I-10 bridge 'severely damaged'

11:40 p.m.

By Ed Anderson
and Robert Travis Scott
Capital bureau

The Interstate 10 twin bridges linking St. Tammany and Orleans parishes over Lake Pontchartrain have been “severely damaged’’ in both directions, Louisiana highway officials said.

“Probably several dozen segments” of the bridges are “either missing or shoved aside,” said Mark Lambert, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation and Development.

“It is just like in Florida,’’ Transportation Secretary Johnny Bradberry said, referring to damage caused by Hurricane Ivan last year to the I-10 bridge in the Florida Panhandle.

The damage appears to be random along the bridges and affects both the eastbound and westbound sides. The span is so jagged it looks like “stairs,” Lambert said.

Agency officials will take a closer look at the bridges Tuesday.

It is impossible to estimate the cost or duration of repairs. The department will try to determine which side sustained the least damage and will probably repair
that side first, to get at least one lane going in each direction.

Lambert said the department does not know if the bridge pilings are still in place. If the pilings are still there and stable, then the repairs could be
done more quickly.

The damage was surveyed from a State Police helicopter Monday evening.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown called Katrina one of the worst disasters he has seen, exceeded only by California wildfires.

“This is a catastrophic storm,’’ he said. “People will not get back to their homes for several weeks – if not longer.’’

Lt. Kevin Cowan, a spokesman for the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said the only confirmed deaths have been three New Orleans area nursing home residents who died while being transported or after arriving at shelters in Baton Rouge.

Cowan said communications with St, Tammany Parish has been spotty and little is known of the number of persons rescued from that area.

He said said at least 31,000 evacuees were still hunkered down in shelters in south Louisiana, and 917,000 households were without power in 23 south
Louisiana parishes.

Red Cross to the rescue

11:18 p.m.

American Red Cross spokesman Victor Howell said 750 to 1,000 Red Cross personnel are now at work on hurricane recovery in Louisiana, and 2,000 more volunteers will be here in the next few days.

The Red Cross will bring in three large mobile kitchens to prepare 500,000 meals per day. There are 40 shelters statewide, housing about 32,000 people, "and you're going to have more," Howell said.

Scenes from a broken city

Monday, 10:30 p.m.

As skies cleared and Katrina’s final gusts blew across New Orleans late Monday afternoon, dead pigeons and shattered streetlamps littered the empty Pontchartrain Expressway.
In the shadow of the bruised Superdome, broken Mardi Gras beads laced a pile of leaves and debris.
The number “44” was all that remained of a shredded Louisiana Lottery billboard along the expressway.
At the Kentwood water distributorship, plastic crates were still stacked neatly in the back of open tractor-trailers; the Kentwood marquee was toppled. Winds had wrenched the Superdome/Claiborne exit sign into a fresh angle.
A man wearing socks but no shoes claimed to have walked from Kenner to the Pontchartrain Expressway in front of The Times-Picayune. Firemen in a passing pick-up shooed him off the highway.
Four Crescent City Connection police officers blockaded the expressway near the Dome, turning away the few civilian vehicles. They, too, wondered about the scope of the destruction.
“Have you heard anything about Metairie?” one asked.

By 6 p.m. on Monday, looters had shifted to heavy lifting. Young men exited the Coleman’s clothing store on Earhart Boulevard, struggling under the weight of fully laden cardboard boxes and plastic bags.
When flashing lights appeared in the distance, a man in an orange jersey shouted “Police!,” and dropped his box in Earhart’s lake-bound lane. He splashed across the opposite lane, tripped and fell in knee-deep water, then ran toward the B.W. Cooper housing development.
As the sun set, four young women slipped out of the Magnolia Discount convenience store on South Carrollton Avenue and loaded pilfered boxes into a waiting car. One woman waved at approaching vehicles.

Downed trees completely blocked both sides of South Galvez Street at the entrance to B.W. Cooper. Toppled palm trees littered the neutral ground on Earhart, which was flooded near Carrollton but mostly dry at Galvez.
The smell of natural gas wafted across Thalia Street at South Claiborne. A succession of power poles stood at 45-degree angles.
Many homes and businesses along South Claiborne lost roofing tiles and shingles, but otherwise appeared undamaged. Destruction was arbitrary. The sign at the Rally’s franchise was destroyed; that of the nearby Burger Orleans was not.
Blown off its pedestal, the oversize Frosty Top mug at Calhoun stood on its head.
Much of South Claiborne had drained hours after Katrina passed. Cross-streets did not fare as well. At State Street, a newly formed creek flowed across the Claiborne neutral ground. More water gurgled from manhole covers.
The intersection of Napoleon and South Claiborne was dry, but water and downed tree limbs carpeted both Versailles and Audubon boulevards. At Carrollton and Claiborne, the Chase bank drive-thru was inundated.
Across the intersection, broad sheets of roofing paper and black tiles draped an oak tree like a shroud.
Many residents of the Pigeontown neighborhood opted not to evacuate. After the rain and wind subsided, they gathered on porches or waded through the flooded streets. A power line swung five feet above the water on Dublin Street.
Gentle waves lapped at the sandbags guarding the entrance of Five Happiness Chinese restaurant on South Carrollton Avenue. The blue arch across the entrance of Fontainebleau Drive survived the storm. Water flooded both sides of the street, but appeared not to have reached cars on the neutral ground, or homes.
At least 10 feet of water filled Carrollton’s dip under the interstate. A waist-deep lagoon swamped the intersection at Tulane.
As the sun set, the faint smell of rot drifted up from the water.

Tom Roche, owner of the Elms Mansion reception hall on St. Charles Avenue, bicycled above the flooded Carrollton exchange on the interstate. He and his three sons rode out Katrina on the sixth floor of Baptist Memorial hospital, where his wife works as a nurse.
“She convinced me to stay at the hospital,” he said. “I usually stay at the Elms.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Roche was relieved to find his business largely intact. “It was fine,” he said. “We boarded it up well. There was a little roof damage, a little water in the basement, but no structural damage.”

With his black suit pants tucked into a pair of wading boots, 74-year-old Charles Smith stood at the corner of Belfast Street and South Carrollton. In generally good spirits, he was on a mission: To find a pack of cigarettes.
The storm had tumbled a pecan tree into his home at Apple and Dublin. “The tree messed my whole house up,” he said. “I got insurance, though.”
He looked down the debris-strewn street.
“I wonder when the lights are going to come on,” he said.

Jefferson Parish update

Monday, 10:20 p.m.

Jefferson Parish's Chief Administrative Assistant Tim Whitmer said the damage from Hurricane Katrina was almost equally split between the east bank and the West Bank. "We have widespread devastation in the parish," he said.

Whitmer said officials were not able to assess all areas of the parish because of flooding and downed trees and power lines, which were scattered everywhere, as well as a shortage of workers, who had evacuated to escape the storm.

Between 8 and 10 p.m., he said about 80 employees had arrived for work and said more were continuing to show up. Whitmer said based on reports officials had received, Westwego was particularly hard hit, with about 90 percent of the homes on the south side of the West Bank Expressway sustaining some kind of damage.

Avondale also was hard hit. At the Danny and Clyde's station at Bellemeade and Belle Chasse Highway, half of the store was gone, he said. "We believe that may have been a tornado."

Widespread flooding also was reported in Kenner in East Jefferson, particularly north of the interstate. Power remained out and water pressure was lost, but not because pumping stations were not working, he said. "We had trees that came down and pulled up our (water) distribution lines, which caused breaks and we lost pressure," he said.

The first step on Tuesday, Whitmer said, is to get all remaining flood water pumped out of the streets. Whitmer said parish officials expect to get most of the pumping stations online overnight, with the possible exception of the Duncan Canal and Bonnabel stations, which lost their roofs in the storm.

Workers were evacuated from those stations for safety reasons, he said. Work crews will inspect the stations Tuesday to determine if there is any additional damage besides the roofs.

After getting water pumped out, work crews then will set out to determine the breaks in the water lines that are affecting water pressure he said. When water drainage and sewerage services are on line, officials will then be ready to let residents back in the parish.

Whitmer said he didn't know how long that will take. "We have no electricity, no sewerage and no portable water," he said. "We intend to continue securing the parish."

Whitmer said he had not heard of any deaths related to the storm and said initial reports indicated River Ridge fared well. He also said volunteer firefighters on the West Bank helped rescue about 300 people during the day.

Whitmer said he had been told by Sheriff's Office officials that Old Metairie was fairly dry and that by late afternoon, Levee District officials reported water levels dropping on Airline Drive in Kenner.

He said the parish will not put workers in harm's way but still will work to get the parish in shape for residents to return. "We ask for patience and understanding," he said.

"Unfortunately, the message we have for residents is that while the storm is passed, life as we know it in Jefferson Parish is gone for several months. In fact, I don't think that life as we know it will ever return."

Covington buildings damaged

Monday, 10:05 p.m.

In downtown Covington, several buildings’ roofs were partially ripped
off, including those on the Greater Covington Center and the Back Porch

Hefty trees crashed into many downtown streets, spraying
the area with green foliage. Most shop windows stayed intact, including one
on the Green Room bar that bore the message, “Have mercy,” spelled in
masking tape.

In Mandeville, mostly wind damage

Moday, 9:30 p.m.

Although Mandeville escaped major flooding, the streets were virtually
impassable hours after the storm left a dangerous tangle of power lines
and pine trees across roadways. Police officers cruised up and down U.S.
190, but were unable to respond to the few calls from residents reporting
gas leaks or severe structural damage.

“We’ve got damage everywhere,” Sgt. Ron Ruple said. “Almost every
street in the city is blocked.”

Thick pine trees toppled almost in an east-west line near Montgomery
Street, cutting off access to the lakefront. Police Chief Tom Buell said he
expected some flooding in Old Mandeville, but by 4 p.m. officers had yet to
carve a path through the debris to survey the Lakeshore Drive.

Pump station returns

Monday, 9:30 p.m.

Officials said the pumping station at Duncan Canal in Kenner is now back online.

One dead in St. Tammany Parish

Monday, 9:25 p.m.

St. Tammany Parish officials declined to describe the extent of the storm’s damage Monday, but did issue one statement to residents who had evacuated.

“There’s no message going out right now, except, ‘Don’t come back,’”
Dana LaFonta, a spokeswoman for Parish President Kevin Davis.

Davis said one person had died on Interstate 10, but declined to issue further details.

Sheriff’s spokesman James Hartman said all entrances into the parish
from Interstates 10, 12 and 59 would be closed until further notice.

“Even if they come back, they can’t stop,” Hartman said. “The blockages
of roadways from debris is extensive and catastrophic.”

Of oysters and hambugers

Monday, 9:10 p.m.

In a city famous for its food, there aren't many restaurants more beloved than Antoine's, known the world over for its oysters Rockefeller.

But the culinary institution couldn't escape the cruel whims of Hurricane Katrina, which swept away one of its fourth-floor walls, exposing tables and chairs to the world outside.

A lesser known French Quarter eatery, Johnny White's, was offering free hamburgers Monday.

Times-Picayune / Hurricane Bunker Emergency Numbers

10:36 p.m. - The Times-Picayune will soon lose current telephone service as emergency power backup fails.

New emergency contact numbers for The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com - for family contacts and other necessities - are as follows:

(504) 821-7977
(504) 821-7938

These numbers will go into effect over the next couple of hours.

Search teams work into the night

Monday, 8:15 p.m.

Search and rescue teams worked into the night to rescue people stranded on rooftops and from attics across metropolitan New Orleans.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco said at least 100 people were rescued from a Metairie nursing home and another 100 or more were plucked from the water or rooftops by Department of Wildlife and Fisheries boats.

Blanco did not have an estimate on the number of deaths from the Katrina.

State Wildlife Secretary Dwight Landreneau said he has unconfirmed reports of dead bodies in floodwaters but could not say how many.

Blanco said the devastation in St. Bernard Parish was widespread, but at least 1,200 survivors at a local school and the government complex told officials they were OK and to pick up more criticially-stranded first. She said National Guard personnel will deliver food and water to them while rescuers pick up those stranded on roofs and attics.

"People are being picked up,'' Blanco said. ''People are swimming to our boats.''

Landreneau said by dawn he will have more than 200 boars in the water, 120 more than he had Monday. He said he has a commitment from Texas for another 50 boats.

He said his boats will remain out as long as possible, working throughout the night if they are equipped with lights.

He said he had about eight boats in St. Tammany Parish, but because of spotty communications could not say how many individuals had been rescued.

Jesus statue untouched

Monday, 8:05 p.m.

At St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter, two large trees were uprooted in the courtyard behind the church. Branches were strewn all over the place.

But a statue of Jesus, arms outstretched, stood unscathed and became the subject of great excitement among visitors.

Treme, Bywater, Gentilly, the 9th Ward hit hard

Monday, 8 p.m.

Even as reports of damage continued coming in Monday night, the full extent of the destruction in Katrina's wake was hard to gauge.

But one thing was clear: Gentilly, Treme, Bywater and the 9th Ward had been swallowed.

The exit from I-10 onto to Claiborne Avenue - and then Claiborne itself - was underwater. Ditto the intersection of I-10 and Elysian Fields, where water reached near the roof lines of homes. Homes were also inundated at the I-10 exit at Louisa Street.

St. Claude Avenue, east of the French Quarter and into St. Bernard Parish, was almost undewater.

Oddities abounded: For instance, a house on Kentucky, off St. Claude, was surrounded by floodwater - yet it had just burned to the ground.

In addition to being flooded, many of the stores along St. Claude had their windows front blown out.

But some residents still managed to keep sense of irony: One homeowner had painted a sign on plywood. "Take care, Katrina,'' it read.

Rescuers get rescued

Monday, 7:45 p.m.

As rising water threatened to swallow the building, Willie Coats and his daughter, Nicole, tried to rescue relatives trapped in a second-floor apartment in Gentilly Ridge.

"The last call we got from them, everyone was crying,'' Nicole Coats said.

So the Coats, of Metairie, packed up a flat boat and a ladder and headed east on I-10. But the closest they could get was the foot of the High Rise.

Undaunted, they began walking toward the apartment building. But soon, the Coats found themselves in deep water and had to be rescued themselves by New Orleans police officers.

"I hope they're OK, but you could really hear the fear in their voices the last time we talked to them,'' Willie Coats said.

Airline Highway update

Monday, 6:22 p.m.

