From Alabama to Mississippi, coastal communities suffered the wrath of Hurricane Katrina's extreme winds and 20-25 foot storm surge that wiped buildings clean off their foundations and deposited debris a mile inland. The mayor of Biloxi, MS exclaimed, "This is our tsunami," after seeing what little was left of the city.
In New Orleans, the mood was bittersweet as the initial landfall of Katrina was not a direct hit, but residents soon had to climb onto their roofs as levees were comprised, pumping failed, and the city continues to flood. Coast Guard helicopter crews who normally pluck people off of sinking ships in the ocean were pulling hundreds of families from the roofs of their homes. The floodwaters were high enough in some areas that residents could step off of their roofs and right into Fish and Wildlife flatboats.
New Orleans residents and government officials have thought about this ultimate nightmare scenario over the years. Despite all the brainstorming, theorizing and simulation, the aftermath of hurricane Katrina is turning out to be a disaster beyond imagination.
According to Disaster News Network, "Post-hurricane damage in Mississippi and Louisiana is massive and unprecedented, responders said, even before they could access some of the hardest hit places on Tuesday morning."
With the first light on the day after Katrina, people were able to gawk at the extent of the damage. Huge 3-story gambling boats, moored along the MS gulf coast were lifted up and the floating casinoes were then deposited far away on top of houses and beach hotels. The Superdome, where 10,000+ people took shelter last night, had most of its roof membrane ripped off and portions of the dome were compromised.
With the rising flood waters in New Orleans today, people were panicking and some were even looting stores. With law enforcement so busy with rescue and recovery efforts, much looting had to just be ignored. People should note that a convicted looter will get twice the normal prison sentence as someone convicted of regular burgarly or theft. However, in some circumstances, looting to maintain one's life -- grabbing groceries or water to survive -- is often a mitigating circumstance in the eyes of the law.
Gangsta wanna-be thugs looting a jewelry or electronics store probably face 20+ years, if caught. Looters tempt fate with police, but more so with store owners -- should they see them and just tap two in their chest. With all of the bodies floating around the city, a dead looter won't be missed, mourned, or be looting again.
Besides the normal dusk-to-dawn curfews enacted in areas affected by hurricanes, New Orleans is now under martial law. It is also expected that officials will not only order further rescue and recover operations tommorow at first light, but also a full-blown evacuation of the city of New Orleans, including the 10,000+ people already sheltered in the Superdome. With bridges destroyed and main highways flooded, evacuating people is not an easy task.
Entergy reports that about one million customers are without electrical service. It will likely be many weeks until electrical service is restored in some areas. Communication in the hurricane affected areas is also a problem. Land lines are down and cell towers are damaged or completely destroyed. Getting word in or out to people is a problem.
If you wish to help victims of hurricane Katrina, donating online is the best way. Go directly to the Red Cross or Salvation Army. Disaster News Net also has links to other charitable organizations and how you can help. I already blogged on Brilliant Weeds about one unique non-profit organization working in the area, Noah's Wish. I'm sure they would appreciate any donations you could make, too.
People fleeing Katrina receive supplies at the Superdome
10,000 people are sheltered in the stadium
Hundreds of thousands of vehicles jammed freeways as people tried to escape the wrath of hurricane Katrina yesterday. Tens of thousands hunkered down in their homes and emergency shelters, like the Superdome in New Orleans. (above)
Hurricane Katrina made landfall at the Mississippi River delta, southeast of New Orleans this morning. The worst is still to come as I write this.
These warnings were posted for the area where our Blogdrivin' Buddy, CM, is located on the National Weather Service Telecommunications Operations Center (NWSTOC) this morning:
INLAND HURRICANE WARNING IN EFFECT
HURRICANE WARNING IN EFFECT
TORNADO WATCH 754 IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON CDT TODAY
FLOOD WATCH IS IN EFFECT
EXTREMELY DANGEROUS HURRICANE KATRINA MOVING ACROSS LOWER PLAQUEMINES PARISH
DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED
THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL. PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE...INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.
HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY...A FEW POSSIBLY TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. MANY WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.
AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD...AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS...PETS...AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.
POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS...AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING...BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED.
HURRICANE KATRINA CONTINUES TO APPROACH THE AREA. HURRICANE FORCE SUSTAINED WINDS ARE OVERSPREADING THE COASTAL PARISHES AT THIS TIME AND HURRICANE GUSTS ARE AS FAR NORTH AS LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN AS OF 6 AM CDT. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS WILL CONTINUE TO ONSET FARTHER NORTH BY MID-MORNING AND PERSIST FOR 5 TO 8 HOURS. MAXIMUM WIND GUSTS AROUND 175 MPH ARE POSSIBLE IN THE WARNED AREA THIS MORNING.
DO NOT VENTURE OUTDOORS!
Good luck, CM!
