New Orleans has been ordered to be totally evacuated as it became apparent that the death toll from Hurricane Katrina will run into thousands.
The mayor put into action a plan to bring out those still left in the drowned city - population around 500,000 - to follow 384,000 who have already fled. Ray Nagin said: "There will be a total evacuation of the city. We have to. The city will not be functional for two or three months.
He added: "We know there are significant numbers of dead bodies in the water and in houses. Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."
He spoke during a day in which looters ran wild and engineers fought frantically to block massive breaches in the city's levees, or flood barriers.
Staggering images of destruction made a mockery of initial reports that New Orleans had escaped relatively unscathed.
And there was growing anger that not enough is being done to help those affected - and that more should have been done before the hurricane struck on Monday with winds up to 140mph.
One state governor compared the scene along the ravaged Gulf Coast to the aftermath of Hiroshima.
One huge storm brought America the world number one superpower to it kneels as it ravages New Orleans, killing a thousand and causes the oil prices shoot up sky high. If the mighty America is helpless against a storm, think about poorer third world countries.
Man is still no match for nature.