Airline Drive at the Jefferson and St. Charles parish line is flooded and closed, as is the intersection of Airline and Ormond Boulevard in Destrehan, according the Louisiana State Police Web site, www.lsp.org. There is substantial flooding in St. Rose.

Airport closed

Monday, 5:16 p.m.

The Louis Armstrong International Airport remains closed.

No one is being allowed to retrieve their cars from the airport garage because all of the streets in Jefferson Parish remain closed to traffic, according to the Flymsy.com.

caught offguard

Monday, 7 p.m.
Inch by inch, flood water began collecting inside Don Batiste’s Perdido Street apartment around noon. Batiste, 36, lay in his bed listening to storm reports on his portable radio, but he never dreamed that his home would get as wet as it did. “I’m in a low place,” he said later, “but I figured the most I’m going to get is a foot of water.” But when he felt the murk settling over him at about 5 p.m., he knew he had to take action. That’s when the Mid City resident headed for the S. Jeff Davis overpass over Interstate 10, where he sat on the railing munching Fritos and watching people go by.

Driving through uptown

Monday, 1 p.m.
Uptown did not see the magnitude of flooding that struck other parts of the city, although the lack of operable pumping stations revealed the usual drainage weaknesses in areas such as Fontainebleau and Napoleon Avenue near Memorial Medical Center. Large bodies of water gathered in those areas, making them impassable by vehicle, with a number of automobiles flooded to the top of the doors.
The rest of Uptown did not suffer much street flooding, but was hammered by Katrina's winds. A driving tour of Uptown is very difficult in a truck and impossible in a car. Large trees block every major thoroughfare at some point, as they do the vast majority of neighborhood side streets. At many corners, trees block three of four options, forcing a driver to turn back and try another route. Negotiating a route through neighborhoods is frustrating and time-consuming, requiring stops to move everything from tree limbs to portable toilets knocked over in the middle of the road. Some homes even lost brick chimneys, which lay shattered in the street.
Most routes into Uptown are severely blocked at some point. We made it up Napoleon by driving the wrong way, but were cut off by fallen trees. Ducking into neighborhoods was no better, requiring more abandonment of one-way signs in an effort to get through. The tree debris is reminiscent of Tropical Storm Cindy, although in Katrina virtually every street is blocked in more than one place by large, uprooted trees.
But those streets that are passable carry another risk: large numbers of roofing nails on the ground. While there were few Uptown homes to lose their rooftops completely, a number had substantial shingle damage and many had large tree branches resting on the roof. The nails are everywhere and one family said they had been picking them up all day.
We worked our way down streets such as Cadiz and Jena, finally making it to Prytania. Businesses in the small downtown near Prytania and Upperline suffered moderate damage, mainly to large windows. Some, such as the Kingpin Bar, lost a large number of shingles.
Lori and Darrell Potter, walking past on a neighborhood survey, said their home had suffered substantial damage.
"We felt the house moving last night," Lori Potter said. "But we're good, the dog's good, so the house is good. We can see a little daylight out of the back, but to be honest it was not as bad as I thought."
Darrell Potter said he thought Katrina's slight slide toward the east was enough to make a big difference Uptown. "I think that helped a lot. We got it, but it could've been worse if it hadn't of taken that little jog to the east."
Compared to the trees, houses did fare much better, with some suffering almost no damage while on other streets almost every house had at least minimal roof damage. We only saw one home completely destroyed, an old home under renovation on Constance near Bellecastle.
Power lines are down everywhere or were sheared off and are twisting in the wind. Power poles were cracked in half near Audubon Park, where a massive oak uprooted, pulling up part of the street as it fell on a large home on Audubon Street. While the lines did not seem that dangerous Monday with the entire power grid knocked out, they could present a serious risk as more power comes back online. We saw one man on Dublin Street simply grab a powerline hanging down over the middle of the street, which, at another time, could be fatal.
We noted that street flooding picked up again headed up Carrollton as we got closer to Claiborne, but it only extended about four blocks from Claiborne into the Carrollton area neighborhoods. Still, the power lines were a mess and the trees were just as bad. The limited blocks of flooding are deep enough to stall a vehicle - and water is not subsiding due to the pumping stations not operating. Unless that problem is solved, water could linger for days blocking Uptown thoroughfares.
Crossing from Uptown into Mid-City is not possible at Carrollton, Jefferson Davis or Broad. The Carrollton underpass at Interstate 10 is flooded, as are the approaches to the Jeff Davis and Broad Street overpasses. On the lake side of I-10, those approaches are indeed lakes.

More looting

Monday, 6:51 p.m.

While police cruisers with flashing blue lights turned around people driving the wrong way on Interstate 10, high water on flooded surface streets nearby made law enforcement difficult.
People waded through waist-deep water on the way to loot the Shell station at S. Jefferson Davis Parkway and Tulane Avenue.
Three people even trudged through the water pulling a blue and white boat down Tulane, apparently to make it easier to haul goods away from the station’s convenience store. And they weren’t the first to get there.
Minutes before, a pair of teenagers floated two rubber trash cans full of beer, hard liquor and other plunder toward the S. Jeff Davis overpass over I-10. When they reached dry roadway on the span, they abandoned the garbage cans and carried the contents away in blue plastic bags.
One of the young men even shucked a pair of wet jeans when they fell to his ankles and walked away in a red bathing suit.

Central Business District

Monday, 5:30 p.m.
Poydras Street, near the Superdome and City Hall, had little standing water but was littered with shattered glass and debris from the nearby Hyatt Hotel and office buildings. Katrina's high winds blew out windows in several buildings in the area.

Oaks down Uptown

Monday, 6:30 p.m.

Streets in the heart of Uptown once known for their canopies of old oaks -- Calhoun, Nashville and State -- now have carpets of oaks. The streets are impassible, wall to wall fallen oaks trees.

Another Uptown landmark, the root beer mug on top of Ted's Frostop on Claiborne and Calhoun, was on the ground.

There was hit-and-miss street flooding Uptown and in Hollygrove. Some streets were inundated and others bone dry. Most streets were impassible because of downed trees and power lines.
Damage to most homes appeared to be minimal.
There was an occasional tree on a car or home and some roofs were blown off in Central City.

P.H. cops to rescue

Monday, 5:55 p.m.
Monday afternoon, Councilman-at-Large Oliver Thomas and Lt. Mike Roussel
of the New Orleans Police Department helped Ruby Lockhart out of a boat
that had rescued her from a house on Iroquois Street.

The boat brought the elderly Lockhart to a spot a quarter mile west of the Louisa Street
exit on I-10 East. Roussel said the credit belonged to the "Uptown
PH Cops," with P.H. standing for public housing. When they saw
everything was quiet at their normal stations, those police officers
headed east to try to rescue those who needed it.

Rousel then asked for the reporter's notebook so he could write down
the name of each officer he said was deserving of praise: Lamont
Domengeaux, Emile Blackburn, Jamie Freeman, Greg Hill, Jonal Abdin, Kendrick
Allen, Jason Allen and Kenyon Bertrand.

Lockhart's neighbor, Debra Waker, 40, got off the boat swearing to leave
the city the next time a storm approaches. She lives in the 2800 block
of Powhatan Street, she said, but had joined her mother and others at
the house on Iroquois.

She said her family from Summerdale, Ala., had tried to come pick them
up Sunday but had been turned around before they could reach the city.
Summerdale, she said, is 45 miles north of Mobile.

Trapped on N. Miro Street

Monday, 5:37 p.m.

From the elevated I-10, three men could be seen below paddling a boat
near the intersection of Mandeville and North Rocheblave.

The water was so high that the men looked to be dangerously near power
lines that were still properly affixed to the top of the poles.

The men yelled that they had just left a house on North Miro Street
between Spain and Mandeville where the residents were desperate for help.

Twelve or 13 people were trapped at that house, one of the men in
the boat said. Those trapped included some elderly people and a
pregnant woman.

When the information was passed on to a police officer driving past,
the officer took down the information and said that rescuers were trying
to get to the house.

Nothing but rooftops

Treme and the city's 8th and 9th Wards were severely flooded. Eastern New Orleans was inaccessible by car due to the high water on Interstate 10 East. The farther one drove east on Interstates 10 and 610, the deeper the water and the danger. Hurricane Katrina caused the highway to end at the first exit for Louisa Street.

For miles in the 9th Ward, there were only rooftops, with floodwaters lapping at the eves, visible from I-10. Rows of homes were swallowed by water. Standing outside on the concrete interstate, in the whipping winds, signs could be spotted that so many of the city's residents did not evacuate.

More than 112,000 households in New Orleans don't own cars, the Mayor's Office has estimated.

One man waded up to his chest below, holding an orange water cooler as a buoy. Another single man watched him from the rooftop of a trucking business.
Bursts of orange lights could be seen from another house, from the highest window, where at least two people were stranded. Their house nearly swallowed by the flooding, they blinked flashlights to attract attention. But by 4 p.m. Monday, they would have to wait, rescue officials said. Boats were coming, police officers said.

Beneath the raincloud-streaked sky, the visions of destruction were overwhelming.

There would be a yell here and there, a holler from somewhere, but no one in sight. Desperate images filled the neighborhoods: Small children and a woman standing on their front porch as water licked the raised house's top steps. A black van completely entrenched in the flooding. A drenched dog alone on a rooftop. Household-type items strewn in the dirty flood water. In one case, rescuers used a boat to get a group of stranded people from their roof to the highway. But they left them on the overpass, presumably to make other rescues.

The interstate was a kind of eerie desert. The stranded included an elderly woman in a wheelchair and a small barefoot boy. Both were accompanied by their respective families.

'It's got to be worse'

Monday 5:30 p.m.

"Nothing to do but turn away," said Brian Johnson, 32, in the back seat of his family's white truck, stopped on Interstate-10 east on Monday evening. He was one of six people in the family who fled their home in eastern New Orleans but were unable to return because of severe flooding.

Another couple on the road also was stymied by the flooded Interstate, which ended at the Louisa Street exits.

The awful flooding in the city's 9th Ward, where for stretches of square miles only rooftops poked out from beneath the waters, made residents fear for what had happened in the Lower 9th Ward, which edges St. Bernard Parish.

"It's got to be worse in the lower 9," a city police officer working the scene said. "It always it."

What about my house?

Monday 5:30

The video snippets of New Orleans pass by much too quickly.

These national television shows are geared toward folks in Iowa or New Jersey. People who want a sense of what has happened in the distant Gulf South, but who have no need for detail.

But we are New Orleanians, refugees from the greatest natural disaster our city has seen in a generation. We want information.

In Maringouin, safe among the cousins in my grandmother's hometown, we are glued to the television, trying to get some sense of what became of our homes and those of our loved ones.

The power has gone out several times here, but only briefly. Winds and rains came, but they weren't remarkable for their strength or volume.

Because there is no physical danger here, we engaged in refugee calculations.

If the television shows downed trees on Canal Street, but there doesn't appear to be any flooding, then you can reasonably deduce that the French Quarter, Faubourg Treme and Faubourg Marigny are flood free, right?

I saw that the streets outside of the Circle Food store are flooded. But does that mean that all the streets in that neighborhood are underwater?

As far as the downed palm trees on Canal Street, those were new trees. They didn't have time to get well rooted. And besides they aren't native to New Orleans.

The fate of those palm trees is totally irrelevant to the fate of the cypress trees in my back yard or the oak trees on my mother's block, right?

Lolis Elie

Monday, 5:27 p.m.

Just before I left New Orleans, I asked one of my stubborn cousins if he had considered evacuating.

This was the same conversation we had a week ago. I knew what he would say. Still, I felt obligated to bring up the subject of leaving New Orleans once again.

My cousin was absolutely certain that the Riverbend area would not flood. He grew up there. It's near the levee. It's the safest area of the city, he tells me.

This conclusion was not based on any science. My cousin is 70 years old. He has seen many hurricanes. He is more impressed with his experience than he is with the latest facts provided by the weathermen and coastal oceanographers.

He didn't try to stop me from evacuating. But he had no interest in joining me on the road.

He waved as I drove off.

Those of us who fled are in far-flung places. But our thoughts are back home with the people we left behind.

"It's been an emotionally erratic few days — first relief at knowing that our pet and most good friends were getting out of town, and then fear — and guilt — for all the people in New Orleans who don't have cars, can't leave for some other reason, or just simply refuse to leave," one friend wrote to me in an e-mail from New York City.

"My sister-in-law got irritated with me at one point in my fretting, saying that, 'you can't take on everyone's pain,'" my friend wrote. "But the thought that our neighbors — even neighbors we don't know — were possibly in harm's way was very difficult to shake off. I'm still worried and here at the computer while the rest of the family shops and does other New Yorky things. I know I can't do anything; sitting here makes me feel more connected somehow."

But many of the thoughts crossing our mind have nothing to do with fear or worry.

We think of those acts of kindness that marked our final hours at home.

Lynn Latham, a television writer who bought a home in New Orleans, is not used to hurricanes.

"To me the most touching moment came Saturday morning when we were awakened by a phone call from our friend, Julie," Latham wrote. "She asked if we knew a hurricane was coming. We didn't because we don't have a television and weren't listening to the radio.

"She brought us a portable, battery-operated TV so we could follow the news, told us we should evacuate, and gave us tips about surviving hurricanes. (This was our first big storm.)

"Julie is seven months pregnant and had to organize her own departure. Yet she took the time to make sure we were prepared before she left. That is a true friend. (OK, Lolis, getting teary-eyed as I write this)."

high and dry

Monday, 5:27 p.m.
Walking west on the eastbound lanes of Interstate 610 Monday afternoon were Jacqueline Zeno, 40; Cornell Zeno, 31; Darrell Zeno, 12; and Rashad
Zeno, 4.
afternoon. Cornell and Rashad Zeno were both barefoot. Jacqueline Zeno said
they had gone as high as they could go in their house at St. Roch and
Treasure when they were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Their rescuers then left them on the interstate, Jacqueline Zeno said.
She didn't know how they would get from that spot on the interstate to
an indoors location.

Fire and water

Monday 5:20 p.m.

Heading east on Interstate 10 Monday afternoon, one could see many
people sitting or standing on their rooftops or leaning out of attic-level

That was on the river side of the interstate. On the lake side, a fire
was burning.

A man in a New Orleans Fire Department vehicle, who did not want to
identify himself, said the department was aware of the fire and that
it was probably near or at the intersection of Touro Street and
Florida Avenue. He had to approximate, though, because fire officials couldn't
reach the blaze.

