Cruel twist of fate

Tuesday brought on the catastrophe many had feared in New Orleans:

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 30 – A day after New Orleans thought it had narrowly escaped the worst of Hurricane Katrina’s wrath, water broke through two levees on Tuesday and virtually submerged and isolated the city, causing incalculable destruction and rendering it uninhabitable for weeks to come.

It was not the water from the sky but the water that broke through the city’s protective barriers that changed everything for the worse. New Orleans, with a population of nearly 500,000, is protected from the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain by levees. North of downtown, breaches in the levees sent the muddy waters of the lake pouring into the city.

Streets that were essentially dry in the hours immediately after the hurricane passed were several feet deep in water on Tuesday morning. Even downtown areas that lie on higher ground were flooded. The mayor said both city airports were underwater.

“The magnitude of the situation is untenable,” said Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana. “It’s just heartbreaking.”

From The New York Times.

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