Trip Summary Calendar - Where we went and when

September 08, 2005

Thinking of New Orleans

We spent a week in New Orleans last June. Since then, every time a hurricane comes close I think of our tour guide telling us how the city is below sea level. A hurricane could really make a mess of the place, and everyone knew it. Now ten days or so after Hurricane Katrina did just that I keep thinking that if a loud-mouthed tour guide knew this would happen, how did the federal government miss that little tidbit? When a hurricane came near, why didn't they start bringing helicopters and sand bags into the area? Instead, they studied the problem until the water leveled off (in other words, until the city's flood water was AT sea level) then did it. Not only reactionary, but poorly reactionary. I'm not sure if the FEMA director should be fired but there's obviously a case of FEMA not thinking proactively about possible, even likely, disasters.

So I've been thinking about some of our highlights from New Orleans, and what they're like now. All our photos are still online but here are some things I've discovered.

Img 4633The KOA campground where we stayed is closed. A message on their web site says they're canceling all reservations. I'm not sure if they're flooded out or not - they're in River Ridge, just west of the city, but right along the Mississippi. I remember the campground particularly well because it was the first spot where I had to (yikes!) back in.

Img 7454I haven't heard anything about this yet, but New Orleans cemeteries are above-ground. Basically each crypt is a family crematorium, and many go back generations. I wonder how these were effected by the risen water.

Img 4607The French Quarter seems to have survived reasonably well. New Orleans has been described as like a bowl. The French Quarter is almost right on the Mississippi so at higher elevation. Preservation Hall was built in 1750. All their web site says is "Due to the recent hurricane, Preservation Hall will be closed indefinitely."

Img 4560The Steam Boat Natchez survived the hurricane. According to their web site they brought the boat up to Baton Rouge before the hurricane struck. The company is continuing their employee's medical benefits, and are trying to get in touch with all employees.

Img 7861The Aquarium of the Americas didn't do so well. While the structure is sound, most of the 10,000 fish did not survive the loss of power which runs the air filters for their tanks. This photo is a tunnel through a large tank. The sea otters, penguins, birds, the white alligator, and the 250-pound turtle are fine. Many staff stayed behind during the hurricane but were forced to leave due to the violence in the area.

Img 4597 This photo was taken from the steps of the New Orleans Museum of Art. Apparently the museum itself is ok, but all that you see here is flooded. Some of the outdoor sculptures were destroyed. One report described the museum as "looking like a castle on a hill with a moat around it." The museum's web site is currently down.

Img 4629The National D-Day Museum escaped the flooding. One thing that struck me early on is whether this landing boat, built in New Orleans and used extensively on D-Day, could have been used to rescue people if still in use. It's meant for shallow water and can carry many people.

Posted by Mitch at September 8, 2005 11:22 AM
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