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sábado, agosto 30, 2008

Gustav's Coming, We're All Watching

It looks like Hurricane Gustav (it's now a hurricane and not a tropical storm) is headed directly for New Orleans. Weatherunderground gives us computer modeling that is not at all comforting:

Notice the uniformity of all of the computer models. Notice that the computers bring Gustav extremely close to New Orleans as a category 3 hurricane.

Join me in the City that Care Forgot.

The New York Times reports that there will be a "mandatory evacuation" of New Orleans on Sunday:
Mayor C. Ray Nagin said on Friday that a mandatory evacuation order was possible for Sunday.

At that point, residents would be told, though not physically forced, to leave New Orleans, either in their own vehicles or on city-chartered buses and trains. On Saturday, officials here will start helping citizens without cars leave for shelters in northern Louisiana in gyms, churches and civic centers. Officials here estimate that as many as 30,000 of the poor, the elderly and the infirm might need help evacuating. ...snip

“With the new storm track, we think the entire metro area will experience the storm,” the mayor said at City Hall on Friday. “This is a very serious matter.”

Mr. Nagin urged citizens to begin making plans to evacuate, without waiting for the order. “Sunday morning, that’s what we’re looking at, to issue that mandatory evacuation,” he said.

There will be no shelters in the city like the Superdome, as there were for Hurricane Katrina.
Such an evacuation is an enormous task. If there have been practice runs, the media have not reported them. Is anyone confident that all of the people who wish to leave the City will be able to leave? Or put another way, will those who most need assistance to leave be able to receive the help they need to find shelter from the storm?

According to the Times Picayune, Gustav is on a "Collision Course" with New Orleans, and as of early Saturday morning, many people were headed inland for shelter:

Those who cannot leave because they are ill, or have no cars, or have no place to go, or have no money will have to be moved today, Saturday, or wait for the mandatory evacuation and then attempt to leave by bus or by train. But it appears that not all of the necessary preparations for the evacuation have been successfully completed. The Times Picayune reports:
The private contractor the state hired to provide buses for hurricane evacuations has not come through with enough vehicles in a timely manner, causing the state to look elsewhere to meet the state's timeline for moving people out of New Orleans and other areas prior to the arrival of Hurricane Gustav, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Friday.

The state contracted for 700 buses with drivers to be made available in an emergency but has "run into challenges" with the primary bus contractor, the governor said during a news conference in Baton Rouge.

"The contractor is not necessarily doing what they promised to do, " Jindal said....snip

When asked about the problem in a phone interview Friday evening, company Chief Executive Officer Henry Gerkens initially said, "I'm not aware of that. I won't have any further comment, but that's not my understanding."
That is not the kind of news that builds confidence. At the last minute, the authorities are still trying to cobble together an evacuation. Nowhere do I see officials saying, "We are definitely ready. We definitely have the situation under control. We can evacuate everyone who may wish to leave the City before Gustav arrives."

Yet again, my heart goes out to the people of New Orleans. May they be safe. May they find shelter. May they be well.

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