August 31, 2005

Katrina Updates

The death toll continues to mount. The devastation is unbelievable. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Broken Levees Continue to Cause Flooding in New Orleans

Rescuers scramble to find stranded survivors. Scores are reported dead in Mississippi. New Orleans toll is unknown.

By Scott Gold, Ellen Barry and Stephen Braun, Times Staff Writers

NEW ORLEANS -- Across the storm-devastated Gulf Coast, overwhelmed rescue teams and public officials struggled Tuesday to cope with the enormity of Hurricane Katrina's rising toll of chaos and death. New Orleans sunk into crisis as floodwaters rushing through breached levees endangered hundreds of storm victims, while searchers in Mississippi's ravaged shore towns recovered 100 bodies and pressed to find scores of missing.

The landscape between New Orleans and Alabama was transformed by wind and surf into stretches of churning floodplain. In New Orleans, two levees broke, leaving 80% of the city flooded.

Hundreds of stranded survivors atop roofs waved frantically to Coast Guard helicopters for salvation from rising waters. At least 3,000 people were rescued in New Orleans, where low-lying neighborhoods were swamped by threatening currents from Lake Pontchartrain, public safety officials said. An untold number of people were missing.

"We've got desperate people shooting in the air, using flares to identify themselves," said New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. "It's a surreal situation, almost like a nightmare. I hope we wake up from it."

New Orleans reeled from miseries that mounted by the hour: A forlorn Nagin said police and National Guard patrols reported numerous bodies floating in flooded streets. Storm-whipped currents toppled the Twin Span bridges over Lake Pontchartrain. An oil tanker ran aground near the city docks.

The city's horizon darkened with black smoke from dozens of fires sparked by downed wires and erupting gas lines. Geysers of gas-fed flame burst out of the water and houses burned, left unattended because firefighters were unable to get through blocked roads and freeways.

Crowds broke into stores at will, even making raids on shops in the French Quarter, wheeling off stolen goods in shopping carts while overwhelmed police officials pleaded for public compliance to mandatory curfews. At least 50 people were arrested for looting.

"The looting is out of control," complained New Orleans Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson. "We're using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops."

Weakened to a tropical depression and tossing off tornados as it unraveled through Tennessee, Katrina left more than 4 million people without electricity, utility officials reported.

Analysts estimated storm damages could cost insurers more than $25 billion, the most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. history. Uninsured losses could add $4billion to $10 million more, they said.President Bush declared parts of Mississippi and Alabama major disaster areas, freeing up federal disaster aid. In a speech to military personnel at the North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego, Bush called Katrina's aftermath "a trying time" for the people in Mississippi and Louisiana who were most affected. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said there have been "initial discussions" about the president visiting the affected areas by the end of the week.

As federal emergency management teams reached the region, officials contended with widespread breakdowns in public service. Water plants failed and sewers overflowed. Gas lines ruptured and hospitals shut down. Fuel supplies dwindled.

Katrina's human toll presented the most pressing needs. Even the dead had to wait while search teams aided the living. "We're not even dealing with bodies," Nagin admitted. Searchers were "just pushing them on the side."

As the water rose on Broad Street in east New Orleans, Mousa Harden, 32, the owner of a tire rim accessory shop, clambered into an attic with two relatives. The water kept coming. Harden ripped a fan from the ceiling, using a hammer to carve out a hole in the roof. They waited for hours until . Coast Guard rescuers found them Tuesday morning and lifted them up on a sling into a hovering helicopter. Shoeless, dazed, Harden spent the rest of the day wandering the glass-strewn streets of the city's business district.

"As far as the eye could see, every house was in deep," he said.

The extent of devastation along the Gulf Coast was apparent early Tuesday. "At first light, the devastation is greater than our worst fears. It's just totally overwhelming," a subdued Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said at a morning news conference. "We know many lives have been lost," she said, although she had no numbers of confirmed fatalities.

There was no need to guess about deaths in the Mississippi coastal towns of Biloxi and Gulfport and surrounding Harrison County. Katrina leveled a direct hit. Harrison County Emergency officials confirmed that 100 people had died, at least 30 in the collapse of a Biloxi apartment house during the height of the storm.

"We are very, very worried that this is going to go a lot higher," said Joe Spraggins, civil defense director for Harrison County. Spaggins said fatalities "could go double or triple from what we're talking now."

"This is our tsunami," a haggard Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said, a reference to the earth-shaking tidal waves that in December killed more than 226,000 people in Southeast Asia.

Specialized divers and search and rescue units from across California were flown to the Gulf Coast at the request of Federal Emergency Management Agency officials. The teams were headed first for Lafayette, La., but were expected to fan out to the hardest-hit areas. The teams included boat operators, divers, paramedics and rescue officials from fire departments in Los Angeles city and county, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, Oakland, Menlo Park and Sacramento.

