God to strike sinners in Big Easy?

New Orleans has ordered a mandatory evacuation of all 485,000 residents, as Katrina, now a Category 5 hurricane, heads towards the city for a possible dead-on strike, with the storm surge devastatingly timed to hit at high tide. The city, which sits in a soggy bowl an average 6 feet below sea-level, will likely see flood waters overwhelm levees even if it escapes a direct hit. The storm surge could reach 28 feet, topped by 30-foot waves in some locations.

This could be the dreaded “500-year storm” that meteorologists have long feared, and which no levee system could possibly handle. In addition to the storm surge, Katrina currently packs sustained winds of up to 175 mph, and could drop over 15 inches of rain on the city as it passes through.

As we sit and watch and hope that New Orleans once again dodges a bullet, a couple thoughts come to mind. The first is the practical concern of how Louisiana will effectively deal with the aftermath of the hurricane, what with so many of its National Guard units currently fighting and dying in the streets of Iraq?

My second thought is a cautionary one, and selfishly strikes much closer to home. I have been constantly amazed during the ongoing debate over replacing the Alaska Way Viaduct, by those who assert that the earthquake risk has been over-blown. While Seattle has never in its brief history experienced the type of catastrophic quakes seen elsewhere, the seismologic record makes it clear that it has in the past, and most definitely will again in the future. Perhaps both Seattle and New Orleans will be spared their disaster for another 150 years… or perhaps it will strike tomorrow. And if it does, the Viaduct might not just pancake, but rather topple over onto the waterfront as the soil beneath it liquifies and the aging seawall collapses.

A major earthquake will strike. We cannot avoid it, nor accurately predict its timing. But like New Orleans, we can attempt to be prepared.

UPDATE:
Katrina is still strengthening, and tracking towards landfall just east of New Orleans, with gusts up to 200 mph. This hurricane is not just powerful, but extremely large, and could end up being the most powerful storm in recorded history… so powerful, that it is pushing the limits of existing models. If you know anybody in and around N.O. planning to ride out the storm, urge them to get out NOW!

Comments

  1. 2

    Mark The Redneck spews:

    And as comedian Ron White says “… it’s not THAT the wind is blowin’ that’s the problem; it’s WHAT the wind is blowin…”

  2. 3

    Heath spews:

    Mark -

    But what do you think about the AWV and the need for a five-lane seawall to hold the waterfront in place during an earthquake?

    Or do you want to talk about the AOA some more?

  3. 4

    dj spews:

    Clearly, Pat Robertson has something to do with this. From
    rotten.com:


    In June, Pat had led a prayer vigil urging God to spare Virginia Beach from the wrath of Hurricane Gloria. Perhaps God was listening, because Virginia Beach was spared. (But then again, Gloria landed on Long Island and Boston, inflicting $320 million in damage. Couldn’t God have simply caused the storm to dissipate?) Anyway, Pat told the Times that the event was “extremely important because I felt, interestingly enough, that if I couldn’t move a hurricane, I could hardly move a nation.”

    Now that Robertson is being more … ahem … proactive in his “ministry,” he no doubt has his minions praying for a bull’s-eye at high-tide, and the assassination of the godless heathens of New Orleans.

  4. 6

    antidote spews:

    Mark – Here’s what I think: You think an awful lot about assholes and “what the wind is blowin’” – that’s not to mention “blowin”

    I see a fixation there. Do you bleach?

  5. 7

    Mark The Redneck spews:

    This is gonna be a hoot to watch. Moonbat engineering of AWV. LMAO!! I can’t wait to hear what you guys have to say. Do any of you have PE licenses or steel licenses? I didn’t think so…

  6. 8

    fire_one spews:

    Let’s see… hmmm, with Bushy in charge I am sure he will begin sending massive aid to South Dakota to help re-build after hurricane Katrina…

  7. 9

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Wow Goldy — a city the size of Seattle is about to undergo flooding that will put most of the city 15 to 25 feet underwater! Let us hope and pray Katrina swerves, misses New Orleans, and destroys a Texas town full of flag-waving Bush worshipping rednecks instead.

    The really amazing thing in the article you linked to is the entire state of Louisiana is sinking into the Gulf. Experts predict that within 70 years 15,000 square miles of land will disappear — that’s an area 200 miles wide by 75 miles deep. New Orleans is literally sinking from its own weight!

