Having just come through that stretch on our boat this past June, and having many friends along that way, it's very hard to look at the damage pictures. We made stops to visit friends in Passcagoula Miss, Biloxi Miss, Gulfport Miss, Houma La and came through the center of New Orleans.
Gulfport has been devastated, as has Biloxi. Passcagoula reported gusts to 118 and it's located 2.5 hours drive away from where the eye came in. Still haven't heard from friends in Gulfport, which took the direct hit. Reports say that the Biloxi harbor is gone- just gone. I imagine the harbor in Gulfport has also been wiped clean since much of the waterfront has.
New Orleans has large areas (Blocks square) with water up to the roof tops of the houses, and absolutely NO way to get rid of it. The pumps are all failed. New Orleans is below sealevel and relies on huge pumps to keep it dry even from normal rains.Those pumps can keep up with rains of 1" the first hour and 1/2 " per hour there after. They have 10- 12 FEET of water in some places. Many of those neighbor hoods will be total losses- blocks of them unable to be saved. It may take weeks or even months to rid the city of water.
And yet New Orleans still dodged a bullet. The storm jogged eastward at the last minute, missing the city by some 40 or 50 miles. So the doomsday scenario for New Orleans was avoided. Had Katrina done a direct hit, we may have seen the end of New Orleans in total.