Live coverage from CBS's New Orleans affiliate.
The thunderstorms have started in New Orleans, but - luckily - the almost empty roads are wide open for people to get out. Hopefully, the very belated evacuation order will be able to be enforced.
But now... as I am typing... in a live interview, while the Mayor does suggest that people go to shelters or leave the city... he is so laid back that he conveys absolutely ZERO sense of any urgency in his demeanor.
It is as if he is talking about a picnic that needs to be delayed because of a light rain storm.
Now the news anchors are literally having to PRY out of him how bad the post storm situation is to get people to realize why they have to get out of New Orleans. And when they try to talk to him about the toxic waste that could contaminate the city - he replies that will not be a problem and predicts that it will only take a couple weeks to pump put the water and get the water and electricity back on! Now... exactly how is this attitude going to convince people they have to leave New Orleans?
I can't believe it! Mayor Nagin is now talking about the affect of the storm on national oil supplies - which is the last thing that would be on my mind if I lived in New Orleans - and now he states that anyone who tries to get into a shelter after 6 PM - will be treated as a potential looter and not admitted!
(UPDATE - People will now be allowed another three hours to get out of town and they will not be treated as looters if they try to get into a shelter or get out of town.)
OK - now I have heard everything.
The mayor has just said that it was his decision NOT to order a mandatory evacuation before today because he wanted the outlying suburbs to have their mandatory evacuations before he ordered New Orleans to be evacuated!
Lastly, the Mayor also said there was no need to open any more shelters as there was more than enough space in the existing shelters. And... yet... his previously stated reason for not ordering mandatory evacuation (which he now claims was done so as to not inconvenience evacuations in the suburbs)... was because there were not enough shelters!
Again, go to my post, two posts back, on the lessons we need to learn from this.
AP wire story on what could happen if there is a direct hit. Again, the point I am making is that the Mayor of New Orleans - only hours ago - said it should only take a couple weeks to get the city up and running again - instead of him begging, pleading with people to get out of a city that might be about to come uninhabitable for a long time:
Hurricane Could Leave 1 Million HomelessBy MATT CRENSON
AP National Writer
5:52 PM PDT, August 28, 2005
When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans on Monday, it could turn one of America's most charming cities into a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released by floodwaters from the city's legendary cemeteries.
Experts have warned for years that the levees and pumps that usually keep New Orleans dry have no chance against a direct hit by a Category 5 storm.
That's exactly what Katrina was as it churned toward the city. With top winds of 165 mph and the power to lift sea level by as much as 28 feet above normal, the storm threatened an environmental disaster of biblical proportions, one that could leave more than 1 million people homeless.
"All indications are that this is absolutely worst-case scenario," Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, said Sunday afternoon.
The center's latest computer simulations indicate that by Tuesday, vast swaths of New Orleans could be under water up to 30 feet deep. In the French Quarter, the water could reach 20 feet, easily submerging the district's iconic cast-iron balconies and bars.
Estimates predict that 60 percent to 80 percent of the city's houses will be destroyed by wind. With the flood damage, most of the people who live in and around New Orleans could be homeless.
"We're talking about in essence having -- in the continental United States -- having a refugee camp of a million people," van Heerden said.