    Louisiana is another example of a red state that lives off blue state taxes. It takes billions of dollars of Corps engineering to keep New Orleans afloat (pun intended) and will take billions more to save and restore the vanishing marshes that buffer populated areas from hurricanes. And how do southern rednecks express their gratitude for our money? By calling us “commies” and “traitors.” But we keep practicing our socialism (a.k.a. charity) anyway because if we don’t these assholes will all drown.

    Maybe that ain’t such a bad idee — if I-912 passes, maybe we should not only redirect King County gas money to King County’s transportation and safety needs, but also redirect the money we send to the Confederate-flag waving Cajun yahoos. We’ll be doing ourselves a favor (replacing the dangerous AWV before it kills a bunch of true-blue, pro-America, troop-supporting, Constitution-protecting Seattle liberals) and them as well (by ending communism in the state of Louisiana).

    Hmmmmmm.

  8. 10

    Gary spews:

    The learned scientists also say that there will eventually be a giant meteor strike, and that it could hit Seattle. Are you going to prepare for that too. Place your head between your knees and kiss …

  9. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Planet Earth — “There’s no safe place here, folks! One spot’s as good as another!”

  10. 12

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The most powerful cyclonic storm recorded so far was Hurricane Tip in 1979, which gigantic — 1,350 miles across — and produced sustained winds of 190 mph and the lowest non-tornadic barometric reading ever recorded anywhere on Earth. However, it inflicted minimal damage because it didn’t make landfall.

  11. 13

    Ted Smith spews:

    John McPhee devotes a third of his excellent book, “The Control of Nature,” to lower flood control along the lower Mississippi River. The River has been trying to relocate its mouth to the West down a side channel, bypassing New Orleans and Baton Rouge and flooding Morgan City. The Corps of Engineers has spent billions of dollars preventing that outcome, which are ultimately doomed to failure thanks to Mother Nature. So many of New Orleans’ flooding problems are caused by the unnaturally high River channel and Man’s attempts to build a city where no city should ever be.

  12. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Looks like an American city is about to get taken out by Mother Nature’s equivalent of a nuclear weapon. Wingnuts will blame it on Clinton — wait and see.

    And this might be just the beginning — global warming could make terrorists look like boy scouts. Katrina gets her power from the Gulf waters warmed to 90 degrees. Heat is energy. And the entire globe is heating up. This storm season may be a harbinger of things to come.

    “There’s no safe place, folks! One spot’s as good as another!”

  13. 15

    righton spews:

    Was hoping you libs would join the news in Seattle paper today on declining Blacks in baseball (a stupid article ignoring commensurate growth in Latin blacks in baseball).

  14. 17

    JCH spews:

    Roger Rabbit…….Will the storm hit the Democrats harder than Republicans? Perhaps more wealth must be “redistributed”. Perhaps, like America’s million of dollars of aid to the Indian Ocean storm victims, the UN will save us!! Yes, that is the answer. After billions of dollars, Kofi and the UN will save us!! [hehe]

  15. 18

    JCH spews:

    Wow Goldy – a city the size of Seattle is about to undergo flooding that will put most of the city 15 to 25 feet underwater! Let us hope and pray Katrina swerves, misses New Orleans, and destroys a Texas town full of flag-waving Bush worshipping rednecks instead. [Roger Rabbit]……….Gee, RR, there are a lot of blacks and Hispanics down there. You must be a hateful racist!! [hehe]

  16. 19

    righton spews:

    naw, that’s dead, we’re on to deciding if the hurricane has a pat robertson/hate gays theme or a “proves need for the seawall”….both concocted arguments.

  17. 20

    spews:

    Righton-

    You’ve obviously joined your chickenshit in chief on (at least mental) vacation.

    The shit’s gonna hit the fan when there is no disaster relief and National Guard to help N.O. (like there always has been in the past). Oh such quaint customs like prudent reserves, planning for forecasted or potential national disasters…let’s just have another tax cut for Mark the Redneck. You’re in the upper 2% of earners, or so you proudly tout. How ’bout you wrongon? Areyou a Ranger or a Pioneer? Did you hang with Captian Codpiece in Medina?

    I’m prayin’ for the folks in the Big Easy and their beautiful city. this used to be a country where we helped each other out. Not no more I reckon. Too bad. The Krazy Korruption Konservatives and their Selfishness Society fucked all that up.

