Monday, August 29, 2005

Our thoughts are with you New Orleans

And you thought you had a bad day.....Thoughts and prayers are with everyone along the Gulf coast hit by Hurricane Katrina today. SO grateful to wake up and hear that it had weakened and spared New Orleans of worst case catastrophic scenario but that doesn't mean it isn't still terrible, terrible storm.
Brief thoughts from watching the coverage. The one time the media SHINES here in the chasm is during a storm such as this. Detailed, informative, non-hyped, every channel provided a real service to cover this massive storm and evacuation of the Gulf Coast. Too bad they can't always be so focused and professional. Yet of course, we had the obligatory reporter standing- or trying to- in 145 mph winds. What is the point of that! Point the camera out the window of a shelter for the same affect you goobers! And how about all the people who were stranded screaming for help that DIDNT evacuate? Of course they need to be helped but doesn't mean it doesn't burn my butt that they valued their belongings more than their life. Many I heard of had CHILDREN inside! HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOO! Also, there is a "Katrina" level catastrophe happening EVERY SINGLE DAY in Africa. Children are starving to death and it's PREVENTABLE. Wake up and help.

NEW ORLEANS - Announcing itself with shrieking, 145-mph winds, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast just outside New Orleans on Monday, submerging entire neighborhoods up to their roofs, swamping Mississippi's beachfront casinos and blowing out windows in hospitals, hotels and high-rises.

For New Orleans — a dangerously vulnerable city because it sits mostly below sea level in a bowl-shaped depression — it was not the apocalyptic storm forecasters had feared.

But it was plenty bad, in New Orleans and elsewhere along the coast, where numerous people had to be rescued from rooftops and attics as the floodwaters rose around them.

At least five deaths were blamed on Katrina — three people killed by falling trees in Mississippi and two killed in a traffic accident in Alabama. And an untold number of other people were feared dead in flooded neighborhoods, many of which could not be reached by rescuers because of high water.

"Some of them, it was their last night on Earth," Terry Ebbert, chief of homeland security for New Orleans, said of people who ignored orders to evacuate the city of 480,000 over the weekend. "That's a hard way to learn a lesson."

"We pray that the loss of life is very limited, but we fear that is not the case," Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said.

Katrina knocked out power to more than three-quarters of a million people from Louisiana to the Florida's Panhandle, and authorities said it could be two months before electricity is restored to everyone. Ten major hospitals in New Orleans were running on emergency backup power.

The federal government began rushing baby formula, communications equipment, generators, water and ice into hard-hit areas, along with doctors, nurses and first-aid supplies. The Pentagon sent experts to help with search-and-rescue operations.

As of Monday evening, Katrina was passing through southeast Mississippi, moving north at 18 mph. It had weakened into a mere Category 1 hurricane with winds near 75 mph.

But it was far from done: Forecasters said that as the storm moves north through the nation's midsection over the next few days, it may spawn tornadoes over the Southeast and swamp the Gulf Coast and the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys with a potentially ruinous 8 inches or more of rain.

Oil refiners said damage to their equipment in the Gulf region appeared to be minimal, and oil prices dropped back from the day's highs above $70 a barrel. But the refiners were still assessing the damage, and the Bush administration said it would consider releasing oil from the nation's emergency stockpile if necessary.

Katrina had menaced the Gulf Coast over the weekend as a 175-mph, Category 5 monster, the most powerful ranking on the scale. But it weakened to a Category 4 and made a slight right-hand turn just become it came ashore around daybreak near the Louisiana bayou town of Buras, passing just east of New Orleans on a path that spared the Big Easy — and its fabled French Quarter — from its full fury.

In nearby coastal St. Bernard Parish, Katrina's storm surge swamped an estimated 40,000 homes. In a particularly low-lying neighborhood on the south shore of Lake Ponchartain, a levee along a canal gave way and forced dozens of residents to flee or scramble to the roofs when water rose to their gutters.

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