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August 30, 2005

Aerial View

It's difficult to imagine how bad the flooding is in New Orleans until you see some of the aerial photos. Yesterday, I was pretty confident that the people I know there were OK. Today I'm not so sure, but I know more.

The levee that broke, from what I can tell, is on the north side of the city right on Lake Pontchartrain where you see the yellow arrow. This break is causing the lake to drain into the city.

My understanding is that the flood has moved all the way down south towards downtown from the lake and it has flowed east over to City Park which is bordered on the West by another canal whose levees have held up.

Police officers, firefighters and private citizens, hampered by a lack of even rudimentary communication capabilities, continued a desperate and impromptu boat-borne rescue operation across Lakeview well after dark. Coast Guard helicopters with searchlights criss-crossed the skies. Officers working on the scene said virtually every home and business between the 17th Street Canal and the Marconi Canal, and between Robert E. Lee Boulevard and City Park Avenue, had water in it. Nobody had confirmed any fatalities as a result of the levee breach, but they conceded that hundreds of homes had not been checked.

That's a huge area. By my calculations 3.6 square miles. 2300 acres underwater. For you football fans, 1 acre = 1 football field.

I have an uncle's house on Dumain, just below and to the right of the orange zone off City Park Avenue, but that's just an artificial barrier. I know he went and holed up with an aunt of mine just south east of City Park off Esplanade. I can't recall how big the berms are on that canal that you can clearly see at the bottom right of the park, but that's where a number of historic homes are located.

Either way that's a hell of a lot of people underwater because of a failure indirectly related to the storm itself. I can't tell if it was the surge from the lake that broke the levee or if the wind did it, but the results are catastrophic. When I hear more, I'll post more.

Posted by mbowen at August 30, 2005 02:34 PM

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