    Yeah…you guys won. Happy? Proud of yourselves? You never liked Black people…and they’re fucked…no education due to school funding cuts, no living wage labor jobs ’cause the manufacturings gone…poor people are fucked; they’re poor ’cause it’s their fault (huh MTR)…old people, sick people…basically anyboby who isn’t you. Right, MTR…wrongon…zippy??? How will YOUR good buddy’s treat you when YOU fall on hard times? No Social Security you know…that’s just a quaint old fashioned notion, huh? Nobody NEEDS that anymore. Naaaah…permanent war and tax cuts.

    Good job guys. Only took you FIVE years to rape and pillage. Awesome. I wish you could load your booty in your fucking SUV’s and head the fuck out of here so we could rebuild the place.

    Assholes.

    The Republican Party – You’re not in hell..it’s just feels that way.

  18. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Has it occurred to anyone besides me this storm will hit the area that produces over 1/4th of America’s domestic oil and contains the bulk of America’s refining capacity? Don’t be surprised if there’s another upward spike of gasoline prices in the next couple weeks. If the damage is extensive, it also could dramatically affect winter heating costs, because a large percentage of America’s natural gas supply comes from this area.

  19. 22

    Dan B spews:

    @17: If it’s a “pat robertson/hate gays” issue, perhaps the answer is to tie Pat to the longest pier New Orleans has as an appeasment to Neptune…

  20. 23

    dj spews:

    righton @ 17

    “naw, that’s dead….”

    Of course, intellectually, so are you. All the more reason to take it to the open thread—one from last April.

  21. 24

    Richard Pope spews:

    It doesn’t look very good. Here is the latest local weather warning from the National Weather Service in New Orleans:

    URGENT – WEATHER MESSAGE
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
    413 PM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005

    …EXTREMELY DANGEROUS HURRICANE KATRINA CONTINUES TO APPROACH THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA…
    …DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED…

    MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS…PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL…LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.

    THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL.
    PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD
    FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE
    BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE…INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.

    HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY…A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.

    AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD…AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS…PETS…AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.

    POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS…AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.

    THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING…BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE KILLED.

    AN INLAND HURRICANE WIND WATCH IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WINDS NEAR HURRICANE FORCE…OR FREQUENT GUSTS AT OR ABOVE HURRICANE FORCE…ARE POSSIBLE WITHIN THE NEXT 24 TO 36 HOURS.

    http://iwin.nws.noaa.gov/iwin/la/allwarnings.html

  22. 25

    Goldy spews:

    Richard… it could get even worse. Some of the models are now projecting the possibility of sustained winds approaching 200 mph, with gusts over 230 mph! The SuperDome, “the shelter of last resort”, is only rated to 200 mph.

    There is the definite potential for a worst case scenario.

    Shit.

    And yes, RR is right. This almost certain to impact prices at the pump.

  23. 26

    JCH spews:

    But….but….I thought Democrats WANTED higher gasoline prices. Perhaps NOW is a great time for Democrats to suggest another 50 cent addition to the gas tax!!! [hehe......Democrats: social parasites. They produce nothing, but demand "wealth redistribution". Just like the grasshoppers and the ants!]

  24. 27

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @26

    If you stupid Republicans had listened to Al Gore, here’s what would have happened:

    1. President Gore would have imposed a $2.00 gas tax increase that would have reduced demand.
    2. The reduced demand would have prevented the current price spike.
    3. Although motorists would be paying $3.00 a gallon for gas, the $2.00 price increase would have stayed in the U.S. instead of going to hostile regimes that finance terrorism.
    4. The $2.00 tax would have been enough to eliminate the deficits and make Social Security and Medicare solvent for eternity, and in addition to allow tax cuts and eliminate of the middle class Alternative Minimum Tax, resulting in explosive economic and employment growth.
    5. An energy Manhattan Project would be well underway, resulting in further reductions in oil demand. President Gore would then remove the $2.00 per gallon tax, and gasoline would cost 10 cents a gallon like it does in Venezuela.

    Instead, we’ve got $3 gas (heading for $4) with the money going to terrorists, the quagmire in Iraq with no end to American soldiers coming home in aluminum boxes, and deficits as gargantuan as the storm that’s about to wipe out America’s #1 oil port and refinery complex.

    Thanks for nothing, stupid Republicans.

  25. 28

    soundcrossing spews:

    I have to echo something from an early post:

    It’s fully too bad that with the potential for human suffering that is now approaching our coast the most some of the people that post on this thread can muster is partisan grenade lobbing. I’m so proud to read that you’d rather fling shit at each other than actually pray (or whatever) for the poor souls that are caught in the path of the hurricane.