He said 6 to 8 feet of water was keeping fire officials from getting

Mid-City: Water everywhere

Monday, 4:30 p.m.

There is some roof damage to several Xavier University Buildings along Howard Avenue and on South Jefferson Davis Parkway. Aluminum panels peeled off the roof lay on the parking lots and in the street. A couple of pieces floated in high water on Jefferson Davis Parkway, where a few palms are completely uprooted and the median is almost invisible.

Jefferson Davis Parkway north of Interstate 10 and streets in that area are filled with 2 to 4 feet of water. There are downed trees and power poles and many traffic signals are bent and hanging from their poles.

Only a handful of undamaged billboards could be seen anywhere in the area. The metal structure for a billboard collapsed onto Yang's Chinese restaurant at Tulane and Broad avenues, while many billboards had only small bits of flapping material left on them.

Homes and businesses with minor to moderate roof damage were common on Tulane Avenue from Jefferson Davis Parkway to South Carrollton Avenue, along with businesses and homes flooded in water up to 5 feet deep. Despite the widespread damage, few broken windows can be seen throughout the area.

There is more flooding on side streets like South Genois and South Cortez streets. Airline Drive on other side of the interstate interchange is filled with even more water - at least 5 feet as far as the eye could see.

While parts of the interstate are clear, the Southern Railroad underpass is flooded almost all the way to the railroad trustle, while nearby, no giant crawfish could be seen on top of Semolina's Restaurant on Metairie Road and water swamped underneath that interchange.

Too many cars to count had water above their doors, some had only their roofs showing like turtle shells above the rising water. Several dogs appeared to be tied to cement posts alongside the old Robert's foodstore, where water also is on the rise. Several people gathered atop the grocery store's roof parking lot, which is lined with parked cars.

A helpless-looking crowd gathered on the steps of the Criminal Court House, facing Tulane Avenue, where more cars are under water. Pedestrians waded through some of the floodwaters in the area, with waist deep water a common sight and a few people struggling for balance in water that is chest high.

Some businesses fared worse than others, such as the Whitney National Bank, 2650 Canal St., where curtains could be seen blowing in the wind from busted panes of tall glass.

The side of the Rentway TV Rental, 124 N. Broad was heavily damaged; severe roof damage and flooding is visible at Fact-O-Bake, 600 N. Broad and the rear of a warehouse at Carl E. Woodward LLC at Euphrosine and S Dupre streets collapsed Many, many other businesses appear to suffer minor to moderate flooding.

Gas station submerged

Monday, 5:17 p.m.

The Chevron station at Franklin Avenue and Interstate 610 was almost completely

Melancon statement

Monday, 5:10 p.m.

Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, issued the following statement on Katrina:

“I am grateful for the strong leadership of Governor Blanco and for the tireless professionalism of the team here in Baton Rouge. I'd also like to thank President Bush for signing the Declaration of Disaster and starting the flow of aid. The entire range of federal and state resources is being coordinated here for the most immediate and effective response. With cooperation from our entire delegation, and the help of our colleagues and friends here in Congress, we hope to gather support for a federal response that will address the needs of our state following this disaster declaration. We must meet this challenge and move forward together.

Peachy and I are praying for all of you affected by Katrina. This is not our first hurricane, and it will surely not be our last. But South Louisianans are good and strong people and we are committed to making it through this disaster together.

Damage assessments have yet to begin but it is clear that we will have significant immediate and long term needs.

Our wetlands and coastal area contribute greatly to America and this is a moment when we will need a lot back from our nation. Supporting a quick recovery of the oil and gas industry, while providing federal assistance for our commercial fishermen and agricultural industries will be critical to rebuilding the fabric of south Louisiana and our contributions to the national economy.

We must also redouble our efforts to rebuild South Louisiana itself. The true costs of losing the buffers of our wetlands and barrier islands are now apparent. And after Katrina, what was earlier a $14 billion need for coastal restoration may have become billions of dollars more expensive.

I urge residents of Parishes affected by Katrina to heed the orders of Emergency Preparedness officials and do not return to your homes until the all clear is given. Citizens returning prematurely could compromise ongoing rescue operations. Lives are at stake.

All citizens with concerns should contact my Washington office which will be fully staffed to meet their needs at (202) 225-4031. My district offices will re-open when a damage assessment has been made and emergency officials determine that it is safe to return."

Stuck on I-10

Monday, 5:10 p.m.

At about 4 p.m. Monday Mike Williams and Don Bruce stood on I-10 East
looking down at the people stranded on their rooftops.

The two had set out that morning from Jefferson Parish trying to get to
an address on Bundy, they said.

But heavy flooding near the foot of the highrise had stopped them.
Williams said he and Bruce had been stuck on the elevated portion of I-10
since about 11 a.m.

Katrina expensive

Monday, 5 p.m.

Katrina could be the second most-expensive hurricane ever for the insurance industry, according to estimates by Eqecat Inc., a risk management firm.

As of Monday afternoon, the firm projected that insurance claims will total between $9 billion to $16 billion, second only to the $20.8 billion in damages paid out for Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Still, that's not as bad as first projected. Before the hurricane struck Louisiana on Monday morning, Eqecat had pegged potential losses at between $15 billion to $30 billion. At the time, it feared a Category 5 hurricane might score a direct hit on New Orleans.

But the hurricane tracked east of downtown New Orleans, and hit land as a Category 4 storm, before weakening throughout the day.

While devastation in New Orleans was substantial, it was well short of what had been feared, according to Robert Klein, director of the risk management and insurance department at Georgia State University.

"It was bad, but not quite as bad as it could have been," Klein said. Klein also said it would be quite a while before firm damage estimates are available.

Insurance industry officials said they have teams of more than 1,000 insurance adjusters ready to handle claims in Louisiana, as soon as conditions improve.

Homeowners who suffered damage should contact their insurance companies as soon as possible, but exercise care before trying to make repairs themselves. Insurance industry officials are quick to emphasize that people should not touch any downed or lose wires, or attempt to remove branches or trees that night have fallen on their property.

If you smell natural gas, the advice is to leave immediately

Homeowners are urged to cover all damaged openings with heavy plastic or other protective covering. They should also make lists of the costs - such as motel bills - and damage caused by the hurricane.

"Catastrophes such as hurricanes can easily do great damage to property, but they can just as easily upend lives if the right precautions are not taken before, during and after a storm,' said Robert Wilkey, assistance vice president of catastrophe claim management for the Hartford Financial Services Group.

Ken Enscow, director of catastrophe claims operations for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., said that adjusters will respond to those policyholders hit hardest.

"Uninhabitable homes are definitely a priority," he said.

Structural experts said that the damage caused homes and buildings likely will be substantial.

"From an engineering standpoint, this may be worse than Hurricane Andrew because of the amount of standing water," said Don Chase, a former U.S. Army Engineer for the Waterways Experiment Station who now lectures on engineering for the U. of Dayton. “In a situation like this, there is more to worry about than just the wind and the rain."

Most concrete foundations will be fine, but brick and mortar foundations that didn't crumble in the wind could do so under the weight of the water left behind.

Underground storage systems used to store gas and chemicals should be a major concern for homeowners, according to Chase. Any water seeping into the containers can render the contents useless.
If New Orleans' water pumps are submerged, the diesel fuel used to run them could be contaminated as well

Heading East

Monday, 5:07

Councilman-at-Large Oliver Thomas sat on the concrete railing on
Interstate 10 Monday afternoon replacing his work boots with rubber ones.
ain't one of them gonna sit down in an office," he said.

After his home at Napoleon and Tonti had flooded with 5 feet of water,
Thomas came out with some NOPD officers to try to rescue those whom he
said would be taken to the Louisiana Superdome.

"Somebody's gotta go get 'em," he said.

When he was a child, Thomas had a rooftop experience with Betsy, he
said. "This is worse. This was citywide."

But there was one thing that seemed to upset Thomas more than anything

"The sad thing is you've got these fools out here breaking into
businesses," he said.

Petroleum Industry statement

Monday, 4:48 p.m.

The American Petroleum Institute, the association representing oil and gas producers, issued the following statement concerning the impact of Hurricane Katrina on petroleum industry operations:

“To ensure safety, the industry has moved employees from some facilities and shut down various offshore production platforms, refineries, and pipeline operations in the affected areas. This may have an impact on petroleum product supplies. With only limited information available at this time, we are unable to estimate the extent of the impact. It could be several days before the industry can fully assess the effects of the hurricane.

“The industry recognizes the extreme hardships of people in the path of the hurricane and is working to deliver fuel where it is needed. Industry representatives also are working closely with local and state governments and emergency responders.

“Limits on industry operations could impact consumers outside the hurricane areas. We urge consumers to use energy wisely.”

Rescue in East N.O. and St. Bernard

Monday, 4:45 p.m.

Twelve boats have been deployed from Jackson Barracks
to search for people stranded on the upper levels of
their homes in eastern New Orleans and St. Bernard
Parish, state officials said at a 3:30 pm briefing.

The teams are responding to people who have made calls
asking for help, while also looking for people who
haven’t been able to reach emergency officials, said
Major General Bennett Landreneau. A few people have
already been reached and taken to the Superdome, while
a couple others were taken to Jackson Barracks, he

Speaking at a press conference at the state Office of
Emergency Preparedness, state and federal officials
said the top priority remains rescuing people who are
still in physical danger. There are reports of
widespread flooding in St. Bernard and Plaquemines
Parishes, as well as in Slidell and the Lower 9th

“First and foremost, we need to save lives and protect
property,” said Mike Brown, the director of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As well as looking for the people who need to be
rescued from flooded homes, the state is beginning to
send medical teams into the areas hit by the storm,
said Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

Fred Cerise, head of the state Department of Health
and Hospitals and a medical doctor, is heading to
Charity to help formulate a plan on how to get patients out
of the hospital, which has power problems and five
floors of broken windows, she said. Many patients are
expected to be sent to the Superdome, which has been
serving as an emergency shelter, and then sent by
plane to hospitals in north Louisiana.

Federal medical teams will be helping out. Brown
said personnel from his agency had been trying to help
out with medical assessments at the Superdome, but had
been having trouble getting to the area because of the
continued hurricane-force winds. FEMA will be
sending its own urban search and rescue teams into New
Orleans to help look for people who need assistance.

Brown said he plans to do an aerial search of the area
in the morning.

FEMA has water, ice and military meals-ready-to-eat
that are ready to be shipped into any areas that need
them, Brown said. He said he has “supply lines backed
up” to Fort Worth and Atlanta.

Blanco also has deployed teams from the state
Department of Transportation and Development to clear
access clear critical roads.

The governor re-iterated her request that people from
the areas struck by the storm should not try to
return. The roads leading back to Orleans, St.
Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson and St. Tammany will
be blocked, Blanco said.

"Katrina is by no means over," Blanco said. "Whereever
you live, it is still too dangerous to return home."

Bucktown surge hits Mid-City hospital

Monday, 4:20 p.m.

Several hours after Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans on Monday, the basement at Lindy Boggs Medical Center started taking on water, said George Saucier, the Mid-City hospital’s CEO.

The mini-flood at North Jefferson Davis Parkway and Bienville Street, which he described as an annoyance, probably was a chain-reaction result of a break in the levee along the 17th Street Canal, which separates Orleans and Jefferson parishes, Saucier said.

From that break, water flowed down Robert E. Lee Boulevard and into the bayou, he said. It then surged toward Canal Street, overflowing its banks and heading down North Jefferson Davis Parkway – and into the basement of the medical center, which used to be known as Mercy Hospital.

The inconvenience was relatively minor, he said, because everything had been moved out before the storm hit.

Apres le deluge

Mound Street is no more. The lakefront cul de sac is now beneath 4 feet of water. Scott Radish, his wife Kyle Radish, and neighbor Brandon Gioe, sat on the porch of their raised cottage, lamenting the damage and the irony. Scott Radish said they had weathered the storm without much damage. “It was scary. Almost all the tree branches fell, but the building stood. I thought I was doing good, until I noticed my Jeep was under water.”

The water in the neighborhood had risen only knee-deep during the storm. It was 2 p.m. when they noticed the water was rising rapidly, owing to a breach in the 17th Street Canal levee in Bucktown. As they sat on the porch and surveyed the scene, they could see tops of cars and a submerged boat.

Louisianans in Memphis

Monday 4:05

Staff writer Jeff Meitrodt is one of the many Louisiana residents who have "taken over" the Comfort Inn in Germantown, Tenn., a suburb of Memphis.

The Comfort Inn is an 81-room hotel, and on Sunday, 56 rooms were occupied by Louisiana residents and more than 90 percent of those were from the New Orleans area. Ten are from Mississippi.

At least half of rooms are used by people with pets. Some checked in after they left the Hampton Inn because it wouldn't allow pets. The pet-friendly policy has been a boon for the hotel. On a normal Sunday, the Comfort Inn might be 50-percent booked. On Sunday, it was 100-percent booked. The hotel management has turned away more than 100 people who wanted rooms.

It has become "Hurricane Central", with guests crowding the lobby, watching updates on the storm. Several guests had their laptops, looking at www.nola.com, WWL and WDSU Web sites and most were watching Gov. Blanco when she addressed the state at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Getting to the hotel proved to be difficult for the New Orleans-area guests. It took 12 hours to get there, partly because of huge traffic jams getting out of the city. There was a scary moment when the storm started hitting while they were sitting in traffic.

Bill Murphy, retired from Algiers. He is there with six family members, two cats and a dog. He has made this trip before. In 1992, he and his family came up with 14 cats and 3 dogs and took 13 hours. "By comparison, this was pretty easy," he said.

During Gov. Blanco's remarks, she addressed when evacuees could come home, and that was the topic of the guests in the lobby. The hotel was originally booked for the upcoming weekend, but hotel management has said it won't make the Louisiana guests leave and will re-book the incoming guests to another location.

Gail Emerson, manager of the Comfort Inn, said: "One person checked out because we're allowing all these dogs. I said 'We're sorry ma'am, but we're a pet friendly hotel.
"I'm just so sorry for these people, I wish there was more that we could do for them."

Metairie Road overpass

At about 4 p.m., a New Orleans Fire Department truck made its way up I-10 to just short of the railroad overpass where about 15 feet of water brought the truck to a halt. At that point, a firefighter walked to the fence on the side of the interstate, used bolt cutters to cut a hole in the fence and allowed another firefighter and a state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement officer to pass through the fence. Their destination was their homes in Metairie and they were determined to finish the rest of the trip on foot.