Katrina's winds ripped into the coastal communities during its assault on Mississippi's beaches, flinging boats on dry land, sending walls of muddy seawater 6 miles inland and reducing motels, casinos and docks to mounds of debris.

Rescue teams still poked through the crumbled red bricks from Biloxi's Quiet Water Beach apartments, where bodies were still being recovered. The beachfront complex held 100 units and officials were still unsure how many people had taken refuge inside.

Joy Schovest, 55, was in the complex with her boyfriend, Joe Calvin, when the water began rising. They stayed despite a mandatory evacuation order.

"The water got higher and higher," she said, breaking into tears. "It pushed all the doors open and we swam out. We grabbed a lady and pulled her out the window and then we swam with the current. It was terrifying. You should have seen the cars floating around us. We had to push them away when we were trying to swim."

One storm victim who identified himself to television station WKRG in Mobile, Ala., as Harvey Jackson, stood shaking in front of the rubble mounds, clinging plaintively to his two children. His voice breaking in despair, Jackson said he was searching for his missing wife, Tonette, who had disappeared as his house split in half.

"I tried to hold her tight as I could, but she couldn't hold on," Jackson said. "She told me, 'You can't hold me. Take care of the kids and the grandkids. I'm lost. It's all I have."

For every heart-rending tale of lives interrupted, there were more accounts of tragedy averted. After Katrina barreled past New Orleans on Monday, Oliver Thomas spent the strangest day of his life on a friend's fishing boat. Thomas saw people clinging to the support beams on the bottom of the Interstate. He saw the corpse of man dressed in a track suit floating past in the muck near Elysian Fields.

But the image that stayed with him was a woman in a red robe who yelled from an open window across the flooded Interstate as his boat receded: "You're leaving me!"

New Orleans, which is largely below sea level, was awash in floodwater. A levee along the suburban Industrial Canal ruptured during the storm, but the city's main dikes appeared to hold until 9 p.m., when a breach two city blocks long opened by the 17th Street Canal, allowing tons of water from Lake Pontchartrain to rush in.

Police made sorties into the rising water all night, but by daylight, hundreds more residents sat stranded on rooftops. Wayne Washington, a local deputy sheriff, returned after a long night, rescuing more than 200 people by boat. One was an elderly amputee who managed to escape his house through a window and crawl onto his roof. He lay there for hours with his dog.

Rescuers peered into dark, probing with flashlights. They picked up single passengers on Jet-Skis, hoisted children out of windows into waiting boats.

Public health officials said the floodwaters were a breeding ground for disease—and there were reports late Tuesday that a 3-foot-long shark was seen trolling the muck.

For much of the day, lake water continued to spill into the city over the broken levee. Tuesday evening, authorities made an attempt to plug the breach in the 17th Street Canal levee using a barricade of sandbags and concrete barriers. Helicopters were aiming to drop 108 barriers, each weighing 15,000 pounds, along with 50 3,000-pound sandbags, starting shortly after dark.

But Blanco said an attempt to plug the breech in the 17th street levee appeared to be failing, because "the hole is so deep that [the sandbags] are just disappearing. The water is rising. It's rising around the Dome."

Blanco said there were 20,000 people in the Superdome, and it has become "a very, very desperate situation." Many there had been rescued from rooftops, she said, and they felt "a mixture of ... being thankful and at the same time extremely frightened at the thought of losing family members who were not able to get in the boats" because of limited capacity.

She said tensions were rising, and that the Dome should be evacuated in the next two or three days.

In neighboring Jefferson Parish, officials told evacuated residents they would be allowed to return briefly next week to retrieve essential items from their flooded homes. Then, they would be kept away for as long as a month.

"We can't feed you. We can't give you water," said Tom Capella, chairman of the Jefferson Parish City Council. "There is no reason to be there."

Meanwhile, the water that inundated Jefferson Parish and New Orleans continued its inexorable rise through the night.

"The water is coming from the river. The water is coming from the lake. The water is coming from the canals. And it's meeting up right here," said Paul Williams, 43, who waded through the city's Seventh Ward in an attempt to reunite with his parents and his 2-year-old son, who were trapped there.

"There's hope here," Williams said. "But not much."

Cars were abandoned everywhere in the high water, some jammed up on the curb, others simply left in the middle of the road.

National Guard patrols used trucks at the dry end of the flooded zone to carry people to shelter. Even then, many families waded out only to find themselves split up because there were limited seats in the trucks.

"I don't want to lose you!" Terrell Washington, 26, yelled after his wife and child as they were loaded into the back of a camouflaged truck.

