Lou Pickney's Online Commentary
August 30, 2005
Yesterday afternoon I got home from work and saw some of Shephard Smith's report on the Fox News Channel live from Bourbon Street in New Orleans. "New Orleans got lucky again," he said. I disagreed with that, noting how eastern New Orleans had been blasted by Hurricane Katrina, that the Kenner area (just east of New Orleans) was mostly underwater, and how the Superdome had suffered wind damage to the point of having two holes blown in its roof. But, compared with a direct hit from a Category 5 storm with 175 mph winds, I supposed that he was right. Then, last night, two of the levees by Lake Pontchartrain broke.
What did that mean? Flooding. Lots of flooding, particularly in the downtown area of New Orleans. Slowly but surely, water flooding from the lake into the city. And what's worse, there were people who failed to heed the advice of the mayor to not return who had come back and found themselves caught in a whole new situation. It looks like a horrific situation there now. CNN's John Zarrella was reporting this afternoon from the Marriott on Canal Street, which is my usual favorite hotel to stay at when I visit New Orleans, and he was saying how the water was flooding the lobby area (which was a nice place). From his view out on a second view balcony/overlook area, he showed a grim look at Canal Street and the city, where flooding, looting, and even fire is complicating efforts to rescue people who are trapped on rooftops and in isolated places.
|This is from theboneonline.com -- WHPT's website.|
Incidentally, I thought it was tacky as hell hearing "When The Levee Breaks" by Led Zepplin on Tampa's 102.5 The Bone (WHPT) yesterday; it might've been an accident, but still... look out for that sort of thing if you're programming music.
The coverage on TV has been captivating, to say the least. There are some really brave people right now who are risking their own lives to rescue others. I've seen video yesterday and today of people plucked from roofs by rescuers dangling from helicopters. The video is amazing, dramatic... pick your adjective. In this case, the overused superlatives all fit.
In Biloxi, the damage has been catastrophic. You look at the homes that were destroyed, and it seems very similar to what I saw from Hurricane Andrew in south Florida in 1992. What makes Hurricane Katrina worse than Andrew is how wide a path of destruction it took; from New Orleans to Mobile, it cut a wide area. According to MapQuest, New Orleans and Mobile are 144 miles apart. That might be longer from a straight-line standpoint than is accurate, but consider also that the storm hit the coast and kept tearing, shearing, and blowing over homes and businesses and cars. Even through mid-Mississippi it did damage. I was concerned that the storm was going to cause damage all the way up at my parents' house in Nashville. My Mom e-mailed me tonight saying that they were fine and that they didn't have school today because of Hurricane Katrina (that never, EVER happened in all my years of school in Nashville), but luckily the storm veered off and had dissipated enough where it didn't do any damage.
Talk about perfect timing: Allstate has bought branding rights for college football nets, which begins on the Saturday, Sep. 3 games. Read about it here. On another day, this might spin me off into a rant on the way college football players are used by the universities as money-making machines, but not today.
If you have friends/family who were in the line of fire, or if you evacuated your home and are left wondering what happened, you have my deepest sympathies. I can't imagine how that must feel...