At about the same time, French Quarter resident Ken "Timber" Wulff walked down the center line of Interstate 10 toward the French Quarter after swimming the deluge under the railroad overpass. Wulff said he had left his car about a quarter of a mile on the other side of the flood and was planning to walk back to his house on Royal and St. Ann streets.

"I tried walking on it, but I understand that's only for certain people," he said.

Wulff said he had heard the mayor had given the all-clear signal, an assumption he realized immediately was false.

When Wulff swam across the flooded underpass he was greeted by an New Orleans Police Department officer who had one question for him: "Are you crazy?"

Wetlands crucial to storm protection

Monday, 4 p.m.

By Mark Schleifstein
Staff writer

It could be the biggest irony of the Hurricane Katrina experience.

Late last week, Gov. Kathleen Blanco's staff received a note from President George W. Bush's schedulers responding to Blanco's demand that he allow her to accompany him on an aerial tour of Louisiana's fragile coastal wetlands.

They sent a letter at the end of the week saying he wasn't going to be able to make the trip at this time, said Sidney Coffee, coastal activities adviser to Blanco.

On Sunday, U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-Baton Rouge, and David Vitter, R-Metairie, sent another invitation, this time aimed at getting Bush to tour Katrina's devastation.

Such a tour would take Bush over the controversial Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, which St. Bernard Parish President Henry J. "Junior" Rodriguez has for years said would funnel storm surge water over levees into Chalmette, eastern New Orleans and the Ninth Ward.

One version of the restoration plan calls for a one-year study by the Army Corps of Engineers leading to a decision on whether to build a lock or other structure to block surge, to just allow it to fill over time, or to continue to allow it to be used as a ship channel.

The aerial tour also would require overflights of fragile wetlands in St. Charles Parish, where storm surge waters pushed all the way south to the Mississippi River.

And it would require an aerial view of what remains of the bridal-lace pattern of wetlands on the West Bank surrounding Barataria Bay, which once provided at least some protection from hurricane and tropical storm surge events.

"After this many letters, let's hope he actually comes, now that we've had a major hurricane," Coffee said.

Coffee said she also hopes Katrina's object lesson isn't lost on members of Congress who have been hesitant to support the $1.2 billion Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Restoration plan included in the pending Water Resources Development Act.

"If this doesn't paint the picture of the value of restoring our coastal wetlands, then I'm not sure they're reachable," Coffee said from her home in Baton Rouge, where Katrina had knocked out electricity on Monday.

Coffee and wetland scientists will be making their own aerial tour of the coastal devastation caused by Katrina later this week, looking for shredded areas of marsh and whether wind and surge may have damaged existing federal, state and local restoration projects.

U.S. Geological Survey biologist Tommy Michot also will be in the air to check on how much of the Chandeleur and Breton island chains survived Katrina's wrath.

The Chandeleur chain to the east of New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish has been a frequent target of tropical storms and hurricanes, Michot said.

In 1998, Hurricane Georges, with only 110 mph winds, chopped the narrow sand crescent into a thousand slices that slowly healed until 2002, when the one-two punch of Tropical Storm Isidore and Hurricane Lili again diced the spit.

Last year, Hurricane Ivan again pushed much of the sand on the crescent inland towards the Louisiana coast.

The Breton islands also were cut asunder by those hurricanes, resulting in a loss of habitat for a variety of nesting birds, including pelicans, terns and skimmers.

Katrina also poses a threat to seagrasses that grow adjacent to barrier islands and provide habitat for fisheries, Michot said.

Tom McKenzie, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which administers the two island chains and several other refuges in southeastern Louisiana, said it's too soon to know what effects Katrina had on the refuges.

"It's a little preliminary for us for damage estimates," he said. "We usually wait until after the disaster has hit, and we have a number of facilities in that neck of the woods that are in the impact area."

Meanwhile, Louisiana State University biologist Gene Turner said not all Katrina's effects on wetlands can be considered bad.

"Most of the inorganic material supplied to coastal wetland is not deposited by rivers' overland flow," such as in spring flooding, Turner said. "One way for sediment to raise the height of a marsh is to come in during a storm. It turns out most of the sediment supply comes from the very largest storm, not overbank flooding or biannual floods."

More about Oak Ridge

Monday, 4 p.m.

An Oak Ridge resident who stayed behind said that neighborhoods
near the Violet Canal also had 12 feet of water in homes. Residents are
wondering when they will be rescued from roof tops.

St. Bernard flooding update

Monday, 4 p.m.

Official postings on the St. Bernard government Web site about flooding in the parish:

At 11:00 a.m. , the National Weather Service reported that a levee broke
on the Industrial Canal - the waterway that connects the Mississippi River to the Intracoastal Waterway - near the St. Bernard-Orleans parish line at
Tennessee Street, and 3 to 10 feet of flooding was possible with Arabi
receiving some degree of rising water.

St. Bernard Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness say the parish's
two shelters at Chalmette High and St. Bernard High are heavily
damaged because of the flooding. OEP director Larry Ingargiola said Chalmette High shelter is losing its roof, and St. Bernard High has several broken windows. There are estimates of more than 300 refugees at the two sites. "We cannot see the tops of the levees, " Ingargiola said.

At noon, most of the parish has no power and widespread flooding is
reported. Phone services are severely hampered.

At 12:30 p.m., Chalmette's Gibb Drive and community reportedly has water over the roofs of some houses, driving residents to their rooftops.

Teams of emergency teams are available from Louisiana to Florida. FEMA (Federal Emergency Agency) officials are standing by as needed to access damage on the ground. President Bush has declared states of emergency in Louisiana and Mississippi to accelerate the emergency response.

At 2 p.m., communications into the New Orleans/St. Bernard area are
little to none because of power and downed communications equipment and massive calls into state.

At 2:30 p.m., the National Guard Armory became submerged

Search and rescue in Jefferson Parish

Monday, 3:55 p.m.

Jefferson Parish authorities were headed to the Lincolnshire subdivision in Marrerro, where there have been calls for rescue for people trapped by flood waters.

Power lines and trees are down across the parish, and flooding is widespread, officials said. A number of buildings, including the parish's Juvenile Justice Center in Harvey, have been damaged, but officials don't yet know to what extent.

At this point, one official said, it's not so much an assessment of damage that parish emergency crews are after. It's a search and rescue mission.


Monday, 3:30 p.m.

When her son called to give her news of Katrina’s destruction, JoAnn Senko thought he was going to tell her about the damage to the Superdome.

“I said, ‘Oh, I know why you’re upset,’” Senko said of her son, a New Orleans Saints fan. “He said, ‘No…Arabi is under water…your house is underwater.’”

Senko, who also learned she lost a condominum in Orange Beach, Ala., Monday, said she’d just finished restoring the vacation home following Hurricane

“When I went to Orange Beach, it was like somebody dropped an atomic bomb,” said Senko, remembering Ivan. “I had never seen anything like that. And this (Katrina) was worse than Ivan.”

As news from New Orleans began to trickle in through phone calls and e-mails at a hotel in a Houston suburb Monday, metro residents exchanged what they knew with others.

Many expressed concern over what they would find upon returning home.

“I don’t know if we’re even going to have a New Orleans,” said Maureen Sperandeo, a River Ridge resident, who learned there was flooding in her
neighborhood. “There’s nothing we can do. We’re all safe. We lived through the May flood.”

“But that was nothing,” chimed in husband Dino Sperandeo. “We know we’re going to be in for a lot of heartache. Everybody is scared to death about what
tomorrow’s going to bring. ”

Terry Imbraguglio said she already knew what to expect when she returned home to Arabi: a total loss.

Imbraguglio learned that she lost her home when the St. Bernard levee broke. The woman said she expected flooding but never thought her home would be under water.

It could be much worse though, she said.

“To me, I’m blessed. I have insurance,” said Imbraguglio, who plans on buying a trailer and rebuilding. “I have an empty lot next door.”

While others began making plans to rebuild, many residents were concerned about where they would be sleeping until New Orleans officials said it was
safe for them to return.

Expecting to be away from home for a short time, many only booked lodging for one or two days. Hotels were refusing to extend their stays beyond those periods because the rooms had already been reserved again.

“We’re hotel hopping,” said Maureen Sperandeo, who was traveling with a large group of family and friends. “This is our second (hotel)…We’re going to our third
one tomorrow.”

Mosquitoes will flourish

Monday, 3:35 p.m.
All the rain produced by Hurricane Katrina is good news for mosquitoes, according to Doug Van Gundy, entomologist with Wellmark International, a producer of pest management products.

“Mosquitoes will likely flourish after Katrina, when rain and floodwaters create new breeding areas in blown-over trees, clogged drains and debris,” Van Gundy said. “A female mosquito lays up to 300 eggs at once, which can mature in as little as four days. Consumers should be vigilant about protecting themselves.”

He says that protective clothing and insect repellants ought to be used liberally during the next several weeks.

Howard Ave. area, New Orleans

Monday, 3 p.m.

Reporters didn't have to travel far from The Times-Picayune offices on Howard Ave., to witness the storm's destructive force.

Within four blocks of the office, the storm scenes were still raw and astonishing. A handful of cars in the parking lot had their windows and sky roofs blown out. One sportscar had its hatchback glass blown out, the back-seat head rest protruding from the back window like a shark's fin.

Several concrete light poles along I-10 were snapped in half. Billboard signs were shredded and flailing in the wind. Dozens of sheets of aluminum siding were twisted around tree trunks and fences. Street signs were bent at 45-degree angles. Several trees were uprooted. Several large tree branches littered both lanes of Howard Ave. Windows at a General Electric maintenance building were blown out on both the first and second floors.

Dozens of buses and vans at the New Orleans Tours depot appeared to be in good shape, their windows intact thanks to owners who left the front doors and side doors open to reduce the pressure on the glass.

The wind was still gusting to tropical storm strength, churning the flood water to white caps along open roads.

The flood water was as deep as four feet in some places, rendering roads in and and out of the area impassible to all but the highest-riding trucks and SUVs.

The flood water was knee-deep under the Jeff Davis overpass near Xavier University.

A middle-aged Mid-City couple who had evacuated to Baton Rouge was stranded in their Honda Envoy under the overpass. The couple had evacuated to Baton Rouge for the night but could not reach their house because more than 5 feet of water surrounded it. Fortunately, the house was raised above the water level and appeared dry, the man said. The couple had chosen to wait out the storm in the relative safety of the overpass.

Ebbert expects casualties

Monday, 3:07 p.m.

Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for the city of New Orleans, said Monday afternoon he is positive there are casualties resulting from Hurricane Katrina, based on the number of calls to emergency workers from people trapped in trees and attics.

In some of those cases, authorities lost communications with those pleading for help.

"Everybody who had a way or wanted to get out of the way of this storm was able to,'' Ebbert said. "For some that didn't, it was their last night on this earth.''

Police are currently fanning out across the city in squad cars, trucks and boats to assess the damage and rescue people where possible.

Ebbert said the city has 100 boats currently stationed at Jackson Barracks on the Orleans-St. Bernard parish line.

Authorities are trying to get a good look at the situation before dark.

The hardest-hit areas of the city appear to be the Lower 9th Ward, eastern New Orleans, Treme and Lakeview near a levee breech.

Ebbert said it could be two months before electricity is restored to all of the city.
He said Entergy will send 4,500 workers to the region, who will be housed in quarters barges on the Mississippi River.

Though damage is extensive, Ebbert said if the storm had passed just 10 miles west of its track, the city would have been inundated with 25 feet of water.

Sen. Vitter issues statement

Monday, 3:05 p.m.

Here is a statement from Sen. David Vitter, R-La., on Hurricane Katrina:

While I am extremely grateful that the city of New Orleans didn’t take a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina, many, many families throughout southeast Louisiana have suffered major destruction. My heart and prayers go out to all of the families who have experienced catastrophic loss because of Hurricane Katrina.

“I would like to commend all of the local leaders who helped the people of Louisiana prepare for evacuation and who are working even now to prepare for recovery after the storm subsides. Working together, leaders at the federal, state and local levels, will help the families of Louisiana rebuild their homes and their lives.”

President Bush statement

Monday, 3 p.m.

President Bush urged residents of the Gulf Coast to heed the advice of local authorities before going outside in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also promised swift federal action as the storm dissipates.

“I want the folks there on the Gulf Coast to know that the federal government is prepared to help you when the storm passes,” Bush said at an appearance in Arizona where he was promoting his Social Security plans. “When the storm passes, the federal government has got assets and resources that we'll be deploying to help you. In the meantime, America will pray - pray for the health and safety of all our citizens."

Bush declared parts of southern Louisiana and Mississippi major disaster areas Tuesday, clearing the way for individuals to get federal grants for temporary housing and home - and business owners to receiving low-interest loans to make repairs.


New Orleans, 2:15 p.m.

Returning from a fact-finding expedition from the newspaper's Howard Avenue headquarters, a group of reporters and photographers stumbled on a parade of looters streaming from Coleman's Retail Store, located at 4001 Earhart Blvd., about two blocks away from The Times-Picayune offices.

The looters, who were men and women who appeared to be in their early teens to mid-40s, braved a steady rain and infrequent tropical storm wind gusts to tote boxes of clothing and shoes from the store. Some had garbage bags stuffed with goods. Others lugged wardrobe-sized boxes or carried them on their heads.

The line going to and from the store along Earhart Boulevard numbered into the dozens and appeared to be growing.

Some looters were seen smiling and greeting each other with pleasantries as they passed. Another group was seen riding in the back of a pickup truck, honking the horn and cheering.

The scene also attracted a handful of curious bystanders, who left the safety of their homes to watch the heist.

No police were present in the area, which is flooded heavily with standing water two to four feet deep on all sides of Earhart Blvd.

