that the federal government is prepared to help you when the storm passes,” Bush said during a Medicare speech at an RV resort here. “In the meantime America will pray, pray for the health and the safety of all our citizens.”

Administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said Bush seemed likely to authorize a loan of some oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. But details remained in flux and no decision was imminent, they said.

Once-in-a-lifetime storm
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.
This one is a beast and looks like it will be heading our way up here. Luckily we won't get nowhere as drenched. I just hope everyone in the path is safe and does not get harmed.

I guess every part of the country cannot escape Mother Nature in one way or another.
Last night it came in and was not as bad as the weather reports predicted. It was just a typical, but slightly heavier rainfall with plenty of wind. By 2pm today the sun was trying to break through the clouds.

It must have missed us enough. The last hurricane we got remnants of there were some pretty heavy downpours. Thankfully not today! :good:

The funny part was everyone coming into work and expecting/hoping for the power to get knocked out. :)
y2craig said:
Last night it came in and was not as bad as the weather reports predicted. It was just a typical, but slightly heavier rainfall with plenty of wind. By 2pm today the sun was trying to break through the clouds.

It must have missed us enough. The last hurricane we got remnants of there were some pretty heavy downpours. Thankfully not today! :good:

The funny part was everyone coming into work and expecting/hoping for the power to get knocked out. :)
We did get some winds up here last night .


FU Spanos and Dundon
Staff member
It's just sad to see all those people especially the children going through this ordeal. If you guys want to donate, click on the red cross link on the main site. :cry: