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Katrina: Whatta Bitch!

By Rachelle Bowden in News on Aug 31, 2005 4:58PM

Along with everyone else, Chicagoist has been watching as Katrina formed, advanced, and finally plowed over New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Our hearts go out to everyone who was there and who lost family and friends, their homes and possessions.

In some ways, this storm was reminiscent of Hurricane Andrew, a Category 4 hurricane that immobilized Miami-Dade County (and one Chicagoist staffer) in 1992. Both 2005_08_hurricane_roof.jpgstorms crept slowly towards their target, leaving Miami and Gulf Coast residents hoping in vain that they’d somehow change course. Both unleashed their jaw-droppingly destructive power on live TV: Andrew damaged the National Hurricane Center and tore the satellite dish off its roof, Katrina tore into the roof of the Louisiana Superdome where thousands of residents were taking shelter. Incredibly trying aftermaths followed: neighborhoods in shambles, looters on the rampage, and power outages that may last for weeks.

But Katrina also brought an incredible storm surge, a wall of water that broke through levies and has immobilized New Orleans and surrounding areas. In 1992, authorities urged storm survivors to stay in their neighborhoods so as not to impede relief efforts. This week, authorities are urging survivors to evacuate their hotels and shelters due to rising waters. Then, the National Guard cordoned off South Dade to keep out looters. Now, the Navy and Coast Guard are sailing into the city to aid the evacuation and relief efforts. Katrina’s death toll has already surpassed Andrew’s, and more bodies could surface when the waters finally recede.

2005_08_katrina_oil_gas.03.jpgSo how does this affect you here, besides wondering if you're going to get your drink on in the French Quarter next year on your yearly trip to Nawlins? Well Chicago already has just about the highest gas prices in the country and the hurricane is just going to make it worse. Katrina is one of the most powerful hurricanes in US history and has forced the closing of 1/10th of the country's refining capacity and a quarter of its oil production.. which then causes a spike in gasoline and heating oil prices EVERYWHERE. Just in time for Labor Day weekend, when people go on long roadtrips to visit friends and relatives and to go camping and to the beach and stuff, gas is expected to reach $3/gallon.

2005_08_redcross.jpgWhat is Chicago doing to help? Volunteers from the local Red Cross have already been deployed to the region and are sending more over the next several days. They're also connecting with a ton more volunteers who have been deployed from other Red Cross chapters around the country. Priorities for volunteers: provide shelter, food, clothing, and medication. Volunteers will stay down there for 3 weeks then will be replaced with new volunteers.

What can you do to help if you can't take off and go down to New Orleans? TODAY, RIGHT NOW go to the Red Cross website and click on the big button that says "Donate Now." Your money will go to help the volunteers wtih their efforts.

Also, the Bulls point guard, Chris Duhon grew up in Slidell, LA and has set up a foundation in conjunction with FEMA to assist victims in his hometown, which was pretty much ravaged. Jay Williams, Raymond Felton and Vin Baker have already pledged contributions. If you'd like to give, send donations to Stand Tall Foundation, c/o Chris Duhon, 1151 N. State St., Box 249, Chicago, IL 60610.

During these trying times, the media are focusing on the inspirational lessons that can be learned from this tragedy. Lessons like "things are easier when you're rich." That's the only news we can glean from the story of Tulane University freshman and Chicago area resident Kyle Kogan. Kyle was moving into his Tulane University dorm when 2005_08_limo.jpgthe hurricane hit. He planned to go to a shelter in Mississippi because, bless his heart, there were lots of girls there. But Kyle's parents spoiled all the fun and chartered a private limo home to Chicago. Cost: $3700.

According to the Chicago Tribune, poor Kyle had to spend the entire limo ride sleeping and watching Reservoir Dogs on his laptop. No hurricane sex for him. Lest you think that Kyle escaped the hurricane unscathed, his mother informs us that he was the victim of a "terrible headache." The cause? Her ringing cell phone thanks to constant calls from TV personalities like Larry King and Tucker Carlson. In all fairness, the Kogans were nice enough to let a couple from South Dakota hitch a ride with them. But thanks to Kyle's media-friendly parents, we think he's going to end up spending the semester trying to get rid of the nickname Limo Boy.

Images via AFP/Getty Images/File/Chris Graythe, CNN

Thanks to Justin & Scott for their contributions to this post!