NEW ORLEANS — With thousands feared drowned in what could be America’s deadliest natural disaster in a century, New Orleans’ leaders all but surrendered the streets to floodwaters and lawlessness Wednesday and began turning out the lights on the ruined city — perhaps for months. “We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water,” and other people dead in attics, Mayor Ray Nagin said in calling for an all-out evacuation of the city’s remaining residents. Asked how many died, he said: “Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands.”
Editor’s note: On Tuesday, three Missourian staff members set off for the Mississippi Delta to report on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Erin Richards will be filing regular dispatches for the Missourian, with photos by Meghan Lyden. Online reporter Stefanie Zimmerman will be posting to the Missourian’s Katrina blog, which can be found at www.columbiamissourian.com/blog.
On its second day of search and rescue operations in northwestern New Orleans on Wednesday, the Boone County Fire Protection District’s Task Force I was going house to house in boats and cutting open roofs to find trapped survivors, Fire Chief Steve Paulsell said. “Things are going well,” Paulsell said at a news conference Wednesday. As of Tuesday night, “operations had produced 332 rescues, many of whom were invalids and handicapped people who were essentially homebound,” he said.
The impact of Hurricane Katrina in Columbia is being felt at the gas pump, and consumers worry the worst is yet to come. After gas stations around the state raised their prices by 20 or 30 cents per gallon overnight, Attorney General Jay Nixon announced his office would look into instances of gas gouging around the state.
University Hospital has a new surgical option for men diagnosed with prostate cancer: a laparoscopic prostatectomy. The minimally invasive procedure has a shorter recovery time than traditional open surgery.
The UM System Board of Curators met in closed session Wednesday “to discuss matters of litigation,” spokesperson Joe Moore said. The nine curators spoke from 3:15 p.m. to about 6:15 p.m., via conference phone, Moore said.
Four Boone Electric Cooperative linemen sent to help restore power in southeastern Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are already hard at work. “These guys are working from about 4:30 in the morning to about 9:30 at night,” Boone Electric Manager of Operations Lee Ardrey said Wednesday. Despite the heat, humidity and long hours, “they were upbeat,” he said.
Drivers experiencing problems because of a lack of lane stripes on East Nifong Boulevard should see improvements soon. The city’s Public Works Department, which began an asphalt overlay project July 25, reconditioned Nifong between Providence and Bethel roads. The half-mile overlay project was completed weeks ago, with the exception of lane striping. The staff and patrons of Legends Sports Bar and Grill, 10 W. Nifong Blvd., have noticed the missing stripes. Some motorists have mistakenly driven in the turning lane and on the shoulder.
Local citizens, businesses and organizations are coming to the aid of hurricane victims in the coastal regions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida most in need. Jutta Hopkins, executive director of the Boone County Chapter of the American Red Cross, estimates local donations in excess of $10,000 on Wednesday alone. Others called to say they plan to start fundraisers at their schools, businesses and churches.
Between 1,000 and 1,100 troops from the Missouri National Guard, including some from Columbia and Fulton, will be deployed to Louisiana and Mississippi this week to help with security in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The deployment is part of Gov. Matt Blunt’s response to the states’ requests for help. Troops will provide support to the states’ emergency management departments. The aid comes under an Emergency Mutual Assistance Compact that Missouri has with other states in the southern region.
Columbia elementary schools have welcomed children relocating from the Gulf Coast. Refugee students have recently enrolled in both Shepard Boulevard and Russell Boulevard elementary schools. Lynn Barnett, assistant superintendent for student support services, said two or three additional families with children will soon enter Columbia schools as well.
The desire to donate to hurricane victims prompted Attorney General Jay Nixon to warn Missouri residents to be aware before they open their wallets. “I encourage Missourians to help these victims in any way they see fit, whether it be through donations of cash, clothing or food, or by assisting on-site with the cleanup,” Nixon said. “But I also want them to use common sense when choosing a charity so they can be sure their donations actually go toward the victims and not the crooks.”
Charlie Rosenbury looks and sounds like an average college sophomore. He’s dressed in an obscure band T-shirt, brown corduroy shorts and green flip-flops that look like they’re covered in AstroTurf. His hair is dark and curly, and his face is a little bit scruffy today. Drumming his fingers on his leg and mumbling the tune “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson, he talks about his favorite bands and how living off campus is treating him. The twist is that this MU sophomore majoring in computer science has set a record — and it is making him famous.
For 10 months, Pam Johnson, executive director of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, has planned to break ground this afternoon on the Francis Quadrangle. She did not plan to break her foot a week before the big day. “I don’t know how I came to do it at such an important date,” Johnson said. “I will be there one way or the other.”
Money, money, money. The number of people filing for bankruptcy in Missouri’s central division, including Boone and 12 other surrounding counties, is on the rise, increasing 115 percent in the past five years. But, a new law will soon make it tougher to file. On Oct. 17, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, signed by President Bush in April, will increase bankruptcy fees and tighten qualifications for those seeking financial relief.
Columbia’s college-bound seniors posted higher scores this year than last in the verbal and math sections of the SAT entrance exams, up 3 points each. “Our average SAT verbal was 623 and the average math score was 625, with a composite of 1,248,” said Cheryl Cozette, assistant superintendant for curriculum and instruction for the Columbia Public School District.