On the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, after months of discussion about off-shore oil drilling, and just days away from the GOP National Convention scheduled to be held in Minneapolis, (the city in which a bridge collapsed only 13 months ago), the residents of the Gulf Coast once again sit in the path of nature's fury.
It's almost as if Mother Nature herself wants to remind us that we have not been good stewards of our infrastructure and wants to make sure that we remember the many promises made, and yet to be fulfilled, to the people of the Gulf.
Two hours ago Alan Markoff of Reuters reported the following:
"Hurricane Gustav gathered strength over the warm waters of the Caribbean on Friday roaring toward the Cayman Islands and the Gulf of Mexico on the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's deadly strike on New Orleans.
The storm, which killed up to 77 people in the Caribbean, plowed toward superheated waters south of Cuba where it could absorb enough energy to strengthen into a major hurricane before ripping through the heavy concentration of U.S. oil and natural gas platforms off Louisiana.
While long-range storm forecasts are prone to huge errors, the most likely track had Gustav going ashore west of New Orleans Tuesday morning as a Category 3 storm on the five-stage Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity.
U.S. emergency officials warned that Gustav was expected to be accompanied by a 15 to 30 foot (5 to 9 meter) storm surge along the Gulf Coast and said four states in its potential path were expected to begin large-scale evacuations on Saturday.
'This storm has the potential for being a very dangerous storm,' said Bill Irwin, a program director with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Oil prices slipped on Friday after a week of volatile trading due to Gustav's threat to the 4,000 Gulf platforms that produce a quarter of U.S. oil and 15 percent of its natural gas. Energy companies evacuated offshore workers and shut production in preparation for the most serious Gulf storm since the devastating 2005 Atlantic hurricane season."
And as my friend Bob was preparing to evacuate New Orleans he sent out the following message to his friends:
Well, here we go again. Ironically on the third anniversary of Katrina, the people of Louisiana are once again faced with the possibility of a direct hit from a hurricane. As I write this, the forecasted track of Hurricane Gustave will place it on the Westbank of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana (a suburban community of New Orleans) on Monday or Tuesday at the latest.
Two things are different today as the state prepares for Gustave from this time three years ago.
1. The people and government entities of the area are far more prepared this time than they were three years ago.
2. I live here now…on the Westbank of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana!
There was a time (when I was a reporter) that I would have a.) wanted to be here to cover a hurricane and b) I would have had to be here to cover a hurricane. Neither of those factors come into play in 2008.
As a result, you won’t have to include my name on your “mental checklist” of people in and around New Orleans that you have to check on in this area if Gustave moves this way. I will be leaving New Orleans on Saturday evening and flying “home” to Philadelphia.
Having been back in the area for a few months now working directly on the Katrina recovery effort, I’ve seen firsthand the impact that the storm continues to have on the people of the region. Trust me, the last thing that is needed here is another direct hit by a major hurricane. Please include this area and her people in your prayers over the next few days.
May God bless New Orleans and all of her people.
Bob, I echo your sentiments
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Updated on 8/29/08 10:25pm