I just finished watching a show I’d recorded earlier tonight. When it ended, I went down to my cable system’s block of news channels to scout around.
Usually, this time of night, they’re re-running shows from earlier in the evening. Tonight, as I hit CNN, I noticed a white LIVE ‘bug’ in the upper left hand corner.
Rick Sanchez was on the air, speaking by phone with someone from Tulane Hospital in New Orleans. The hospital’s spokesperson was talking about water – rising water.
The hospital had seen no real flooding while Hurricane Katrina passed by, but tonight, water had begun rushing in and it was rising at an alarming rate.
I could hear the fear in her voice as she described the water level rising an inch every five minutes. That’s a foot an hour. Already there was six feet of water outside the hospital. Soon, water would reach the level of their emergency generators on the second floor.
Sanchez was taken aback. I’m not sure he originally understood what she was saying. It was so unexpected – so out of context.
She said a levee keeping Lake Ponchartrain out of New Orleans had been breached. The cut in the levee was two blocks long and water was rushing in unimpeded. Even if there were pumps working, and she wasn’t sure there were, they wouldn’t be able to keep up with this deluge.
On CNN, Rick Sanchez kept asking questions, but it was obvious this woman wanted to get off the phone. Speaking to him wasn’t going to help her.
I heard terror in her voice.
The hospital had to get its patients out. Its patients were by and large critical. The only way to move them would be by helicopter and FEMA would be needed for that.
The other all news stations are in their usual reruns. I have no way of knowing if this is true. If it is, this is New Orleans’ worst fears are realized. Lake Ponchartrain could inundate the city.
I went to WWL’s streaming site, but it’s down. WDSU’s streaming site has static and solid blue video.
CNN is my only source and their info is coming from a woman whose identity I can’t confirm. On top of that, her claim is totally unexpected.
There was nothing at nola.com, so I went back to WWL’s website and found a recorded video clip from the mayor. He confirms the levee breach and a lot more.
I thought, based on what I’d seen and heard, New Orleans’ damage was moderate. Based on what I’m hearing now, it’s tragic. The mayor sounds like a defeated man. Some city areas are under 20 feet of water. Highways and bridges have been destroyed. Gas lines have been broken and geysers of flame are shooting up through the water on a few flooded streets.
The Twin Spans are gone. When the mayor said that, the two anchors sitting with him stared in total disbelief.
The Twin Spans are an amazing 23.8 miles across, held in place by 9,000 concrete pilings. During the day, as you approach the middle of the bridge, you can see no land in either direction. At night, you can faintly see the city lights.
Locals say it’s an eerie feeling until you get used to it. Too late for that now, I suppose.
Earlier, I had used the term “fog of war” to describe how much we didn’t know. Now that the fog is lifting, the true extent is damage is coming into view.
Blogger’s note: In my original posting on this entry, I think I confused one roadway for another.
Came across your blog when doing a google search on Twin Spans after what
I heard in the NO Mayor’s interview that according what FEMA told him that
Twin Spans are gone. Well it may be correct but you are confusing the Twin
Spans with the twin Ponchartrain Causeway (the one which is 24 miles long)
and connect the North and South shores.
The TWIN SPANS are the bridges on the I 10E crossing the Lake on the
eastern side of NO.
You will find it in the map below
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I appreciate Jignesh’s attention and help in pointing this out.