Two days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, New Orleans continues to fill with water from broken levees. Everyone in the Superdome is expected to be evacuated to the Astrodome in Houston.
The situation for those in the city is truly surreal. Rescue workers travel around the city in boats, and little has escaped the floodwaters. The waters have even reached the Superdome, shelter of last resort, and are slowly rising. Floodwaters are expected to rise to three feet above sea level, the same level as Lake Pontchartrain. This would put virtually the entire metropolitan area completely underwater, the worst case scenario that officials had feared.
“It’s going to rise to 3 feet above sea level. For example, St. Charles Avenue is 6 feet below sea level, there will most likely be 9 feet of water on St. Charles Avenue,” [New Orleans mayor Ray] Nagin said.
Also, if residents are in a part of city that is 10 feet below sea level, Nagin said the levels will probably rise to 13 feet of water. — WDSU
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco has said she wanted the Superdome — which had become a shelter of last resort for about 20,000 people — evacuated within two days. — Associated Press
In the midst of the disaster, some people have turned to looting, grabbing whatever they can from closed stores. In some cases, the police are helping them — or even looting themselves. “The police got all the best stuff. They’re crookeder than us,” one man said.
However, Nagin denied earlier reports that the city was under martial law, but that he may order it Wednesday.
Residents who have evacuated are being urged not to return to New Orleans for an indefinite time. It’s unclear when floodwaters might be removed from the city, as the pumps which normally remove floodwater have largely failed, as have efforts to make emergency repairs to the broken levees.
If you are still in the area, now is the time to leave. Go to the nearest of the New Orleans Convention Center, the Superdome, or I-10 west, if you can; otherwise, move to high ground and wait for rescue.