[Headphones] :: Godzilla - Blue Oyster Cult @ Bob's Garage
Katrina has strengthened to a catastrophic category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 175 mph and gusts well over 200 mph. Government officials are scrambling to prepare and media outlets are using phrases like "nightmare scenario" and "once in a lifetime storm." Unfortunately for residents of the Gulf Coast, especially in Louisiana and Mississippi, these alarming phrases are not idle exagerations. Mandatory evacuatons of millions of people living in coastal communities have been ordered.
As you can see from the GOES-12 satellite water vapor image above (I added the state abbreviations for the geographically-impaired), this is a monster hurricane with a huge, well-defined eye. Hurricane Katrina will cause damage from storm surge and high winds. It's like a tsunami with F3 tornado force winds. However, unlike a tornado that usually only lasts a few minutes, a hurricane's sustained destructive winds will last hours and can carve out its path of destruction over a hundred miles wide.
The storm surge is expected to be 20-25 feet (7-8m) above sea level which will very likely flood the city of New Orleans with 30 feet (10m) of water. New Orleans actually lies below sea level and is protected from normal flooding conditions by a series of levies and a massive pumping system. Hurricane Katrina will flood the city of New Orleans to such a degree that it may take many months to recover.
I'll be adding more information to this entry as the evening progresses. Specifically, I'm trying to stay in contact with a fellow Blogdriver, Christine, author of BeeDee News. She is in for a rough night.
[ 22.00 update ]
Christine (aka CM) spent most of the day stressed out and preparing. I had left Yahoo Instant Messenger up and running so we could chat until her power got knocked out. Through some collaborative web surfing and searching, we were able to locate an emergency shelter in her area.
From my experience with Charlie, Frances and Jeanne last year, I know that one of the most stressful things running through your mind as you watch radar images of a monster storm heading your way on TV weather reports is your house. The pre-storm stress doesn't include anxiety about losing your life, or being physically injured. Rather, you wonder, what the heck you are going to do if your house is totally destroyed?
So, even when you drag yourself out of denial and eventually evacuate, you still have that anxiety. Finally, after one last chat, CM had to turn off the computer and head for safety. If she is able to do so, she plans to call in her status and I'll blog it here and on her personal blog, CMBS.
[Headphones] :: Godzilla - Blue Oyster Cult @ Bob's Garage
Welcome to Swamp Gas in the Imajica. Similar to the You Can't Make This Shit Up (YCMTSU) section, Swamp Gas will focus solely on news and items of interest in the sunshine state of Florida.
They say, "All the nuts in America roll downhill to Florida." So let's just see how true that phrase really is.
Click on the Swamp Gas logo for the smelly menu.
Swamp Gas v. 007
Tropical Storm Katrina is strengthening in those warm salty waters between the Bahamas and Miami. She's expected to grow to hurricane strength as she slowly heads for landfall somewhere along one of the beach communities north of Miami. People there are somewhat nervous after experiencing the monster hurricane Andrew in 1992, but this slower moving, less intense hurricane is likely to be more reminiscent of last year's Frances. However, a category 1 hurricane is still a hurricane with sustained winds over 74 mph, and is very destructive.
I felt I should add this news nugget into this version of the Swamp Gas reports because Florida is known as the Sunshine state. Unlike Katrina which will likely make landfall as a category 1 hurricane, the Sun has just unleashed an extreme G-5 geomagnetic storm, the highest on the NOAA Space Environment Center scales. Geomagnetic storms are disturbances in the geomagnetic field caused by gusts in the solar wind that blows by Earth which can impair or completely knock out our modern communications systems. Can you hear me now? Blogdrive lag? Now, you know why.
Skiddy is an active kitten, and almost old enough now to just be called a cat. Although she started off last year with a bum leg that someone even suggested should just be amputated to my extreme horror, months of chasing imaginary creatures and games of fetch with me have improved her mobility to a fairly normal state. Although she seems to limp a little and get tired after playing fetch for too long a time, her leg is certainly much better from the time when she pathetically dragged it limply behind her.
The picture above shows Skiddy waiting alertly for me to throw her fetch toy from her favorite perch, the back of a stuffed chair in my living room. When I sit in that chair and start typing on one the keyboards, she has a habit of leaping up onto the top of the back in order to look over my shoulder to see what I am doing. Sometimes, she reminds me of a pirate's parrot perched up there next to my shoulder.
When she plays fetch, though, she reminds me of a hockey player. She gets tunnel vision chasing her fetch toy down the linoleum hallway. It's not uncommon for her to overshoot her prey and slide past it in that cartoon-cat-on-the-kitchen-floor way. One thing that makes her look like a hockey player is her unwaivering bravery to chase the toy to the end of the hallway and slam into the door like a player going behind the net and into the end boards. For her own safety, I have had to leave a cardboard box in front of the door to soften the inevitable collision.
Last month, while in the throes of being in heat, she spent the night outside. I worried about her getting pregnant because I haven't been able to get her spayed yet. Fortunately, she apparently got scared and spent her first night outside hiding safely under the house. The next morning, she started meowing when she heard my voice calling for her and she was rescued without incident ( no kitty sex for you! ), except for being a little dusty for a cat.