Katrina: things get worse in New Orleans

News out of the US Gulf Coast area is not good tonight.

In New Orleans, reports that Canal street is now flooded; a levee has just broken near lake Pontchartrain. The breach is about two blocks long. Two nearby hospitals are in imminent danger of flooding, countless residences now in greater danger.

Throughout the area, nobody knows just how many people are drowning or suffering while trapped in their own flooded homes. Nobody knows how many may have already died.

BB reader oboreruhito says:

Here is a citizen journalism photo set. Not sure how often it'll update.

I keep getting reports, both media and from friends, that the water is still rising as of 1 a.m. CDT, even though the hurricane has long since cleared the state. Best guess is that it's a combination of tides and currents pushing water over intact levees and through the breached Ninth Ward levee. Also heard some rumors that the worst things right now are animal infestations and downed power lines – alligators in the east bank, mosquitos breeding like crazy, huge balls of fire ants. This is going to get worse before it gets better.

Still haven't heard from two friends in Slidell, just east of NO, which took the eyewall on the chin. No contact from anyone there since yesterday, and apparently all land routes there have been destroyed or are under feet of water. NOLA.com has some town-hall fourms linked off nola.com/forums, where people are posting and answering questions about specific areas.

Also, it may be worth noting that the Red Cross needs money donations, blood and volunteers more than anything. I have a feeling a lot of people are going to come back with the "Let's send blankets, clothes and canned foods" mindset that followed the tsunami, but if there's anything New Orleans has plenty of, it's food. They need money, badly, for rescue boats, potable water, generators, axes and other search and rescue equipment. Evacuees over here in Lake Charles have been hearing that it'll be 7 days or more before they can return, and the Red Cross desperately needs untrained volunteers at shelters in Louisiana and Texas to take over shelter efforts so the Red Cross can free up trained volunteers to go to Greater New Orleans and southwest Mississippi to support rescue and comfort efforts there. Major shelter points are Houston, Beaumont and Orange, TX; and Lake Charles, Lafayette, Alexandria and Shreveport, LA. And nobody thinks about the blood donations – listen, there are a surprising number of people that are going to have very serious trauma – severed limbs, puncture wounds and internal bleeding. The only common thread is a massive need for blood.

Some noteable flickr streams:

* deaah – photos from hurricane planes in the eyewall

* darrelf – a good roundup of wire photos

Not seeing a whole terrible lot of photos tagged katrina on there. Good night, and best wishes to all the NOLAians you know.

Image: from this photo set by a flickr user. Identified as a shot taken on an NOAA-43 aircraft at sunset, Aug 28, over the eye of hurricane Katrina.

"This shot was taken by a scientist aboard the NOAA-43…since I was flying on a different plane in the rainbands (and thus not really able to see much, as you can see in IMG-0949), I handed my camera off to him so that I could share what they saw there. I'm participating in the RAINEX (hurricane rainband and intesity change experiment) project, so I'm really lucky to be able to fly into these incredible storms…although it is sad to know the devestation that they cause below."

Many more photos of Katrina's damage on this local TV station's website: Link (Thanks, Eutychus)