A year ago, some New Orleans locals put the official evacuation maps online, at contraflowmaps.com, in a nicely interactive Google Maps mashup.
You click to indicate which general direction you want to head in; then it gives you a set of options that lead to detailed maps showing how to get out of the city and onto the Interstate heading in that direction.
For those unfamiliar with the term, as I was, contraflow describes changing a freeway so that all lanes lead in one direction, usually (in the US) to aid with disaster evacuation.
For those who haven't been following the news: New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin has issued evacuation orders. Hurricane Gustav is expected to make landfall near the city tomorrow. The hurricane lost some force going through Cuba, but it sounds like it's likely to be back up to a Category 4 by the time it arrives in Louisiana.
Various agencies say they're better prepared than they were for Katrina. I'm hoping that's true. My impression is that the rebuilding from Katrina has been going slowly; another hurricane's the last thing that city needs. I'm hoping that everyone makes it out of the city safely, and that damage is minimal, and that everyone can go back home afterward, but I have no idea how plausible any of that is.
(That article provides another word I hadn't seen before: Bob Turner, "executive director of the new regional east bank levee authority," refers to "an unwatering plan" for getting rid of floodwater in the city.)
Other useful and interesting online tools:
- The National Weather Service provides maps showing Gustav's path (a.k.a. "cumulative wind history") and 3-day track forecast.
- The USGS provides a hydrologic impacts map showing information on which rivers and streams are currently at flood levels (and introducing me to yet another new word: a streamgage is apparently what they use to measure streamflow).