Insurance company phone numbers

Monday 2:50

Here is a list of toll-free phone numbers for hurricane-related claims for major insurance companies. The numbers were compiled by the Hurricane Insurance Information Center:

Acuity 1-(800) 242-7666
Alfa Insurance Group 1-(888) 964-2532
Alabama Municipal Insurance Corporation 1-(866) 239-AMIC
Allmerica 1-(800)628-0250
Allstate 1-(800) 54-STORM 1-(800) 547-8676
Allstate Floridian Insurance Company 1-(800) 54-STORM 1-(800) 547-8676
American Bankers Insurance Company 1-(800) 245-1505
American Federation Insurance Company 1-(800) 527-3907
American General Property Insurance Company of Florida 1-(800) 321-2452
American International Group 1-(800) 433-8880 (auto & home)
American National Property & Casualty Company & Affiliates 1-(800) 333-2861
American Reliable Insurance Company 1-(800) 245-1505
American Skyline Insurance Company 1-(888) 298-5224
American States Insurance Company 1-(888) 557-5010
American Strategic Insurance 1-(866) 866-ASI-LOSS (274-5677)
American Superior Insurance (954) 577-2202
Arch Insurance 1-(800) 817-3252
Argus Fire & Casualty Company (954) 331-4722
Armed Forces Insurance Exchange 1-(800) 828-7736
Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company 1-(800) 945-7461
Atlantic Preferred Insurance Company 1-(800) 673-4952
Auto Owners Insurance Group (Palm City) 1-(800) 783-1269
Auto Owners Insurance Group (Ft. Meyers) 1-(800) 437-2256
AXA Re Property and Casualty 1-(800) 216-3711
Bankers Insurance Company 1-(800) 765-9700
Bankers Security Insurance Company 1-(800) 765-9700
Bituminous 1-(800) 822-2905 (Florida); 1-(800) 678-3104 (National)
Bristol West Insurance Group 1-(800) BRISTOL
Capital Preferred 1-(800) 734-4749 or 1-(888) 388-2742
Catawba Insurance 1-(800) 711-9386
Century Surety Insurance Company 1-(800) 850-0422
CHUBB Insurance Group 1-(800) 252-4670, 1-(800) CLAIMS-0
Church Mutual Insurance 1-(800) 554-2642
Citizens Property Insurance Corp. 1-(866) 411-2742 1-(866) 411-CPIC
Cincinnati Insurance Company (call your local agent first and then 1-(877)-242-2544)
Clarendon National Insurance Company 1-(800) 216-3711
Clarendon Select Insurance Company 1-(800) 509-1592
CNA 1-(877) 733-4250
Colony Insurance Company 1-(800) 577-6614 ext. 1715
Companion Property & Casualty 1-(800) 649-2948
Cotton States Mutual Group 1-(800) 282-6536
CUNA Mutual 1-(800) 637-2676
Cypress 1-(888) 352-9773
Erie Insurance Group 1-(800) 367-3743
Farmers 1-(800) 435-7764
FCCI (first report of injury) 1-(800) 226-3224
Federated National Insurance Company 1-(800) 420-7075
FEMA 1-(800) 621-3362, 1-(800) 621-FEMA
Fidelity & Casualty Insurance Company 1-(800) 725-9472
Fidelity National Insurance Company 1-(800) 220-1351
Fidelity National Property and Casualty Insurance Company 1-(800) 725-9472
Fireman's Fund 1-(888) 347-3428 1-(888) FIREHAT
First Floridian 1-(800) 252-4633, 1-(800) CLAIM33
First Premium Insurance Group (Lloyd's Mobile Home) 1-(800) 432-3072
First Protective Insurance Company 1-(877) 744-5224
First Trenton 1-(800) 468-7341
Florida Family Insurance Company 1-(888) 486-4663 or 1-(888) 850-4663
Florida Farm Bureau Insurance Companies 1-(800) 330-3327
Florida Select 1-(888) 700-0101
Florida Preferred Property Insurance Company 1-(800) 673-4952
FM Global 1-(877) 639-5677 1-(877) NEWLOSS
Foremost Insurance Company 1-(800) 527-3907
GE Employers Re 1-(866) 413-8978
GEICO 1-(800) 841-3000
General Star Indemnity Company 1-(800) 624-5237
General Star National Insurance Company 1-(800) 624-5237
Georgia Casualty & Surety 1-(800) 279-8279 (claim reporting); 1-(866) 458-7506 (claim dept.)
Georgia Farm Bureau 1-(866) 842-32276
GMAC Insurance (Auto Claims) 1-(800) 468-3466
Granada Insurance Company 1-(800) 392-9966
Guide One 1-(888) 748-4326
Hanover Insurance (Allmerica) 1-(800) 628-0250
Harbor Insurance Company - 1-(800) 216-3711
The Hartford - 1-(800) 243-5860
Hartford Insurance Company of the Midwest 1-(800) 637-5410 or 1-(800) 243-5860
Hartford Steam 1-(800) HSB-LOSS
Holyoke Mutual - 1-(800) 225-2533
ICAT 1-(866) 789-4228
Industrial Risk Insurers - 1-(860) 520-7347 (Business claims)
Interstate Fire & Casualty 1-(800) 456-8458, Ext. 770
Liberty Mutual - 1-(800) 2CLAIMS, 1-(800) 225-2467
Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company 1-(800) 637-0757 (in state); 1-(800) 633-1833 (24 hour)
Louisiana Farm Bureau 1-(866) 275-7322
Main Street America Group 1-(877) 282-3844
Mercury Insurance Group 1-(800) 987-6000
MetLife Auto & Home 1-(800) 854-6011
Mississippi Farm Bureau 1-(866) 275-7322
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) - 1-(800) 427-4661
National Insurance Company 1-(800) 239-2121
Nationwide 1-(800) 421-3535
North Pointe Insurance Company 1-(877) 878-1991
Ohio Casualty and West American Insurance Company 1-(888) 701-8727
Old Dominion Insurance Company 1-(877) 425-2467 or 1-(800) 606-7992
Omaha Property & Casualty 1-(800) 638-2592 (Flood only)
Omega Insurance Company 1-(800) 216-3711
OneBeacon 1-(877) 248-3455
Poe Financial Group 1-(800) 673-4952
Progressive Auto Insurance 1-(800) PROGRESSIVE (766-4737)
QualSure Insurance Corp. 1-(877) 563-0150
Regency (Tower Hill) 1-(800) 216-3711
RLI Insurance Company 1-(800) 444-0406
Royal & Sun Alliance 1-(800) 847-6925
SAFECO 1-(800) 332-3226
Scottsdale Insurance Company 1-(800) 423-7675
Security National Insurance Company 1-(800) Bristol
Selective 1-(866) 455-9969
Service Insurance Company 1-(800) 780-8423
Shelter Insurance Group 1-(800) SHELTER 1-(800) 743-5837
Sompo Japan 1-(800) 444-6870
Southern Family Insurance Company 1-(800) 673-4952
Southern Fidelity 1-(866) 874-7342
Southwest Business Corp. (Lloyd's Excess Flood) 1-(800) 527-0066 Ex. 7389
St. Johns Insurance Company 1-(800) 748-2030
St. Paul Insurance Companies 1-(800) CLAIM 33 1-(800) 252-4633 -Auto and Home Claims; 1-(800) STPAUL 1-(800) 787-2851 - Business Claims
St. Paul Travelers 1-(800) CLAIM33 1-(800) 252-4633 - Auto and Home Claims;
1-(800) 787-2851 - Business Claims; 1-(800) 356-6663 -Flood Claims
State Farm Insurance 1-(800) SF-CLAIM 1-(800) 732-5246
Sunshine State Insurance Company 1-(877) 329-8795
TAPCO 1-(888) 437-0373
Texas Farm Bureau 1-(800) 772-6535
Tower Hill Insurance Companies 1-(800) 216-3711 or 1-(800) 509-1592
Travelers 1-(800) 252-4633 1-(800) CLAIM 33 - Personal Claims; 1-(800) 238-6225 - Business Claims; 1-(800) 356-6663 (Flood claims)
Travelers Boat & Yacht 1-(800) 772-4482
Travelers WC (first report of injury) 1-(800) 238-6225
United Fire Insurance Company 1-(800) 343-9131
United Property and Casualty Company 1-(800) 861-4370
Universal Insurance Company 1-(888) 846-7647
USAA 1-(800) 531-8222
USF&G 1-(800) 787-2851; 1-(800) 631-6478 (homeowners claim); (407) 660-9000 (customer service)
USLI 1-(800) 523-5545
Vanguard Fire & Casualty Company 1-(888) 343-5585
W.R. Berkley Corp. (203) 629-2000
XL Insurance (214) 559-1574
Zenith (first report of injury) 1-(800) 440-5020
Zurich Insurance Company 1-(800) 987-3373

St. Bernard on the web

Much of St. Bernard Parish might be under water, but that hasn't stopped the government from updating the parish's website.

The postings Monday afternoon included:

- 11 a.m. - The National Weather Service reported that a levee broke
on the Industrial Canal near the St. Bernard-Orleans parish line
(Tennessee Street), and 3 to 10 feet of flooding was possible with Arabi
receiving some degree of rising water. The Industrial Canal is
the 5.5-mile waterway that connects the Mississippi River to the
Intracoastal Waterway.

- St. Bernard Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness says the parish's
two shelters at Chalmette High and St. Bernard High are suffering much
damage with flooding. He said Chalmette High is losing its roof,
and St. Bernard High has many broken windows and glass. There are estimates
of 300-plus refugees at the two sites. "We cannot see the tops of the
levees!" --Director OEP, Larry Ingargiola

- 12 p.m. - Most of the parish has no power and widespread flooding is
reported. Phone services are severely hampered.

- 12:30 p.m. - Chalmette's Gibb Drive and community is reported
under water to the roof. Some citizens were driven to rooftops.

- Emergency teams are available from Louisiana to
Alabama/Florida. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are deployed and standing
by as needed to assess damage on the ground. President Bush has
declared states of emergency in Louisiana and Mississippi to accelerate the
emergency response.

The parish's official website is www.st-bernard.la.us/

Despair in the 9th Ward

New Orleans, 9th Ward, 2:30 p.m.

Times-Picayune photographer Ted Jackson waded into the Lower 9th Ward Monday afternoon and reported a scene of utter destruction. The wind still howled, floodwaters covered vehicles in the street and people were clinging to porches and waiting in attics for rescuers who had yet to arrive.

In one home on Claiborne Avenue near the Industrial Canal bridge, Jackson saw a man peering from a window in his attic. The man said rising water in his house had forced him, his wife and two children into the attic.

Jackson estimated the water's depth at 12 feet.

"He was very calm,'' Jackson said of the man in the attic window.

Jackson said he couldn't get across the street. The water was too deep and the current was too fast.

Nearby, three children and three adults were clinging to a porch, trying to stay above the water, which they insisted was continuing to rise.

"They were really scared. They said they had been clinging to that porch since 8 a.m.''

Rescuers can't get to those who are stranded

New Orleans, 9th Ward, 2 p.m.

Wes McDermott, from the office of emergency preparedness in New Orleans, said officials have fielded at least 100 calls from people in distress in the Lower 9th Ward and eastern New Orleans.

People report they are waiting on roofs and clinging to trees, he said. But McDermott said the city cannot send rescue crews out until the wind drops below 50 mph.

Angela Chalk, a lieutenant with the community emergency response team in New Orleans, said her niece, Brandi Hyde, is one of those people stranded and awaiting rescue. She said her niece is stranded on a roof of a three-story apartment building on Bundy Road, along with other tenants.

Meanwhile, City Hall confirmed a breach of the levee along the 17th Street Canal at Bellaire Drive, allowing water to spill into Lakeview.

Catastrophic power failure

Monday 2:10 p.m.

The region's electricity system suffered catastrophic damage Monday from Hurricane Katrina. Entergy customers should be prepared to be without power for a month or more, said Amy Stallings, Entergy spokeswoman.

Severe damage apparently occurred to all elements of the power grid, from the plants that generate electricity to the big transmission lines that carry power to communities to the distribution lines that connect to homes and businesses.

"This will be a very long and difficult period for our customers and our employees," Stallings said. She called the damage the worst ever seen in Entergy's four-state territory and the most devastating outage in Louisiana.

The utility had hoped to send out initial crews to begin assessing damage Monday, but Stallings said that work will hold until Tuesday. Work crews cannot go out until winds fall below 35mph, or tropical storm strength, for safety reasons. That's expected to happen Monday sometime after 8 p.m., but flooding and other dangers will prevent workers from going out after dark.

Because flooding and damage to roads could severely limit access to remote wires and substations, Entergy workers are planning to fly over the area in helicopters Tuesday to assess damage to power plants and transmission lines.

Monday at midday, massive power outages crippled southeastern Louisiana. About 770,000 electricity customers were without power. Entergy Corp. alone reported 700,000 customers, or basically their entire service base in metropolitan New Orleans, Stallings said.

That figure easily topped the 271,000 customers who lost power during Tropical Storm Cindy on July 6. To find another outage event in similar scale, look back to Hurricane Betsy in 1965.

Cleco Corp. reported around 70,000 outages: 66,000 in St. Tammany Parish, 3,000 in Iberia and St. Mary parishes, 700 in Washington Parish and 350 in central Louisiana.

The utilities said they were hoping to send out workers to begin assessing the damage to the region's power system sometime Monday afternoon, but that work would depend on the speed of improving weather conditions.

Stay where you are

Monday, 3:10

Gov. Kathleen Blanco urged all people who evacuated the New
Orleans area in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina to stay
where they are, saying that people who attempt to
return to the city will be stopped.

“You will be turned back. Only official emergency
personnel will be allowed in,” Blanco said at an early
afternoon press conference at the state Office of
Emergency Preparedness.

General Bennett Landreneau said that it is too early to say when people will be
allowed to return to the city, saying they haven’t
even begun to make initial assessments of the damage.

With no power, water or enough food, it doesn’t make
sense for people to return to the New Orleans area,
the governor said. Blanco said the elevated highways need to be assessed to see if they're able to support traffic back into the city.

Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden said estimates of the city's shelter population has gone from
almost 3,000 Sunday to around
1,700 today. Holden said he is not
sure whether people tried to go back to the New
Orleans area, but also urged people to remain in the
Baton Rouge area.

Blanco said state officials have received calls from 115 people in New
Orleans who said they are stranded, as well
as an unknown number of people in St. Bernard and
Plaquemines Parishes. When the winds subside,
boats will be deployed from Jackson Barracks in the
Lower 9th Ward to go look for people who are trapped, officials said.

Both the National Guard and Louisiana Department of
Wildlife and Fisheries are moving boats into the flooded regions.

Blanco said there is believed to be widespread flooding in St.
Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes, with the water as
deep as 10-12 feet in some places. Local
officials at the St. Bernard courthouse have said
that they are trapped on the second floor, and that water is rising to that level.

State officials have received reports of as many as 20
buildings in New Orleans that have collapsed or
toppled from the winds, Blanco said. An observer in a
fire station across the street from the 17th Street
Canal reported seeing water leaking from the levee,
she said.

