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There was a study done for the hurricane preparedness folks in the New Orleans area this summer. I don't remember who did the study or any of the specifics but I do remember that it was so grim it dominated talk radio for 3 days locally.

For those who don't know, New Orleans is a bowl and, for all practical purposes, an island. We have Lake Pontchartrain†to the north and the Mississippi river to the south. The east and west are water too.

Most of the city is below sea level. Over the last century we have surrounded the city by 10-12 foot earthen levees and installed some of the most massive pumps in the world. We can, unlike most cities, laugh at 24 inches of rain in 24 hours. -- As long as it comes at the rate of an inch per hour. We simply pump the water out and go on with our lives.

Within these earthen walls live about a million people. In the city itself especially, many of the residents are poor and lack adequate transportation to evacuate. We have always known there was a fatal flaw in our hurricane defense. If the fabled "Big One" ever hit New Orleans we were in big trouble.

The scenario goes like this:

The tidal surge will top the levees and the bowl will fill from river to lake. The studies say that if we took a direct hit from a category 4 or 5 storm, a city of one million people could be under as much as 30 feet of water. According to the experts there could be over 50,000 dead. What's more, since we would have to pump the water out the bowl, they say the city could be underwater for as long as 10 months. You'll understand if I don't dig up that link right now.

The numbers were so wildly astronomical when the survey was released just a few short weeks ago that I guffawed when I first heard them. That would never happen here. Things like that only happen in third world countries. Over the next few days, listening to a progressive number of experts explain the how's and why's, I was less and less skeptical of the report. As someone who prides himself on having a sensitive B.S. detector, I was faced with the reality that I had no way of dismissing these predictions out of hand. It could happen here.

But it won't. We all knew that.

After a few days of people being somewhat freaked out, we put the survey in the back of our minds and went on with our lives. We grew up living in a hurricane zone, and besides... what are the odds... it would take a direct hit from one of the biggest storms to ever hit the United States mainland for that to happen. Sure it could happen here... but it won't.

That was easier to believe 72 hours ago. As it stands, a category 5 storm is inching ever closer with every passing advisory to the exact angle the experts say would bring the devastation. (For those of you who are not familiar with the city, it is directly under where the 30N and 90W lines cross.) What was once a bizarre hypothetical is now an all too real threat.

With a storm producing hurricane force winds in a swath over 200 miles wide, it seems inconceivable now that we will not get 110+MPH winds over the city. A wobble on the storm's path at this point could bring the apocalypse.

Do I think it will happen? No. How do I know? Because I'm praying.

To be clear it would take a direct hit at the right angle. But that talk was more comforting last week.

I know, being a man of science, that empirically, even with Ivan at our doorstep the experts are always wrong. The experts knew the sun rotated around the earth and the experts knew the earth was flat. They get paid to predict bad news and by golly then managed. But I'm praying.

Today about a quarter of a million people will be heading north, hoping to ride out the storm in a hotel room and return in a few days glad the storm spared us. Knowing human nature, my family and I will pack a few possessions and papers along with our family photos and head north around 3AM on Wednesday, when the traffic will be the lightest.

Right before I sat down to write this, I was on the phone with my brother in law. We both said we had accepted as a fact that our homes may not be when we return. That's not just macho talk of the brave. That is acceptance of a grim reality.

Saturday afternoon, I'll sit at this same desk and make a post telling everyone that we were spared the experts' worst predictions. But in the mean time- would you do me a favor? Pray.

I was forced by both curiosity and habit to provide a link the study. [or a media report on it]

My memory was being kind to me. I had originally written 20 feet of water 40,000 dead. I had to edit the post. Now you know why I didn't want to find this link.

I figured I'd put a cut here in the extended entry. This link is to the local paper. If the worst happens and they are hosted locally, there is a good chance the link will be dead.

... a [1998] Category 2 storm that only grazed New Orleans, had pushed waves to within a foot of the top of the levees. A stronger storm on a slightly different course -- such as the path Georges was on just 16 hours before landfall -- could have realized emergency officials' worst-case scenario: hundreds of billions of gallons of lake water pouring over the levees into an area averaging 5 feet below sea level with no natural means of drainage.

That would turn the city and the east bank of Jefferson Parish into a lake as much as 30 feet deep, fouled with chemicals and waste from ruined septic systems, businesses and homes. Such a flood could trap hundreds of thousands of people in buildings and in vehicles. At the same time, high winds and tornadoes would tear at everything left standing. Between 25,000 and 100,000 people would die, said John Clizbe, national vice president for disaster services with the American Red Cross.



Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Pray:

» Arguing with signposts... linked with Bad combination: Hurricanes and the Big Easy

» blogoSFERICS linked with Stay Dry

» In Search of Utopia linked with Pray for the lattest Hurricane Victims

» MartiniPundit linked with New Orleans in Ivan's Path

» Petrified Truth linked with Worst case scenario

» Blogs of War linked with Ivan Threatens New Orleans

» Notes & Musings linked with Time To Pray

» Last Chance Cafe linked with KYAGB

» On The Third Hand linked with Ivan.

» DebWire linked with Current Location 2: Hurricane Ivan

» Knight Of The Mind linked with The Sword Of Damocles

» My Single Mom Life linked with Get out of there.

» Brain Shavings linked with Pray for New Orleans

» The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill linked with Finished Installing my New Front Door just in time

» Shutterblog linked with Trying to reason with hurricane season

» Eye of the Storm linked with Pray that the forecast is correct

» rightpundit.com linked with Dissipate Ivan, Dissipate

» The Irish Trojan's Blog linked with Ivan: Worse than 9/11?

» EyeNo's Blog linked with EYE ON IVAN

» Physics Geek linked with The power of prayer

» Overtaken by Events linked with Ivan-Ho

» Outside The Beltway linked with New Orleans Evacuating for Hurricane Ivan

» Blog o'RAM linked with Earthworks in the Balance

» Petrified Truth linked with Hurricane Katrina targets Louisiana

» Blog o'RAM linked with Earthworks in the Balance

Comments (45)

Paul, I WILL pray for you t... (Below threshold)

Paul, I WILL pray for you too. My sister and her family live near Pensacola, FL, and they're probably already evacuated from there.

God be with you.... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

God be with you.

Hey Paul, my absolute best ... (Below threshold)

Hey Paul, my absolute best wishes. I bitch and complain abuot the rain or the heat here in Atlanta, but I am never frightened.

Just grab your photos and family and leave.

My prayers are with you and... (Below threshold)

My prayers are with you and yours and all the other people of my favorite city in America.

Dan Aronstein Tulane A&S '78.

I've been to New Orleans tw... (Below threshold)

I've been to New Orleans twice, and would love to return for a longer visit so I can take in the atmosphere, sample the food, listen to jazz music. I'll be praying for all you guys that this hurricane moves away from your hometown and loses its strength.

Paul--My prayers are... (Below threshold)

My prayers are truly with you and yours.

Also, I'm not that far away from you (central MS), so if you need any assistance, or even a place to hang until the threat passes, contact me.

Hey Paul dude...Unless your... (Below threshold)

Hey Paul dude...Unless your in an underground waterproof bunker if it looks bad take the brood and get out of dodge...I'll put a candle in Mr Poppins cup for a prayer for all of you....

I've got friends and family... (Below threshold)
Bucky Katt:

I've got friends and family who live down in Fort Walton Beach and the Pensacola, FL area. Don't know if they've left yet...but I hope they have evacuated.

Praying helps....but never the less pack your stuff and head for higher ground. This is a flashback to Camille in '69.

Be safe.

Best wishes and prayers all... (Below threshold)

Best wishes and prayers all around. Stay safe.

God's Blessing on you and y... (Below threshold)

God's Blessing on you and your family.

I moved to DC from Destin (... (Below threshold)

I moved to DC from Destin (near Fort Walton Beach) 4 years ago. Damn if I would want to be there for this one. My parents live near Mobile, and if it stays a cat 4 or 5, they'll be getting out too.

Paul, I will pray with you ... (Below threshold)
Fred Ferraro:

Paul, I will pray with you & ask my Bible study group to do the same. My sister and her family were spared from a direct hit in Satellite Beach on the last cane. All homes were saved. I know the Lord will protect you & your family. PRAYER IS POWER. FRED

We'll be thinking of you, P... (Below threshold)

We'll be thinking of you, Paul. My wife is from the City and has been through a few of these. Her mother remembers putting sheets of plywood over her crib to protect her when Betsy hit in 1965. They spent the whole storm trapped on the second floor of her mother's office building.

Her mother, by the way, still lives in La Place so we know what you're feeling. Good luck, and stay safe.

Good luck, Paul. ... (Below threshold)

Good luck, Paul.

Prayers on the way, Paul. <... (Below threshold)

Prayers on the way, Paul.

Good luck Paul, and our pra... (Below threshold)

Good luck Paul, and our prayers are with all the folks of the gulf coast. I lived in Southeast Texas most of my life, so I know the dread of hurricane season. I hope you're right about the 3 a.m. timing.

