“And there will be … upon earth despair among nations, with
perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men’s
hearts will faint from terror, being apprehensive of what is coming
upon the world.” (Luke 21:25-26)
Yes, it was another
“big one.” Hurricane Katrina, fueled by the warm waters of the Gulf
of Mexico, battered the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama
with winds as high as 240 km/h.
It was one of the most deadly
and costly natural Prophecy in US history. The UN said it was one
of the world’s worst natural Prophecy in terms of property damage,
and it outstripped the December tsunami in Asia.
Before Katrina, the most
deadly hurricane in US history was the one that hit Galverston,
Texas, in 1900. Between 8,000 and 12,000 lives were lost. But the
costliest was the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew, which struck with a
fury in Florida and Louisiana on Aug. 24, 1992, killing 15 persons
and leaving 250,000 homeless. It cost $26.5 billion.
The cost of recovery from
Katrina’s vengeance is expected to be as much as $US 200 billion.
Four states were affected, but
New Orleans in south Louisiana suffered the worst damage. For weeks,
the city looked like a war zone, and was patrolled by troops in
trucks and armoured personnel carriers, and with helicopters
Katrina also virtually
destroyed the cities of Gulfport and Biloxi in the state of
Mississippi, and many other smaller cities.
New Orleans had a population
of around 500,000. It was renowned as a city of charm, music and
revelry, but it was also famous for its decadence and lawlessness –
it was a place where “everything was for sale.” Before the hurricane
the city was rotting with a neglected infrastructure, increasing
poverty, a high crime rate, and a corrupt police force.
Hurricane Katrina formed in
the Bahamas on August 25, and the next day it became evident that it
would be a major threat to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. On Aug 27,
the Mayor ordered residents to evacuate New Orleans. The hurricane
hit the area over the next two days causing heavy damage, but,
everyone thought, the city had survived. Then a worse-case scenario
happened – four levees broke, allowing water to pour in, flooding
80% of the city.
(New Orleans is hedged in
between Lake Pontchartrain on the north, and the Mississippi River
on the south. Most of the city is around 3 metres (9 ft.) below sea
level. The city is surrounded by a 565 km system of levees - walls
built to hold back the waters.)
As the city flooded, 100,000
people were stranded, and were without food, water, phones, or power
After the hurricane struck,
the American emergency-management system seemed to be paralyzed.
Anarchy broke out, and armed gangs had the run of New Orleans. Many
police abandoned their posts, unwilling to work in a lawless city.
The gangs terrorized the hapless people – raping and looting with
impunity, and shooting at police and rescue workers. Rescue teams
and relief took days to arrive.
The US administration,
including the President, came under severe censorship for its slow
response in sending aid to the most affected states – Louisiana,
Mississippi and Alabama.
The seeming inability of the
federal and local authorities to rescue survivors and to maintain
law and order, raised questions about the government’s preparedness
to respond to other natural Prophecy, and to terrorist attacks.
Some argue that the demands of the Iraq war were preventing the
country from protecting itself at home.
One congressman said;
“Clearly, with all the money we’ve spent, all the focus we have put
on homeland security, we are not prepared for a disaster of this
proportion whether it’s induced by nature or man.”
NEW ORLEANS HAD BEEN ANTICIPATED
President Bush commented that
no-one had foreseen the breeching of the New Orleans’s levees. In
fact, the possibility of such a New Orleans disaster has been
anticipated for many years. Everyone knew that is would come, sooner
In 2001, (before Sept 11), the
Houston Chronicle quoted the Federal Emergency Management
Agency as saying, the three mostly likely Prophecy to threaten the
US are; 1. an earthquake in San Francisco; 2. a terrorist attack in
New York City; and, 3. a hurricane hitting New Orleans.
The FEMA “prophetic” passage
read: “The New Orleans hurricane scenario may be the deadliest of
all. In the face of an approaching storm, scientists say, the city’s
less-than-adequate evacuation routes would strand 250,000 people or
more, and probably kill one of 10 left behind as the city drowned
under 20 feet (6m) of water. Thousands of refugees could land in
Houston. Economically, the toll would be shattering … If an
Allison-type storm were to strike New Orleans, or a category three
storm or greater with at least 178 km/h winds, the results would be
New Orleans was a disaster
waiting to happen. Someone described the city as “a fool’s
paradise.” But with the focus on the war on terror, natural hazards
were put on the back burner. The billions of dollars needed to
upgrade the levees of this city were not available – and President
Bush was unwilling to allocate more than $250 million for that
The commander of the US Army
Corps of Engineers put it bluntly, “We were just caught by a storm
of an intensity that exceeded the designs of the project we have in
THE PRESIDENT ACCEPTS
After the political fallout
from the disaster had rocked the US and the While House for more
than two weeks, President Bush accepted responsibility for his
“Katrina exposed serious
problems in our response capabilities at all levels of government,”
he said. “To the extent the federal Government didn’t fully do its
job right, I take responsibility.”
