Hell and High Water as Ivan Smashes into US; TWO MILLION FLEE AMID FEARS THAT NEW ORLEANS MAY BE SWAMPED

The Evening Standard (London, England), September 16, 2004 | Go to article overview

Hell and High Water as Ivan Smashes into US; TWO MILLION FLEE AMID FEARS THAT NEW ORLEANS MAY BE SWAMPED


Byline: PAUL SIMS

HURRICANE IVAN today began its final devastating sweep across the southern states of America.

More than two million Americans have already fled having been urged not to brave the storm.

An 11th-hour shift turned the centre of Ivan away from New Orleans but the fringes of the vast storm could still cause catastrophic flooding in the city, which lies below sea level.

Even now, the smallest change in trajectory could bring Ivan ashore right over the city. A direct hit could send a 20ft storm surge pounding into New Orleans, carrying a toxic cocktail of sewage, chemicals and natural gas from nearby facilities.

Walter Maestri, an emergency manager in the city, said he had already prepared 10,000 body bags, predicting that if Ivan remained a Category Four storm, 50,000 people could drown and the city could be destroyed.

"This could be the one. You're talking about the potential loss of a major metropolitan area," he said.

Those who were unable to leave New Orleans have been told to make a " vertical evacuation" to the tops of high buildings. …

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