We left for Andrew, and I remember cars backed up from Houston to Silsbee on every road north. It took us most of a day to go 60 miles or so.

Of course, Andrew didn't hit us, but I'm glad we left. It was an inconvenience, but not as much as being trapped in a storm with no power and water around your ankles or worse.

You got it, Paul and everyo... (Below threshold)

You got it, Paul and everyone else in the path. Right now they are evacuating New Orleans. Yesterday they were making rock piles along the edge to help protect it and they give us the bad news for a reason - look at Florida who will still be hit this time again and they were right. Unless something happens at the very last minute to change it, it's still a storm 200 miles wide or more in some places, I'd still get my butt out of there for now. I've been making the joke that we need to move all the Floridians out to Texas, plenty of room there, so that's where I'd go right now. Not east, but west - the cone doesn't even go west, so that's the safest place to go right now. I hope when you get back Paul, that your home is still there. Best of luck and you do indeed have my prayers.

Watching Ivan and praying w... (Below threshold)

Watching Ivan and praying with you. I told my husband I'd rather it head for us than into New Orleans. He thought I was crazy until I told him the expected outcome of a direct hit on you all... Now, he's praying for you too. May the Lord keep you safe through the remainder of this and future Hurricane Seasons...

Heavenly Father:We... (Below threshold)

Heavenly Father:

We who believe, who trust in you ask for your help. A great storm approaches the homes of your servants, and yet we know the power of the wind is at your command.

You are wise, Lord God, the God who delivers, and though your servants do not presume to know your will, you command us to pray.

Lord, may it be your will to show your love for your people by forstalling catastrophe, to strengthen your servants in time of trouble. Whatever tests my bretheren endure, in the end let your love be known.

We worship you. We thank you. We trust you. Lift us up God of All, and hear our hope for salvation, not just in this, but forever.

In your Son's precious name we ask in faith.

My prayers are definitely w... (Below threshold)

My prayers are definitely with you. I have family all over the N.O. area and coastal MS (I'm from Hattiesburg).

Matt's comments about Betsy reminds me of the stories my mother has told me about living through Betsy in '65 as well. Her, my grandparents, and her siblings lost pretty much everything due to flood waters. With the contaminated waters overrunning everything, they had no fresh water left and ended up getting sick. Most of us in America have a hard time imagining the horror stories that happen in third world countries after natural disasters - but New Orleans could be that bad.

Paul, I'm praying to... (Below threshold)

I'm praying too. My inlaws live in Metairie on a street that floods if you sneeze hard. All of my family live in Gulfport, where our house was obliterated by Camille.

Here in Cincinnati, all we have to deal with is a plague of cicadas. Praying.

Is LA a swing state? If so ... (Below threshold)

Is LA a swing state? If so you should be okay. ;)

All the prayers with ya.

I can still see Camille's f... (Below threshold)

I can still see Camille's first drops of rain hitting our driveway out in Metairie (Bissonet Plaza area). When Camille had come off the tip of Cuba, top winds were under 100mph. We didn't have much time when the plane came back after measuring 200+ sustained winds. 24 foot surge and 17(?) foot levees.

Betsy I don't remeber at all, 'cause I spent the whole thing fetal. Literally, being a fetus and all.

Excuse me, but doesn't pray... (Below threshold)

Excuse me, but doesn't praying that Ivan won't hit New Orleans mean you are asking God to have it hit someone else instead? It is going to come ashore, that's a given.

O.K., Paul, praying, have p... (Below threshold)

O.K., Paul, praying, have prayed, will pray more and again.

Please reconsider leaving. Sometimes it's best to let God answer prayers in whatever ways He does and/or can...maybe it's been a while since you've seen relatives in North Dakota? Canada? Colorado? New Mexico? You know, just accept the intuitive responses and try to act on ideas you may have, without doubting them.

I will continue to pray for you, for everyone in threat of this storm, and others.

Paul, another thing:<... (Below threshold)

Paul, another thing:

There's an inexpensive but alright Best Western (or thereabouts) motel in Ozona, TX, just off Interstate 10. Direct drive West from New Orleans...if you leave now, you can make it there by tonight. They even have a pool.

I am an athiest, but if the... (Below threshold)
Nick Bourbaki:

I am an athiest, but if the worst does happen, you can borrow my canoe.

Let's just hope it comes as... (Below threshold)

Let's just hope it comes ashore in a less-populated area. Or dwindles off into a tropical storm.

My thoughts are with you. We just went through Charley down here. We got pretty badly battered here (I'm in the next county south of where it came ashore, and we did get the eyewall.)

