1000 fatalities?

The threat Katrina poses is absolutely unreal; for years everyone has been saying that a Cat5 to N.O. would be utter devastation and I cannot believe that it is on the verge of actually happening. The loss of property is inevitable, but the loss of life is not. However, we're now less than 48h from a probable landfall and the evacuation order has not been given. Now I know just as well as the next guy that too many times 'crying wolf' leads to a city full of complacency, but this appears to have all the earmarks of the BIG ONE that everyone has been fearing. If I lived in New Orleans I would be on my way out of there today and be happy as could be if Kat spared the city a serious blow.

Also...New Orleans has many neighborhoods that do not fall into the affluent category and which are full of people without the means to evacuate the city. What if this is the 21st Century's Camille? What if New Orleans is hit by a category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane? Are 1000 fatalities possible in today's world? Unfortunately, I fear that the answer may be yes.

EDIT: I encourage anyone interested in the vulnerability of New Orleans to read this special report published by The Times-Picayune
 
As of yet, no decision has come from parish officials in St. Tammany, Jefferson or Orleans, though announcements are expected around noon.

EDIT: Gov. Blanco of LA just finished her news conference and it was pretty informative, yet said pretty much what you would expect to be said. Important info is that the Contraflow system they have in place will likely be activated later this afternoon to help evacuate those in the path.
 
I guess this is what confused me:

As evacuations - mandatory and voluntary - began in parts of the greater New Orleans area Saturday morning, the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch from Morgan City to the Pearl River, including metro New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain...

Either way, things don't look good. The last census showed that New Orleans has a population of almost 500,000 people. It would take quite a bit to even evacuate half of those people (and you must remember, not everyone will evacuate due to gas prices, "riding it out", etc.). If Katrina is a CAT 5 at landfall, and strikes New Orleans, I do honestly think the death toll could easily reach 1,000. Yikes...

I don't know though, hurricane "Betsy" back in 1965 made a direct impact on New Orleans as a CAT 3 hurricane with 125MPH winds, flooding out nearly 60,000 residents... The death toll was only 75 across all effected regions... So, we may still get lucky...
 
Sounds like Darwinism to me. There will be few excuses to not evacuate... except for perhaps the homeless. The city should be responsible for protecting them.

Aaron
 
Just talked to somebody in LaFourche county and he said its too late for him to do anything. Gas stations are jammed, highways are packed. He's an engineer so he knows what the strong buildings are.

If you live in that area I encourage you to do all that you can to leave though.
 
Aside from the humanitarian impact, Katrina's economic impact could potentially be even more severe. I posted this to the gas thread in B&G but figured it might also be relevant here.

There is something called the LOOP located offshore near Grand Isle, LA (Louisiana Offshore Oil Port) where crude oil is unloaded from tankers and piped to the mainland US for refinement. If this location receives category 4 winds, and major damage is sustained, we could be seeing a MAJOR rise in gas prices ($3.50 - $4 anyone?)!

The port facility is located in the Gulf of Mexico, eighteen miles south of Grand Isle, Louisiana, in 110 feet of water. LOOP is the only port in the U.S. capable of offloading deep draft tankers known as Ultra Large Crude Carriers (ULCC) and Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC).

LOOP is connected to over 50 percent of the U.S. refinery capacity and has offloaded over 6 billion barrels of foreign crude oil since it's inception.
www.loopllc.com

If you mark the facility's location relative to Katrina's forecast track, the eye is projected to pass almost directly over it.
 
My parents lived in the New Orleans area for almost twenty years. Their neighbor worked in the Slidell NWS River Forecast Office and he and I used to talk about this scenario frequently.

Evacuating New Orleans is a catch-22. In order to move all those people over what amounts to only two bridges (the causeways) you would have to issue the order many days before landfall. Since nobody can know where a hurricane will actually strike so far in advance, you could never have real certainty as far out as a full evacuation would require.

Also, many thousands of N.O. residents do not own vehicles. These are not only the homeless or poor, but plenty of other city-dwellers who walk or rely on public transportation, like in many other large cities. You could mobilize the city bus system, or even buses from other cities, but this would take days of planning and stockpiles of fuel, the logistics of which would require you start many days in advance--again, before you would know for sure where the hurricane will land.