    -soundcrossing@hotmail.com-

  26. 30

    Mark The Redneck spews:

    Soundcrossing – It’s all the fault of the fucking Republicans who refuse to support a law to outlaw global warming.

  27. 31

    Jon spews:

    Roger @ 27: What Congress in the WORLD (not the alternative reality one) would have let ANY President impose a $2.00 gas tax? Certainly not any Republican one, let alone a Democratic one. If President Gore could have fixed all those things in 4 1/2 years, then he has more control over time and space than God has.

    Don’t forget RR, that Democrats in Congress were falling all over themselves in 2001 for a tax cut, too, the only debate was how big of one, AND all those Democrats in Congress should have not given the President authority to go into Iraq, for that matter, as long as you’re so good about pointing fingers.

  28. 32

    Mark The Redneck spews:

    Jon – WTF is wrong with you? Higher taxes can fix every problem we have. We can tax ourselves into perpetual prosperity. But the problem is those fucking rich republicans who are whores to the multi-corporations.

  29. 33

    EvergreenRailfan spews:

    How about Amtrak not being able to help out with the evacuation of New Orleans. They have 100 cars that are not being repaired from previous derailments(some from routes Amtrak Cut nearly 10 years ago), due to lack of funding. Had they been repaired and just kept in a stand-by pool, let’s say in a yard in Chicago. When the Hurricane hit Florida, they could have deployed them to New Orleans, and run them in shuttle service to Memphis. Currently Train 59, the City of New Orleans has been anulled at Memphis, and is not running south of there until further notice. Last year, I heard a story about 700 people fleeing a milder Hurricane that just missed New Orleans aboard the CONO.

  30. 34

    Heath spews:

    Mark@5 -

    It’s funny, you seemed to start thinking I’m an asshole right around the time you found out you couldn’t blow smoke up my ass. :)

    Heath

  31. 35

    righton spews:

    Evergreen;

    So why is it Amtraks fault? Is it Sikorsky’s fault they didn’t give them all free helicopters? Amtrak closing routes to save money.

    Do you think the laws of economics defy gravity? You can somehow fund fancy trains to these guys, even if likely nobody was willing to pay for their service?

  32. 36

    JCH spews:

    If you stupid Republicans had listened to Al Gore, here’s what would have happened:

    1. President Gore would have imposed a $2.00 gas tax increase that would have reduced demand.
    [Post By Roger Rabbit]……………………………………………………………..This is great. This must be in the Hillary/Maxine Waters’s platform in 2008!!!! [hehe]

  33. 38

    zip spews:

    Evergreen Railfan
    You must have read the book about the railroad constructed to Key West in the depression…wiped out by the hurricane of 1935 while attempting an evacuation. Just a sidebar, I do agree with your sentiment that Amtrak would have provided a public service in NO if the cars had been available.

    rujax @ 20

    You’ve finally gone off the deep end pal. Name one instance in the last 9 months on this site when I have defended or otherwise cheer-led for Prez Bush. Thats not my gig. You are too stuck in your hate filled world to notice. Asshole.

  34. 39

    Karmalyzed spews:

    how Louisiana will effectively deal with the aftermath of the hurricane, what with so many of its National Guard units currently fighting and dying in the streets of Iraq?

    Next thing you’ll be saying is the hurricane is Bush’s fault, too. C’mon David, grow up! Organizations all over the country are headed down there to help. You might not believe this, but ordinary everyday folks will do whatever they can to help others thru a crisis. I love the way you liberals phrase things. Some of our brave troops will die, yes, but for the most part, they are KICKING TERRORIST ASS, so you don’t have to.

  35. 40

    zip spews:

    Roger @ 27

    Your “energy Manhattan Project” is underway, you idiot. Do you think private industry spends nothing on R & D? They can see the hand writing on the wall better than Al Gore and have a profit motive to discover future energy sources.

  36. 43

    zip spews:

    rujax 41

    It will be a cold day in hell when I ever ask a dick like you for an apology. Big of you to acknowledge that you don’t have a clue what you’re ranting about with your creepy personal attacks @ 20. You are a sick whatever.

  37. 44

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @35

    We have $300 billion to pay for an optional war in Iraq, but we don’t have a couple million to repair a few railcars to carry our own citizens to safe refuge from killer storms?

    This looks like Mark The Ruffian’s “invisible hand” at work.

