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August 28, 2005

Katrina: Not your usual weather disaster story
Posted by Teresa at 11:04 AM *

O the dreadful wind and rain—

From Dr. Jeff Masters’ excellent Weather Underground site:

Posted By: JeffMasters at 12:24 PM GMT on August 28, 2005 Updated: 12:36 PM GMT on August 28, 2005
Katrina is in the midst of a truly historic rapid deepening phase—the pressure has dropped 34 mb in the 11 hours ending at 7am EDT, and now stands at 908 mb. Katrina is now the sixth strongest hurricane ever measured in the Atlantic. At the rate Katrina is deepening, she could easily be the third or fourth most intense hurricane ever, later today.

He gives a list of some all-time biggies, then continues:

Katrina’s winds and storm surge Maximum sustained winds at flight level during the 7am Hurricane Hunter mission into Katrina were 153 knots, which translates to 160 mph at the surface, making Katrina a minimal Category 5 hurricane. The winds are likely to increase to “catch up” to the rapidly falling pressure, and could approach the all-time record of 190 mph set in Camille and Allen. Winds of this level will create maximum storm surge heights over 25 feet, and this storm surge will affect an area at least double the area wiped clean by Camille, which was roughly half the size of Katrina. Katrina has continued to expand in size, and is now a huge hurricane like Ivan. Damage will be very widespread and extreme if Katrina can maintain Category 5 strength at landfall.

They’re talking about this being the kind of storm that can reshape coastlines. Hurricane-force winds could be felt up to 150 miles inland. The Mayor of New Orleans has ordered a mandatory evacuation, and the governors of Louisiana and Mississippi have ordered that all the lanes on the interstates be switched to “outbound.” Best-case scenario for New Orleans still has the levees breaking and the city under fifteen feet of filthy water—and it doesn’t look like we’re going to be a best-case scenario. As of mid-afternoon, the storm’s stats are worse than Hurricane Camille’s—and while Camille was intense, it was also physically small. Katrina is huge.

Rose White (of Yarnivore), writing in the comments thread, reports that the National Weather Service is using language she’s never seen before. Neither have I. Click through on the link.

Major casualties a strong possibility: Walter Maestri, New Orleans’ Director of Emergency Management, is saying on TV that FEMA has modeled this scenario, with a Cat. 4 or Cat. 5 hurrican making a direct hit on metropolitan New Orleans, and that FEMA estimated 40,000-60,000 casualties.

There are tens of thousands of people in New Orleans who don’t own cars. The city kept its light rail system; that’s why it’s so charmingly walkable. I’m not seeing any news reports of non-automobile-based evacuation plans. The Army might have been able to help deal with this, but they’re not at home.

Something useful you might do: This would be a very good moment for people outside the Gulf Coast area to put up “Hi Mom, I’m okay” check-in pages. Here’s the rule: Collect names. Swap lists. Keep it simple. Bill Shunn put up a good one on 9/11. It allowed you to type in your name plus a one-line message. He expected it would mostly be the NYC SF community checking in there. By the time he had to shut it down, people all over the world were going to his site to try to find news of their missing loved ones.

I’ll add one suggestion to the general rule: if you put up a page, police and moderate your lists. Bill Shunn had jerks posting all kinds of garbage to his site. There weren’t a lot of them, but nobody needs to read that crap. Also, if you don’t delete vandal posts, you’ll get lots more of them—it’s like graffiti.

American RadioWorks’ prescient article, Hurricane Risk for New Orleans. Read it now before the site gets swamped.

Where’s the Louisiana National Guard while all this is going on? A lot of them are in Iraq. Overseas deployment of Reserves and National Guard units have stripped emergency-response resources all over the country. (For instance, small-town and rural police departments, volunteer fire departments, and ambulance crews have a big overlap with Reserves and the National Guard. More on that later.)

Here’s a post from Making Light, last year, on the subject of New Orleans’ vulnerability.

By the way, New York City is also vulnerable to hurricanes. Making Light is in a Zone C evacuation area, which means that in the event of a major hurricane making landfall south of the city, we’ll be flooded. That’s as opposed to the large swathes of the city that are Zone A evacuation areas. Zone C means “get out”; Zone A means “get out or die.”

The Air Force took its planes out of Elgin AFB in the Florida Panhandle, and the Navy sortied yesterday from its base at Pascagoula, Mississippi, because it’s a lot easier to ride out a hurricane at sea than to be battered against a hard coastline. (Jim Macdonald: “Storms at sea are great fun as long as you aren’t actively sinking.”) Gulfport, Biloxi, and Mobile are looking at a real bad day. That whole long strip of the Gulf Coast is battening down (again). Global warming: It’s not just a theory. More on that later, too.

Why newscasters will be fretting about the exact path of the storm: The worst hit from a hurricane comes from the right front quadrant of the storm—two o’clock and three o’clock on the dial. New Orleans is the most vulnerable point on the coast. Damage there will be worst if Katrina hits west of NO. It’ll still be horrendous if the storm hits east of New Orleans, but it won’t be quite as bad. On the other hand, if it hits on the east side, it’ll be harder on Biloxi, Gulfport, Mobile, etc.

Here’s an article by Chris Mooney—blogger, and author of The Republican War on Science, imminently available in bookstores, shipping from Amazon now—from last May, which describes what a slow-moving Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane would do to New Orleans:

Such a storm, plowing over the lake [Pontchartrain], could generate a 20-foot surge that would easily overwhelm the levees of New Orleans, which only protect against a hybrid Category 2 or Category 3 storm (with winds up to about 110 miles per hour and a storm surge up to 12 feet). Soon the geographical “bowl” of the Crescent City would fill up with the waters of the lake, leaving those unable to evacuate with little option but to cluster on rooftops—terrain they would have to share with hungry rats, fire ants, nutria, snakes, and perhaps alligators. The water itself would become a festering stew of sewage, gasoline, refinery chemicals, and debris. … A direct hit from a powerful hurricane on New Orleans could furnish perhaps the largest natural catastrophe ever experienced on U.S. soil. Some estimates suggest that well over 25,000 non-evacuees could die. Many more would be stranded, and successful evacuees would have nowhere to return to. Damages could run as high as $100 billion.

Here’s Chris Mooney’s weblog post from 7:45 this morning.

(Hmmm. I missed the name of the guy being interviewed right now on the Weather Channel. He’s saying the same things, almost word for word, that Chris Mooney said in that article last May.)

If I have additional material I’ll add it inside this post, so it’ll stay on top of the stack. I’ll try to incorporate stuff posted to the comment thread, but I may not be able to keep up, so check it out.

Other sources and places:

Pimp Junta, New Orleans is about to be destroyed. PJ referred me to:

Stormtrack (subtitle: Oh crap, not again), where the current lead story is Bigger than Camille, time to pray. 3:45 p.m.: Subsequent posts include “Hurricane Katrina expected to devastate New Orleans,” “Urgent Weather Message from NWS New Orleans,” and “Katrina continues to strengthen.”

Also via PJ, some New Orleans webcams.

Port of New Orleans fact page.

NOLA satellite map.

Newsbits

The French Quarter has shut down and is boarding up.

Authorities have announced voluntary evacuations in zones 1 & 2 in the Mobile area, where they’re saying there’s a possibility of a twenty-foot storm surge.

Delta, United, and US Airways are shutting down outbound service.