A telling piece of evidence: when my mother was the Chief Nurse of the New Orleans Veterans Hospital, their plan for a major hurricane was to evacuate the patients to the top several floors of the hospital. It's located downtown, within a mile of the dome, and in that sunken area at the bottom of the "cereal bowl" should the water come over the levee. But it's built like a fortress, and engineers concluded that the upper levels would be safe from both water and wind. Never did they consider moving patients to another facility or out of town; they knew that unless they started three or four days in advance, escape was impossible. This is the dilemna many city residents are facing now.

The Superdome is the city's catch-all emergency idea. What they don't publicize is that, in a potential levee-flooding disaster, residents taking shelter in the dome can climb the stands to the highest levels of the facility.
 
Sam I thought you were jumping the gun, but the latest NHC guidance indicates most likely a high end Cat 4 landfall at the moment near the New Orleans area.

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So maybe not so crazy it could happen this time.

Looking at: http://www.nola.com/hurricane/images/goingunder.pdf (which is a very interesting chart) you can see that Cat 4 or above waves and surge will clear the levee and flood downtown.

This could end up being a very precarious situation.
 
My parents lived in the New Orleans area for almost twenty years. Their neighbor worked in the Slidell NWS River Forecast Office and he and I used to talk about this scenario frequently.

Evacuating New Orleans is a catch-22. In order to move all those people over what amounts to only two bridges (the causeways) you would have to issue the order many days before landfall. Since nobody can know where a hurricane will actually strike so far in advance, you could never have real certainty as far out as a full evacuation would require.

Also, many thousands of N.O. residents do not own vehicles. These are not only the homeless or poor, but plenty of other city-dwellers who walk or rely on public transportation, like in many other large cities. You could mobilize the city bus system, or even buses from other cities, but this would take days of planning and stockpiles of fuel, the logistics of which would require you start many days in advance--again, before you would know for sure where the hurricane will land.

A telling piece of evidence: when my mother was the Chief Nurse of the New Orleans Veterans Hospital, their plan for a major hurricane was to evacuate the patients to the top several floors of the hospital. It's located downtown, within a mile of the dome, and in that sunken area at the bottom of the "cereal bowl" should the water come over the levee. But it's built like a fortress, and engineers concluded that the upper levels would be safe from both water and wind. Never did they consider moving patients to another facility or out of town; they knew that unless they started three or four days in advance, escape was impossible. This is the dilemna many city residents are facing now.

The Superdome is the city's catch-all emergency idea. What they don't publicize is that, in a potential levee-flooding disaster, residents taking shelter in the dome can climb the stands to the highest levels of the facility.

I have read about the Superdome being the catch all also, Amos. Did they plan this when it was built, or was it just a bonus? In a worse case scenario, with up to several hundred thousand (assuming, since it is so late to evacuate now) inside, are these folks indeed safe?
 
How super is the dome? What sort of winds does it take before the roof goes? All it takes is one major panel to fail, and then all hell will break loose.

According to Curl, the assumption that the Superdome can withstand hurricane force winds is just that: an assumption. He says more analysis is needed to determine what the Dome can actually withstand because previous wind studies have become somewhat irrelevant since they did not factor in the new high-rise buildings around the Dome.

“They create a wind tunnel effect and that needs to be tested. There were initial studies that indicated 130 miles per hour, but we don’t know,â€￾ said Curl. He adds that the Dome is not impervious to the same elements other areas would be exposed to.

From: http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/wwl0923...nh.1295648.html


Story about the material that composes the roof:

http://www.polythane.com/library/hugo.htm

Aaron
 
As a Louisiana Native, I very much have a bad feeling about this. Ive dreaded the disaster that this could turn out to be ever since I was little.




My parents are in Baton Rouge 65 ft above sea level. I feel confident that they will be ok. It's a newer home with up to date building codes.

As for me, I'm still in Mobile waiting. Target as of right now is between slidell and here. I already have several secure structures scouted all in between as well.
 
