Animated hurricane flagsAs you may, or may not know, I’m originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and if you’ve been watching the news at all for the past week or so, you’ve probably seen reporters broadcasting from there. Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisiana and the Gulf Coast earlier this week and even made it’s way through Nashville yesterday. It’s been one hell of a storm and caused catastrophic damage along the way. I’ve been in constant contact with friends and family both in Baton Rouge and New Orleans and I thought I’d post an update.

New Orleans is a disaster area of epic proportions. Just take a look at the photos on the web site and you’ll see what I mean. To help give you some perspective on what’s happening where, my good buddy Mike Rohde found a map at The New York Times that does an excellent job. To get a detailed account of the damage, there’s a great article in the Times-Picayune paper called Under Water that’s definitely worth a read. And last but not least, Wikipedia has a great article that has details such as before-and-after satellite pictures of the New Orleans area, showing the overspill of Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas, photos of the levee breaches, cross-sections, predictions and more.

I’m just floored by what I’m seeing because having grown up there, I know where a lot of these places are in the images. I know what’s around them from a 360° perspective, so it’s just horrific. Here’s some bullet items of things that blow my mind:

» NOAA has a high-resolution image of the storm.
» Greater than 80% of New Orleans is flooded to some degree and in some cases it’s up to 12 feet of water.
» Lake Ponchatrain is pouring into New Orleans.
» The only dry land at this point is a narrow band from the French Quarter to parts of Uptown.
» This same small strip is what was settled by Bienville amid the swamps when New Orleans was originally formed!
» There’s talk of using shipping containers filled with sand to be air-dropped into the levee breaches.
» The Superdome is being evacuated and those who sought shelter there are going to be transported to the Astrodome.
» Tulane and Loyola colleges are not having a fall semester this year.
» One of the worst damaged areas, the 9th Ward, is also the poorest. For many residents, rebuilding is simply not an option.

Some Good News
The good news in all of this is that my friends and family in Baton Rouge are perfectly all right. Some neighborhoods are still without power, but the infrastructure is still intact. Water is good and electricity is still up in most places. For those with power, they’ve been loaning out their generators out to friends. Ken Duffy for example has been running back and forth with a loaned generator between his house and others. They’ll power their refrigerator for a couple of hours and then pass it along.

Our house in Baton Rouge seems to be OK and no one I know sustained any serious damage to their homes either. It was a hell of a storm by 75 miles West/Northwest made a big difference in Katrina’s impact. I’m still waiting to hear from a few friends, but so far all the news has been good.

If you have any updates please post them in the comments below. Especially if I haven’t talked to you, please let me know you’re OK! :s

Just got an update from Chris LaFleur. I haven’t been able to reach him via phone, so I sent him a text message. That seemed to work and this is what he wrote:

Everyone’s fine. All the circuits are busy when I try to call you through Sprint. I can’t call out LD through my office phone, but can receive calls.

Glad to hear that he and his clan is all safe and sound. Whew! :O