Everything looked not better, but so much worse in the morning after Katrina's assault on the Big Easy as waters flooded the city in the wake of several breaches in the levees. The scope of the devastation was described by the head of FEMA as "catastrophic," and President Bush cut short his vacation to oversee the official response. "This is so much bigger than all of our fears, that we don't know how to tell you yet how big it is, the Mayor was saying at a press conference earlier," Shepard Smith reports from the scene:
That's a city that no longer functions. Priority number one is getting rid of the water. Everybody is being asked to get out of the city. Reconstruction can't begin until they get the water out, and getting the water out, they say conservatively, will take two weeks.
On the economic front, "Katrina's trail through the Gulf of Mexico and its key oil and natural-gas production facilities rattled energy markets," reports the Wall Street Journal, and "though the extent of damage there also won't be known for weeks, the White House signaled its willingness to open the nation's emergency oil stockpile if needed."
What can individual citizens do? "The highways in many cases are impassable, so they're urging people to stay off the roads to allow emergency personnel to get through," reports Rick Leventhal. Local citizens are being asked to mobilize their motorboats and report for duty to help rescue people stranded on rooftops throughout the city.
It's Tocqueville's "civil society" in action, with private individuals coming together in common purpose, and the blogosphere is gearing up to do its part. "Hugh Hewitt is suggesting a day of concerted blogging for hurricane relief efforts," writes Glenn Reynolds:
It's a good idea. How about Thursday, to give people a chance to organize? I'll link blog posts -- and in the meantime, send me suggestions for aid organizations worth mentioning. Put "flood aid" in the subject line.
Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com and/or tell us here in the comments and we'll post your suggestions. Hewitt sensibly favors supporting "groups that will be in the region beyond the immediate relief effort," making "loans/grants to people to get houses and businesses repaired." We're thinking of animal relief efforts, natch.