The U.S.S. Alabama is in the path of the storm. Director Bill Tuttle says employee and their immediate families are being allowed to hole up in the ship for the duration, and notes that she “moved slightly” during Hurricane Camille. Roll, Alabama, roll…

2:00 p.m.: Storm’s still getting stronger. Windspeed increasing, 906 millibars, track still heading for New Orleans. 2:40 p.m.: 902mb, wind 184 m.p.h., eye’s 29 miles across. Millibars: lower is badder. Comparisons: Camille was 909mb when it came ashore; Andrew was 922mb. This is a terrifying storm. 3:00 p.m.: The Weather Channel is flatly saying, “This is going to be catastrophic.” Their weather-junkie reporters are saying they’re not going to be staying. 3:07 p.m.: CNN is reporting tornadoes inside the hurricane. 3:50 p.m.: Mayor Billy Duke of Gulf Shores, AL is describing the storm surge in terms of “tsunami-like conditions.”

Comments on Katrina: Not your usual weather disaster story:
#1 ::: John Brownlee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 12:41 PM:

Good post. I have some more links here, if you'd like to scrape any of them:

http://www.pimpjunta.com/?p=110

#2 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 12:49 PM:

Steve Gregory at Weather Underground has also been following Katrina closely.

#4 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 12:53 PM:

The weather in New Orleans isn't bad yet, but it looks like the first band of rain could come through soon.

I found some working Webcams of New Orleans:

http://www.earthcam.com/usa/louisiana/neworleans/bourbonstreet/index.php?cam=3
http://www.portno.com/cruise_term.htm
http://www.wdsu.com/wxcam/1475332/detail.html

There are many more linked from:

http://www.wxnation.com/neworleans/

However, an awful lot of them are not currently working or are extremely slow.

There was an excellent article in National Geographic last fall about what a large hurricane could do to New Orleans:

http://magma.nationalgeographi c.com/ngm/0410/feature5/

The whole article isn't online (without a membership), but if you have access to last October's National Geographic, it's worth a look.

And Katarina could be WORSE than the storm depicted in the article.

The south coast - a lovely place to visit, but live there?

Hopefully, if any of you are in that area, you're reading this from a safe location.

And CNN's QuickVote question this morning was:

Do you believe global warming is
a factor behind the recent severe weather?

So far it's 58% yes, 30% no, 12% not sure.

#5 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 12:56 PM:

The change in the hurricane's structure between last night and this morning is genuinely frightening. It's a much larger story with a really huge, well-defined eye. Weather Underground reported something like a 20-degree temperature change between the rest of the storm and the eyewall which is almost unprecedented.

#6 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 12:58 PM:

I wonder if she might be large enough and strong enough to overwhelem the river constrainment keeping the Mississipi from moving into the Atchafalaya.

Just a thought.

TK

#7 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 01:28 PM:

In past hurricane seasons, this Navy site:
Automated Tropical Cyclone Forecast System
and this site for:
GOES satellite photos (near real-time)
have been extremely useful.

From what I understand of the Navy site, it uses a Delphi type method to automatically combine all the predictions from other forecasting systems and arrive at an average. It's usually pretty close.

It, like all the others, is forecasting virtually a dead-on hit on New Orleans. I've always wanted to go there; now I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to.

#8 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 01:36 PM:

Seem to recall the last every-five-years global climate conference summary report had a mention of being undecided over whether the hurricane categories would need to go up to seven or eight by 2050.

If you look at this NASA climate study, complete with conservative assumptions about climate change, and you get 'minimal category five' as the peak of the distribution curve -- the average hurricane of a world that's experienced moderate global warming.

Which means that what we're about to see with Katrina is only moderately above the expected future average for hurricane strength.

That expected future average produced by the simulation has 923 millibars eye pressure as the mean achieved; 908 is getting through 'Yikes!' and well into 'not so good' territory if I'm reading that graph correctly.

#9 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 01:36 PM:

what a frightening thing. I've been keeping tabs on Katrina since I discovered that some of my co-workers would be in Miami; now I'm holding on and hoping that my friends in NOLA are already out.

In the meanwhile, I'm watching the causeway cam, hoping to see a car I recognize, and I see that some people are still driving into NOLA. People are fascinating.

there's also the oil price hike this will cause, as the Gulf oil rigs shut down. I liked the BBC's reporting of it here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4192528.stm

#10 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 01:38 PM:

On global climate change and storm intensity, from the experts:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=173

More questions than answers, but if next year the Gulf storms are extraordinarily intense, I think it'll be likely that this is the new climate for the Gulf.

#11 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 01:39 PM:

I hope I sound just as bitter as I feel when I say: how long do you estimate before somebody pops up saying that God smote the city because of its sins?

#12 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 01:42 PM:

p.s. - i think it was Jeff Morrow echoing Mooney's words.

#13 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 01:44 PM:

The exact phrase from the National Hurricane Center -- guys not prone to hyperbole -- is thus.

"KATRINA IS COMPARABLE ININTENSITY TO HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969...ONLY LARGER"

The satellite presentation is here. The words "textbook" are being used to describe it.

Andrew hit Florida with central pressure of 922 millibars (27.23in/Hg) Camille hit at 909mBar (26.84in/Hg).

Katrina, at last report, is at 906 mBar.

This storm is acting like a Hollywood plotline.

#14 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 01:47 PM:

A long-favorite bit of doggerel just popped into my mind:


May Providence, who watches over drunkards and fools
With silent miracles and other esoterica
Continue to suspend the customary rules
And preserve the United States of America

#15 ::: C.E. Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 01:47 PM:

I've been watching the news about Katrina for the last two or three days and I have not been able to get that hurricane risk article from last year out of my mind. I've never even been to the city, and the idea of it being drowned is devastating. I find there's a part of me surprisingly sympathetic to those who won't leave.

Man, I hope I'll still have a chance to see the part of New Orleans that makes it Nawlins. :/

-Catie

#16 ::: Jackmormon ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 01:55 PM:

American Public Media has a terrifying projection of what could happen to New Orleans if hit by a category 5 here. One of the scientists interviewed mentions that because of wetlands destruction, the coast has lost some of its buffering against hurricanes--but this storm seems big enough that that protection might not have counted for much anyway.

#17 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:08 PM:

My boyfriend has been to New Orleans. I have never been, and now it looks like I might never get to go, at least not the city that my friends remember. I hope it's not so bad, but those reports coming in don't look good.

#18 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Words fail me. New Orleans is one of my favorite towns and I've been wanting to visit again for several months. I've actually made tentative plans to go next month but I guess I'm not going to get to.

Also, someone very dear to me lives there. I guess I'd better go hunting for that report in page. And try to call him too.

Goddammit.

MKK

#19 ::: Deanna Hoak ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:24 PM:

Here's a live news feed from New Orleans: http://www.wwltv.com/perl/common/video/wmPlayer.pl?title=beloint_wwltv&props=livenoad

What I've been seeing over at Weather Underground indicates that emergency management in New Orleans has been privatized, so that evacuation became a business decision. If that's true, someone should be held criminally liable for not calling the evacuation sooner.

#20 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:28 PM:

Here's an "Urgent Weather Message" that was issued by the National Weather Service for New Orleans at 10:11 this morning (CDT). I have never seen the NWS use language like this. It's nauseating:

DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED

HURRICANE KATRINA

A MOST POWERFUL HURRICANE WITH UNPRECEDENTED STRENGTH...RIVALING THE INTENSITY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969.

MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS...PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL...LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.

THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL. PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE...INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.

HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY...A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL OLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.

AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD...AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS...PETS...AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.

POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS...AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.

THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING...BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE KILLED.

AN INLAND HURRICANE WIND WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WINDS NEAR HURRICANE FORCE...OR FREQUENT GUSTS AT OR ABOVE HURRICANE FORCE...ARE CERTAIN WITHIN THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS.

ONCE TROPICAL STORM AND HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ONSET...DO NOT VENTURE OUTSIDE!

#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:30 PM:

Deanna, can you give me links on that?

Anna, the trouble with declaring this to be God's punishment for sins is that Florida has been getting hit much, much harder.

