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Context of 'Afternoon August 29, 2005: Times-Picayune Describes Devastation, Massive Flooding in New Orleans’ 9th Ward'

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Around 7 pm this evening, LSU Hurricane Center scientists share their latest prediction models with emergency officials at the Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge. On the giant screen looming over the officials, scientists post the sum of all fears: New Orleans will go under. Everyone knows what that means: a major water rescue of untold thousands. [Time, 9/4/2005] The model predicts that Katrina’s storm surge may weaken and overtop New Orleans’ levees, causing massive flooding of Plaquemines Parish, New Orleans’ 9th Ward, Michoud area, and Mid-City, as well as large parts of Slidell. [Schleifstein, 8/27/2005; Daily Advertiser, 8/27/2005] The Times-Picayune will publish the projected storm surge map the next morning. [Times-Picayune, 8/28/2005 pdf file] Reportedly, the Center also e-mails their modeling results to state and federal agencies, including the National Hurricane Center. [MSNBC, 9/9/2005]

Entity Tags: LSU Hurricane Center, National Emergency Operations Center, National Hurricane Center

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The Times-Picayune Blog publishes the LSU Hurricane Center’s updated flood prediction graphic, which indicates that Katrina’s storm surge will cause massive flooding throughout the City of New Orleans. [Times-Picayune, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: City of New Orleans

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin tells NBC’s Today Show that his city is “still not out of the woods as it relates to that worst-case scenario.” Already he has received reports that water is overtopping the levee systems, and in the Lower 9th Ward, a pumping station has filed. “So we will have some significant flooding, it’s just a question of how much.” [MSNBC, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Ray Nagin

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Ted Jackson, a Times-Picayune photographer, who has waded into the Lower 9th Ward, reports “a scene of utter destruction. The wind still howled, floodwaters covered vehicles in the street and people were clinging to porches and waiting in attics for rescuers who had yet to arrive.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Reporters and Guests on National Public Radio’s afternoon repeatedly report the extensive flooding. Greg Allen reports: “The good news is that the extreme flooding feared from a storm surge didn’t materialize here.… At least one part of the levee [system] did give way in St. Bernard Parish, but authorities say in a critical area along Lake Pontchartrain the levees largely did their job. Even so, Hurricane Katrina was still the worst storm to hit New Orleans in memory, worse, many residents say, than Hurricane Betsy which devastated the city in 1965.” [National Public Radio, 8/29/2005] Mark Schleifstein of the Times-Picayune reports, “There is definitely some flooding in several areas that we’re still trying to get a handle on to see whether or not it’s as bad as Hurricane Betsy was in 1965. The worst areas are actually in a community called Chalmette that’s a little bit south of the city.… Now it has already overtopped some levees along the lake front rather early on in the process and it did—also the Chalmette flooding was also caused by a storm surge that went up what’s called the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.” [National Public Radio, 8/29/2005] However, John Burnett reports: “[T]he National Guard has just begun in those big deuce and a half trucks of theirs to go out and do some assessments, and what they’re finding is—one of the most distressing things that’s happened is the famous lower 9th Ward of New Orleans…really got hit hard. That’s where there was a big breach in the [floodwall of the Industrial Canal], that leads into the Mississippi River. And so we’ve heard reports of people on tops of houses, of a woman in an attic trying to, you know—concerned that the flood waters were gonna trap her in there. So that is an area of great concern. A lot of the city is not in near those dire circumstances. More like one, two feet of water on the ground. Nothing like, you know, up to the rooftops.” [MSNBC, 8/29/2005] Senator Landrieu (D-La) appears on the show to say, “We have reports that some of the levees have either been breached or the water has come over the levees. [T]here’s still a tremendous amount of water from the first images that we’re able to receive, which is just in the last hour, of levels of water in and around the city. Now Plaquemine Parish, St. Bernard Parish have been very hard hit. Areas of Lakeview and New Orleans East have substantial water in them that we know of; downtown has been hit. The levels of water don’t seem that high in the central business district and the French Quarter, but of course, our assessment teams haven’t gotten there yet.” [National Public Radio, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Greg Allen, John Burnett, Hurricane Betsy, All Things Considered, National Public Radio, National Guard

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The Times-Picayune files a report describing New Orleans’ devastated 9th Ward, where the flooding is so extensive that only rooftops poke out from beneath the waters for stretches of square miles. Residents fear for what has happened in the Lower 9th Ward, which edges St. Bernard Parish. “It’s got to be worse in the lower 9,” a city police officer working the scene says. “It always is.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005] Treme and the city’s 8th and 9th Wards are severely flooded. Eastern New Orleans is inaccessible by car due to the high water on Interstate 10 East. The farther east on Interstates 10 and 610, one goes, “the deeper the water and the danger.” Hurricane Katrina has caused the highway to end at the first exit for Louisa Street. For miles, there are only rooftops, with floodwaters lapping at the eves, visible from I-10. Rows of homes have been swallowed by water. Standing outside on the concrete interstate, in the whipping winds, signs can be spotted that so many of the city’s residents did not evacuate. One man wades up to his chest below, holding an orange water cooler as a buoy. Another single man watches him from the rooftop of a trucking business. Bursts of orange lights can be seen from another house, from the highest window, where at least two people are stranded. Their house nearly swallowed by the flooding, they blink flashlights to attract attention, but are forced to wait. Rescue officials say that boats are coming, but they have not yet arrived. The visions of destruction are overwhelming. There is a yell here and there, a holler from somewhere, but no one in sight. Desperate images fill the neighborhoods: Small children and a woman standing on their front porch as water licks the raised house’s top steps. A black van completely entrenched in the flooding. A drenched dog alone on a rooftop. Household-type items strewn in the dirty floodwater. In one case, rescuers use a boat to get a group of stranded people from their roof to the highway. They leave the group on the overpass, presumably to make other rescues. The interstate has become a kind of eerie desert. The stranded include an elderly woman in a wheelchair and a small barefoot boy. Both are accompanied by their respective families. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

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