As the water neared the heart of the French Quarter, some hotels began evacuating, ordering residents to leave.

Kathy Quinlan, 47, walked forlornly away from the French Quarter, dragging a soggy suitcase. Quinlan and her husband had come to New Orleans from Jacksonville, Fla., to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary and were trapped by the storm. Tuesday afternoon, the Holiday Inn Express they were staying in, in the French Quarter, told them they had to go.

"They were nice enough and everything," she said. "But they couldn't tell us anywhere to go. They said: 'Sorry. We don't have anywhere to go ourselves.' "

All around the city and even in the French Quarter, looters were breaking into stores. and filling up sacks with booty. Just outside the Garden District, five men broke into a Walgreen's drugstore, opened boxes of trash bags and filled up with all the mechandise they could carry. They calmly hoisted the bags into the back of pickups and, in plain view, drove away.

At a drugstore on the fringes of the French Quarter, there were orderly lines to loot. At least a dozen people, some with shopping carts, waited to wade into the store, so that they could take whatever they could carry.

"I just took what I need," said Marie Brown, 36, as she waded though water carrying a sack of items spirited from the drugstore — two green and white striped umbrellas, a bottle of shampoo and a package of cookies.

"When I left my house, I didn't have time to take anything, that's how fast the water is rising. Everyone you see out here, they're just trying to survive,"she said

On some corners, police and National Guardsmen ignored the looters, more concerned with rescue missions. But elsewhere, police cracked down. Armed with weapons, police swept through Canal Street, a wide, dry boulevard on the edge of the French Quarter, taking back stores and restaurants already picked over by bands of looters. Police ordered away dozens of people at gunpoint.

"They will stay there through the night, and through the rest of this, or until the water forces them out," said police lieutenant Michael Cahn.

Tensions rose as night settled in. One police officer was reported shot, though officials declined to discuss the incident. Looters and police taunted each other on Canal Street.

"You want to steal something now?" shouted one police officer who toted a large shotgun.

As Juanita Carruth, 26, paraded by, carrying her eight-month old daughter on her shoulders, another armed officer snapped at her to move faster.

"I'm sorry," Carruth said, tears cascading. "I can't go any faster. I don't know if I can go on. I am not worried about me — I am just worried about my baby."

Gold reported from New Orleans, Barry from Baton Rouge, La., and Braun reported from Washington. Researchers Jenny Jarvie in Atlanta and Liane Hart in Houston contributed to this report.

Posted by Valkyre at 12:09 AM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2005

Katrina's Effects, So Far.

From this article:

Katrina's Effects, at a Glance

Hurricane Katrina's effects, at a glance:

LOUISIANA:

-At least two breaches in levees allowed water from Lake Pontchartrain to inundate sections of New Orleans. Dozens of people rescued from roofs and attics.

-Highest wind in New Orleans estimated at about 100 mph.

-Some 370,000 customers estimated without power in southeast Louisiana; number expected to rise. New Orleans water unsafe to drink without boiling.

-Entire city of New Orleans, city of 485,000, ordered evacuated before storm struck. Mayor Ray Nagin estimated 80 percent of the city's residents left.

-About 9,000 took shelter in New Orleans Superdome arena, where storm ripped two holes in the vast roof.

-New Orleans police made several arrests for looting.

MISSISSIPPI:

-As many as 80 deaths possible, said Gov. Haley Barbour. That includes estimated 50 people in coastal Harrison County, with about 30 of those at one beach-side apartment complex in Biloxi.

-At least 450,000 customers without power.

-Casinos that dot the coast are closed. Emergency officials had reports of water reaching the third floors of some of the barge-mounted casinos.

-More than 1,600 Mississippi National Guardsmen activated.

-Quote: "The devastation down there is just enormous," Barbour on NBC's "Today."

ALABAMA:

-Two deaths.

-More than a half-million homes and businesses without power.

-Flooding reached 11 feet in Mobile, matching record set in 1917, according to National Weather Service. Water up to roofs of cars in downtown Mobile and bayou communities. Piers ransacked and grand homes flooded along Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay.

-Major bridge over the Mobile River closed after it was struck by an oil drilling platform that floated away from a shipyard.

-Quote: "She said she was in water up to her chin," Kim Stringfellow said of woman and five children brought to shelter at church in Bayou La Batre.

GEORGIA:

-One person was killed in a car accident as stormy weather moved through the western part of the state.

-Some 6,300 customers were without power Tuesday morning.

-More than 30 buildings were damaged or destroyed in west Georgia's Carroll County.

TENNESSEE:

-Flash flood warnings were in effect across western Tennessee, where up to 3 inches of rain fell Monday night.

-About 75,000 customers were without power.

-Dozens of school systems canceled classes, including Nashville-area schools.