Insurance suggestions

Monday 2 p.m.

Here are some hurricane-related suggestions from the American Insurance Association:

Protect yourself. Always be careful when entering a damaged building. If there is serious structural damage, contact local officials before entering. Report downed power lines or gas leaks. Keep electricity turned off if the building has been flooded.

Protect your property. Take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. This could mean boarding up windows and salvaging undamaged items. Your insurance company can tell you what they will pay for regarding protection.

Report the loss as soon as possible. Contact your insurance agent or insurer as soon as you can. Provide a general description of the damage and have your policy number handy if possible. Write down the adjuster’s name, phone number and work schedule as soon as you have them. If you have an agent, your agent will report the loss to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible to inspect the damage. Be sure to give your agent a telephone number where you can be reached.

Prepare a list. Keep damaged items or portions of them until the claim adjuster has visited, and consider photographing or videotaping the damage to document your claim. Prepare a list of damaged or lost items for your adjuster and make two copies - one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should be as complete as possible including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost. Collect canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other papers that will assist the adjuster in obtaining the value of the destroyed property

Keep receipts. If you need to relocate, keep records and receipts or for all additional expenses. Most insurance policies cover emergency living arrangements.

Return claim forms. After your insurance company has been notified of your claim, it must send you the necessary claim forms within a certain number of days (time period varies by state). Fill out and return the forms as soon as possible. If you do not understand the process, be sure to ask questions and write down the explanation.

Clean up. When starting the cleanup process, be careful, and use protective eyewear, gloves or other gear if available. Business owners may be told by their insurance company to hire a professional cleaning service. Make whatever temporary repairs you can. Cover broken windows, damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save receipts for supplies and materials you purchase. Your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs. Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home from a reliable contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.

Build stronger next time. When you’re ready to think about rebuilding, carefully consider where you should rebuild, and then ask your contractor about adding features that would increase the building’s disaster-resistance.

Kenner flooding serious

Monday, 1:45 p.m.

Willliams Boulevard in Kenner is flooded north of I-10 to just before the lake levee, officials said.

Officials said the flooding appears to be more severe than seen on May 8, 1995. However, Lake Pontchartrain did not overtop levees. Throughout Williams and elsewhere in Kenner, businesses, homes and apartments are dealing with flooding and significant roof damage.

Chateau Boulevard is a zig-zag of trees and power lines blocking one of Kenner's main arteries.

'Major disaster area'

Monday 1:45 p.m.

As Hurricane Katrina clawed its way across the Gulf Coast, President Bush declared Louisiana and Mississippi “major disaster areas,” which releases federal resources to the storm-damaged regions.

“This will allow federal funds to start being used to deploy resources to help in those two states,” White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said. “This is something that was done verbally, and the governors of those states have been notified of that approval.”

The declaration makes available federal financial assistance to individuals, businesses and local governments.

Using generators safely

Monday, 1:35 p.m. CDT

For people who will be using generators until their electricity returns, the state Department of Health and Hospitals on Monday issued recommendations for using them safely.

A generator should be well vented because it produces plenty of carbon monoxide, DHH spokeswoman Melissa Walker said.

For that reason, it should never be used indoors, including a garage, boat or crawlspace, she said. Even opening doors won't prevent a carbon-monoxide buildup, and anyone using a generator who feels weak or sleepy should get fresh air immediately.

Because of the carbon-monoxide factor, a generator never should be put near a vent that will let the potentially lethal gas into the house. To ensure safety, a generator owner should buy a carbon-dioxide alarm.

Appliances should be plugged directly into the generator, Walker said, or into a heavy-duty outdoor extension cord that has no cuts or tears.

The generator should be kept dry by operating it under a tarpaulin or pop-up tent, she said, and it must be turned off and allowed to cool down before they are refueled. It should not be stored near a gasoline-burning appliance.

Chalmette, Arabi underwater

Monday, 1:30 p.m.

Hurricane Katrina hammered the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish, with residents telling tales of stranded people being plucked from their rooftops by passing boaters and flood waters as high as 12 feet well into Chalmette.

Residents fled the surging water, which quickly rose as the brunt of Katrina plowed ashore near eastern St. Bernard Parish.

Arabi resident Donald Bordelon told a Times-Picayune reporter via cell phone that at 8:30 a.m. there was just wind damage the homes on his block of Schnell Drive. But 40 minutes later, floodwaters had risen over the stove in his kitchen, as he scrambled to ready his boat for an evacuation.

Residents reported high water flooding such institutions as Rocky and Carlo's restaurant at the corner of St. Bernard Highway and Lloyd's Avenue. Others reported that homes on Campagna Drive were nearly underwater.

At Chalmette High School on Judge Perez Drive, officials had set up a shelter of last resort late Sunday. By Monday morning, the first floor of the high school was under water and the evacuees huddled in rooms on the second floor, reporting that they could only see rooftops of the surrounding homes.

The St. Bernard Parish government building, also on Judge Perez Drive, was said to have taken on 8 to 10 feet of water. The government building is in a stretch of the highway that comprises one of the parish's main economic centers, with a huge new Super Wal Mart nearby.

Water safety: purifying drinking water

Monday 1:30 p.m.

In addition to recommending that all Jefferson Parish residents boil water before using it, the state Department of Health and Hospitals on Monday described three methods of purifying water:

-- Boil it in a clean container. The water should be in a rolling boil for a minute before use. To eliminate a flat taste, shake it in a bottle or pour it back and forth between clean containers.

-- Use bleach. If the water is not cloudy, add 1/8 of a teaspoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water, but use ¼ of a teaspoon if the water is cloudy. To improve taste, let the water stand for a few hours or aerate it.

-- Use tincture of iodine. If the water is clean, use 5 drops of 2 percent U.S.P. solution per quart of water, but if it’s cloudy, add 10 drops per quart. Whatever the mixture, let the water stand for 30 minutes before use.

The most effective method is boiling, but it may not be possible for people who don’t have electricity, DHH spokeswoman Melissa Walker said.

Bush asked to tour La.

Monday 1 p.m.

Louisiana’s two senators have urged President Bush to tour the state “as soon as practical” to see first-hand damage from Hurricane Katrina.

“This will be very reassuring and will communicate to everyone that all possible federal agencies and resources are completely focused on recovery,” Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and David Vitter, R-La., said in a letter to the president Sunday.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Bush would take them up on the offer. Generally, the White House waits until rescue and recovery efforts are well under way.

As the storm continued to blow across the Gulf Coast, the extent of damage is still unknown.

On Saturday. Bush declared a state of emergency for Louisiana, a move that triggered federal resources to support state and local rescue and relief efforts in the projected path of the hurricane. Landrieu and Vitter thanked the president for the unusual early declaration.

On Aug. 23, Bush declared five parishes in southeastern Louisiana a disaster after an unexpected delay in federal financial assistance in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Cindy in July. State and local officials had expected about $5 million in aid two weeks earlier to facilitate clean-up. They wanted to mop up from the July 5 storm before another one struck.

Sen. Landrieu issues statement

Monday noon

WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., issued the following statement from the Hurricane Command Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“I would like to commend both Governor Blanco and all of the local leaders who have done a tremendous job helping the people of Louisiana prepare for Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, the reverberations of this storm will be felt not only in Louisiana but across the nation.

“Our port system provides the nation with the transportation needs for our country’s economy while our coastline provides the energy for our homes and industries. And Louisiana’s unique wetlands provide our state with a buffer zone from natural disasters such as hurricanes. But our wetlands have been eroding. As I have said before, in order for us to protect America’s energy supply and transportation needs, the federal government must join with the people of Louisiana to preserve America’s wetlands.

“But as we have not weathered all of Katrina yet, we ask the American people to keep us in their thoughts and prayers at this time.”

Katrina worst ever for Entergy

Monday noon

Entergy President Dan Packer said work crews would begin assessing damage to the power system Tuesday. But this much he already knows: Hurricane Katrina will go down as the worst the utility has ever experienced.

The situation Monday afternoon was "the worst we've had in our company's history,'' he said on WWL radio.

Packer said more than 700,000 customers - about 100 percent of the utility's customers in southeast Louisiana - were without power as of Monday afternooon.

He said the company's second-worst power outage was during Hurricane Georges, when some 265,000 customers had no electricty.

Packer urged people to remain indoors and avoid power lines.

"I can't caution people enough to be careful out there,'' he said.

FEMA director arrives in BR

FEMA Director Mike Brown arrived at the state Office
of Emergency Preparedness in Baton Rouge shortly
before 11 a.m. and joined a conference call with
Gov. Kathleen Blanco and other federal and state

Brown will hold a press briefing with Blanco at 3:30
p.m., although state officials could also provide more
information after a noon conference call with local
officials who are tracking the storm damage.

Researchers watching the storm from Baton Rouge have
gotten reports of 6 feet of water at Jackson
Barracks in the Lower 9th Ward, as well as flooding
along the Industrial Canal.

But Kevin Robbins, director of the Southern Regional
Climate Center at LSU, said that water should begin
receding around the Industrial Canal area. Robbins
said he hasn't had any reports of flooding in the
Uptown area.

During the height of the storm, 12 feet of water
was pushed up the Mississippi River in New Orleans,
Robbins said. There was also a 3-foot surge in the
river at Baton Rouge, but in both cases the water was
contained by the levees and did not go over the top.

But those kind of surges "could cause havoc with
boats," he said.

Many of the stations that record water surges in lakes
and rivers went out during the storm, so researchers
do not currently have much information about the worst
surges, Robbins said.

"We are working in a data poor environment," he said.

Memorial suffers damage, but no collapsed walkway

Responding to earlier reports that a walkway from a parking garage to the hospital had collapsed during he heaviest part of the hurricane, a spokeswoman for Memorial Medical in New Orleans said that some windows had been blown out, but there was no collapsed walkway.

Sandra Cordray, the spokeswoman, said several windows on the north side of the second and third floors were blown out, and that floodwaters had lapped at the top step of the hospital on Napoleon Avenue near Claiborne.

But, she said, none of the mishaps required patients to be relocated and there were no injuries.

Cordray also said that contrary to an earlier report by city officials, there was no collapse of the walkway linking the hospital to a parking garage.

Oil rig damage

Oil companies said Monday that it was too soon to tell how badly their Gulf of Mexico rigs were damaged by Hurricane Katrina, but they vowed to assess the situation Tuesday and return to normal operations as soon as possible.

"It's important for us to get back to business as much as usual," said Tony Lentini, vice president of public and international affairs for Apache. "It's important to the country."

Apache shut down 336 of its 386 Gulf rigs because of the storm.

Murphy Oil also planned to inspect its Gulf holdings Tuesday.

Katrina tales

Christy Franchi, 35, decided to ride out the storm from her apartment in the 700 block of Dumaine Street, near Bourbon Street, after she was unable to get a flight out of town.

“It looks like the winds are calming down,’’ she said around 10:30 a.m. “The Quarter isn’t flooded. The building manager on the third floor, his balcony railing is in the street, and there are plants everywhere. But, so far, it doesn’t look too bad. (The Quarter) is holding up pretty well.’’

Franchi has lived in New Orleans for four and a half years, through Hurricane Lili and Tropical Storm Isidore and the threat of Hurricane Ivan.

“I didn’t know if it was going to be bad, and there’s no way really to evacuate,” she said. “You can’t get a rental car, and I’m always afraid of being stuck on the highway. That’s my biggest fear. I tried to evacuate. I had a flight to New York, but it was canceled.’’

Phyllis Wagner-Bolger and more than a dozen members of her family spent the night at Ursuline Academy on State Street, where her brother, Steve Wagner, is facility manager.

Monday morning, there was about a foot of water on the streets, she said. “There isn’t one big tree left. All of these cypress and oak trees on the outer perimeter, they’re all down. We lost power at 10 til 5 in the morning, and it was between 3 and 4 a.m. that we started hearing all the trees fall.”

Part of the roof also was blown off, and the skylight in a storage room shattered, Wagner-Bolger said.

“You look out there, and all this stuff is toppled. You know what’s still standing? The statue of Jesus with the outstretched arms. No matter what you believe, it’s pretty amazing, ” said Wagner-Bolger’s sister, Doris Bastiansen.

From Paula Drive near Sauve Road in River Ridge, Shawn Gwin reported no major problems. "This part of River Ridge has never flooded. It looks dry out comparatively. There's just lots of debris -- tree debris."

St. Bernard update 10:45 a.m.

Some people who stayed in St. Bernard Parish were
forced up into their attics to escape the floodwaters,
said state Sen. Walter Boasso, who heard from local
officials that some houses in Chalmette had water
rising beyond the second floor.

“We know people were up in the attics hollering for
help,” said Boasso, who evacuated to Baton Rouge and
was camped out at the state Office of Emergency
Preparedness. Hopefully rescue workers will be able to
get to people who are trapped before the water rises
too high, he said.

The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has 60
boats ready to go out to rescue people in St. Bernard
as soon as the winds subside, he said. The agency has
200 boats that can be deployed into southeast
Louisiana to look for people who are stranded on top
of their houses.

On the north side of Judge Perez Drive, waters had risen as
high as 10 feet, he said. Boasso, who lives in
Chalmette, said he has been in touch with Council
Chairman Joey DiFatta.

People who sought last-minute refuge at Chalmette High
School were huddling in the hallways after windows
were blown out, said Boasso, who added that the
building had sustained some structural damage. The
roof of the Civic Auditorium was blown off, he said.

Boasso said extensive
flooding in the Lower 9th Board and St. Bernard Parish
could be blamed on water going over the tops of the


Several downed trees and branches have been reported in the 1000 block
of Burdette Street, in the Carrollton-Riverbend area of New Orleans. Water
has risen only to the curb level of that block of Burdette.

"The water is standing and not flowing north toward Oak Street as in past
storms," said Louis Otto of 1031 Burdette St. "So far, so good."

Power is out but phone lines were still working at 10:30 a.m., Otto said. Otto
said it is still difficult to determine the extent of property damage
because of the force of the wind gusts and the heavy horizontal rain.

He said a tree has fallen on the porch of the house which he owns next door.
Another large branch has fallen on to the driveway of the house across
the street at 1032 Burdette, but the house appears to be spared.

Jefferson Parish issues "boil water" alert

Residents on both banks of Jefferson Parish are urged to boil water before drinking. Waterworks officials also report no water pressure in the parish.

