Over at CapitalWeather.com, Jason Samenow and his frankly amazing team of weather bloggers are covering the unfolding events in the Gulf Coast. It wasn't long ago that the DCeiver stood outside the Sanctuary Theatre talking with Shane Wallis, who's spent a lot of time in that area of the country. Shane warned then that one day, a hurricane was going to come and wipe low-laying New Orleans clean off the map. That time may be upon us.
CapitalWeather offers some pretty dire news, including this statement from the National Weather Service, w/r/t New Orleans:
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.
And believe it or not, this could be just the tip of the iceberg. The petroleum industry stands to lose a lot of infrastructure during this storm. There are many chemical plants in the coastal area around New Orleans, adding a potential environmental catastrophe. Right now, thousands of people without any means to get out of the area are holing up at the Superdome, where officials expect that sometime tomorrow, the power will fail, the walls will breach and the field will flood. (UPDATE: CNN has reported that no engineering study has been done to verify whether the Superdome's roof can withstand Cat 5 conditions.)
This hurricane is likely to be catastrophic, and the relief efforts afterwards will likely be an all hands on deck affair. We'll keep track of the local effort and how DC residents can help. For immediate information, contact your local Red Cross office.