Let me start by saying I rewrote the headline about 5 times and I still don't like it. Kevin wrote earlier today, New Orleans Avoids Total Destruction. That was sort of a reverse Mark Twain moment. Late news (midnight EDT) tells us a different tale.
Mayor Nagin sat down with WWL television and gave them a sobering report tonight. I've watched it twice and since it is about 30 minutes long, I'll try to hit the highlights.
Let's start with the biggie. 80% of the city is underwater - in some places it is 20 feet deep. People are spending the night on their roofs waiting to be rescued. (New Orleans proper has a population of about 500,000)
Both Airports are underwater.
An oil tanker is aground and leaking oil - 3 more "big boats" are aground.
MAJOR levee break on the 17th street canal flooding both NO and Metairie.
The Southern Yacht Club burned and is completely destroyed.
The High-rise bridge got hit by a barge and they don't know if it is safe.
All of Slidell under water (population ~110,000)
Most of Metairie is under water. (population ~200,000)
About 50% of the "lower Northshore" (Mandeville etc) is under water (population ~150,000)
Gas leaks all over the city, many burning.
and one of the biggest...
The Twin Span bridges are completely destroyed.
as an added bonus they don't know about the safety of the Causeway.
Basically the dooms days scenario was 20 feet of water across the whole city... Instead it looks like 5 feet of water (on avg) across 80% of the city. Not a whole lot of difference.
Go watch the video on http://www.wwltv.com/ this is all data given to Nagin from FEMA officials who had flown over the city.
Was "New Orleans Nearly Completely Destroyed" by Katrina? It was in my book.