BIG EASY'S IMAGE AS CESSPOOL MAY SOON BE REALIZED, EXPERTS SAY
by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
BRADENTON, Fla., Aug. 28, 2005, 11pm EST -- A city known for more than a century as a place of alcoholic excess, amoral attitudes, sexual abandon and political corruption - and as the birthplace of jazz - is about to become a "vast cesspool" of toxic chemicals, floating garbage, human waste and coffins, news reports say, as Hurricane Katrina's 160 mph winds approach the city from the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 5 storm.
"Several experts studies and computer models show New Orleans even more vunerable than anyone previously thought ... flood walls and levees might fail," a CNN report quoted on the Drudge Report said tonight, making as many as one million people homeless. More than 50 percent of the city's structurally sound homes are expected to experience failure of roofs and walls when the full force of the storm hits around 6 a.m. CT, and as much as 30 feet of water could pour into the city, most of which is below sea level, its tall, quiet mayor said.
Even as the strength of the hurricane's wind began to dip from a peak of 207 mph gusts and 175 mph sustained winds, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared a 6 p.m. curfew and said there will be no police, fire or emergency services available for as long as 14 hours after the storm hits.
"In reality, I'm probably expecting lots of water, lots of devastation, lots of roofs torn off..." Nagin told Fox News. He said winds could "crest at 200 mph. ... I think it would be very naive of us not to think there would be some casualties from this... . There is going to be so much water, there are going to be some casualties," he said.
While hurricane forecasts have only rarely lived up to such horrific predictions, Katrina seems to have the making of a major American economic disaster. As a result of interrupted drilling and refining on the Gulf Coast around New Orleans, gas prices are expected to soar by 20 to 30 cents tomorrow, while crude oil prices hit $70 at the opening on international markets before falling back to $69.77 in mid-day Asian trading.
Ivor van Heerden, the deputy director of the Lousinia State University Hurricane Center, was even more glum.
"In a few days, van Heerden predicts, emergency management officials are going to be wondering how to handle a giant stagnant pond contaminated with building debris, coffins, sewage and other hazardous materials," the Associated Press said. 'We're talking about an incredible environmental disaster,'" van Heerden said.
As usual, it was the poor who would suffer most. At New Orleans' haven of last resort, the Superdome arena, "The sickest among them didn't flee the 160-mph wrath of Hurricane Katrina on Sunday as much as they hobbled to safety on crutches, canes and on stretchers. Others lined up for blocks, clutching meager belongings and crying children as National Guardsman searched them for guns, knives and drugs," the AP reported. "'We just took the necessities,' said Michael Skipper, who pulled a wagon loaded with bags of clothes and a radio. 'The good stuff - the television and the furniture - you just have to hope something's there when you get back. If it's not, you just start over,'" he told AP.
The worst scenario for residents of the Big Easy would be a storm that straddles the city and Lake Pontchartrain, potentially driving the waters of the vast lake into the city's streets. Katrina, whose winds stretch 100 miles out from each side of the eye, could well be such a storm.