Here is what is known today:
1. The water continues to rise, as the 17th street levy was breached near the center city two blocks long, as water from Lake Ponchartrain continues to pour in.
2. 80% of New Orleans, Orleans Parish underwater. In some places, over 20 feet of water. Metairie, Kenner and Jefferson Parish is completely submerged. Over 40,000 homes in St. Bernard Parish has been completely destroyed and the Parish is submerged.
The less affected areas are the New Orleans Central Business district, Uptown and French Quarter (albeit, drier and less damage than other parts of the city).
3. New Orleans East is 100% submerged and totally destroyed. The twin spans (Interstate 10) which is the only major connection between New Orleans proper and the New Orleans East suburbs (heading toward MS, Fl, etc.) is totally destroyed. There is no longer an I-10 heading east out of New Orleans.
The lower 9th ward is completely devistated and destroyed...flooded.
4. The director of FEMA in New Orleans has said it is the worst devistation of a major metropolitan area he has seen as a result of natural disaster.
5. The Mayor of New Orleans has said that power will not be restored for at least 4-6 weeks. There is no drinking water in New Orleans and surrounding parishes.
6. The Mayor of New Orleans has said that widespread and catastropic loss of life has occured, as reported by Fire, Police and National Guard troops who have witnessed dead bodies floating in flood waters. It could take weeks to recover all the bodies.
7. The National Guard is in the process of setting up temporary morgues.
Of the people who stayed in New Orleans during Katrina in the face of mandatory evacuation are thousands of impoverished people who were too poor to afford transportation to leave the city. They had no resources. Unfortunately, these people are most likely the ones who have perished as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
For others who have also at one time lived in New Orleans, I know your heart is heavy today as well. New Orleans is a special place and if you've ever lived there, I don't need to explain why.
Please pray for those who have lost love ones as a result of Katrina and for the safety and well-being of the residents who are remaining in New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport, Slidell, Bay St. Louis, and any other municipality I've missed.