by Kevin Allman
Listening to WWL-AM online, with reports from the scene. (You can too.) The national media have been
tits on a bishop pretty useless when it comes to reporting on Gustav. From watching CNN and the rest, it all looks just like Katrina. Like an ugly baby, one big blob in the GOM is much like another.
What I can tell you is that at least a dozen people I know (some of whom didn't leave even during Katrina) are right this minute throwing what they can in their cars and preparing to flee.
What makes Gustav different? Katrina hit as a Category 3 storm, which the city was able to withstand for 24 hours or so until the levees built and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed and inundated 80% of the city.
Gustav is different. Gustav is a Category 4 at landfall (probably) and it will be striking the city in a more vulnerable place, from one of the worst possible directions, where it can stall and drop more water with the winds. While Katrina was largely an engineering disaster (as well as a bipartisan cock-up of major proportions), Gustav is shaping up as a natural disaster...one that will flood different areas of the city, not only from broken and overtopped levees but also by the sheer amount of water coming from the sky.
Well, then, why in God's name do you live there?
Because it's home. And it's interesting. And the food is good. And the people are great. Look, bunky, there are thousands of miles of U.S. coastline that are susceptible to hurricanes. Having two storms like these hit the city within three years of each other (in fact, on the third anniversary) is so improbable that it's mathematically astronomical. Had two storms like this hit Miami within three years of each other, I don't think people would wonder why people live in Miami; they'd just think Miami had drawn some jaw-dropping, astoundingly bad luck.
Meanwhile, I've broken into my hurricane evacuation kit:
(The yellow bag on the left is Mello Joy coffee. Even under duress, we have standards.)