The past 36 hours have brought a much greater understanding of the magnitude and severity of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction. Nowhere has this been more pronounced than in New Orleans, which has descended into a watery hell. Compounding matters is the widespread looting, violence, and societal breakdown for the city.
With thousands feared dead, New Orleans’ mayor has ordered a mandatory evacuation of the fifty to one hundred thousand still in the city; more than 500,000 people will be displaced. I can’t think of a single incident in the past century where a city of half a million people will be vacant for several months. It’s probably the best decision possible right now, but still shocking that it’s happening.
Some have called Katrina the worst natural disaster the United States has faced; it is definitely the worst in terms of dollars of damage, but seems unlikely to be the deadliest. It’s encouraging to see relief campaigns mounted on several different scales, from individuals opening their homes to refugees to small companies matching donations to massive government and organization campaigns.
The next few days and weeks will be heartbreaking as the full damage is uncovered, but I can only hope that New Orleans will be saved and its population reunited. Donate if you can.