(Combined Sources)–As the horrors wrought by Hurricane Katrina continue to mount–the devastation–the evacuation–the looting–the deaths and destruction–the sheer scale of it begins to defy imagination
Three days after Katrina struck the the US Gulf Coast–more than 2.3 million people in Mississippi–Louisiana–Alabama ,and Florida still have no electricity.
Officials have so far refused to give a casualty count–but say it could be in thousands.
At least 80,000 people are trapped in New Orleans alone as flood waters surged into the low lying city from breached embankmen’s. To rescue the huge number of displaced people is the biggest challenge for authorities.
Katrina’s effect on oil supplies and gas prices has spread nationwide forcing the government to tap its Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Anger is rising against the authorities who did not assess the strength of the hurricane. Thousands who did not leave the city could not afford it–but worse than the devastation is the lawlessness. Heavily armed gangs are roaming the streets looting whatever is in sight.
Martial law has been imposed and troops deployed in rescue operations have been recalled to maintain law and order. The military is increasing the National Guard force in the area to 30,000; 3,000 regular Army soldiers may be sent to help end lawlessness in New Orleans.
Health experts warned that the human violence that emerged after Katrina–as survivors sought food and water–will worsen the psychological debris left by the natural disaster itself.
After surveying the damage–President Bush said it will take years for the area to recover. He also warned that there would be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during the emergency–"whether it be looting–or price-gouging at the gasoline pump or taking advantage of charitable giving–or insurance fraud."
Addressing the possible death toll–US Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana said that there are no numbers–"it could be in the hundreds–or the thousands. I think it’s going to be shocking"
Congress has planned a special session Thursday night to approve emergency aid.