I just read that the Lake Pontchartrain levee in New Orleans broke. This is seriously bad news. It could easily flood the entire northern part of the city; reports are that 80% of the city was under flood before the breach as it was. News reports from the Crescent City are surprisingly sketchy, although there are gruesome reports of bodies floating in the water. CNN is runing this photograph of a house in Mississippi, pushed off its foundations into the nearby road by the force of the hurricane.
Yesterday, when cancelling the depositions in Louisiana, I spoke to a man who I think lives in Lafayette. He said with much bravado that “We get blasted every few years; we’re used to it down here!” It sounded eerily like the way Californians talk about earthquakes — most of them are insignficiant, and building codes are such that medium-sized ones cause little noticeable damage. But a big one will cripple the area it strikes, and there’s no getting used to something like that. Perhaps a smaller hurricane would have caused only localized damage, but this is something else entirely; the entire eastern Mississippi delta is a disaster area.
I’m reminded of the legend of Atlantis — a glittering city of wealth and decadence, suddenly and catastrophically submerged under the sea. Many believe the ancient legend is a distortion of a historical catastrophe at Santorini. Surely New Orleans will find a way to dig itself out of the water and muck and maybe this will wash away the perpetual stench arising from the French Quarter. But I think the Saints will be playing at LSU this year.