New Orleans filling with water **

Rescue crewsThe Los Angeles Fire Department has put water-rescue specialists, inflatable boats and vehicles on military transports to New Orleans, Brian Humphrey says at the LAFD blog. Things there are, in a word, bad. The low-lying city is flooding with water from Lake Pontchartrain, through levee breaks that are growing. Already the city is 80% flooded, and the rising water is over the roofs of many homes and is unhygienic, carrying sewage and other waste. CNN's Jeanne Meserve, reporting from atop the Hyatt hotel, says the water flowing through the streets is also skimmed with gasoline and oil. Fires have begun to erupt in industrial zones and she has seen looting. The number of evcauees at the Superdome is growing as rescues are made, but there is no drinking water or sewer service there for the 10,000 or so taking refuge. The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the city's biggest newspaper, posted this morning that the staff is retreating from its building to seek higher ground and move their families. While other parts of Loiusiana and Mississippi devastated by Hurricane Katrina are starting to assess the toll and clean up, the disaster in New Orleans is just beginning.

* Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco: Everyone needs to leave New Orleans. "The situation is untenable. It's just heartbreaking." Mayor Ray Nagin: "We're not even dealing with dead bodies. They're just pushing them on the side." 2:30 p.m.

** Crisis worsens: Looting in New Orleans is intensifying. Attempts to plug the levee breaks failed tonight, and TV station WWL is warning that new areas of the city are soon expected to flood to a depth of 12-15 feet. Gov. Blanco on Larry King: "The vastness of this situation in unspeakable....we are in desperate need. This is not the normal hurricane experience." 6:20 p.m.


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