Monday, August 29, 2005

On a Serious Note

Just want to take a break today to recognize what is going down in New Orleans today. I can only pray for the poor people who didn’t make it out of the area.

'New Orleans May Never Be the Same'

NEW ORLEANS (Aug. 29) - Hurricane Katrina slammed ashore early Monday and charged toward this below-sea-level city with 145-mph winds and the threat of a catastrophic storm surge.

Katrina edged slightly to the east shortly before making landfall near Grand Isle, providing some hope that the worst of the storm's wrath might not be directed at the vulnerable city.

Martin Nelson, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center, said the northern part of the eyewall came ashore at Grand Isle, about 60 miles south of New Orleans, at about 5 a.m. It was moving northward at 15 mph.

Katrina's fury was soon felt at the Louisiana Superdome, normally home of professional football's Saints, which became the shelter of last resort Sunday for about 9,000 of the area's poor, homeless and frail.

Electrical power at the Superdome failed at 5:02 a.m., triggering groans from the crowd. Emergency generators kicked in, but the backup power runs only reduced lighting and is not strong enough to run the air conditioning.

Chenel Lagarde, spokesman for Entergy Corp., the main energy power company in the region, said that 370,000 customers in southeast Louisiana were estimated to be without power.

Even though the storm was hours away from New Orleans, Karina's advance winds were already blowing slate tiles off the old roofs of the French Quarter.

The wind was blowing the rain sideways, and debris was carried up more than 100 feet. Power was on and off in sections of the city, and emergency vehicles patrolled the main streets, their blue and red lights flashing.

"I'd rather watch this than watch a movie," said Steven Grades, 22, one of the Superdome evacuees as he looked out through the windows at the gathering storm.

Katrina, which weakened slightly overnight to a strong Category 4 storm, turned slightly eastward before hitting land, which would put the western eyewall - the weaker side of the strongest winds - over New Orleans.

"It's not as bad as the eastern side. It'll be plenty bad enough," said Eric Blake of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Mayor Ray Nagin said he believed 80 percent of the city's 480,000 residents had heeded an unprecedented mandatory evacuation as Katrina threatened to become the most powerful storm ever to slam the city.

"It's capable of causing catastrophic damage," said National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield. "Even well-built structures will have tremendous damage. Of course, what we're really worried about is the loss of lives.

"New Orleans may never be the same."

Posted by crimnos @ 8:31 AM