Wednesday, August 31, 2005
20 feet of water in the streets of the Vieux Carre
Obviously my hopeful post Monday night proved premature - my home town finally ran out of bullets to dodge. Still defies imagination that a major US city in the 21st century would have to be evacuated for 2-3 months or that a 3 foot shark would be swimming through the streets of New Orleans. Family is thankfully safe, but so frustrating to have so little contact - cell phones from 504 area code are barely working even though family is miles from N.O. now, so only 1 phone conversation since the hurricane.
New Orleans will return of course & presumably with a better levee system for the 2 major canals in town. Read someone in Holland wondering how such a disaster could occur to a city in the West - but we New Orleanians had this mistaken belief that we'd never run out of bullets to dodge. There was plenty of warning of course - 40 years since Betsy & almost 80 since the great flood of 1927 - so reading any bashing of Bush for the city not protecting itself just saddens me. Ultimately the city itself has to take the blame for not improving its defenses.
Have little to add to what's been on the news, but want to leave with at least a partial positive, so here's a post-hurricane eyewitness account of uptown from a Franklin grad
i was able to slip into and out of new orleans yesterday around noon before the police set up their perimeter. the only thing i have to add to the pictures we are all now seeing from the city is that it appears that the uptown area has generally been spared any flooding and with limited exception, widespread devastation. i couldn't get around much because of the massive number of trees, or more accurately, limbs down blocking almost every block of every street, but where i was able to go--from the riverbend area generally down to around nashville--was remarkably dry. i saw one block of one street that always floods with standing water in the street only. by about 2:00 the streets were drying out, and i mean dry to the touch. can't really explain it, although i now understand that new orleans is in fact not a bowl like we've always heard...it is a series of about 13 bowls. seems that the uptown bowl, being further from the lake, didn't flood this time. i suppose that makes some sense. i also saw remarkable little structural damage. my house lost a few roof shingles. i saw around town some siding lost here and there, but really not much in the way of damage. a few trees on houses and cars, but if you didn't have a big tree on the north or west side of your house, you are probably ok from that perspective also.
finally, even if you could now there is really no reason to try to get back into town any time soon. nothing will happen there for a long time.
the devastation elsewhere is really hard to believe. i wouldn't guess that ben franklin would be back next week or maybe the next. just a guess.
if i can get the pictures i took uploaded here, i'll try to forward them along. please feel free to pass this along. i don't have access to my email address book here where i'm currently holed up.