-Thousands of evacuees from Mississippi and Louisiana sought shelter in Tennessee. No evacuations in Tennessee.

KENTUCKY:

Most of Kentucky was under a flood watch until Wednesday morning.

FLORIDA:

-Deaths: 11, according to state tally on South Florida strike last week.

-77,000 customers were without power Tuesday morning in the Panhandle, hit by eastern edge of storm Monday. In South Florida, 155,262 customers still without power Tuesday morning.

OIL MARKETS:

-Oil futures rose more than $1 a barrel Tuesday as traders awaited reports on the extent of the damage to Gulf of Mexico oil and gas refineries.

Valkyre here - Fortunately, Katrina veered off to the Northeast before she hit New Orleans. If it had been a direct hit, it would have been much more catastrophic. Not to downplay, the damage that has happened. And, this is just the preliminary reports. As they go along, they will probably find much, much more.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Got his image from the National Hurrican Center. They have been evacuating New Orleans. My thoughts and prayers go out to the people who live there. This one is going to be bad. I'm really worried. I guess we will find out tomorrow, just how bad things are going to be.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:29 PM | Comments (12)

August 26, 2005

There is a Special Place in Hell...

...For the assholes who sent out a spam e-mail, worldwide it seems, and used my e-mail address as the return address. And, since no one seems to have a program that matches the originating IP to the address that is listed on the e-mail, I am getting all the "bounce backs" from the IP's that block spam. So far, it's numbered about 500 so far. I hope the people who do this rot in hell.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2005

Make Your Own South Park Character

http://www.vexatori.de/zib/spstudio.html

Of course I make a Viking woman. You can make your own by following the link above.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)

All About Eve

I finally got around to seeing this flick. It was on my queue over at NetFlix. This is the movie that features the famous quote by Bette Davis's character, Margo Channing. "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!" All I can say is, they don't make them like this anymore. I loved it! I've always liked Bette Davis and she didn't disappoint in this movie. She plays stage actress Margo Channing, fortysomething and still being cast in roles where she is supposed to be in her twenties. Anne Baxter playes Eve Harrington, a conniving, scheming little bitch who manages to worm her way into Margos life, solely to advance her own career. She will use people to her advantage, all the while acting like a coy, naive little innocent. Great dialogue. This movie was made in 1950 and it holds up so well.

Posted by Valkyre at 12:34 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2005

Maybe I Should Have Bought Two

You would think that I would learn my lesson. Warehouse stores like Sam's Club and Costco will stock really nice items. If you don't buy it as soon as you see it, it may not be there next week. And, once they have sold out of what they had in stock, they don't get anymore. A couple of years ago, Sam's Club had stocked these really nice DVD holders. They were made of some kind of metal. It was a woven leaf pattern. I managed to buy one. At the time, they had several in stock. And, occasionally, I would see that they were actually adding more. But now, the rack I bought is full. I went down there hoping to grab another one. They didn't have it any more. I searched another Sam's Club in the next city. Nothing. I tried their website. Nothing. I've done a search for "DVD racks" to see if anyone carries them. Nothing. I wish I had written down who manufactured it. It's a well made strong rack. The replacements I have seen are made of flake wood, or plastic. I would rather have another one of these.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:37 PM | Comments (2)

August 14, 2005

2 Land Lines, 3 Cell Phones, a pager and voice mail

And, I still couldn't get ahold of Mike yesterday! I did find out one thing, though. That my cell phone will end the call, after the phone on the other side rings 40 times.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2005

Fishzilla

About 8 years ago, our oldest daughter, Helena, acquired an "ecosystem" in a tank. A good friend of hers, was moving away. She gave Helena the "ecosystem" before she moved. She had it going in a five gallon bucket. Basically, you put rocks, in the bottom, fill it with water, drop in an old branch and put in a fish. It's totally self supporting. You never have to feed the fish, or clean it. When Helena got it, we put everything into a ten gallon fish tank and placed it in the rose garden. Occasionally, when we noticed that it was down to one fish, we would go to the local fish store and buy about 15 small goldfish and drop them in. Over the years, some of them would actually breed. I don't know the last time we bought any goldfish and dropped them in there. However, I had been neglecting the rose garden these past few months. The roses were tall and scraggly, and the whole garden was weed choked. I went through, pruned roses, and pulled weeds. Finally, I uncovered the tank. Only to see that it had about 3 inches of water in it. The water itself was dark green and looked about the consistency of syrup. Nothing could live in that, I thought. However, I saw a flash of orange. Whoa! I grabbed the hose to fill it, and let the water overflow, to clean it out a bit. When the water was almost clear, I could see that there was one fish left, and he was huge! I named him Fishzilla.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:33 PM | Comments (0)