  38. 46

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @38

    We don’t see you criticizing Bush either, but if you are of a mind of recapturing what used to be a respectable (albeit wrong) Republican Party from the Christo-Fascists, we wish you Godspeed! You’re gonna need lots of body armor …

  39. 47

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Reply to dumbshit @ 36

    The oil companies and terrorist-financing sheikhs are already collecting a $2.00 tax. No need to impose another one.

  40. 48

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    39, 42

    Naturally it didn’t occur to Karamel Between Ears that part of the reason for the oil price spike is that the U.S. military operations in Iraq are gobbling oil like a fish inhales water.

    I’ve been searching the web for some stats on U.S. military oil consumption for Iraq operations, but can’t find anything. The Bushies must be keeping this info secret. They don’t want angry consumers to know the 1 million or so barrels per day (my off the wall estimate) being swallowed by the Iraq war is largely responsible for world demand exceeding world supply and thereby causing the doubling of oil (and by extension, gasoline) prices.

    They might not vote for the GOP ticket if they knew that.

  41. 49

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    43

    Well well, what have we here, a Republican troll getting testy because he was criticized. My my, what thin skins they have.

  42. 50

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    GAS PRICE UPDATE

    Oil production in the Gulf has shut down, the nation’s largest oil import terminal is closed, and oil companies have closed over 1 million bpd of refinery capacity and evacuated workers. Oil futures are up $4.50/bbl. in after-hours trading. Analysts expect Hurricane Katrina to add at least 20 cents per gallon to gasoline prices.

  43. 51

    Karmalyzed spews:

    Roger, you are so full of it, it’s a wonder you can see where you’ve been! You and rujax are proof that it’s impossible to have any kind of dialogue with a liberal. All you can do is swear, call people names, and make up stories that you expect people to believe just because they came from your meager, atrophied brains.

  44. 52

    EvergreenRailfan spews:

    38

    I believe it was called the Florida East Coast, Key West Extension, and it was being worked on by WWI vets. Sad case. Part of their bridges is used by the Overseas Highway to Key West. I would never be for bringing that back.

    Would have been nice for the National Gaurd to help out more. Say, did Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi lend them thier’s?

  45. 54

    JCH spews:

    I thought Democrats WANTED higher gas prices! Oh….just higher gasoline taxes. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……………….

  46. 55

    Lone wolf spews:

    It is so sad that you all are bickering about fault. I am not a Bush supporter, I wnever was, and was greatly saddened by his election and subsequest re-election. BUT he is the president. I am concerned that a storm that was predicted for almost a week was not better prepared for. Relief should have been at most 24 hours away from the hardest hit areas. I have major concerns about this “homeland security” in that there is supposed to be preparedness for a major nuclear or biological or other “terrorist” caused disaster and this was seen coming and there was not a timely response. Why?

    Our involvement in Iraq is an extremely unfortunate event. My problem is that if we get out now, we leave a vacuum and will have a government that will take over, dictator would be the most probable type. This is what those people know and are comfortable with. This government would have a sufficient reason to hate the US and would certainly become the major training ground for terrorists that we were told it already was. I wasn’t. The US created Saddam and used him, the same as we created Bin Laden. What we sowed, we reaped.

    Yes, gas prices have soared, and all are being hurt by them, but promarily the poor and middle class. But who cares about them anyway? Not the elected officials.

    It is time for this country, this once great nation to elect some people (notice I did not say politicians) to office that are intelligent, care about the people of this nation more than the profits of corporations, and will perform their trusted duties to restore this nation to the greatness it once had.

    Shall we all, if not pray for the people of this country, at least try to care about your neighbors and try to help wherever we can. This is a tragedy that has happened, and we cannot blame anyone for the storm, but we can hold them accountable for the lack of timely response. And we should. If there is a major disaster in your city, will the response be any faster? More timely? Would so many die waiting for help? Think about this and make those responsible accountable for their failures.

    Let us begin the rebirth of the US of A and lets try to make it in the image that will have the respect of the rest of the world. If we, as a nation conduct ourselves with honor and respect for others, and treat others fairly we will not have much to fear from the terrorists of this world. the terrorists gain support from attacking perceived “devils” and wrong doers. I know we cannot please all the people all the time, but if we conduct ourselve in the rest of the world with those values, we will be in much better shape.

    And remember this, in these forume, I may not agree with what you say, but I founght for your right to say it. And I continue to fight for those rights.

    Lone wolf