Hurricane Rita: New Orleans flooded again as levee breaks
In New Orleans, the worst-hit areas from Hurricane Katrina, including the Lower Ninth Ward, are again under water:
Hurricane Rita’s steady rains sent water pouring through breaches in a patched levee Friday, cascading into one of the city’s lowest-lying neighborhoods in a devastating repeat of New Orleans’ flooding nightmare.
“Our worst fears came true,” said Maj. Barry Guidry of the Georgia National Guard.
“We have three significant breaches in the levee and the water is rising rapidly,” he said. “At daybreak I found substantial breaks and they’ve grown larger.”
Dozens of blocks in the Ninth Ward were under water as a waterfall at least 30 feet wide poured over and through a dike that had been used to patch breaks in the Industrial Canal levee. On the street that runs parallel to the canal, the water ran waist-deep and was rising fast. Guidry said water was rising about three inches a minute.
The impoverished neighborhood was one of the areas of the city hit hardest by Katrina’s floodwaters and finally had been pumped dry before Hurricane Rita struck.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Ray Nagin said officials believed the neighborhood had been cleared of residents. But throughout Friday, water began rising again onto what remained â€” buckled homes, piles of rubble and mud-caked cars that Katrina had covered with up to 20 feet of water…
Forecasters say anywhere from 3 to 5 inches of rain could fall in New Orleans as Rita passes Friday and Saturday, dangerously close to the 6 inches of rain that Corps officials say the patched levees can withstand.
Another concern is the storm surge accompanying Rita, which could send water rising as much as 3 to 5 feet above high tide.
Already Friday morning, a steady 20 mph wind, with gusts to 35 mph, was blowing, along with steady rains.
Rita is poised to make landfall somewhere along Texas’s Gulf Coast, perhaps near Port Arthur, just east of Galveston, but New Orleans is on the eastern tip of the storm’s approach, and the Rita’s counter-clockwise rotation means that the winds are slamming into Louisiana, causing the surges that have broken through the already-damaged levee.
I have more on this developing story at The Reaction, including a couple of photos.