Paul at Wizbang reports that there are an estimated 100,000 people trapped in New Orleans (which is of course in imminent danger of destruction by flooding). “Biblical,” opines Paul. The 100,000 figure is confirmed here as well as in the Shreveport Times.
I don’t know whether I’d use the expression “Biblical” (because of the emotional connotations and misinterpretation it carries), but I hate seeing people engaged in denial, and like everyone else I just want to know the truth. If it’s true that “eighty percent” of a city of half a million were evacuated, then there are going to be serious problems getting the rest out.
Ominously, I just heard on the radio that “the body count is alleged to be in the thousands,” and that “the news media are asleep.”
(I hope this is not true, but what do I know?)
What else is there to do than hope and pray?
Again send money is the only thing I can think of.
UPDATE (08/31/05 — 2:20 pm): Via Fox News, I just saw a report that the Mayor of New Orleans now says New Orleans casualties may number “in the hundreds, if not thousands.”
MORE: As of 2:53 pm, the Mayor’s statement is now reported as “probably thousands dead.”
MORE (03:19 p.m.): Right now I am watching (on Fox News) the sad spectacle of people pouring onto freeways from flooded housing projects with nowhere to go (there’s no place for them), without food or water, or protection from the sun in 90 degree heat, with police cars driving by saying nothing. (They tried to stop a police car with a human chain to no avail, and I just saw an officer ignore repeated pleading questions from reporter Fox’s Shepherd Smith. It’s disturbing to say the least.)
It makes me very angry that they can’t even drop some food and water from a helicopter to these people.
I now see a military truck coming through with water.
People are simply helping each other (“thousands of people coming for two days” as Smith said). Smith keeps asking what’s happening, but he’s not getting answers.
Says Smith: “Someone needs to come to Interstate 10, Exit 235, the Orleans exit! There are thousands of people here!”
I hope bureaucracy isn’t standing in the way of common sense, and I’m glad it’s on national TV.
MORE: I have no training in engineering, but I don’t understand why dropping sand bags would fix the breached levee on Lake Pontchartrain. Earlier someone or another mentioned barges. The break is three blocks long, and I think they’d need to float in a series of barges to whatever length is needed, tie them together with cables, then cement them together to make a patch. I note that Lake Pontchartrain is only 12-14 feet deep, so the barges could simply be sunk into place once they’re secured together, and if need be, a second “layer” floated in and sunk on top. (Tie them together, punch holes in them, sink them, and fill them in.)
I think any kid who’d played with a LEGO set would understand.
But what do I know?
UPDATE: I got Paul’s name wrong and I now see that I also misread his use of the term “Biblical“:

There’ll be plenty of time to show off your 20/20 hindsight next week. For now, accept this for what it is… a natural disaster of biblical proportions.

My apologies.
Paul (who lives in the area) also has some solid advice on what to do:

If you want to do something, quit yer whining and do what blogs and bloggers do best… Use information to change the world.
99% of us have no idea how our neighborhoods did. Somebody try to find and compile (reliable) damage reports from specific neighborhoods. Sure it takes some local knowledge, but google maps will fill in the blanks. [Update: The levee broke and the whole damn town flooded so I guess we can check this one off the list.]
We don’t know how FEMA works. Somebody read the news reports on what FEMA is doing and what it is not… Somebody read their site and distill it for those of us who don’t have time for red tape.
Flood insurance? I know the feds handle it. Who do I need to talk to? What do they pay?
Every natural disaster I send the Red Cross my standard $100 donation. I have no idea how to get money from them. It is a grant or a loan?
If I don’t actually cancel my phones and my bill is auto-debit do they still bill me?
If I shut off my phone will I lose my number?
Heck- Somebody make an “Evacuee survival guide” with laser precision information on how to get help without clicking 50 links or waiting on hold 2 hours. If you can save 25,000 people 5 hours of looking up the same information, think of the power in that!
Think of the simple things- Thousands of people lost their glasses. Somebody set up a website where they can coordinate donations of (known) prescription glasses from people who no longer need them. Get a freight company to donate the freight. I bet FedEx will give you an account number that will route all the glasses to some agency in New Orleans.
If you do something to help the victims, ping this post… If there is a lot of people helping out, Kevin will set up a post with the links. (I just volunteered him 😉
Think about it for a second from my chair… (I’m not whining but) I’m almost 40 years old…. Here is the sum total of all my worldly possessions: 4 pairs of shorts, 5 shirts, 2 pairs of shoes, 4 pairs of underwear, 1 pair of blue jeans, a box of family pictures, 2 flashlights, a piece of trench art my grandfather brought back from WWI and my father’s hammer. (Hey, it means a lot to me!) That’s it. Everything else is gone. And BTW, I’m unemployed.
I tell you that not to whine but to let you see the tree thru the forest. Multiply my situation by about a million. Stop and think about that… A million people homeless and unemployed.
If you’re a blogger then (by near definition) you’re a self proclaimed talented person. Prove it. They’ll be plenty of time for punditry and pontification next month… In the mean time there is work to be done. Figure out how to help the victims.
Please (for the sake of all of us who actually understand the situation) please stop whining about the evacuation. It was a stunning success. Please stop saying that the levee at 17th street and Canal St. broke… There’s no such place. (and no, FOXNews, even if there was such a place, I assure you, it would be on the south side of the lake and not the north side of the lake where you showed it on your map)
So here it is in a nutshell… Let’s get some work done and play Monday morning quarterback sometime in early 2006. There’s about million or so of us who would prefer it that way.

It’s tough to talk about stuff you care about and know nothing about except what you hear on TV and radio, and read in the blogosphere.
It’s the same reason I try not to do too much war blogging. The thing is, if you say nothing, people assume you don’t care.
But if you say something, people will say you don’t know!