#22 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:35 PM:

MKK - No reason to be especially bitter about the privitization, evacuation orders have always been as much economic and political as public safety driven.

Imagine the cost of evacuating metro Seattle against a chance of, say, a possible explosive eruption of Mt. Rainier. Our geography makes a sensible evacuation difficult (ahh, life on an isthmus) and the costs would range from food spoilage, lost wages, lost sales and lost productivity right up to the inevitable loss of life on the freeways as everyone flees towards BC and the other side of the Cascades.

Still, scary news to wake up to and I'll keep the people of the Gulf Coast in my thoughts throughout the day.

From the Aieee! file, the pressure has just dropped to 902mb as per the Weather Channel. Damn.

#23 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:36 PM:

Thanks, Teresa. I'm passing along links and info to my friends to see that relays are in place.

#24 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:36 PM:

There's a poster on the Weather Underground site who keeps advising people to treat this like a tornado, and hunker down in the lowest part of their house with mattresses over the tub and all that. I see his point, but:

A) Tornados have much less advance warning than a hurricane, and practically no evacuation time.

B) Did he overlook the part about New Orleans flooding??

Gahr.

#25 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:37 PM:

Whoops, sorry MKK, I read your comment and Deanna Hoak's together and addressed the wrong person.

#26 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:39 PM:

Anna, I can understand your bitterness, but statements that cities (which, in this circumstance, can mean any habitation of more than one building) are being smitten because of their wickedness are a matter of routine; with a city such as New Orleans, it would be more significant if someone didn't cite the presumed wrath of a presumed wrathful deity.

It is indeed wearying and sad that, for so many people, the Awesome and Subtle Genius of the Universe is, well, themselves, with infinite (though mundanely applied) power, zero responsibility, and the ability to consume lipids, simple sugars, and alcohol without physical consequence, but from the evidence this projection of ego has been with us since the moment of Apeiron. And it's just as apparent that while the deity, if such there is, cares for these souls, she, he or it doesn't take their advice.

#27 ::: Deanna Hoak ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:42 PM:

If you search for "privatization" in this huge page of links, you'll find a post by someone called "Selu" who blames privatization and offers this URL.

#28 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:49 PM:

the NOAA has a weather tracker here that puts everything they have for Katrina in one location.

the news keeps getting worse, like with this most recent warning that states "HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 205 MILES."

#29 ::: Deanna Hoak ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:49 PM:

Larry, I live on Merritt Island, Florida, and we're evacuated at the drop of a hat. The meteorologists on Weather Underground were urging people to leave far before the call for voluntary evacuation happened in New Orleans, and I can't help but feel that a) the evacuation was far overdue, and b) there wasn't an adequate plan in place to deal with this, despite the fact that everyone knew what a catastrophe a storm like this would be.

#30 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:50 PM:

I was in New Orleans a couple of years ago, when we took a trip there for our anniversary. It's an amazing place. The idea of this happening there is almost more than I can get my head around, and I don't have words to express how much it fills me with despair.

#31 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 02:58 PM:

Hunting around a bit through Wikipedia, I found the following:

Looking at the MPH ranges for sustained windspeed in the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, I see that most of the categories cover a roughly 20-MPH range. Category 1, for example, is 74-95 MPH. Category 5 is 156 MPH or higher; I figure if they had a Category 6, it'd probably start around 175 MPH, give or take a few.

Looking at the entry for Hurricane Katrina, I see that it may have "maximum sustained winds as high as 175 mph" when it makes landfall tomorrow.

#32 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 03:05 PM:

I recall something about New Orleans being right where the river would go if it wanted to form an Oxbow Lake -- not a recent idea.

I was watching a program about the achaeology of the Fens in England -- Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, and Norfolk -- and the slightly higher ground where the old villages are built are old river beds. You can see the same pattern with the Google Earth images of the area between Baton Rouge and the sea, and the Mississippi could end up bypassing Baton Rouge and reaching the sea some 70 miles west of New Orleans.

Not that New Orleans is going to be any less wet. And the descriptions of the wind damage are a lot like the descriptions of the expected blast damage from nearby nuclear weapons.


#33 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 03:12 PM:

On a weather page being broadcast by the BBC, the New Orleans weather forecast for Monday:

"Sunny intervals"

It's a very summaried world weather forecast on the BBCi system.

#34 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 03:12 PM:

There's been some conversation about extending the scale in recent years. I hope to hell this isn't our first Category 6 hurricane, and the human race's amazing luck holds out for a major shot across the bow.

This is playing out like a disaster movie script. It hurts to breathe.

#35 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 03:14 PM:

i've heard/read a rumor that NOLA will shut the roads from all traffic at 6 pm, and i read in this article from the Guardian that people who could not evacuate (a really large no. of people there lack transportation) are being encouraged to go to the Superdome or other shelters to wait it out. a quote:

"The Superdome, the 70,000-seat home of football's Saints and the New Year's Sugar Bowl, opened at daybreak Sunday, giving first priority to frail, elderly people on walkers, some with oxygen tanks. They were told to bring enough food, water and medicine to last up to five days."

#36 ::: Connie ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 03:20 PM:

You know what changed this from an interesting disaster story to the personal? A friend's frail and elderly parents were taking vacation this week in NO... and now they're stuck in a downtown hotel, unable to evacuate. My heart goes out to all in, and all outside the city/parish/state/disaster area who have dear ones stuck inside.

#37 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 03:31 PM:

The web cam site at nola.com seems to be overloading.

#38 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 03:37 PM:

According to Stormtrack, the latest report on Katrina shows it strengthening further to 902millibars and 184mph winds. I feel dazed just reading the coverage.

#39 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 03:39 PM:

Clifton, did you catch the report of tornadoes inside the hurricane? This, in a storm that's already the equivalent of an F3 tornado.

#40 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 03:43 PM:

It looks like most of the webcams are shutting down now anyway. The LA DOT cams haven't been updated since yesterday. The northern Causeway camera is still working, and shows a huge traffic backup.

#41 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 03:50 PM:

Satellite picture of cloud cover are showing the hurricane as the centre of a weather pattern with effects visible as far north as Washington DC.

Reports of heavy traffic on Jefferson Highway and Airline.

#42 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 03:50 PM:

WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS

Incredible is exactly the word, because I don't believe this report is genuine. It is sort of written in NWS style -- ALL CAPS...WITH PERIOD GROUPS INSTEAD OF COMMAS...AND SHORT PHRASES. But the language isn't right, and while I've seen the body text in three or four places, I've never actually seen the header. Furthermore, ALL NWS alerts have the listing of affected areas, and "INLAND HURRICANE WIND WARNING" isn't right -- it's just "INLAND HURRICANE WARNING". NWS forecasters are very careful when they're using thier own jargon, because there's lots of meaning behind them, and saying warning when you don't mean it causes real problems.

Furthermore, NWSFO LIX, New Orelans/Baton Rouge, LA, doesn't have a copy posted, though they have plenty of Scary Announcements of thier own. I'm going to go check the National Hurricane Center to see if it is one of thiers, but LSI doesn't have anything like this posted -- and they post *everything* they release.

So, as of now, I've gotta treat that one as bogus, unless I can find a copy actually posted from the NWS.

#43 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 03:58 PM:

Fuck.

It's real: WWUS74 KLIX 281550. It was filed as a non-precipitation warning, not a Hurricane Local Statement, which meant I had to dig it out of IWIN.

This is a current link, but it won't stay current as new statements push it down, then off the page.

#44 ::: Livia ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 04:01 PM:

Eric, the Drudge Report has a copy of that announcement, including header and a list of affected areas at the end (although it may very well still be bogus - I have no way of knowing that).

http://www.drudgereport.com/flash.htm

#45 ::: Jane Washburn ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 04:09 PM:

Eric, unfortunately the NWS statement is true. the link is here.

