Tuesday, 2 September 2008

New Orleans survives Hurricane Gustav

Huge sighs of relief today as New Orleans has survived the onslaught of Hurricane Gustav with it would seem relatively little damage. So was the mayor right to order the city's evacuation? I would have thought so bearing in mind what happened with 'Katrina'. Fortunately the hurricane veered slightly to the west so that New Orleans didn't get the full impact and perhaps even more fortuitously the hurricane had lost much of its energy before making landfall. I know that hurricanes and, nearer home, depressions can gain or lose energy over just an hour or two; on many an occasion our local weather forecasters have prophesied that we would get particularly bad storms only for a fairly average sort of rain and wind to occur. I think that following the 'Michael Fish hurricane' in October 1987 they have erred on the side of caution! But back to New Orleans - with the possibility (that didn't materialise) of Gustav strengthening to a category 3 or 4 then I guess that mayor Ray Nagin was right to take the action he did.

In the next year or three the work on the levees should be completed. I suppose that until then the authorities will be keeping fingers and everything else crossed that another Katrina doesn't happen because if there is another order to evacuate then I have a feeling it might be ignored by many more than the ten thousand that elected to stay put this time.

What has particularly intrigued me is the numbers bandied about by the media of people moving out of the way of the projected path of the hurricane. It's difficult to get a reliable estimate but looking at the internet one can say that the population of New Orleans is about 225,000, or in other words slightly smaller than Plymouth. Yet we were told that nearly 2 million were trying to evacuate the area. Granted that there may have been some people in other cities nearby who thought it wise to move from the coast, I still cannot see how the nearly 2 million was arrived at - logistically I don't even know whether it was possible to move that number in the available time frame. I also note that the entire population of the State of Louisiana is a little over 4 million, the figures being quoted don't make sense. How did they arrive at them anyway?

When such statistics get cited I have to take them with a very large pinch of salt!

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