"the best post on the subject [of the Stockwell shooting] so far and I agree. A must read." - Tim Worstall, August 21, 2005

"Chris at Optimus In Omnis wrote a thoughtful post in July...his more recent post describes the edginess many Londoners feel" - BBC News Online, August 22, 2005

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bodies line the streets of the Big Easy - more to come

As the storm subsided and headed north, and daybreak came in Louisiana and Mississippi, it was time for the authorities to begin the clear-up work which will cost nearly $15billion. With the hopeful news that all may have escaped death as a result of the storm nothing more than a memory, it was left to officials to identify the dead - no-one knows exactly how many lives Hurricane Katrina took, but the reports that 40 died in one Mississippi county alone, with current totals running at around 80 dead, are a fearful sign of what may be to come.

The looters set in on New Orleans as those who dared venture out from what remained of the city saw the incredible damage that the force of nature can cause: whole homes levelled to the ground, cars becoming feather-light buoys, bobbing around on several feet of water, only revealing their destructive weight as a cannonball when they collide with the buildings already weakened by the pounding rain and vicious winds that befell the city in what was several hours of terror. Those houses that remain standing are waterlogged on first and second floors, and will be without power for several days to come.

Many of those seeking shelter at the New Orleans Superdome are too scared to come out, seeing the massive gash in the roof that was meant to protect them from the elements. New Orleans officials had yet to carry out tests on the effects of hurricane damage on the building - it seems as if they have their answers. Having been advised to pack three days worth of supplies, those who could muster together enough food and drink have been told that their stay will likely last twice as long. The news is clear, and it is bleak. These people have no homes to go back to.

Conservative estimates put the date at six months from now when the city will be completely purged of the water, brought in by the constant barrage of rain from the Gulf of Mexico. More extreme advisors peg June 2006 as the date that all Louisianans will be able to return to what is left of their homes without stepping in puddles of water.

In the harsh light of day, what appeared yesterday to be a lucky escape was, in fact, only the start of a massive operation to restore a beautiful, roaming city to its former self. Along the way, more bodies are likely to be uncovered in the stinking, waterlogged rubble. Raw sewage lines the streets of New Orleans, and poisonous snakes have been brought out from their hiding holes in the underground system by the waves of water which rocked this city. Many may die from infections or bites, only adding to the ever-increasing total of victims of Katrina's wrath.

The Mayor of New Orleans said that roughly 80% of the city was submerged in water, including both airports and the major route in and out of the city, the I-10. Patients in Tulane Hospital are being airlifted from the hospital because of a secondary major breach of the levee system by waters from Lake Pontchatrain. Currently, the water level in New Orleans is rising by an inch every five minutes. Some areas of the city are underneath 20 feet of water, combined with sewage and the remnants of buildings.

Hurricane Katrina has decimated a city of one million people.


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