#46 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 04:10 PM:

235000 "heater meals" and 50 Red Cross volunteers ready in Baton Rouge, which seems to be the staging area for the relief effort.

35 minutes to revised predictions of the track.

#47 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 04:11 PM:

One thing about weather forums during a big storm: there's always some guy who's jumping up and down "I called this 5 days ago!", as if he'd caused it with his mighty weather powers.

#48 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 04:12 PM:

Hi, Erik. I took that from here:

http://www.nola.com/weather/parishes/plaquemines.html

I had trouble finding it on the NHC site, since it's hard (for me) to find the parish-by-parish listings there. Does this bit of header help? "WWUS74 KLIX 281550 NPWLIX" The affected areas list came at the end, of course: "LAZ038-040-050-056>070-282100-ASSUMPTION-LIVINGSTON-LOWER JEFFERSON-LOWER LAFOURCHE-LOWER PLAQUEMINES-LOWER ST. BERNARD-LOWER TERREBONNE-ORLEANS-ST. CHARLES-ST. JAMES-ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST-ST. TAMMANY-TANGIPAHOA-UPPER JEFFERSON-UPPER LAFOURCHE-UPPER PLAQUEMINES-UPPER ST. BERNARD-UPPER TERREBONNE-1011 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005"

The same language is being reported by the Times-Pic folks, under the headline "NWS outlines grim forecast of devastion expected across area"; here's the link:
http://www.nola.com/newslogs/breakingtp/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_Times-Picayune/archives/2005_08.html#074533

I'm a regular reader of NOAA for weather news and had never seen anything that sounded anything like this, Erik. Part of me would love to hear that it's not true, but I kind of think that this is what happens when someone is sitting there at the keyboard, typing, thinking to themselves, "Is anyone Listening? Don't you Get It? This is It! I mean Destruction, People! Unremitting Misery!"

#49 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 04:21 PM:

I'm a regular reader of NOAA for weather news and had never seen anything that sounded anything like this, Erik.

So am I, and neither had I, which is why it rang false -- then I (finally) found the acutal postings, with full headers and footers, and well, fuck.

LIX, unlike LSX (St. Louis) and MOB (Mobile, AL,) doesn't have a quick link to the text products -- which is why it took a while to find the acutal text. Indeed, if I hadn't found it before I'd seen the reference to Drudge, I would have then assumed it to be Yet Another Drudge Fake.

Alas, it is real.

#50 ::: Joe Rybicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 04:25 PM:

Anyone find a check-in page yet? Post a link if so, please.

Thanks.

#51 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 04:34 PM:

According to the TV advertising, there's a furniture store in New Orleans doing a special sale tomorrow afternoon...

#53 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 04:40 PM:

And now I'm hearing lists of shelters being opened. And I have to wonder if the structures will stand up to the weather.

#54 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 04:44 PM:

Dave, there's a question as to whether or not even the Superdome will hold... at that point the rest of it is academic, I think. :(

#56 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 05:24 PM:

They just updated the NOAA advisory -- minimum central pressure is down to 902 mB, and they've added a tornado warning: "ISOLATED TORNADOES WILL BE POSSIBLE BEGINNING THIS EVENING OVER SOUTHERN PORTIONS OF LOUISIANA...MISSISSIPPI...AND ALABAMA...AND OVER THE FLORIDA PANHANDLE."

Speaking for myself I'm glad I'm on the other side of the Atlantic -- and kicking myself for not filling up my gas tank when I took the car out this afternoon.

Why am I having flashovers to Bruce Sterling's "Heavy Weather"?

#57 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 05:27 PM:

I see it's due to make landfall around 7am CDT tomorrow, one hour before high tide. Fuck. I also see that NOAA give a 10% probability of wind speeds as high as 180mph (300km/h!) around that time, and a low 10% probability for wind speeds as slow as 145mph.

Why have I got a feeling that this is going to be like 9/11, only with 24 hours' notice and an order of magnitude bigger?

#58 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 05:50 PM:

See also John Barnes' Mother of Storms.

#59 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 06:15 PM:

I'm watching TV news, there's people who couldn't be evacuated streaming into the Superdome and they're clearly terrified.

I've been through a worse storm than this -- the anemometer blew off at 210mph 6 hours into a 24-hour typhoon -- when we were stationed on Guam. Water was definitely a problem. I used loose Quonset hut pieces to make rain collectors on the roof, and ended up telling neighbors how to make them, and that was our "clean" water for six weeks. We got power back two weeks later.

But Guam is small and when Typhoon Karen passed over, it was over. New Orleans and environs are big, with a lot more room to do damage.

#60 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 06:25 PM:

And Guam wouldn't turn into a lake. The winds are bad, no mistake, but the disaster comes from Mew Orleans being 6' feet below sea level, protected by 12' levees, and facing a 25' storm surge.

#61 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 06:50 PM:

I think I need to pack my duffle bag; just in case the call-up for Louisiana troops (and oh! how it sucks to be deployed when something like this happens. I was not allowed to be called up (though SSG Andrushka, in my unit of assignment at the time was) for the Northridge Earthquake, it was mind-numbing to be so far from it) gets spread out to other states.

This I can live with being deployed for, it's why I joined the Guard, not the Reserve.

#62 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 06:53 PM:

Terry--

I've been doing a lot of thinking this afternoon about our guardsmen and women, the ones far away from home, who are about to be desperately needed to do what they signed on for.

And I just wanna say thanks, man.

#63 ::: Lisa Hertel ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 07:06 PM:

Poppy Z. Brite refuses to evacuate. Is there any way to talk sense into them?

#64 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 07:10 PM:

It may be worth pointing out, for those who don't know, that something nearly like this happened to Galveston, Texas in 1900.

I think it's well worth reading this particular description of the aftermath.

#65 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 07:13 PM:

By now, going by what was being said on TV, it's likely to be too late. Several Louisiana Parishes have started curfews, Police, Fire, and EMS are holing up for the storm, and the weather is getting pretty bad for trying to drive out.

#66 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 07:14 PM:

I had the oddball thought just now, and felt the need to share it with someone: I'm glad George Effinger isn't in the midst of it, or trying to deal with it from a distance. He had enough on his plate.

#67 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 07:15 PM:

I get the impression that up until this morning, the bars down in Bourbon Street were planning to stay open thorugh the storm, as usual. But AP has a story by Allen Breed this afternoon that just about everybody is boarding up and getting out if they can. There are always execptions like Mary Lind:

"My son's having a fit," the 56-year-old real estate agent said as she drove to Matassa's for some last-minute provisions. "We're kind of a different breed of people down here, people in the Quarter. Heck, if we can put up with Mardi Gras, we can put up with a hurricane."
#68 ::: Rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 07:15 PM:

Having watched an interview with the mayor about an hour or so ago via
http://www.wwltv.com/
[popup alert]
I was struck by how well spoken, calm, and intelligent he seemed. When pressed to describe what the probable aftermath, you could see that he was very carefully describing what he really thought possible, with no "politician puffery." Darn. Why can't we have that guy for president?

The bit that sticks in my mind was an estimate* of 6 weeks of no electricity in New Orleans.

He also frankly acknowleged the difficulties of getting the pumps running again, reminding the viewers that they only pump "one or two" inches an hour running full speed. He also frankly acknowledged that with people's cars most likely fully tanked up, that after a week or so of being underwater, that they would certainly leak, and that it would be very difficult to clean up N.O.

He did say that prior to the storm surge that they were going to directly flush the entire sewer system into the gulf, and that it was likely that flushing would be available in the near aftermath. He also estimated that about 80% of the city's residents had been successfully evacuated, which he considered to be beyond an excellent result. (60% would have been considered excellent.) He even frankly acknowleged that there would be many, many casualties. Talk about a class act.