Get out as early as possible. The 'head west' advice is probably good. At least head in a direction the fewest people are going (except not towards Ivan). You need to be able to travel faster than the hurricane.

Damn. Good luck, Paul. My f... (Below threshold)

Damn. Good luck, Paul. My family'll add you into our prayers too.

You all stay safe and get o... (Below threshold)

You all stay safe and get out of there if it looks lie it's headed your way. I saw what Charley did to the towns south and east of me and it's bad. Do not try to ride this out.
I will be thinking of you and everyone else in it's way.

Best of luck, Paul.M... (Below threshold)

Best of luck, Paul.
My parents, grandparents, and an uncle and aunt tried leaving today at 11:30 to come to Houston where I live. I called them again at 5:30 and they had travelled a total of 29 miles on highway 90. I haven't been able to get in touch with them since due to busy networks.
Godspeed to everyone.

Just wishing you all the be... (Below threshold)

Just wishing you all the best and sending you positive vibes......By the way I am in Lafayette,people here are buying supplies just in case and the roads are packed with people coming here for safety. Anyway yall take care, will check back...

Best of luck getting to hig... (Below threshold)

Best of luck getting to higher ground and staying safe! I am near Huntsville, AL, and as it looks right now, the storm will be coming straight up the state and on into Tennessee. The Weather Channel has even said that people in this area could see flooding of biblical proportions. I can only imagine how devastating the damage will be in some areas. But you never know.

I'll be keeping you and your family in my thoughts!

Poor Mobile Alabama. Betwee... (Below threshold)

Poor Mobile Alabama. Between hoping Florida won't get hit again and praying New Orleans will be spared, everyone's basically rooting for Mobile to get clobbered...

Paul, you and your family, and the rest of your city, are in my thoughts and prayers.

Poor Mobile Alabama. Betwee... (Below threshold)

Poor Mobile Alabama. Between hoping Florida won't get hit again and praying New Orleans will be spared, everyone's basically rooting for Mobile to get clobbered...

Paul, you and your family, and the rest of your city, are in my thoughts and prayers.

Dear God,Please gu... (Below threshold)

Dear God,

Please guard those from harm in the path of this storm. I pray for their protection, and if it be your purpose, make this wind to cease.

Psalm 107: 28-30

Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.

He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.

Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

Holy cow, I had no idea thi... (Below threshold)

Holy cow, I had no idea this could be so bad! It seems like it is weakening from the latest report, so let's hope so. Yes I am praying for you. The water in the northern Gulf is supposed to be cooling enough to slow Ivan down. Thank you for letting us know how bad this could be.

May good fortune smile upon... (Below threshold)

May good fortune smile upon the creasent city and all who live there. That being said, please find some higher ground (and the same to your brother as well).

Reading this from my exile ... (Below threshold)

Reading this from my exile in Ohio, tears spring to my eyes for folks who were so much a part of my happy southern youth. My mind cannot even wrap around the destruction that threatens NOLA, all I can do is bow my head and pray.

You didn't even have to ask... (Below threshold)

You didn't even have to ask about prayer - I've been thinking about that area of the Gulf where Ivan is to make landfall - and praying - everytime I think of it - and this will continue all day. I live in South Florida and I'm all too familiar with the fear and uncertainty that a big storm brings as it bears down on an area.......

Too bad prayers don't work.... (Below threshold)

Too bad prayers don't work...because there is no God, natch. Best just to read your daily astrological report and base your actions on that... But I do hope New Orleans is spared for the magnificent food, and for the reason that not everyone's a dumbfuck Republican like yourself, although New Orleans does boast a colorful political history to say the least. I do hope David Duke drowns, but if there were a God he'd have done that in the bathtub long long ago...So my advice? Flee.

I'm not usually a praying p... (Below threshold)

I'm not usually a praying person, but I'll say one for you and New Orleans anyway. I live in the Fort Myers, Florida area, so we've seen our share of hurricanes ourselves this year (Charley whacked us and Frances grazed us). Good luck and stay safe!

Prayers for you and yours a... (Below threshold)

Prayers for you and yours and all of those in harms way. Haven't been able to stop thinking that prayer is a really good thing since you mentioned it.
Stay safe, stay warm, stay dry.
In the palm of Gods hand, may your family remain.

Do you have any information... (Below threshold)

Do you have any information on these pumps? How's that work?

Paul, as a former citizen o... (Below threshold)

Paul, as a former citizen of that fine city, I completly understand. Did they ever stop the corruption that kept some of the pumps from being built? I haven't been "home" in 20 years, but, my brother lives in Kenner and my onther one lives in Pensacola. May God keep all of you.

Mark Walker






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