Phone systems failing

Portions of the telephone system in metropolitan New Orleans failed about 9:30 a.m., further isolating the city as Katrina's center passed.

Remote phone switching stations and wireless phone antennas, or cell sites, switched to backup battery or generator power after losing power from electrical lines. But many of those backup power sources were temporary.

Bu mid-morning, dialing into and out of the New Orleans area was becoming increasingly difficult.

Even Entergy without power

Power outages seem to have have hit almost everyone in the city, even
Entergy New Orleans' command center at the Hyatt Regency Hotel next to the

Dan Packer, the utility's chief executive officer, said the blackout is
hampering his ability to keep up with the latest on the storm.

"Not having electricity hurts a little bit because we can’t see what
the rest of the world can see," he said by telephone around 9:45 a.m.

So far, Katrina has lived up to the predictions of utility forecasters,
Packer said.

"We were expecting the worst and I think it's meeting those expectations
for us at this point," he said.

Water rises in Lakeview

A resident inside a camelback bungalow in the Homedale
neighborhood in Lakeview on Monday at 9 a.m. watched street floodwaters
rise above the porch steps as he also battled water pouring down
his stairwell from a second-floor window blown out by high winds
from the west. The homeowner said floodwater had not yet come inside
his home but was rising. He said he planned to move with his dog
to the second floor and pray.

Water, water everywhere

Floodwaters are starting to become a problem in Orleans Parish, with 6 to 8 feet of water collecting in the Lower 9th Ward, state officials said at a briefing Monday just before 9 a.m.

After a morning conference call with state and parish officials, Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau said emergency personnel stationed at Jackson Barracks have confirmed that the waters are rising, although he could not say whether the cause was a levee breach or overtopping. Extensive flooding has been reported along St. Claude and Claiborne avenues.

Landreneau confirmed reports that a leak has developed at the Superdome, where thousands of people who could not leave the city are waiting out the storm. But he said the building is still structurally sound and that people had been moved from the spot that is leaking.

"They moved people in an orderly fashion to get out of the water coming through," said Gov. Kathleen Blanco at a brief news conference with reporters at the state Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Five floors of windows at Charity Hospital have blown out, with flooding reported on the first floor of the hospital, which has remained open, officials said.

Local officials are also reporting that floodwaters are encroaching on roads in the lower-lying parishes of St. Bernard and Plaquemines. The 911 call centers in
St. Bernard and Orleans parishes have been shut down and evacuated, Landreneau said.

Many reports of damage are remaining unconfirmed because local emergency officials can't get out to check on the situation, Landreneau said. But state
officials were told of roof damage and some structural failures of buildings in St. Bernard Parish, he said.

Blanco asked people who evacauted the metropolitan New Orleans area to remain outside the region until they are told by local officials that it is safe to return. While the hurricane-force winds will sweep through by the early afternoon, there will be tropical storm-like gusts into the evening.

Anybody who tries to return to the area tonight will likely not be able to reach their destinations, Blanco said. "You will hamper search and rescue efforts," the
governor said. "It will be impossible for you to get where you need to go."

St. Bernard rescue efforts to begin as soon as wind subsides

St. Bernard Parish officials said they are preparing efforts to rescue stranded residents, as they continue to receive reports of widespread flooding and damage accross the parish.

One of the worst hit areas was Arabi, where up to 8 feet of water was being reported. But Parish Council Chairman Joey DiFatta said other parts of St. Bernard were also hit.

"Water is inundating everywhere. We have buildings and roofs collapsing. We're preparing rescue efforts and as soon as the wind subsides we'll start trying to get people out of St. Bernard," he said.

Gretna City Hall damaged

Speaking on WWL radio Monday morning, Gretna Mayor Ronnie Harris said a piece of the roof was ripped from City Hall.

Also, he said, there had been a diesel fuel spill in the city, which might be carried to various parts of the city by the rainwater. That might cause those residents who did not flee the hurricane to notice a diesel smell, he cautioned.

City Hall: Like a rock

From the upper floors of New Orleans City Hall the sights are almost surreal: A hole in the top of the Superdome, where the vicious winds peeled back a portion of the white roof; broken windows in buildings up and down Loyola Avenue; curtains waving from smashed windows in the Amoco Building.

Sad sights, indeed. But it still made City Hall maintenance employee Herbert Williams a little proud. His building, after all, was taking all that Katrina could dole out.

City Hall might not be the prettiest building around, but today it's been solid as a rock.

"It makes us feel better about the strength and security of this building,'' Williams said.

As for the Dome, City Councilman Oliver Thomas said evacuees there have been moved to other, safer areas inside the building.

Calls to Coast Guard

Petty Officer Cliff Roberts from the U.S. Coast Guard command center in St. Louis said they have had about four dozen emergency electronic signals from vessels in Grand Isle, Venice and elsewhere.
"It's unbelievable."
They're also getting calls from residents in distress who can't get through on 911 lines. They've had reports of people on roof tops at Villere and Louisa streets and in the 200 block of Almonaster Drive.
The Coast Guard can't respond to these of sorts of calls at this point, so they're passing them along to local law enforcement. Once the storm is over, the admiral plans to "flood the sky with planes to search for the vessels from which they received signals," Roberts said.
Roberts guessed that the electronic signals means the boats are being tossed around, but it doesn't necessarily mean there are people aboard or that the vessels have gone down.

Stranded, hospitalized will be priorities when storm passes

Terry Ebbert, director of Orleans Parish Homeland Security, said rescue priority has to be given to citizens who are stranded in their homes because of flood waters, as well as to those who are hospitalized.

"If we've got water when this thing passes by noon, we'll probably have water," he said.

If the storm passes by 2 p.m., Ebbert said, "we have a few hours to get these people out before dark. It may involve some airlifts.''

Tammany planning for aftermath

St. Tammany officials are finalizing their plans for clearing strategic
roads once the threat of the hurricane has passed.

Parish President Kevin Davis said the routes will ensure that electric
company crews can re-enter the parish and that ambulances can reach
hospitals. He said returning evacuees will not be allowed back into St.
Tammany until roads are safe to drive.

Davis said he hopes to take a survey of the roads at 6 p.m., when winds
could still reach 40 mph. But he cautioned that even the few main
routes might not be cleared Monday.

"We may not have these roads open until tomorrow," Davis said. "We've
got a long couple of days ahead."

Dexter Accardo, St. Tammany's emergency preparedness director, has
predicted that the parish will have a head-start on distributing supplies,
including water, ice, meals-ready-to-eat and blue tarps for torn roofs. He said
commodities trucks that waited out the storm in Alabama will eventually
converge on the parish fairgrounds north of Covington and a site near
Slidell or Pearl River, where the distribution will be coordinated.

Accardo said stranded residents shouldn't expect emergency crews to be
able to enter neighborhoods in the hours after the storm.

St. Tammany officials are also urging residents to disinfect their
water wells once storm threats have ceased. To do so, pour 1 to 2 gallons
of household bleach in the wellhead along with at least 15 gallons of
clean water. An hour later, open every faucet in the system and let the
water run until the smell of chlorine can be detected. Turn off all faucets for
at least eight to 12 hours, then allow water to run from all the faucets
until the smell of chlorine has disappeared.

Katrina update

Hurricane Katrina's eye is poised to pass to the east of downtown New Orleans at 9 a.m. with top winds of 135 mph, at the low end of a Category 4 storm, which may help reduce damage in the city, Metairie, the River Parishes and western parts of St. Tammany Parish.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Katrina is moving to the north at 15 mph, and is expected to enter southern Mississippi later today.

The storm's central pressure was 923 millibars, a significant drop from the 904 millibars reported Saturday that placed Katrina among the four most intense Atlantic hurricanes in recorded history. Further weakening is forecast as the storm interacts with land.

Earlier this morning, Belle Chasse reported gusts of 105 and 88 mph, while the Lakefront Airport reported an 86-mph gust.

Free parking in Houston

KHOU television in Houston is reporting that anyone with Louisiana plates will have free parking anywhere in Houston today.

Refugees from New Orleans were easy to spot in hotel lobbies around the
city: casually dressed, surrounded by children, eyes riveted to the
television sets.

"My husband was up watching until 3 a.m., when I made him go to bed,"
said Sandra Tate of Avondale, who evacuated with a group of 14 relatives to
a Houston hotel.

Jerry Mancheski of Metairie watched the news solomnly in the coffeeshop
of a Homewood Suites hotel in Houston. "I called home and the answering machine picked up. I guess that means that the power is still on," he said.

Mancheski said he evacuated for Hurricane Ivan last year, but
considered it more of a dry run. "That was more like a two-day vaction," he said. "Now, the way I look at it, if anything is left standing, it's good," he said.

Terrytown resident James Nero arrived in Houston with 20 members of his
extended family, still wearing the heavy black shoes he wears to work
at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

"I didn't have time to pick up anything else," he said, as he hauled
plastic bags full of belongings from his car.

Nero said he is praying for friends who didn't leave. "I keep trying to call, but you can't get through," he said

Dome has hole in roof

The roof of the Superdome, where thousands of New Orleans residents have sought refuge from the storm, was damaged and there are reports of water pouring into the building.

Two sections of the roof were missing, about 1 foot wide by 6 feet long. Witnesses said rain was coming through; people were moved from a section of the Dome floor from the 30-yard line to the end zone, up into the concourses of the building.

People inside seemed to take it fairly calmly, witnesses said.

The Superdome has no electricity, so in addition to the rain coming in, there is no air-conditioning for the thousands of New Orleanians sheltering there.

The Dome was opened Sunday as a shelter of last resort for those who could not evacuate the city.

Hospital windows blown out

Windows have blown out in the West Jefferson Medical Center office building. Because of that, patients in the West Jefferson Medical Center are being evacuated from their rooms into hallways, according to Jennifer Steel, hospital spokeswoman. There were no injuries as a result of the broken windows.

Contrary calico

While hundreds of thousands of people struggled to get into shelters, one calico cat in New Orleans' Carrollton section left no doubt about her desire to get out.

"She won't come in," said Christine Wiltz, her co-owner. "She turns her head away and gazes into the fury of the storm."

The cat's name is Peekaboo, but Wiltz and her husband, Joe Pecot, are thinking of changing her name to Walter Anderson, the Mississippi artist who once had himself lashed to a tree during a storm.

"She came in to eat and demanded to go outside," Wiltz said. "When she gives an order, you listen -- and you obey."

Hurricane damage: Collapsed buildings, massive flooding

During a morning teleconference, emergency preparedness officials from across southeast Louisiana reported flooding, building collapses, power outages and fires.

Here's a run-down of what they reported:
- In New Orleans, water topped a levee along the Industrial Canal. The city's 911 emergency system was out of service and Charity Hospital was on emergency power and windows had been blown out on five floors. The Police Department was operating on a backup power system. Three to four feet of water was reported on St. Claude Avenue at Jackson Barracks. And a 20-foot tidal surge knocked out four pumping stations; only one was able to get back into service.

Also in New Orleans, a bridge connecting a parking garage to Memorial Hospital collapsed.

- In Jefferson Parish, there was a report of a building collapse in the 200 block of Wright Avenue in Terrytown. Parish officials could not provide details other than to say they had been notified that people were inside the building.

- In St. Charles Parish, significant flooding was reported on the east bank.

- In Arabi, up to 8 feet of water was reported, and people are climbing into their attics to escape the flooding. "We're telling people to get into the attic and take something with them to cut through the roof if necessary,'' said Col. Richard Baumy of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office. "It's the same scenario as Betsy.''

Baumy said 100-plus mph winds were preventing rescue efforts.

At Bayou Bienvenue, water levels were reported at 9 1/2 feet, almost twice normal levels.

- In St. John, massive power outages are reported.

- In Gramercy, there was extensive damage to the town's 1 1/2-year-old fire station.

- Terrebonne Parish reported a fatality from a heart attack.

Two fires reported in Tammany

Two fires were reported in Covington Monday morning.

A fire shortly after 7 a.m. destroyed the building housing Backyard Paradise in the 800 block of Rutland Street in Covington.

The building was burned to the ground. The cause is unknown, but officials suspect it is related to the storm.

St. Tammany Parish fire officials learned of a fully engulfed house in
Covington early Monday, but crews did not respond. John O'Neil,
superintendent of the parish's fire services, said he drove to the site
in a car, but determined it wasn't safe for a fire engine to respond.

O'Neil said He has no idea if anyone was injured in the fire. "The winds were blowing too hard and too many trees were falling."

O'Neil said there was a 90 percent chance the fire wouldn't spread,
because the wooden shot-gun house was bordered by an empty lot.

Elsewhere in western St. Tammany, trees were down and debris littered the roads. Traffic signals at the intersection of U.S. 190 and Crestwood Drive were blown to the ground, as were several commercial signs along the thoroughfare.

There were no immediate reports of flooding in the Covington area.

Ready for recon operations

Aircraft are positioned from Hammond to the Texas
border ready to fly behind the storm to check damage
after it passes over New Orleans, said Maj. Gen.
Bennett C. Landreneau, head of the Louisiana National

Search and rescue operations are being coordinated by
the Guard with the state Wildlife and Fisheries
Department and Coast Guard poised to help search for
survivors stranded by the storm. Guardsmen are also
deployed at the Jackson Barracks ready to head into
the city using high-water vehicles, Landreneau said.

There are an estimated 27,639 people in state and Red
Cross shelters across the state, as well as 574
evacuees in 11 shelters in Texas, according to a
spokeswoman for the state Department of Social

Entergy reports massive outages

Entergy Louisiana spokesman Chanel Lagard said Monday morning that the utility had suffered damage to transmission lines that connect communities to power plants, as well damage to distribution lines connecting substations to homes and businesses.

The result: Some 317,000 Entergy customers were without electricity as of 6 a.m., about half the company's customers in metropolitan New Orleans.

Utility workers were monitoring the grid electronically from the safety of the company's operations center, a windowless, bunker-like structure in Gretna.

Lagard said it will be hours before utility workers can venture outdoors to more accurately assess the damage to the system.

Water tops 9th Ward levee system

On an early morning radio interview, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said that water was coming over the levee system in the Lower 9th Ward, especially in the Florida Avenue area. Nagin said that the Florida Avenue pumping station was not working, and there were unconfirmed reports of people standing on their roofs.

"There is a significant amount of water in the 9th Ward," Nagin said.

Nagin said that city officials had reports of at least five fires in the city and one collapsed building. The locations of the fires and the building were not specified.

