From the “Holy Crap I’m Glad I Don’t Live There” Department, it looks like officials in New Orleans are trying to get more than 1.2 million people to evacuate New Orleans before Hurricane Ivan flattens the whole shebang. I remember reading an extremely interesting article in an issue of Popular Mechanics one time that explained why, in a nutshell, New Orleans would be completely boned if a Category 4 or 5 hurricane ever hit it.
“In New Orleans, you never get above sea level, so you’re always going to be isolated during a strong hurricane,” says Kay Wilkins of the southeast Louisiana chapter of the American Red Cross.
During a strong hurricane, the city could be inundated with water blocking all streets in and out for days, leaving people stranded without electricity and access to clean drinking water. Many also could die because the city has few buildings that could withstand the sustained 96- to 100-mph winds and 6- to 8-ft. storm surges of a Category 2 hurricane. Moving to higher elevations would be just as dangerous as staying on low ground. Had Camille, a Category 5 storm, made landfall at New Orleans, instead of losing her punch before arriving, her winds would have blown twice as hard and her storm surge would have been three times as high.
Keep in mind that Ivan may ramp up to a Category 5 storm again before it makes landfall. If it does, and if it hits New Orleans, we may say goodbye to that sinful delta of people.