Hurricane Katrina has the potential to be one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. The following is a possible prediction from a top hurricane expert.

This story from CNN about Katrina even likens it to the recent tsunamis.

“We need to recognize we may be about to experience our equivalent of the Asian tsunami, in terms of the damage and the numbers of people that can be killed,” said Ivor van Heerden, director of the Louisiana State University Public Health Research Center in Baton Rouge.

Some 25 feet of standing water is expected in many parts of the city — almost twice the height of the average home — and computer models suggest that more than 80 percent of buildings would be badly damaged or destroyed, he said.

Floodwaters from the east will carry toxic waste from the “Industrial Canal” area, nicknamed after the chemical plants there. From the west, floodwaters would flow through the Norco Destrehan Industrial Complex, which includes refineries and chemical plants, said van Heerden, who has studied computer models about the impact of a strong hurricane for four years.

“These chemical plants are going to start flying apart, just as the other buildings do,” he predicted. “So, we have the potential for release of benzene, hydrochloric acid, chlorine and so on.”

That could result in severe air and water pollution, he said.

This just reminds me that, in the end, we are so very fragile.

Let’s hope for the best.

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