I'll be praying for those in the path.
-R.

p.s.Useful links:
http://goes.gsfc.nasa.gov/
http://www.wunderground.com/blog/SteveGregory/comment.html?entrynum=129&tstamp=200508&allcomments=1
If you are a ham radio operator, note this:
http://www.hwn.org/home/activationplans.html
The Hurricane Watch Net will activate Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. CDT - 1900 UTC on 14.325 MHz

*I could have sworn he said "minimum", but I don't know.

#69 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 07:15 PM:

Terry: What Elizabeth Bear said.

#70 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 07:18 PM:

Lisa, my understanding from a mutual friend is that Poppy's on her way out. She'll update her blog on LJ when she's landed.

#71 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 07:28 PM:

Anna: Not long at all.

#72 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 07:38 PM:

And in other effects: Crude oil futures leap $4, to $70.80, at open, according to AP. The story is from Signapore, but references the New York Merchantile Exchange (NYMEX.)

#73 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 07:50 PM:

Oh yeah. Stay behind during a hurricane. Real friggin bright. Even if emergency services dosen't ahve to save you, being stuck in a devestated town full of contaminated water, with most of the SANE people (inncluding non emergency services DOCTORS) gone means you'll be a drain on emergency services no matter what.

Assholes.

#74 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 07:53 PM:

Had been trying to reach my family this morning--their cell phone carrier has been overwhelmed. Finally heard from Mom. She's evacuated to Hot Springs along with my grandmother. My brother's with some friends headed out of town.

First thing my mom said: "I'm afraid you won't have a home to come home to."

What scares me is knowing that two of my uncles and my dad, all of them medical professionals, have opted to stay: Dad at Touro Hospital, and my uncles in St. Tammany. It's said that no good deed goes unpunished; I'm hoping the universe makes an exception. If the storm destroys the family business (Dr.s LeBoeuf & Buras, Pediatrics), that at least can be rebuilt. But the casualty predictions are scaring me half to death. I'd like to have a Dad when this is over.

(He and my uncles are not likely to even know about check-in web pages, much less visit them.)

And my sister-in-law, who along with her boyfriend chose to celebrate their anniversary in New Orleans this weekend--they're in Covington with the owner of the bed & breakfast they were staying at. I'm scared that it won't be far enough away.

So here I am in Colorado feeling intensely helpless. The actions available to me: Pray, light candles, send good magickal energy, worry.

I love my hometown beyond reason. I can't fathom a world in which it's missing.

My heart goes out to all others directly and indirectly affected. For what good that'll do.

risa--I hope you're right about PZB. Keep us posted if she doesn't.

#75 ::: Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 08:45 PM:

Anna FDD and Josh Jasper: It comes from both sides. I've seen two people, on two different mailing lists, cracking wise about divine vengeance on the red states. Fun fact: Orleans parish (containing New Orleans) went for Kerry by better than 3:1...

#76 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 08:48 PM:

Nicole - I shall. I'm wishing and willing the best of luck to your family; I'll definitely be thinking of them through this week.

#77 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 08:56 PM:

Charles: thanks for making that comment! I think a lot of people are unaware that many cities in red states voted overwhelmingly for Kerry (Atlanta being another example).

#78 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 08:59 PM:

Josh, I've got family in Houma, Lake Charles and Vinton, which should be (relatively) fine as they are both near the Texas border. I grew up in the piney woods near Shreveport. At one time the the old-timers in and around NOLA and in Acadiana thought they could ride out anything. When you consider the limited warning before the 1960's and their lack of both resources and good evacuation routes, it was understandable. What cannot be cured must be endured, and if you can make it an excuse for a good party, fine. Laissez le bon ton roulez!

Then came 1969, and Hurricane Camille, which changed how govenments in the South saw hurricanes and evacuation, and which changes how a lot of people viewed "riding one out". Anyone who has been in or near a hurricane (in my case sitting in a school hallway waiting out a tornado spun off of Carla) knows in their bones to get the fuck out of the way. These days you do not get a choice about evacuation -- a policeman or guardsman pounds on your door, hands you a copy of the evacuation order, with a map on the back of evacuation routes, and instructs you on when you have to be gone by. If you refuse, you have to sign a release, which they generally inform you will be used to "provide a list to help identify the dead". They don't bother to argue, they don't have the time. Those who are left are the poor, the unlucky, the procrastinators, and the drunk. By now, the real old-timers are well past Baton Rouge -- this is one to ride out in Dallas or Tulsa.

#79 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 09:01 PM:

Also, hurricanes do not help my command of grammar . . .

#80 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 09:01 PM:

I don't believe in gods, but I really don't believe in a God who would wait n months and then kill people because of who they voted for. If nothing else, an omniscient being who wanted to pick the winner of an election could do so by any number of methods both subtler and more effective.

#81 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 09:02 PM:

Nicole, at least your Dad and your uncles have a constructive reason to be in New Orleans right now. I really respect them for that, but I don't blame you for being worried.

Remember Nolacon? Back in 1988, the remenents of a little hurricane hit New Orleans, on the Saturday of Worldcon, I think it was. The main thing I remember is that you walked through 1-2 inches of water crossing Canal St. to go between the hotels. And that was at a time when we got about 4-6" of rain and all of the pumps were working.

That's why talk of a real hurricane hitting New Orleans has scared me so much.

There is one tiny bit of good news. I'm looking at the NOAA map right now, and it looks like Katrina is going slightly west of New Orleans. This is really good news, if the hurricane stays on that course. We could only be talking about a few 100 or 1000 dead rather than the 10,000s of dead a more easterly-path (over Lake Ponchatrain) would mean. It might not quite be "the perfect storm" after all.

#82 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 09:06 PM:

Unfortunately, slightly west isn't usually good news -- the worst of the storm occurs in its eastern quadrant, as it makes landfall, because that's the side that has the most power. It'd have to be a lot west to help NO.


-l.

#83 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 09:11 PM:

Yikes, Laura, you're right. Sorry I pointed that out then, I'd forgotten the way the winds whip around.

#84 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 09:46 PM:

It's traking right along the UKMET line -- which is just exactly wrong for New Orelans and the Mississippi river -- buoys in the gulf are showing 30' seas.

The latest from Jeff Masters is about as bad as it gets.

The track forecast has not changed significantly, and the area from New Orleans to the Mississippi-Louisiana border is going to get a catastrophic blow. I put the odds of New Orleans getting its levees breached and the city submerged at about 70%.

If you must stay, he suggests you wear a lifejacket and a helmet.

#85 ::: Tayefeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 09:58 PM:

My search fu is weak. I've been trying to figure out if New Jersey has storm surge evacuation zones along the same lines as New York City's, but I can't find anything. Is this info hidden somewhere I haven't looked yet, or is NYC just ahead of the curve in planning for real life with millions of people in a small area?

#86 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 10:28 PM:

Anna -- just imagine how uncomfortable those people will be when some radical Islamist says the hurricane is Allah's judgment on the entire country.

Note that patience with that class of attitude is wearing thin here. The Rev. Fred Phelps (gaybaiter-in-chief, head of a "church" that AP says is mostly his relatives) showed up at a military funeral to say the soldiers died because they were defending a country that tolerated gays; he was shouted down. (Phelps strikes me as the sort of clown who belongs in G&S. I wonder if it's within my free speech rights to lead a chorus of shouting "Oni bikkuri shakkuri to!" the whenever he shows up around here....)

#87 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 10:29 PM:

Claude, I don't think the people in the articles I've read are drunk. I think they're just being macho assholes.

#88 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 11:02 PM:

Um . . . is it too soon to ask what charities and emergency organizations are going to need donations?

#89 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 11:07 PM:

Charlie Stross wrote:

> Why am I having flashovers to Bruce Sterling's "Heavy Weather"?

