As engineers finally plugged the breached levee and began pumping water out of New Orleans, mayor C. Ray Nagin said of the death toll: “It wouldn’t be unreasonable to have 10,000.”
That would make Hurricane Katrina the deadliest disaster in recorded American history.
Louisiana officials said Monday afternoon that sheets of metal and repeated helicopter drops of 3,000-pound sandbags along the 17th Street canal leading to Lake Ponchartrain succeeded in plugging a 200-foot-wide gap, and water was being pumped from the canal back into the lake. Once the canal level is drawn down about two feet, Pumping Station 6 can start pumping water out of New Orleans on a limited capacity.
Some parts of the city showed slipping floodwaters as the repair neared completion, with the low-lying Ninth Ward dropping more more than a foot. In downtown New Orleans, some streets were merely wet rather than swamped.
“We’re starting to make the kind of progress that I kind of expected earlier,” New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said even before the plug of the break, which opened up a day after the hurricane and flooded 80 percent of the city up to 20 feet deep. — Associated Press
The federal Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt declared a public health emergency in Texas, where as many as 240,000 evacuated to escape Hurricane Katrina. Now many evacuees will be relocated again, some going to cruise ships off the Gulf Coast.
Evacuees were not told where they were going until they had already left, exacerbating the confusion as families attempted to locate each other.
It wasn’t confusion that prevented Hurricane Katrina evacuees from learning they were headed to Utah — it was intentional.
“I knew where Utah was, but nobody told me that’s where we were going. Nothing personal. It’s nice. But I don’t know anybody here,” said Jervis Bergeron, among the first batch of 152 evacuees to arrive at the National Guard’s Camp Williams training site 30 miles south of Salt Lake City. The number rose to about 600 by late Sunday.
Like others who arrived in smaller military planes, Bergeron wasn’t told where he was headed when he boarded the JetBlue airliner Saturday at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
National Guard officials asked a reporter and photographer aboard two separate military planes not to identify their news organizations or tell the refugees where the planes were going. — Associated Press
In spite of the horrors inflicted on New Orleans, the Labor Day Southern Decadence Parade went on as scheduled, but with only a couple of dozen people. Street musician Matt Menold said, “It’s New Orleans, man. We’re going to celebrate.”
But the most disturbing thing to happen over the Labor Day weekend was Barbara Bush’s remarks on National Public Radio.
In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: “Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we’re going to move to Houston.”
Then she added: “What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.
“And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this’this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them.” — Editor & Publisher
What the hell?