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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Katrina Packing Wind of Nearly 175 Mph

MARY FOSTER
Associated Press Writer


NEW ORLEANS - Mayor Ray Nagin ordered an immediate evacuation Sunday for all of New Orleans, a city sitting below sea level with 485,000 inhabitants, as Hurricane Katrina bore down with wind revved up to nearly 175 mph and a threat of a massive storm surge.

Acknowledging that large numbers of people, many of them stranded tourists, would be unable to leave before the eye of the storm strikes land sometime Monday morning, the city set up 10 places of last resort including the Superdome arena.

"This is a once in a lifetime event," the mayor said. "The city of New Orleans has never seen a hurricane of this magnitude hit it directly."

The mayor said Katrina's storm surge would likely top the levees that protect the city from the surrounding water of Lake Pontchartrain, the Mississippi River and marshes. The bowl-shaped city must pump water out even during normal times, and the hurricane threatened electricity that runs the pumps.

"We are facing a storm that most of us have long feared," Nagin said.


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