Meanwhile, a 9th Ward resident reported that houses were taking in water on Reynes Street at the Claiborne Avenue bridge.

Not all of the 9th Ward, however, appeared to have water problems.

A group of about a half dozen families, some with severe hardships, were riding out the storm near the corner of Feliciana and Marais streets. Among those who stayed was a mother with a son paralyzed in a recent shooting and a 56-year-old man with a broken leg.

"The wind's pushing pretty hard here," the man, Paul Garrett, said in a 7:15 a.m. phone interview. "But it doesn't seem to be destroying any rooftops. We're doing OK."

Garrett said he stayed to help other families, as did his neighbor, Arnold Scott, 49.

Scott said the group convinced a pregnant woman to leave and go a hospital Sunday night and had to flag down a police officer to pick her up. The woman's companion had already left the city after an argument over whether they should evacuate, Scott said.

Both men said they stayed to protect the people and properties on their block.

"There's a little guy that's paralyzed down the street, and he and his mother didn't get a chance to get out," Garrett said. "We didn't want to leave, and then come back and find them dead or something. I made some rafts so I can get down there as fast as I can if I need to. I'm just hoping the water doesn't come in one big surge."

LSU forecasters revise damage estimates

Hurricane Katrina's slight eastward tack has prompted Louisiana State University's hurricane forecasters to recalibrate their damage estimates from wind and flooding as the storm continues its trek toward land.

Computer models generated by a supercomputer at the LSU Hurricane Center from Sunday's 10 p.m. advisory project a "worst-case scenario" of 329,000 buildings in southeast Louisiana sustaining at least some wind damage. That's down from an earlier forecast of a half-million homes damaged, said Marc Levitan, director of the hurricane center.

Storm-surge estimates outside the levee system have also been revised downward to 16-18 feet in eastern New Orleans. Earlier estimates were for 20 feet.

Flooding was expected to be worst in Plaquemines, St. Bernard and eastern Orleans parishes and less severe to the west, Levitan said. Inside the levee system, water is expected to crest at 10 feet above ground-level in eastern Orleans, and at eight to 12 feet above ground-level in Kenner and Norco.

"It's not as bad as the (forecast) last night," Levitan said, referring to forecasts that were based on Sunday afternoon's projections of Katrina's path.

The new Hurricane Center estimates for wind damage to residential structures are as follows: In Orleans 62 percent of homes are expected to sustain minor to moderate damage, and an additional 25 percent could be severely damaged or destroyed. In Plaquemines, 19 percent of homes could see minor to moderate damage, with 79 percent severely damaged or destroyed. St. Bernard could see minor to moderate damage to 43 percent of homes, with 54 percent severely damaged or destroyed. And in Jefferson, 51 percent of homes are estimated to see minor to moderate damage, with 12 percent severely damaged or destroyed.

Thousands in shelters across Louisiana

About 11,470 people sought refuge in Red Cross shelters overnight, with
most of those pouring into the schools and churches when winds and rain
picked up after 11 p.m. Sunday, said Kay Wilkins, CEO of the Red Cross' southeast Louisana chapter.

Officials opened 56 shelters statewide and 17 in St. Tammany Parish,
where Wilkins is heading-up plans for emergency response once the storm
passes. She said some shelters had to squeeze in more people than planned, when they didn't have time to reach other facilities.

"Once contraflow ended and darkness came, people really started flowing
into the shelters," Wilkins said.

Wilkins is coordinating with national Red Cross officials throughout
Monday morning to determine whether crews will be able set up in New Orleans
after the storm and whether long-term shelters will be needed in outlying
parishes for returning evacuees.

Whitecaps in the street in Belle Chasse

In Plaquemines Parish, in Belle Chasse, the generator at the emergency operations center was knocked out about 7:30 a.m. "We're catching hell right now," said parish President Benny Rousselle. "It's unbelievable."

High winds were ripping shingles from roofs near the emergency operations center. "The street in front of us has whitecaps," Rousselle said.

Katrina's strongest punch yet to come

By Mark Schleifstein and Drew Broach

Staff writers

Even as bands of heavy rain accompanied by 100-mph winds moved into the New Orleans area this morning, bending trees in half and plucking camper tops from pickup trucks, the National Hurricane Center warned that Hurricane Katrina still has its biggest punch to come.

The hurricane's eye crossed the mouth of the Mississippi River at about 3 a.m. and was expected to reach eastern New Orleans by about 8 a.m., packing winds that could be as high as 150 mph.

Katrina has begun to interact with land, a process that often leads to a weaker storm, said National Hurricane Center lead forecaster Martin Nelson, but in this case, that weakening will be a slow process.

Already, the drier air over land has begun to infiltrate the western side of the storm, and Katrina's eye has at times been broken open on its southern side. "It draws energy from the warm, moist air on the water," Nelson said. "If you put drier air in, that begins to stifle it."

But probably not until it's passed New Orleans, Nelson said.

He also warned that slight wobbles left or right as the eye moves northward will make little difference in the height of storm surge south and east of the city and in Lake Pontchartrain, because the storm already has been pushing surge water ahead of it into Louisiana's southeastern wetlands and the lake for so long.

"There will be storm surge flooding to the west of the eye because of the packing of water that's occurred as Katrina drives to the coast," he said. Once over land, the western side will see that water rapidly exit, driven by the southern, counterclockwise winds on that side of the storm.

But the bottom line, he said, is that around the New Orleans area, forecasters still expect between 18 and 22 feet of storm surge, with some areas seeing 28 feet of water.

"And battering waves on top of that," Nelson said.

As a result, the 15 inches of rain that may fall in some areas as Katrina moves across the city might seem trivial, "but it could be a big deal," Nelson said, "even if it only complicates things."

Watching the progress of the storm from Jefferson Parish's emergency operations center in Marrero, Walter Maestri sounded an early note of optimism at 3:45 a.m., as Katrina jogged a bit off course. But he also cautioned that conditions could deteriorate as the day progresses.

"It looks like we've done fairly well," he said. "We have had no reports of serious wind damage, and we don't see any indication of tidal surge problems.
"But of course it's still really early. The next four to five hours will tell the tale."

Some East Jefferson drainage canals were topping out as huge pumps struggled to suck rainfall out of neighborhoods and move it over the levee into Lake Pontchartrain.

Street flooding was reported in the vicinty of Transcontinental Drive and Kawanee Avenue, a frequent trouble spot about halfway between the Suburban and Elmwood canals, Maestri said. Rain was falling there at the rate of three inches per hour.

Tens of thousands of residents, perhaps 60 to 65 percent of Jefferson Parish's population, seem to have fled town in advance of Katrina, he said.

"All I can do right now is guess, but based on reports from some of our police agencies, many, many homes are dark," he said.

Katrina arrives with power outages, blinding rain and gusty winds

As dawn approached Monday, the story was the same across metro New Orleans: Heavy wind gusts, soaking rain, some reports of damage, and widespread reports of power outages.

Damage was expected to be significant. As one caller told WWL radio early Monday: "The smell of pine is in the air,'' referring to the snapping of pine trees on the north shore.

However, an in-depth view of the damage was not available because, in most parishes, officials and emergency personnel were still in bunker mode, riding out the storm from the safety of emergency operation centers and other government buildings.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin called a news conference Monday at 7:30 a.m. to update the city on the state of affairs as Katrina continued to bear down on the city. In City Hall, the roof of the CAO's office was leaking.

Sunday night, the military delivered 360,000 meals-ready-to-eat to the 30,000 people using the Superdome as a shelter. Hot food was served Sunday night and Monday morning by workers with the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office.

Also Sunday night, Baton Rouge authorities reported that three residents of a New Orleans nursing home had died during an evacuation of that home to a Baptist church in Baton Rouge.

Entergy said 317,000 customers were without power at 6 a.m.

Cleco Corp. said about 40,000 customers, mostly in St. Tammany Parish, were without power at 6 a.m. That's roughly half of the utility's customers in St. Tammany Parish.

Cleco said about 1,000 customers were without power in the Morgan City area.

In Kenner, police Capt. Steve Caraway said the department's officers were pulled from the streets around 4:45 a.m., after the gusts became too intense.

Throughout the night, Caraway said, police tried to respond to calls from across the city, many of them from people experiencing cardiac distress. Officers took several people to area hospitals, he said.

Caraway said there were reports of street flooding in the 900 to 1200 blocks of Williams Boulevard. He also said there were reports that the Duncan Canal was close to overflowing.

At 6:35 a.m., police received a call that a roof at the Redwood Apartments on West Esplanade Avenue had blown off one of the buildings. However, Caraway said offciers were not able immediately able to respond to the call because of dangerous weather conditions.

Caraway said the department was evaluating calls for assistance to determine which ones to respond to.

Wind gusts of 84 mph were recorded at airport around 6 a.m.

Elsewhere, power outages and heavy winds were the norm.

In St. Bernard, the power was out as of 5 a.m., with wind gusts topping 70 mph, said Col. Richard Baumy of the St. Bernard Sheriff's Office.

Belle Chasse was also dark, with wind gusts of 60 mph, a sheriff's official there said.

In St. Charles Parish, Emergency Operations Director Tab Troxler said power outages were widespread and the wind was blowing at 45 mph, with occasional gusts to 80 mph.

In St. John the Baptist, power outages were being reported on the north side of Airline Highway, parish officials said. They also said there were problems with the water system due to the storm.

Katrina now a Category 4 hurricane, eyewall is three hours from the city

Monday at 3 a.m., the eyewall of a slightly weakened Hurricane Katrina was beginning to cross Southwest Pass at the mouth of the Mississippi River on its way due north at 15 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Katrina now has maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, still a strong Category 4 storm. With a track that's slightly eastward of earlier forecasts, local emergency preparedness officials said early Monday that it could result in less flooding in leveed areas of the metropolitan New Orleans area later today.

But it's still too soon to say how much of the area will be flooded by the combination of storm surge and waves in Lake Pontchartrain and over wetlands along both sides of the Mississippi River. Indeed, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes until 10 a.m.

The weather service cautioned motorists not to drive on roads covered by water because it's difficult to judge the depth. People in vehicles caught in rising water should abandon them immediately and seek higher ground.

Winds of 100 mph have been reported on Grand Isle, and gusts of 70 have accompanied rain squalls in the New Orleans area that have dropped as much as 2 inches of rain an hour. Rain totals of 15 inches are possible in some areas today, as Katrina moves over the area.

Outside New Orleans City Hall, an emergency medical worker surveyed the scene.

"That wind is strong," he said. "It just blew the light of the top of an ambulance."

A tornado watch has been extended until noon for the New Orleans area, as tornadoes could be embedded in thunderstorms in rainbands surrounding Katrina's eye. The storm's eyewall is about 3 hours away from the city.

With Katrina tracking ever so slightly toward the northeast, a monitoring buoy 50 miles east of Plaquemines Parish in the Gulf of Mexico recorded sustained winds of 50 knots and gusts of 63 knots at around 3 a.m., according to climatologist Luigi Romolo of the Southern Regional Climate Center. Waves there were cresting at 47 feet.

Amid the rain, two fires

Structure fires were reported early Monday at a house in New Orleans' Fontainebleau neighborhood and a daycare center in north Kenner.

The Kenner Fire Department said a police officer discovered one blaze about 2:30 a.m. in the 3400 block of Florida Avenue. The building was destroyed, police said. Flames were fanned by the Katrina's advance winds.

The New Orleans Fire Department reported a one-alarm fire on Panama Court near Colapissa Street at about 12:15 a.m.

Roads, bridges closing down

The Crescent City Connection, Huey P. Long bridge, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Belle Chasse tunnel and Louisana 632 in St. Charles Parish are closed.

State workers using museum as shelter

With hotels in Baton Rouge and points west booked solid, the state has set up temporary shelter for about 20 state employees from New Orleans at the Louisiana State Museum, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu said.

Nursing homes relocate residents

About 15 of 82 nursing homes in southeast Louisiana conducted a full evacuation of their residents in advance of Hurricane Katrina, said Joe Donchess, executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association.

Another five to seven nursing homes made various arrangements to get their residents out of harm's way, either by dropping their sickest patients off at local hospitals or renting rooms at New Orleans-area hotels to guard against flooding.

"So far the process is working fairly well," Donchess said, although a few facilities experienced glitches while trying to line up buses and drivers to transport residents to safety.

He estimated that about 40-45 nursing facilities decided to "shelter in place" rather than evacuate. Another 15 nursing homes in the region expected to suffer the brunt of the hurricane have not reported their evacuation plans to the association, Donchess said.

Anyone seeking information about specific nursing homes can call (225) 925-1947.

Fire units standing down

Jefferson Parish Fire Department units were ordered to stand down at 12:44 a.m., and the New Orleans Fire Department has followed suit. Superintendent Charles Parent thanked firefighters for all their work, told them to lock down their gear and head for their “refuge of last resort.”

Times-Picayune's Monday Edition now online

The Times-Picayune has released pre-strike hurricane stories and PDF images of several main pages from the Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, issue.

Read Monday's coverage

PDF images: Page 1 | Page 4 | Page 8

4,000 National Guardsmen to help patrol city

The city’s director of homeland security said tonight that officials hope Katrina gets through the region Monday with several hours of daylight left so they can get up in the air and assess the damage.

“We are going to have very limited communication,” Terry Ebbert said. “The first order of business will be life-saving operations.” That may mean relocating thousands of people in the Superdome once power goes out and temperatures start to rise above 100 degrees, he said.

“We are going to have to evacuate more people if we get flooding,” Ebbert said. “We may have a couple of hospitals in trouble with power, because they are low to the ground.”

Ebbert said the city will have help getting itself back together. More than 4,000 national guardsmen are mobilizing in Memphis and will help police New Orleans’ streets.

For now, though, officials are at City Hall, waiting. “We are hunkered down. There is not much we can do tonight,” he said.

Airport outlook: Flights possible by Tuesday

Flights into Louis Armstrong International Airport could resume Tuesday, possibly late Monday, an airport spokeswoman said. That was the prediction as the airport ceased all flight operations Sunday evening. Airport officials advised travelers to check with their airline or the airport's web site (www.flymsy.com) about when service returns to Armstrong.

Water encroaches along lake front

Waves crashed atop the exercise path on the Lake Pontchartrain levee in Kenner early Monday as Katrina churned closer. Police maintained a high profile on the streets, but civilian traffic was almost non-existent.