I am thoroughly amazed at an interview that I just heard with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on WWL radio. He said that he was considering a mandatory evacuation of the city. Considering? With the official National Hurricane Ceneter track showing a Category Four hurricane, perhaps even a Category FIVE hurricane moving directly over a city that takes 72 hours to evacuate? He said that the city’s attorneys were in consultation about the legalities of such an order. Legalities? Wouldn’t that be something you would contemplate in advance? Not 48 hours before landfall. What would be the criteria that would make such an action automatic?
Mayor Nagin said that the Governor had recommended that he talk to Max Mayfield at the National Hurricane Center. Hello! I would have had a hotline installed directly to Max’s cell phone. The Mayor said that Max Mayfield told him this was the storm that everyone has feared for New Orleans for many, many years. Max said that he had been in the business for 31 years and that this was the real deal. Still tonight, traffic on evacuation routes in Southeast Lousiana was amazingly light. Will tomorrow morning’s evacuation order come too late?
All I have heard from local emergency managers in Southeast Louisiana is the looming disaster that is New Orleans and a powerful hurricane. I have had heard that emergency managers say they will need thousands of body bags when a major hurricane pushes a 20-25 foot storm surge into Lake Ponchartrain and over the city’s levee system. Hopefully that will not come true.
I have another fear. That people on the Mississippi and Alabama coasts will take Katrina lightly because of all the media coverage and focus on New Orleans. A storm surge of 15-20 feet or higher will occur in that vulnerable area of the Mississippi coast around Waveland, Pass Christian and Bay St. Louis. Those names sound familiar? They were made famous by Hurricane Camille’s 27 foot storm surge in 1969.