John Barnes _Mother of Storms_ for me, but same deal.

#90 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 11:08 PM:

Tayefeth - I've seen hurricane evacuation signs scattered randomly around Essex and Union counties, so there must be some sort of planning. Unfortunately, the signs are just about as connected and useful as a sign saying "Triboro Bridge" with an arrow at the corner of Broad and Wall Streets.

I had no idea that NYC had storm surge evacuation routes, and half my old neigborhood (Canarsie) was clearly at risk. Good on them if they've got them planned and posted!

Similarly, I'm sure that Seattle has tsunami evacuation routes, but darned if I've ever seen a sign. (My plan is to go up Phinney Ridge. If the wave gets up there, there'd be no getting away anyway.)

#91 ::: Michael Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 11:10 PM:

Nicole,

I'd worry quite a bit about Covington/Mandeville/Abita. The lake should be a big problem. My sister and brother-in-law left at 2AM this morning and are now in Dallas, but they don't expect that the house they've got about half built will survive. Still, better the house then the family. We don't know about my sister's in-laws, but she says that friends who fled to Jackson, MS, are now packing up and heading further inland.

Much as I dislike "weather porn" and as much as I will revile the weathermen who stand out in the freakin' storm for grandstanding's sake, this seems very serious.

#92 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 11:11 PM:

Stefan: Anyplace that takes blood.

TK

#93 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 11:12 PM:

Lisa:

Poppy Brite evacuated today to inland Mississippi. I can understand why she thought she would rather die, but I am glad she chose otherwise.

Stefan:

I would say, all of them.

#94 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 11:20 PM:

Watching the coverage on CNN this morning and afternoon, we were wondering which would go first, the river levees or the lakeside levees. My sister really enjoys NO for the food; guess that's in the past. Although people who are determined can do a lot of things that seems impossible. (I remember hearing about Hilda from people who were there for her. Thank you, I'll skip the experience.)

and slightly off topic: Just as there are blue areas in red states, there are red areas in blue states. California's Central Valley, outside of Sacramento and its neighbors, is very red, to the point where I am sometimes glad it's outvoted.

#97 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2005, 11:57 PM:

WWL, the local TV station, just shut down their studio and handed operations over to Baton Rouge. They were carrying a press conference with a NWS meteorologist who stated that the storm has measured gusts of 190 mph. Should be weaker by the time it makes landfall, of course.

Stormtrack has a useful link to a NOAA page of wave bouy data. The one in the northeast quadrant of the storm is seeing 48 knot gusts and thirty-foot swells.

#98 ::: Lois Aleta Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 12:11 AM:

I saw on the news that there were long lines of people trying to get into the Superdome, but they had to wait because of the security procedures, checking baggage. Geez, are they more afraid of potential terrorists than they are of an actual Level 5 hurricane?

Also a family in a community on the actual coast planning to ride out the hurricane on their shrimpboat: a young couple, who looked to be in their twenties, if that, who didn't think they had any other alternative -- and their 3-year-old daughter!

When my brother-in-law was in the Air Force and my sister was pregnant with their first baby, they were stationed in Biloxi. This was 1973, four years after Camille, and the area was still recovering. My sister was amazed at the devastation still visible.

Lots of prayers and good wishes for everyone in the Gulf area. Especially those who can't get out, like that young family, those like Nicole's family who are staying to help, and those like Terry's National Guard unit whose help will be needed all too soon.

#99 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 12:13 AM:

Thank you for all the good thoughts. Mine go out to all of you, too.

What makes me absolutely sick is the continued cell phone silence. The song of the day is "Your Call Cannot Be Completed At This Time." The last time we spoke was about two weeks ago when no one knew this was coming.

I don't know what to think. Clockwise thoughts, I guess.

#100 ::: Rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 12:16 AM:

Health and Welfare Inquiry form for the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network. (Ham Radio)
http://qso.com/satern/emailfrm.htm

Quote: "Please use this form to submit your inquiry. Your inquiry will be sent to the disaster area, where SATERN personnel will attempt to locate the person or persons about whom you are inquiring. Please supply as much information as possible."

About donations:

Red cross blood drive locator: (crappy flash interface)
https://www.givelife.org/index_flash.cfm

Red cross online donation site:
https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation-form.asp

Red cross phone donations:
http://www.redcross.org/donate/donatephone.html

Bonus points to anyone who can teach me how to use google maps to locate blood drives.

Words fail me. I can't describe the irritation I feel towards other disaster relief groups that have failed to customize their websites to enble donations for this disaster. I mean, really, you'd think they'd have enough time to fix it by now. Likewise for the flash interface for the blood drive locator.

Thanks TNH, for posting this topic. I wouldn't have found out about this thing until tomorrow if it wasn't for the rss feed from your site. Thanks group, for the links, insightful commentary, etc. Your "ongoing coverage" of this event has the bbc/nytimes/weather channel beat all hollow.

R.

Additonal links:
Ham radio alert:
http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2005/08/28/100/?nc=1
"As usual, during any net activation, we encourage all mariners and residents in and around the affected area to come to the net frequency (14.325 MHz) for all the latest information and for the purpose of providing reports of conditions in your area,"

Hurricane Watch Net:
http://www.hwn.org/

Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center
http://www.wx4nhc.org/

#101 ::: Kathi ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 12:20 AM:

Two of the cams in NO show no image.

http://www.earthcam.com/usa/louisiana/neworleans/bourbonstreet/index.php?cam=3

I remember George Alec Effinger and Debbie Hodgkinson fleeing New Orleans before an incoming hurricane--this was many years ago. They weren't sure there would be anything to return to. That time, there was. I'm glad George missed this--he loved his city, and losing it would tear him up.

#102 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 12:34 AM:

I've put up a new blog here for informaton sources and "I'm OK" messages. I'll be posting URLs of contact lists as they become available.

#103 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 12:39 AM:

I saw on the news that there were long lines of people trying to get into the Superdome, but they had to wait because of the security procedures, checking baggage. Geez, are they more afraid of potential terrorists than they are of an actual Level 5 hurricane?

I had an initial 'stupid homeland securitism' reaction to that, too, but someone pointed out that in two or three days there are going to be thousands of people in 100+ degree heat with minimal water and sanitation and that it would be a Very Good Idea if none of them had knives or guns when tempers start to fray.

#104 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 12:45 AM:

Nicole, I know it's impossible to not worry at a time like this, and you have every right to.

But don't let the phone thing get to you too badly. Any major disaster usually shuts down an area's phone system because everyone tries to call everyone else. We haven't really seen it with cell phones before, but I think that's because there weren't as many. Now that there are, it's possible that they are suffering from the same problems as land lines.

I first noticed this during the Mt St. Helens eruption - we all wondered how ash affected phone lines. It took a while for someone to figure out that once everyone had the lawn furniture in, and the livestock under cover, no one had much to do except watch the TV and call the relatives. This lasted for a couple of days - I don't think phone service was reliable until about four days after the eruption.

I saw it a little during the Nisqually quake, and on a localized level, every time the Mariners and Sonics went to the playoffs (the company I worked for was on the same exchange as the ticket office).

In all of these cases the only problem was that the system was overloaded - there was _no_ infrastructure destruction. New Orleans and the area around it will lose infrastructure, including cell phone towers - and none of this will help any, of course.

So, I think I'm trying to say is the phone silence, at least, may not be a very good indicator of how your relatives are doing.

I'm also going to say that I will be praying with special intentions for them, their work, and their safety tonight, and for you, too. It sounds like it will be a very bad night.

Margaret Organ-Kean

#105 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 01:02 AM:

Thanks, Margaret. I know that phone silence doesn't mean that disaster has already struck. All it means is, I can't talk to him. What devastates me is not knowing if I'll ever be able to again.

