As is so often the way, when it’s information you’re after, you can’t do much better than going to Wikipedia, even if it’s information on something as current and changeable as Katrina, the storm which has ripped through New Orleans and Mississipi. The ever evolving entry there is a work of wonder; this kind of information is priceless.
The web is, of course, heaving with information on the events; it’s all fairly overwhelming stuff; water, bodies, chunks of broken concrete, oil rigs sent along with the tide as if they were dingies. In one apartment block alone in Biloxi over 30 people died. New Orleans seemed at first to have been afforded a last minute reprieve as the storm veered south, but the damage done was horrifying enough, and things have worsened since; three of the levees protecting the city from the rising floodwaters have been breached. At the moment The Guardian is quoting over 80 dead. It will clearly be significantly more than that. I just read another report attributing 80 dead to Biloxi alone.
In New Orleans looting, predictably, has broken out and martial law has been declared. I don’t find this at all surprising – a city with as much poverty as New Orleans will inevitably encounter looting at a time like this. I’ve read several blogs which express bewilderment that as many as 300,000 people failed to evacuate, but a few acknowledged that many of New Orleans poorest citizens had no transport; it seems that little public provision for evacuation was made. It was faintly chilling seeing footage of the Superdrome, which had been opened for those who could not leave, full of shivering, terrified people. Chilling too that so many with no provision to leave were black.
More pressing is the clear up operation; god knows how complicated and lengthy a process it will be, nor what dangers the rapidly stagnating flood water will pose. Reports suggest that one possible solution is dropping 3,000lb sandbags from above to try to plug the gaps in the levees. Meanwhile, Bush has cut short his 45 day holiday to ‘help out’. That’s all they need.
Meanwhile, Mike the admin is OK, and so are his wife and 3 cats, so that’s good. And apparently “a 3-foot (0.9-metre) shark had been spotted cruising the flooded streets”…