THE HUMAN TRAGEDY
NEW ORLEANS has suffered nine
major hurricanes since 1909, but Katrina was the worst. It is hard
to take in the immensity of this ferocious storm. The misery,
suffering and distress that followed was on a level never before
experienced in the Unites States; lawlessness, anarchy, looting, and
violence broke out, while sewage, overwhelming stench, disease and
death turned the city into a stinking ghost town. Many stranded
people had died while waiting to be rescued, and bodies were
floating in the flood waters for many days.
The flood waters became a
“toxic soup” as petroleum products from industrial plants and
submerged cars and trucks mixed with household and business
chemicals, sewage and decomposing bodies, threatening to produce a
health and environmental catastrophe.
New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin
warned that what was waiting below the poisonous mix of gasoline,
industrial chemicals and human waste would be gruesome. “It’s not
safe here. There is toxic waste in the water and dead bodies and
mosquitoes and gas. We are pumping about a million dollars’ worth of
gas a day in the air. Fires have been started and we don’t have
The government ordered
everyone to leave the city. Within two weeks the evacuation of New
Orleans was almost complete. But some people simply did not want to
leave their homes; about 5000 were left in the city.
Some 400,000 refugees were
scattered across 13 states – 240,000 of them in neighbouring Texas
where a public health emergency was declared.
After eight days the first
breached levee was plugged, and engineers began to pump water out
the flooded city. But they declared that it would take three months
to pump the water out of the city, and it would take more than that
to clear the debris and demolish the ruined buildings. And it could
be months before water and electricity is restored.
Big frustrations were felt
also along the Mississippi coast, where people who had stayed were
stranded in demolished neighborhoods and had to scavenge for
The official death toll, 3
weeks after the hurricane, had risen to1066, but bodies were being
found every day. Authorities said it would be another six weeks
before all homes could be searched.
THE ECONOMIC DISASTER
IN TWO DAYS Katrina took out
New Orleans, and with it, a functional port complex.
New Orleans could not be
regarded as a small, unimportant city. It was, until Aug 28, the
supporting city of the South Louisiana ports which move more tonnage
each year than any other port in the US.
The Ports of South Louisiana
and New Orleans export
more than 52
million tons a year, including a large proportion of US agriculture
- corn, soybean, etc. And almost as much cargo is
through the ports — including
crude oil, chemicals, fertilizers, coal, concrete and steel.
This is the fifth-largest port
complex in the world.
The US has a great system of
rivers that flow through the Midwest, and all of them converge on
the mighty Mississippi, and flow down to the ultimate port of New
Produce from the heartland of
America is transported down the River by barges to the ports in and
around New Orleans where they are unloaded, stored, sold and
reloaded onto ocean-going vessels. Until Aug 28, New Orleans, in
many ways, was the pivot of the American economy.
In one weekend, Katrina shut
down America’s biggest port complex and put a halt to its mighty
river transport system which generated more than $US 800 billion in
trade each year. And without a city with its infrastructure, work
force, oil fields and pipelines, the largest port in the United
States is largely paralysed. The storm wiped out a half million jobs
The Louisiana Offshore Oil
Port, which services supertankers in the Gulf seems to be intact;
and while the Mississippi River as a transport corridor has not been
lost, the ports and oil platforms must be restored.
But New Orleans, the support
city of the import-export industry, has been so badly damaged that
most of it will not be habitable for a long time. The population has
either fled or has been evacuated, and many of the work force do not
want to return Many will find jobs and facilities in other states.
If the Mississippi River and
the port complex are shut to traffic for long, the foundations of
the economy would be shattered. If industrial materials needed in
the factories do not come in, if steel for auto industry does not
come up the river, and if the agricultural produce does not flow
out, there will be a tremendous impact on American and world
Adequate alternative routes
and transport are not readily available. Apart from river transport
being cheaper, there aren’t enough trucks or rail cars to handle the
long-distance hauling of these enormous quantities.
Everyone is worried about the
effect on the price of oil which may be very painful; but the impact
of the shutdown of the Mississippi commerce could be even more
This is a national crisis,
because without the largest port in the United States and its
supporting city, America’s export-import is greatly set back. So it
is essential that New Orleans is rebuilt. And it will be! But it is
going to take a long time.
Economists are warning that
the physical and psychological damage caused by Katrina is likely to
curb economic growth in the US and the global economy well into
REBUILDING NEW ORLEANS
WEEKS of foul waters have
ruined wiring and insulation, and the buildings themselves. And as
most of the city’s homes are wooden structures, much of the city
will need to be demolished.