To answer everyone who is complaining about why there is no mandatory evac in NO yet I found the answer. After last year's evacs they worked out a better plan. LA is divided into three evac zones A,B,C. At 50 hours zone A is evacuated, 40 hours for zone B, 30 hours for zone C. NO lies in zone C.

I know you may not agree, but a lot of smart people spent a lot more time on this than I spend in this forum. I'm sure there are still flaws.
 
Good points about the Dome. I don't know if they thought about it a shelter or not--I sort of doubt it. I doubt too that they engineered it to withstand major hurricane conditions. Put it this way, I wouldn't feel completely comfortable in there, but it's a lot better than floating down Poydras riding a table-top from K-Paul's.

News stories I'm reading this afternoon say more than 100,000 have no vehicles.
 
An interesting paper on how many didn't evacuate during Hurricane Georges and why. http://www.uno.edu/~poli/evac98.htm Current contraflow seems to be going well with only a few areas really backed up. Im not sure what there doing about those that live in mandatory evacuation areas that don't have access to a vehicle. Or even those who live in voluntary evacuation areas but want to leave but have no vehicle. So far from what i've read it seems to be quite well coordinated between local and state officals.
 
I seem to recall during the runup to Lili fizzling out that the city of New Orleans had 10,000 body bags at the ready. If anyone doesn't get the threat already, they need only think about that statistic. :shock:
 
Incredibly strong language coming from the Mayor of NO. Including the right of the police to commandeer any building or vehicle needed to save lives.

Basically MARTIAL LAW
 
Now that the storm has reached such an incredible intensity, and hearing that a lot of people are not leaving, a lot of people are going to die. I'm not going to peg an exact number, I'm not sure Galveston will lose its infamous record, but Katrina is certainly going to put it on a run for its money.
 
Not to sound overly alarmist, but does anyone think there's a chance that the Big Easy may never recover from this? In the event of a direct hit it's gonna be F3/F4 damage underneath tens of feet of water.

EDIT: as we all know, each hurricane helps to reshape the coastline where ever it comes ashore, but with the extremely low elevation of all of SELA, what will the state look like when this storm is over?
 
Originally posted by Sam Sagnella
Not to sound overly alarmist, but does anyone think there's a chance that the Big Easy may never recover from this? In the event of a direct hit it's gonna be F3/F4 damage underneath tens of feet of water.

EDIT: as we all know, each hurricane helps to reshape the coastline where ever it comes ashore, but with the extremely low elevation of all of SELA, what will the state look like when this storm is over?

I was thinking the same thing before even opening this thread to see your post! Given the elevation and the type of landscape (marsh/swampy), it may be possible that some areas of New Orleans won't ever recover. They would be too swamped with water and mud that it wouldn't be reasonable to try and pump it out or rebuild.
 
I agree with that theory of NO never recovering. People will obviously move back, but it may never be the same. It hasn't really happened to a major city in recent times, but historically it is very common.
 
Originally posted by Sam Sagnella
Not to sound overly alarmist, but does anyone think there's a chance that the Big Easy may never recover from this? In the event of a direct hit it's gonna be F3/F4 damage underneath tens of feet of water.

EDIT: as we all know, each hurricane helps to reshape the coastline where ever it comes ashore, but with the extremely low elevation of all of SELA, what will the state look like when this storm is over?

No, New Orleans will not fully recover from this. Barring great luck, a miracle, or an end-of-the-world event in the next 60 years, this is the greatest American catastrophe of our time.

NOLA police chief just asked that Bush send them Army MASH units to standby outside of the town to be ready for the triage when the storm is gone.
 
Obviously, the forecast track and intensity are very disturbing, but let's not put the cart before the horse! The landfall is still 24 hours away, and the average track error at that time range is 80 miles. It could still be as far east as Pascagoula or as far west as west of Houma. There's still plenty of time for unforseen weakening, and we know very little about hurricane intensity changes beyond a few hours.
 
The official landfall may be 24 hours out but this hurricane is not a point on the map. It is massive and tropical storm force winds are only a few hours from affecting the coast.
 
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