Katrina Relief Effort DonationsIf you're wondering about how to make a donation to the relief efforts, here's a link to the Red Cross:
If you aren't familiar with New Orleans and don't understand the levee system, here's a brief description which I think is essentially accurate: New Orleans is under sea level (by an average of six feet). It's protected by a vast series of earth levees which encircle the city, protecting it from both the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchetrain. There are also vast pumping systems and a series of canals to get water out of the city, because there's essentially nowhere for it to go--there's no natural drainage system.
So when the levee breaches, water starts pouring in, and that's what happened yesterday. Water pours in until the water level in the city equalizes with the water source. Lake Ponchetrain is now (due to rainfall) six feet above sea level, so on average, that's twelve feet of water. It's catastrophic.
In what is now an excruciating, sad irony, this doomsday scenario has been acknowledged for decades. Here's a link to a five-part series (by the New Orleans Times-Picayune) that spelled out the possibilities very clearly:
http://www.nola.com/hurricane/index.ssf?/washingaway/thebigone_1.html. Here's the headline:
THE BIG ONE
A major hurricane could decimate the region, but flooding from even a moderate storm could kill thousands. It's just a matter of time.
They're now using 20,000 pound sandbags (incredible--ten tons each?) to try to plug the levee. 1,200 of them. Twelve thousand tons of sand.