Day Four: The Ninth Ward

4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, 2006

Today, Melinda and I drove through the lower Ninth Ward, the area most affected by Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters. People there said the water level reached 20 feet, and the aftermath is unlike anything I've ever seen before.

We've witnessed devastation all week, but nothing like this. Houses were completely leveled. All that was left are the foundations or cinder blocks they were sitting on.

In the background, construction crews worked to rebuild the levee breach behind the few remains of what used to be a neighborhood.

The scariest part? New Orleans residents say Katrina wasn't even the worst-case scenario. The hurricane was a category 4 by the time it hit land, and it could have been much worse.

Even the work on the levees will only restore their power to a category 3, and residents say they expect a worse hurricane season this summer.

They say that if the Mississippi River had risen just four feet higher, anyone who didn't evacuate would be dead. All those people who assumed Katrina was just another false alarm in the innumerable warnings they hear every hurricane season would be dead.

They've already lost everything they own and have even had to prematurely say goodbye to friends and family members. It's horrifying to think that one small change in the storm would have wiped out thousands more people. Just to think, an even larger part of New Orleans could look like the Ninth Ward -- a community completely destroyed by a blast of wind and water. And even more people could be left homeless with so many questions and no answers.

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