Saturday, 10 September 2005

Six Five Four Degrees of Separation

Updating the previous post about HSV Swift, here is a report, with pictures, from her XO (Executive Officer) of what they found at the mouth of the Mississippi.
As we headed up further we started to see the outer villages. The villages were built in between levies. One levy held back the Mississippi, the other a lake or floodable land. Then in some cases, like New Orleans, portions of the villages are below sea level. During normal rain they just pump out the water. In this case the pumps could not keep up and were knocked out.

Entire villages were lost along with the parish seat.

Industrial loading facilities were severely damaged. A giant gantry crane used to ship coal into barges had fallen crashing into other structures.

Houses, offices, garages and other structures were gone, only their foundations remaining to mark where they were. Small boats were broken, some sitting on a neighbor's lawn, others broken into kindling. There were areas strewn with so much rubble that you could not tell what ever had been there before.

Then we saw the Pogie boats. These are 50-ton power tugs used to push flotillas of barges. Two of them had been picked up and placed on the highway like scattered toys. Again, the Pogie boats could probably be in perfect working condition if they could be re-floated. This was a double blow, jobs lost on the boats and with the roads blocked; it will be a while until this parish will be restored, if ever. This was perhaps the best illustration to me of the power of this storm.
As for the XO....

From the Virginia Pilot :
Lt. Cmdr. Phil Pournelle, the Swift’'s executive officer, said he’'s impressed each day by the boat’s capabilities. The relief effort has showcased both boat and crew.

Walking aboard the boat for the first time, Pournelle said, “I thought I’'d stepped onto the Starship Enterprise. Every day, I find new capabilities for the ship, but more importantly, I find out more about what the crew can do. We have a lot of technology and very intelligent, creative sailors.
Lt Cdr Pournelle is the son of Jerry Pournelle, the SF and Computer Technology writer. Lt Cdr Pournelle is also on a mailing list I subscribe to.

Several Large Hat Tips to Chris Deboe again

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