Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Big Easy

In the National Geographic magazine, Oct. '04, there is a story on the vanishing bayou of Louisiana. Go get yours right now, if you have it, and read the story; it starts on p. 92. (UPDATE: It's here, too.) It starts with a hypothetical story about a future hurricane hitting N'Awlins on a hot August day, killing thousands.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.
"The killer for Louisiana is a Category Three storm at 72 hours before landfall that becomes a Category Four at 48 hours and a Category Five at 24 hours- coming from the worst direction," says Joe Suhayda, a retired coastal engineer at LSU who has spent 30 years studying the coast.


"It's not if it will happen," says University of New Orleans geologist Shea Penland. "It's when."
-Joel K. Bourne Jr.

As of this writing, Katrina is a category three hurricane, expected to strengthen in the next few hours to a four, and make landfall directly on Louisana Monday evening.

Boy, I hope they were wrong. It sounds all too likely to happen now.

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