Not so “Big Easy” after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and America’s Gulf of Mexico states are counting the cost in lives and property. Analysts fear it could be the most costly storm ever to hit America, and looking at the flooded Cajun country in and around the famous south eastern coastal city, it is not hard to see why, even if most of the deaths have been elsewhere.
The surrounding states have all been badly hit, but Mississippi is the worst, along with Louisiana and Alabama, and there have been dozens of deaths to count alongside the destruction. Residents of low-lying New Orleans in the storm-prone Gulf of Mexico had feared such a tempest for years, and the city’s defences have been sorely tested. A giant levee, or dyke, that protects it from Lake Pontchartrain has reportedly been breached in two places, hitting the city with more floodwater than Katrina itself.
Martial law has been declared in the stricken region as the emergency enters its second phase, with wide scale evacuations proceeding as fast as they can faced with the threat from the lake. More than one million people are without power, and there are warnings it could be two months before supplies return to some people. Others do not care, as they no longer have any appliances to run; in fact, they are left with just the clothes they stand up in;
Even preliminary guesses at the cost put Katrina nearly 25 percent more damaging than the last big blow, Hurricane Andrew 13 years ago, which smashed up Florida and the Gulf coast. The storm now heads north and heavy rains continue.