Now, the cleanup

It looks like most of ‘Bama escaped relatively unscathed, Mississip not so much, especially Biloxi, where the mayor wishes he’d called called for an earlier evacuation. New Orleans and its environs didn’t fare so well. From Brendan Loy:

Those pictures are, to my mind, a helpful reminder of what the true “worst-case scenario” for New Orleans — which Katrina emphatically was not — would look like, but across a much broader area. As opposed to being trapped in attics or on rooftops hours after the storm, folks are trapped and threatened while the storm is still raging. As opposed to a slow leak, caused by breached levees, which gradually fills the “bowl” to regular sea level (finishing long after the storm leaves), what Plaquemines Parish is experiencing is a rapid, in-storm flash-surge-flood caused by overtopping of the levees, which fills the “bowl” up to, in essence, the level of the storm surge at or near its peak, and then leaves the water there, hemmed in by the very levees that were originally there to keep it out. For this reason, officials are considering deliberately blowing holes in the levees to assist with drainage. That is precisely the sort of scenario envisioned in the pre-Katrina literature about the worst-case possibilities for New Orleans. In NOLA’s case, it would take a Category 3 or 4 storm to do it, but someday it will happen. Folks need to understand that, and not treat “Katrina” as synonymous with “The Worst Thing That Can Possibly Happen,” because that just isn’t so.

Plaquemines’ situation is also an object lesson in why, when authorities order you to evacuate, you evacuate. You don’t sit there and carp about “hype” and “hysteria,” and about how “it’s just a tropical storm” or “it’s just a Category 1″ or “we survived [insert previous storm here], we’ll be fine.” You don’t make up your own amateur weather forecast, in contradiction to the actual experts, based on gut instinct and life experience, and then make life-or-death decisions based on that self-forecast. No. You know what you do? YOU LEAVE. If you’re in a low-lying area vulnerable to surge flooding and the authorities tell you an evacuation is necessary, you get the Hell out of dodge. Period.

The people who stayed behind, despite mandatory evacuation orders, and then ended up predictably needing to be rescued, are endangering not only their own lives, but also the lives of the heroes — first responders, yes, but regular private citizens too — who came to their rescue. That’s inexcusable. However, I’m not saying this to berate them; they’ve suffered enough, and have undoubtedly learned their lesson. I’m saying it to the next group of people who might be tempted to do the same thing when the next storm threatens. Don’t. Do. It.

He’s right, and now they’re reaping the results, same as in Biloxi. All the false bravado in the world won’t help you when the water starts rising- and if you end up in your attic, you better by Gawd have an axe… from the comments at the same post:

And for God’s sake, if you are going to stay in a flood prone home, store a hatchet in your attic. Yes, you may have to chop out and weather the storm on your roof. Learn from the dead. That’s the horror the media obsession with New Orleans after Katrina didn’t show you. The family found drowned in their attic. But bucket trucks to get the dead out of the trees. The mother with two kids tied to her belt, all drowned. That happened in Mississippi where the national media was absent. But they are serious lessons to learn.