#106 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 01:09 AM:

Josh Jasper: hp nthr y nr nyn y cr bt vr gts cght n dsstr. I have a very very dear friend who lives in the French Quarter and has no car. He can't get out so he's making noise about how he thinks they'll make it through ok. Ever hear of whistling in the dark? vr hr f mpthy y sl-dd jrk? People do a lot of foolish things when they're scared. hp y nvr hv t fnd t.

MKK

#107 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 01:13 AM:

>What devastates me is not knowing if I'll ever be able to again.

I wish I had some useful comfort for you. I really do. I can only pray.

Margaret Organ-Kean

#108 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 01:21 AM:

Jesus. I didn't know. I'm sorry to have bothered people with trivia, now.

#109 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 01:26 AM:

Nicole - This is one of those times when I wished I believed in prayer. All I can offer is my hope - and hope and human kindness is why your family members have stayed in NO. They have my admiration and my good thoughts.

MKK - I hope your friend has found his way to a sound shelter and rides this out unhurt. Why there weren't buses made available to those without cars, I can't imagine.

I don't know anyone in New Orleans, I've only visited once and found it a magical, chaotic and fragrant place. I hope to be able to return someday and find it as I remember it. Good luck to all who will undoubtedly need it over the next day and the next week or so.

#110 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 01:31 AM:

And I'm looking for a bit of help with the site; a couple of WordPress admins. See link above. Thanks.

#111 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 01:45 AM:

Gently, all. This is a terrible event, and it's going to get worse. Let's maintain our ability to talk to each other about it.

#112 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 01:57 AM:

MKK: I hppn t consider Josh a good friend. H's vr mch nt "sl-dd jrk," rgrdlss f wht h's pstd hr.

#113 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 01:59 AM:

When I checked a half-hour ago, the nola.com webcams were working, showing streetlighting over the area and things being generally very wet.

#114 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 02:09 AM:

I've been watching the web camera from the toll plaza on the causeway:
http://www.thecauseway.com/photos/nplaza2.jpg
all day and evening since it was first mentioned here.

For the past couple of hours there's been a pair of patrol cars parked in the inbound lanes.

So in the off chance their dispatcher reads Making Light, I'd like those officers to know there's people thinking of them.

How you'd deliver a pizza to them, now that's a technical challenge.

#115 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 02:25 AM:

I'll amend my comment on the donation of blood.

Wait a bit. Money may be more useful, as injuries may be few, compared to deaths, and the need for blood (while constant) may not spike as much as one thinks it would.

Water, on the other hand, may be at a premium.

The waiting sucks.

TK

#116 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 02:28 AM:

The current ship assigned by the RN to the Atlantic Patrol Task (North) is HMS Cumberland, a Type 22 frigate.

Part of the job is hurricane relief, and the MoD describes Type 22 frigates as well equipped for use as a flagship.

See the Royal Navy website for details of APT(N).

#117 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 02:31 AM:

The vehicles at the causeway toll plaza seem to have left within the last 20 minutes.

Scrub the pizza delivery.

#118 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 03:19 AM:

And now there seem to be some lights off in the view of the causeway toll plaza. No lights visible in the foreground, just reflections on the wet road from lights which seem out of the camera's angle of view.

#119 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 05:31 AM:

Lois, I think their concern was over something a bit more mundane than terrorism. They just think that having thousands of people cooped up in a pitch-dark, half flooded Superdome would go better without additional guns and drugs. It's not an ideal shelter, but at least it's there.

#120 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 06:29 AM:

The major Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs) are:
the American Red Cross 1-800-HELP-NOW for donations.
Salvation Army
Southern Baptist Convention
The Red Cross federal charter requires us to respond to the human needs in disasters, and is responsible for the majority of Emergency Support Function (ESF) 6 Mass Care in the Federal Response Plan, and usually shoulders most of the cost themselves (we accepted money from the feds last fall (after much soul searching), and will probably accept it for Katrina). While both the Army and the SBC are "Religions with Agendas", for this they are deserving of support, even though they have their own funding sources.
The Red Cross is going to need money the most -- to buy food, rent trucks, pay for diesel fuel. And while this is certainly the biggest disaster at the moment, we also need to keep responding to our everyday disasters - household fires, tornados, etc. and that takes money.
The Salvation Army helps with feeding and sheltering, and the Southern Baptists have several big mobile kitchens that will be feeding the folks hot meals in the Gulf Coast for weeks. Never underestimate the power of a hot meal (especially since we'll be starting with Heater Meals and MREs).
Call your Red Cross, see if they need help answering phones, or stuffing envelopes, or bookeeping. If your're able to leave home for three weeks, they might even want to train and recruit you to work in the field for this (not a usual thing, but this isn't a usual disaster).

#122 ::: Fran ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 10:02 AM:

Two updates from MetaFilter member ColdChef, who left NO yesterday for a town near Baton Rouge.

First update:

Hi, everyone. Checking in.

I got to my parent's house at about 7 tonight. I walked in the doors and my brother grabbed my arms and said, "Let's go." The local nursing home was taking elderly refugees from New Orleans and they needed help unloading them when they got there. We had no idea what we were in for.

Five large tourbuses from New Orleans showed up with at least fifty patients on each. For the next four hours we carried these old folks off the buses, put them into wheelchairs and brought them inside.

When we first got there, there were only about fifteen men there. Then, about two dozen volunteers from the police and fire department showed up.

And then came two vans carrying most of the local high school football team. Though it was raining when we got there, it completely quit as we were unloading them.

Wearing gloves and using sheets to wrap them up as we moved them, we physically had to carry these people down the aisle of the bus, to waiting wheelchairs and then into the building, where we would lay them down on one of the 400 inflatable mattresses they brought with them. Picture the soldier scene from "Gone With the Wind" and you have some kind of idea what it looked like in there.

Most of them had soiled themselves on the four hour ride from New Orleans, so we had to be careful moving them. We filled the cafeteria with mattresses and then lined them in the hallways. Many of them had Alzheimer's, and were angry and confused, so it was hard to move them. A few refused to get off the bus and we had to physically bind them in sheets to move them.

It was awful. But we got them all inside. And a few of them who had an idea of what was going on were very thankful and tearful and…it was hard knowing that most of them would never return home. Two people died on the bus ride up there, so we'll be taking care of them later this evening. From the looks of some of the others, death won't be far away. I don't know. It's too much to think about right now.

The rain held off until the last people were unloaded, and as soon as we got them inside, it started pouring down raining.

By the sound of the wind and the rain outside, I don't think our powerlines will be intact for long, so I'll post this while I still can.

Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts.

Second update:

I don't know if you got my last email, but just another quick update.

The sun's coming up and the storm is really starting to whip around out there. The lights are still on amazingly enough, so my mom and I are making breakfast for all the people staying with us. No one really slept well last night except for my one-year-old girl.

Everyone was kind of crashed in front of our tv, flipping back and forth between local coverage, CNN, and the Weather Channel.

My dad was working up front in the funeral home, so I laid down with my mom in her bed and watched the news with her and told her all the funny things that happened at the nursing home with all the refugees. (Like the woman whose response to every question was, "Fuck you.")

I fell asleep and woke up between my mom and dad. Felt safer than it should have, I guess.

It's getting worse out there now and the lights are starting to flicker. I've had to restart my computer several times this morning.

For some reason, I can't post to MetaFilter or MetaChat or anything like that, so I'll try to keep up the emails.

People on the tv at the gulf coast keep saying awful things like, "This is worse than we expected." Makes the coffee and biscuits not taste so good.

