Monday, August 29, 2005 Weather News from New Orleans

I've been hunting all day & this is the best info on damage to NOLA I could find:

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Race against time to rescue trapped residents
Lower Ninth, East N.O., Treme, Lakeview hardest hit


4:15 p.m - An unknown number of residents were trapped Monday afternoon in trees, attics and roofs in New Orleans' hardest-hit areas, and officials are positive that the devastating flooding from Hurricane Katrina is claiming lives.

Police/Emergency scanner traffic was busy Monday afternoon with reports of trapped residents, some calling and pleading for help as heavy storm conditions still limited efforts to rescue them. There were reports of buildings collapsing with people still inside. And officers reported some people slipping into the water.

Authorities were racing the clock at mid-afternoon, with hundreds of people trapped and buildings collapsing under floodwaters that reached to rooftops.
The hardest-hit areas of the city appear to be the Lower 9th Ward, eastern New Orleans, Treme and Lakeview near a levee breech.

Hurricane Katrina plowed into this below-sea-level city Monday morning, ripping holes in the roof of the Superdome, blasting out high-rise windows, knocking out power citywide, and leaving residents of flooded neighborhoods in their attics and on rooftops awaiting rescue.

The poor and frail, sheltered at the Superdome, remain in a sound structure, officials say, despite extensive roof damage.

In downtown New Orleans, buildings collapsed, windows blew out of high-rises--including 5 floors of Charity hospital--and hotel guests huddled in dark hallways.

Even at Entergy's command center next to the Superdome lost power. Entergy President Dan Packer calls Katrina "the worst [disaster] we've had in our company's history.''

Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for the city of New Orleans, said Monday afternoon he is positive there are casualties resulting from Hurricane Katrina, based on the number of calls to emergency workers from people trapped in trees and attics.

In some of those cases, authorities lost communications with those pleading for help.

"Everybody who had a way or wanted to get out of the way of this storm was able to,'' Ebbert said. "For some that didn't, it was their last night on this earth.''

Police are currently fanning out across the city in squad cars, trucks and boats to assess the damage and rescue people where possible.

Ebbert said the city has 100 boats currently stationed at Jackson Barracks on the Orleans-St. Bernard parish line.

Authorities are trying to get a good look at the situation before dark.

Ebbert said it could be two months before electricity is restored to all of the city.
He said Entergy will send 4,500 workers to the region, who will be housed in quarters barges on the Mississippi River.

Though damage is extensive, Ebbert said if the storm had passed just 10 miles west of its track, the city would have been inundated with 25 feet of water.

In Orleans Parish, a breached levee at the Industrial Canal caused flooding of 6 to 8 feet in the Lower Ninth Ward; no major floods have been reported in Uptown. Flooding is reported to have topped 10 feet in St. Bernard Parish, and similar conditions have been reported in parts of Jefferson and St. Charles Parishes. Jefferson Parish officials urged residents to boil water before drinking.

High winds have damaged parts of Uptown New Orleans, including the Napolean Avenue area, the location of Memorial Medical Center. In St. Bernard Parish, the roof has blown off the Civic Auditorium.

The storm, which bore down on the Gulf Coast as a Category 5 hurricane, was recently downgraded to a Category 2. FEMA Director Mike Brown has arrived in the capital city of Baton Rouge and will hold a press briefing with Governor Blanco at 3:30 p.m.

Senator Mary Landrieu issued a statment praising local officials for their handling of this disaster.

Katrina has shut down oil production in the Gulf, and is blamed for the rise in oil prices to $70 a barrel. President Bush weighed a decision on whether to release some oil from the nation's petroleum reserves to help refiners hurt by Hurricane Katrina, administration officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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