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NASA's First Katrina Before and After Comparison

not too far from filling in the bowl

Helicopter_1Where to begin? How are they going to evacuate the people still in New Orleans? (Transporter beams? Scottie, where are you when we need you? In military helicopters? The caption to the Times-Picayune photo to the left reads, Acadian Ambulance workers rush two small children from a Louisiana National Guard helicopter as they were evacuated from the Superdome. Story problem: there are 20,000 people in the stadium. Oh, never mind.) The current plan for evacuating the stadium, according to an MSNBC story from a few minutes ago, seems to be this:

With the city still flooding after levees failed, officials on Wednesday made plans to bus the 25,000 evacuees at the Superdome and other shelters to Houston's Astrodome. . . .

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said everyone still in the city, now huddled in the Superdome and other rescue centers, needs to leave. She said she wanted the Superdome evacuated within two days. . . .

Houston officials later said those evacuees would be sent via 475 buses to the city's Astrodome. The stadium's schedule was cleared through December to make it available.

How many are there left? Let's see: a city of 1.3 million people; 1 million flee. How many remain? Or let's say the city was 90% evacuated. How many remain? And how will they know when they've got them all?

And about those broken levees: How are they going to fix them with so much water rushng through? I spent last week at the beach, so every time I think about plans I heard about involving sand, I keep thinking of a small child trying to fix a damaged castle in the face of the rising tide. I gather there is some new plan involving lots of cement blocks that are on trucks somewhere enroute.

And what if the levees can't be fixed? Was that perhaps the thought behind Governor Blanco's remark that some of those taking refuge in and now trapped in the stadium "do not have any regard for others”? That perhaps it would be okay if only the Good were saved?

Yesterday, some of us noticed that in some photos water seemed, incomprehensibly, to be flowing out of a neighborhood and into the canal. The explanation, which I came across this morning is chilling. If you can stand it, read the whole thing:

Flooding will only get worse by Mark Schleifstein, Times-Picayune staff writer

The lake is normally 1 foot above sea level, while the city of New Orleans is an average of 6 feet below sea level. But a combination of storm surge and rainfall from Katrina have raised the lake's surface to 6 feet above sea level, or more.

All of that water moving from the lake has found several holes in the lake's banks - all pouring into New Orleans. Water that crossed St. Charles Parish in an area where the lakefront levee has not yet been completed, and that backed up from the lake in Jefferson Parish canals, is funneling into Kenner and Metairie.

A 500-yard and growing breach in the eastern wall of the 17th Street Canal separating New Orleans from Metairie is pouring hundreds of thousands of gallons of lake water per second into the New Orleans area. Water also is flowing through two more levee breaches along the Industrial Canal, which created a Hurricane Betsy-on-steroids flood in the Lower 9th Ward on Monday that is now spreading south into the French Quarter and other parts of the city.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin warned Tuesday evening that an attempt to plug the holes in the 17th Street Canal had failed, and the floodwaters were expected to continue to rise rapidly throughout the night. Eventually, Nagin said, the water could reach as high as 3 feet above sea level, meaning it could rise to 12 to 15 feet high in some parts of the city.

Louisiana State University Hurricane Center researcher Ivor van Heerden warned that Nagin's estimates could be too low because the lake water won't fall quickly during the next few days.

And then there's this bit from another Time-Picayune story:

With solid water from the lake to the French Quarter, the inundation and depopulation of an entire American city was at hand.

"Truth to tell, we're not to far from filling in the bowl," said Terry Ebbert, the city's director of homeland security. The waters were still rising at 3 inches per hour, and eventually could move close to the French Quarter levee.

In the media hype leading up to landfall, there was the illusion that other than those performing essential functions, anyone else left in New Orleans was either tucked away in the stadium or was a French Quarter drunkard. The quantity of media reports of people needing to be rescued from their houses tells a different story. Do they even know how many people stayed behind?

MEANWHILE, I see from earthhopper's photogallery on Flicker that Shawn's Google Earth initiative is yeilding fruit (and this presumably overnight):


The second one seemed to be attributed to "Mickey" on the Google Hacks site. I don't have any attribution for the other one. I would also appreciate descriptive details from those who have them.

UPDATE: Shawn tells me a group attribution for a group of about nine Google Earth users is in order. (I presume the poster, dOLLYLLAMA also deserves credit.)

New Orleans-Mississippi-Flood/Damage Compilation

New Orleans Flood Damage
~A collection of overlays, placemarks and photos, by various contributors.

~Check video link

thanks:Modest baggydog Shawn_McBride drew10dall vyruss equitus jay_babin,johnmora,mwarren,reuters,AP
If i forgot to mention please forgive, I wanted to get this out fast.


Navigation aids

For those new to blogs, here are shortcuts to information about our collaborative maps project:

First of all, my Katrina archive contains all blog posts related to Katrina. The archive page is updated each time I make a new Katrina post, so it would be the best place to bookmark.  On the other hand, it contains many images, so on a dial-up connection it would be slow to load. Also, separately, I have an online album of Katrina map images, Katrina Floods New Orleans, 2005.

As of now, my individual Katrina posts related to maps are:

  1. New Orleans Levee Break(s) Before and After
  2. not too far from filling in the bowl
  3. NASA's First Katrina Before and After Comparison
  4. Google Earth Helps Place the Flow from a New Orleans Neighborhood into the Canal in Context
  5. DigitalGlobe's New Orleans Before and After Images Are Up
  6. How to Find Out if Your New Orleans House Is Under Water
  7. How to Find Out if Your New Orleans House Is Under Water, Part 2: We Really Need to Integrate Topo Maps and Known Water Depths into the System
  8. Escape Routes for Hurricane Victims
  9. Welcome, Forbes and BBC Readers
  10. Associated Press & Digital Globe Make Zoomable New Orleans Satellite Map Available
    Meanwhile, New Orleans Burns
  11. New Orleans: Notes from My Parents
  12. Welcome, New York Times Readers

Also, my sister, Karen Cramer Shea, has been guest-blogging for me while I was away over the weekend. Her posts are:

  1. Lost in Katrina
  2. Rebuilding New Orleans