The federal government has
pledged billions of dollars for rebuilding funds, but it will take
months for the basic recovery efforts to be completed before the
money for reconstruction starts flowing.
There are many who would like
to see the city rebuilt on higher ground, but there are those who
insist that New Orleans isn’t going anywhere; it will be rebuilt in
the same place with more powerfully-reinforced levees. New Orleans
must be rebuilt; commerce demands it. There is no alternative!
President Bush has promised
the US government will do and spend whatever it takes to rebuild the
hurricane-hit Gulf Coast. Speaking from the French Quarter of New
Orleans, Mr Bush said billions of dollars would be spent on the
reconstruction - “an unprecedented response to an unprecedented
“Throughout the area hit by
the hurricane, we will do what it takes. We will stay as long as it
takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives,”
Mr Bush said. “There is no way to imagine America without New
Orleans, and this great city will rise again.”
Although the recovery of the
city could take many months, City Mayor Ray Nagin wanted people
owning businesses to return to help get the city infrastructure get
back on its feet. And within a few weeks of the disaster, many began
to return to the higher parts of the city which had not been greatly
affected by the flood waters.
But the plan for an early
return was set back by the prevailing unsafe environment About 40%
of the city was still rotting under the fetid flood waters, and
there was lack of essential facilities. And then there was a new
NEVER BEFORE in US history
have two massive hurricanes hit within three weeks of each other.
Following Katrina’s path, Hurricane Rita developed into a Category
5, and became the third most intense Atlantic hurricane to ever
threaten the US.
As it headed across the Gulf
towards the Texas coast just a few hundred km west of New Orleans,
Rita was 550 km wide, with sustained winds up to 280 km/h.
More than 3 million people
from Galveston, Houston and southern Texas fled from the path of the
Rita downgraded to Category 4
a day before hitting Texas - about the same strength as Katrina, and
then hit land as a Category 3, with winds up to 193 km/h.
The cities of Houston and
Galveston escaped a direct hit, but there was widespread
destruction. The full force of the hurricane hit the oil refineries
and facilities near Beaumont and Port Arthur.
In New Orleans which was on
the edge of the hurricane, there was renewed flooding as some of the
patched up levees were breached again.
THE SOARING OIL PRICES
Katrina not only destroyed one
of America’s most important seaport cities, it also knocked out 25%
of the nation’s oil and gas production, and 15% of its refining
capacity, as well as three crucial pipelines that are arteries of
the economy, and the electrical power needed to keep them going.
And three weeks later,
eighteen oil refineries that account for one quarter of the total
US's fuel production lay in the path of Rita.
Between them, the terrible
twins put at least 13 refineries out of commission, including the
largest US refinery at Baytown, Texas - practically all energy
production in the Gulf of Mexico. This means about 30% of the
nation’s refining capacity was out of action.
The full extent of the damage
to the oil and natural gas infrastructure will not be known for
weeks, and it may be months before output is back to normal. The
same goes for the facilities that refine crude oil into gasoline,
heating oil and jet fuel.
The price of crude oil rose to
$68 per barrel and it was expected to soar to above $70.
Energy costs in the US and
around the world were high, and worldwide energy output was already
stretched thin before Katrina and Rita struck. But these the two
natural Prophecy pushed fuel costs higher around the globe and
created conditions that remind us of 1973 when the Arab oil embargo
created petrol station queues across the country.
With gasoline prices soaring
above $3 a gallon nationwide, the US is facing a serious economic
downturn. And it will be worse shortly when Winter arrives; the
higher cost of home-heating will hit hard.
The impact of higher energy
prices is already hitting hard in Europe, where up to 60% of the
retail price is made up of taxes. The price of gasoline rose to the
equivalent of $6.70 a gallon in Germany and hit a record high in
Switzerland. A week after Katrina, Spaniards were paying more than
$5 per gallon - up nearly 7% from a week earlier.
Consumers in Asia also are
being squeezed, and everyone from auto rickshaws and motorists to
the airlines are affected. Surging oil prices have already sparked
an economic crisis in Indonesia, and are causing concern in China,
India, Australia; in fact the world economy was hit.
With the New Orleans ports out
of commission for months, the US, and the world, could soon be
facing another recession.
What is ahead for the oil
market, and how high will the price of oil go?
Last March, the investment
firm of Goldman Sachs issued a report stating that oil prices are
expected to spike at $105 per barrel.
According to International
Monetary Fund Managing Director, Rodrigo de Rato, oil prices are
unlikely to return to the levels of early 2004 when they were 50%
lower than they are today.