Sunday, August 28, 2005

God Bless the People of New Orleans

I know that everyone with a heart is watching prayerfully as Katrina prepares to make New Orleans a piece of Americana history. If the worst of the predictions comes true, there could be several hundred thousand refugees.

Perhaps we fortunate souls in the rest of the country should begin a ring of volunteers willing to put up a displaced person or family until they can get back on their feet. I'm sure the government will help relocate folks. While St. Louis isn't exactly Louisianna's backyard, our door is open to such a family in need.

If anyone else in reasonable proximity to New Orleans would like to extend such an offer, please e-mail me at mail@billhennessy.com. I can fire up a website to coordinate these private shelters in 24 hours, but only if there's interest.

Why the gloom? Because New Orleans may be under water for . . . months. Here's a cross-sectional view of the city
Cross-section view of New Orleans
(click for larger view)

As you can see, the city is below water level. A 20-foot storm surge on Lake Pontchartrain could (with Dan Ratheresque emphasis) -- COULD -- put much of the city under 12-20 feet of water. The pumps which discharge each gallon of rain water from New Orleans run on electricity with diesel backup. They don't work if flooded, and they don't have enough diesel fuel to return the lake to its banks. Add in the trillion dollar price tags, and try to find a re-insurance company willing to insure a building. Thus, New Orleans may cease to be a major city. The displacement of persons might be permanent, causing a northward migration not seens since the end of the Civil War.

At 9:00 CDT, our family will say a Rosary for the people in New Orleans. Please join us.