First of all, I feel bad for all the women who have the name “Katrina” because now that name is associated with all sorts of grief and destruction. If you haven’t heard by now, Hurricane Katrina, which would have been a category 6 storm if there was a category six, has utterly destroyed parts of the deep south. New Orleans has been washed out and I feel lucky to have experienced Nawlins twice before this disaster occurred. I’m sure that after the weeks, months or even years it’ll take to dry out the Big Easy pass that the city will be forever different – that there always will be a dividing line around this event, sort of how 9/11 has changed NYC. You were either there before, during or after Katrina. Period.
I take offense to the idea that Hurricane Katrina was “our tsunami” (many media outlets are using this as a catchy headline) because the tsunami came out of nowhere with no warning. People knew for days that this storm was coming. People knew for decades that the levees in place would not support the city if a large category five storm hit. While the destruction of property was in some ways a given, regardless of what the authorities said or did, the loss of life could have been prevented if more people left when they could have. I myself have put off buying emergency supplies in case there is another blackout or disaster in NYC because I’ve been lazy (the worst excuse of all). Well, what’s happening in New Orleans is about as swift a kick in the ass as there can be. My next freshdirect order will contain plenty of gallons of water, batteries, etc. I’m on the 24th floor in my new building – even a simple blackout will cause big problems in my life.
Back to the storm. First, the NY Times has a very good map for those that want to know exactly what parts of Nawlins have been affected. It was helpful to know that the St. Bernard Parrish is totally under water while the French Quarter is relatively okay (aside from rampant looting – more on that later). Next, I found this photo gallery of the destruction from the San Fransisco Chronicle through Google News. To me, it provides the best look at how awful this event is and I suggest you look at all of them, especially the captions. Pictures as the most potent and powerful way to convey how bad things are. That large crowd stranded on a bridge? Those would be inmates from from the Orleans Parish Prison. Scary stuff.
There are just so many different ways that this is bad. Here are just a few:
- 80% of New Orleans is under water, some of it over 20 feet deep. I love NO and feel as if a friend, not just a city, is drowning
- Bixoli, Mississippi, the city made famous by Neil Simon among others, has been utterly destroyed as well
- Tulane’s fall semester, and maybe year, is probably cancelled. Who knows how many other elementary schools, high schools and colleges, teachers, staff and students are affected not just in that region but nationwide. A friend’s daughter was supposed to start her freshman year at Tulane this week. The whole family was there as part of a big “goodbye and goodluck” deal and they were lucky enough to rent a car and drive to Houston before the storm hit or else who knows what would have happened to them. Maybe they would have gone to the Superdome, which as of now has no A/C and whose toilets are overflowing. I just heard that those in the Superdome are being evacuated to the Astrodome as of tomorrow. I guess for some right now its “dome sweet dome” until who knows when.
- 25% of US oil refining happens in this region. Many people do not realize their are two parts of the oil issue to consider – production and refinement. Blowing up pipelines in Iraq affects production. Katrina has created a problem where while we do have oil, we do not have the ability to turn that crude oil into gasoline. Our country has lost a quarter of that ability for who knows how long. You know its bad when you see deep sea oil rigs just floating around and when oil tanks look like lily pads when viewed from the sky. I’m betting that gas will hit $4.00 a gallon by the end of the week.
- Once again, the worst of humanity has surfaced in the face of rampant looting and violence. There are wide spread stories of people getting carjacked as they tried to make their way out of the city. Looting is rampant and in many cases occurring in front of overwhelmed police officers. “These are not individuals looting,” Colonel Terry Ebbert, the city’s director of homeland security, said. “These are large groups of armed individuals.” It’s not hard to imagine that parts of Nawlins are currently under militia/criminal control. I wonder how long they will remain that way.
One thing is for sure: I’ll be donating money, hopefully through my company as they have in the past matched donations when disasters have struck, as soon as possible. I encourage you to donate as well. If you have any views, opinions, thoughts and/or if you know someone affected by this tragedy, please share. Part of having a site is being able to form an instant virtual community. I know that this event has really affected how I feel about a lot of things and I’ve shared with you how I feel. Now, if you want, its your turn. Until then, I’ve provided after the jump the lyrics to “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin. I immediately started thinking of this song when I heard that the levees were giving way. The lyrics are pretty spot on to what a Nawlins resident must be thinking/facing right now.
“When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin from their fourth and untitled “Zoso” album:
If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break, [X2]
When The Levee Breaks I’ll have no place to stay.
Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan, [X2]
Got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home,
Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well.
Don’t it make you feel bad
When you’re tryin’ to find your way home,
You don’t know which way to go?
If you’re goin’ down South
They got no work to do,
If you don’t know about Chicago.
Cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good,
Now, cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good,
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.
All last night sat on the levee and moaned, [X2]
Thinkin’ about me baby and my happy home.
Going, going to Chicago… Going to Chicago… Sorry but I can’t take you…
Going down… going down now… going down….