Hurricane Katrina has weakened slightly, but is still tracking straight for New Orleans, and is expected to hit landfall as a borderline Category 4/5 storm. I hope that when I awake in the morning, the news is not nearly as bad as it could be. In the meanwhile, if you want to help, probably the best you can do is give to the American Red Cross.
UPDATE: New Orleans dodges a bullet… sort of
I know it may sound odd considering the pictures of destruction coming from the Big Easy, but the city was spared the catastrophe of a “perfect storm.” Katrina weakened to a Category 4 hurricane before landfall, and most significantly, just skirted New Orleans to the East, with the most severe winds just E/NE of the eye wall.
The storm surge, once projected to be as high as 28 feet in spots, has reportedly maxed out at 15 to 17 feet. At least one levee was breached, causing six to eight feet of water in some parts of the city, but far from the devastating flooding that could have occurred. Gusts of up to 150 mph ripped a chunk off the roof of the Superdome, the “shelter of last resort” for about 10,000 residents, but it remains structurally sound.
Katrina continues to weaken as it moves over land, and has now been downgraded to a Cat 3 storm, but it is still quite powerful, and extremely large, so its danger has far from passed. There are now reports of storm-spawned tornadoes throughout the area. No reports yet of deaths or injuries, but they are sure to come, and the storm will certainly have caused hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars worth damage… a financial cost that will touch us all, as the price of crude oil has now surged over $70 a barrel.
The American Red Cross is the private group best equipped to deal with this crisis, and they are asking for cash donations. So if you want to help out, I urge you to click on the link above.