Wow, Katrina sure did some damage. The pictures from Louisiana and Mississipi are astonishing. And this was the downgraded version. What would a Cat. 5 Katrina have done?
Some excerpts from the LA Times-Picayune:
Hurricane Katrina struck metropolitan New Orleans on Monday with a staggering blow, far surpassing Hurricane Betsy, the landmark disaster of an earlier generation. The storm flooded huge swaths of the city, as well as Slidell on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, in a process that appeared to be spreading even as night fell.
A powerful storm surge pushed huge waves ahead of the hurricane, flooding much of St. Bernard Parish and New OrleansÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Lower 9th Ward, just as Betsy 40 years ago. But this time the flooding was more extensive, spreading upriver as well to cover parts of the Bywater, Marigny and Treme neighborhoods.
As with Betsy, people scrambled into their attics or atop their roofs, pleading for help from the few passers-by.
The powerful Category 4 storm crossed the coast near the mouth of the Pearl River shortly after daybreak with winds of 135 mph.
Inspecting by helicopter after Hurricane Katrina blasted through New Orleans, it was difficult to make out major city andmarks, the spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said late Monday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know it was the airport,Ã¢â‚¬Â Marty Bahamond, stationed at the New Orleans Emergency Operations Center, said when his pilot pointed out Lakefront Airport, completely under water.
The director of homeland security for New Orleans, said it could be two months before electricity is restored to all of the city.
For now, people who attempt to return to the city will be stopped.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You will be turned back. Only official emergency personnel will be allowed in. I-10 is completely closed down, no one can go back in and we have to find them a place to stay.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Those who evacuated should expect to stay away for at least two days.
Remarkably, the Guardian reports that the French Quarter seemed largely untouched:
Neighborhoods outside the Vieux Carre were inundated with up to 15 feet of water. But the old city, built on the highest ground around, weathered the glancing blow from the Category 4 storm in grand style.
Terry Ebbert, chief of homeland security for New Orleans, said the French Quarter appeared to survive Katrina better than any of the city’s neighorhoods.
After the storm passed, police circled the quarter with bullhorns shouting: “The French Quarter is closed. This is state of emergency. Please, please get off the streets or you will be detained.’’
But that couldn’t dampen the indomitable spirit of one of the nation’s most famous – and infamous – neighborhoods.
Tamara Stevens and Rick Leiby found their way to Johnny White’s Sports Bar before the winds even stopped blowing. After spending a harrowing night in their swaying apartment, they needed to be out among people.
Some people who thought they were safe after the eye of the storm had long passed got caught out when a levee burst nearby.
Ed Gruber, who lives in the 6300 block of Canal Boulevard, said he became desperate when the rising water chased he, his wife, Helen, and their neighbor Mildred K. Harrison to the second floor of their home. When Gruber saw a boat pass by, he flagged it down with a light, and the three of them escaped from a second-story window.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The hurricane was scary,Ã¢â‚¬Â Scott Radish said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“All the tree branches fell, but the building stood. I thought I was doing good. Then I noticed my Jeep was under water.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The water had risen knee-deep during the storm, but despite the clearing skies, it had continued to rise one brick every 20 minutes, according to Kyle, continuing its ascent well into the night.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We were good until the Canal bustedÃ¢â‚¬Â
KatrinaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s winds split homes, collapsed buildings and uprooted trees across a vast area. The famous oaks along St. Charles Avenue and its Uptown side streets were shattered. The avenue was made impassable by thickets of downed trees, many entangled with downed utility poles and criss-crossing power lines. Parked cars were smashed; many trees fell onto houses they once shaded.
(Pictures courtesy of the community at Flickr, tags Katrina, NewOrleans)