Most people know about Hurricane Katrina. They know that following the hurricane, eighty percent of the city of New Orleans went underwater...and stayed underwater for weeks or months. They know a lot of people were trapped in the city. That more than a thousand people died. That at least a hundred thousand people lost homes, and many more had significant damage. That more than a million people were displaced for months.
What most people don't realize is how it happened. So a quick, oversimplified Hurricane Katrina primer.
1. Hurricane Katrina did not make a direct hit on the city of New Orleans. It jogged east in the last hours before landfall and the eye went ashore near the Louisiana-Mississippi state line. The western edge of the eyewall passed over the easternmost suburbs of New Orleans, but eastern coastal Louisiana and all of coastal Mississippi suffered the heaviest wind damage and direct storm surge damage. Katrina's wind damage in New Orleans was relatively minor.
2. New Orleans is shaped like a bowl. One one side is the Mississippi River, on the other is Lake Pontchartrain. Both bodies of water are at sea level. The city is not--it is ringed by a complex system of levees. The above is a vastly oversimplified rendering, but you get the idea. When you drive along River Road, which skirts the river, the ships are riding much higher than you are. It's creepy.
3. When Hurricane Katrina hit, the winds wrapped around the storm, hit Lake Pontchartrain from the north, and drove water from the lake southward, filling the "bowl" of the city until the water level in the city was level with the water in the lake. And there it sat. And sat. And sat. Because there was noplace for it to drain.
4. Until pump systems could be repaired and new levee walls built and strengthened, the water soaked up gasoline, toxins from cleaning stuff and paint in people's houses, etc., and sat in 90-plus-degree heat. In some areas, it drained in about four weeks. In others it was several months. The narrow strip of land lining the Mississippi River, including the French Quarter, was the 20 percent of the city that didn't flood.
And there you have it, Katrina 101.
Now....for this week's winners! If you see your name, please email me HERE with your snail-mail info.
Congrats to NATASHA, who won the Reader's Choice and selected A Temptation of Angels.
Congrats to TETEWA, who won Elle Jasper's Eventide.
Congrats to SPAZinOL, who won the Dakota Banks giveaway.
Congrats to Molly Frenzel, who won Julianna Baggott's Pure.
Congrats to ROGER, who won the signed Summer Gothic anthology.
More good stuff coming up next week, start with a HUGE reader's choice list of releases tomorrow. See ya!