#123 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 11:21 AM:

Sorry, but calling people who are looking for what courage and hope they can find in a horrible sitution macho assholes seems really lacking in empathy and overly judgemental. I'm curious though as to why my wish that neither Mr Jasper nor his loved ones get caught in a disaster got disemvoweled. Maybe somebody read it too fast?
MKK

#124 ::: RJ Johnson ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 11:26 AM:

Before checking in here, I cracked wise that some Pat Robertson type would crack wise about how NYC got nailed in '01, New Orleans is getting it in '05, thus that other den of inequity, San Francisco, would be in line for its day of retribution in 2009.

I'm saddened to hear that people who bitch about other people being intolerant are saying that nature is "punishing" the red states wit Katrina.

On the charity front: people who work for Big Corporations, check to see if they have or are setting up matching-funds programs for donations. SBC has done this in the past; I'm going to find out if they will be doing it for the victims of Katrina.

#125 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 06:13 PM:

Elizabeth, Patrick:

I never quite know what to do with such thanks, even when they come from people I know to be sincere (so many of them seem to be heartfelt, but pro-forma).

Having been called an insenstitve asshole (over at Steve Gilliard's) for saying the inability of the city to get everyone out wasn't criminal, but "just a bad thing", while I look at my packing list (which seems to be a trifle harder, what with the expected lack of water, and almost certainly horrible conditions) I recalled those thanks, and was less offended, no; I was just as offended, but I was comforted.

#126 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2005, 10:07 PM:

MKK: I was specificaly talking about people who clog emergency services because they chose to stay behind in order to test themselves.

#127 ::: Loretta ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 04:52 PM:

I was wondering if there is any way to make contact with loved ones in Gulfport? Any numbers to make sure that they are all ok?

#128 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 05:01 PM:

Both the Red Cross and Salvation Army will try and locate victims/survivors--check their websites.

#129 ::: dan Rush ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 06:29 PM:

I am very concerned about the people and the VFW chapters of the Pacific Coast are putting together bank accounts to help out. I'd like to know however the state of the Battleship Alabama, I have heard she is listing and her hull is heavily damaged. That's shocking since she survived the great typhoons off Okinawa in 1945.

#130 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 07:52 PM:

Terry--

What amazes me is how many people they *did* get out. I imagine trying to evacuate Las Vegas with 24 hours notice, and all I can think of is....

There are, more or less, six viable routes out of this city, all of them through hostile country. And the two widest of those are four available lanes (if you closed down inbound traffic.)

The rest are one lane each way, once you're out of town.

It couldn't be done.

#131 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2005, 08:15 PM:

I hope I sound just as bitter as I feel when I say: how long do you estimate before somebody pops up saying that God smote the city because of its sins?

Not very long at all.

#132 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 02:20 PM:

dan Rush, from a Mobile Register article at al.com:

While the battleship was left listing toward the port side, Tunnell said, it is not believed to have incurred any serious damage. "The ship has shifted its position, and will have to be straightened back up." He said this also occurred during Camille.

While Tunnell reported that damage to the aircraft pavilion was severe, he said the dozen or so vintage warplanes inside apparently "are all repairable."

#133 ::: Allison ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 02:57 PM:

Nicole: I have been frantically searching for some news about Touro Hospital. My 94 year-old grandmother was admitted last week and my grandfather chose to stay with her when the rest of the family evacuated. Do you know if your dad and the hospital has been evacuated? If so, to where?

I'm trying to coordinate my family's next few weeks from DC--trying to convince my dad he cannot go back to get them--so any words you have would be great. Thanks.

#134 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 03:10 PM:

I've seen more than one remark quoted about how God is punishing New Orleans for being so irreligious as to celebrate Mardi Gras.

#135 ::: Tanya Hudson ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2005, 09:22 PM:

I was wondering if there way to find a loved one, or a number you can call that would maybe help locate someone you know stayed behind and may have went to the Superdome at some point? If there is such information, I would greatly appreciate it. God speed to the city and residents of New Orleans, my prayers are with you all.

#136 ::: Brandi Koll ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 01:07 AM:

Does anyone know of any matching donation programs going on?

#137 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 02:36 AM:

As proof that there are, well, come to think of it, I just don't know what to say about this. Maybe that it's proof that idiocy is no respecter of ideological lines?

A letter writer in the Seattle Times wants to know if God is using Katrina to punish the US for being in Iraq.

I might consider that if Katrina's attentions had been confined to a certain ranch in Texas - or a small area of certain city in N. Virginia. As it is, I'd like to think God has better aim.

Margaret Organ-Kean

#138 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2005, 04:50 PM:

Hey! There are people who live near the Pentagon!

#139 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2005, 06:11 PM:

Does anyone know of any matching donation programs going on?

Screenwriter John Rogers is matching funds for donatiions made through his blog.

There's also a meme starting at LiveJournal, people donating $1 per comment made on a donation thread. The one I know of that's currently active is here.

#140 ::: A J Sochaczewski ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2005, 09:27 PM:

Jackson Miss. An elderly lady Florita Grieve, has lots of good friends. She is 77 yrs old has a older dog named Dusty. She ate cold soup out of cans since Monday. Dr. Brown in Ohio and his family is taking her in. One of her many friends called FOX news and their crew picked her out of her home which was covered in 8' of flood water. If not for FOX she might not have been found

#141 ::: nicoteke Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 06:27 PM:

I am trying to find out how we can get reimbursed for our food spoilage due to hurricane katrina power outages

#142 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2005, 07:20 PM:

While it's a nice story, does that post two up look just a little bit . . . odd to anybody else?

The poster is welcome to follow up on this.

#143 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 04:13 PM:

Mike: it's an Geraldo live TV story. Streams of the video are up on a couple of media blogs.

#144 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 05:35 PM:

OG: I was not suggesting that it was not a true story; I was observing that it was an abrupt appearance by someone with no other posts, phrased like a newspaper "human interest" piece rather than a blog comment ("her dog named Dusty"?) and heartily congratulating Fox News. They would deserve the congratulations, but this had a distinct DNA print of viral marketing.

Same goes for the next post. Food spoilage? Your house is flooded, in the middle of a zone of rapidly rising toxicity, and you're asking about money for the stuff in your freezer? And this would presumably be an evacuee with 'Net access.

I would be entirely pleased to be wrong about this, and yes, one of my stress responses is to get excessively suspicious. But if someone is using blogs for meme distribution -- not that it's ever happened before -- it would be good to identify it early.

#145 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 05:41 PM:

The food spoilage one sounds really funny anyway - that would be an insurance problem. And they probably wouldn't reimburse you for it anyway. At least, when I've met this kind of thing (power loss on a weekend) the people simply toss the food and go on.

#146 ::: Thel ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 06:05 PM:

I saw a little less-publicized blurb about Geraldo's grand rescue here:

The woman had been stranded in her home for six days. Geraldo picked up the woman and her dog and brought them here. The woman looks frail on his arm, though not as bad perhaps as a lady collapsed on a chair nearby, unable to move. Or a woman in a wheelchair being lifted from the truck, carrying her prosthetic leg on her lap.
"That's the second time he brought her here," one of the doctors tells me, nodding toward Geraldo.
"What?"
"They did two takes. Geraldo made that poor woman walk from the Fox News van to the heliport twice. Both times carrying her dog."
"Are you serious?" I ask. He says he is.

#147 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2005, 06:18 PM:

"They did two takes. Geraldo made that poor woman walk from the Fox News van to the heliport twice. Both times carrying her dog."

It makes me wonder if they're trying to take attention from the people in Washington who didn't do their jobs by distracting us with (possibly staged) 'human interest' stories.

#148 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2005, 02:50 PM:

Mike: I had already heard suggestions that it was a staged rescue from someone who saw the broadcast, so of course the post looked like viral marketing to me. I just wanted to give enough references to let you find it and decide for yourself.

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it seems to have a non-sequitur in it, too

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