Here’s an idea of how bad it is in New Orleans right now: The Mayor has told the Fire Department to stand down. The firefighters are securing the firehouses against the storm and heading to shelter.
Update: Woke up around 6am and turned on the TV. New Orleans has just lost power. In the Superdome, the emergency lighting system kicked on. Ten thousand people will be stuck there for the next 12 hours with no air conditioning.
CNN and MSNBC both have reporters to the east and west of New Orlieans, in Biloxi and Mobile, but the only reports in New Orleans are from people in shelters, with pictures from remote cameras. There’s not much to see because of the power failure.
The weather animations show the eye of the storm making landfall somewhere in the marsh to the south of New Orleans. The good news is that Katrina is no longer a category 5 hurricane. The winds have slowed to about 145. The meteorologists are now saying that the storm surge might not rise over the levees.
Outdoor camera footage shows some flooding, but that doesn’t mean the sea is pouring in. New Orleans is in the middle of a giant bowl in the land. It only takes an inch of rain to cause a flood. This could be normal. On the other hand, the pumping system that normally drains New Orleans is without power, so the water will keep building up.