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Hurricane Katrina
forces cancellation of Southern Decadence festival

Hurricane Katrina
forces cancellation of Southern Decadence festival

With floodwaters now rising around New Orleans's gay French Quarter and devastation throughout the region in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it is becoming apparent that anyone trying to attend this weekend's Southern Decadence gay festival is unlikely to be able to get into the city. Levees surrounding the below-sea-level city were being breached Tuesday afternoon, inundating neighborhoods and prompting helicopter rescues of people trapped on rooftops. At last count there were more than 70 people killed by the powerful storm. With the flood disaster expanding and the prospect of power not being restored for perhaps four to six weeks, it's clear that the Big Easy is in no condition to host the estimated 125,000 revelers that had planned to attend this weekend's festival. Instead, gay men and lesbians from across the country were wondering how they could help--either by donating money or manpower. Raymond Lockett of Washington, D.C., said he and a group of friends from the Northeast decided Tuesday morning that Katrina's devastation was just too horrible to even think about going. "Oh, no, no, no. Are you kidding? I've been trying to cancel my reservations all morning," he said. A message posted on the Southern Decadence Yahoo Group says it is "inconceivable" that any part of the event will take place this weekend. And officials are currently preventing anyone--including New Orleans residents--from coming into the city. Southern Decadence began in 1972 as a going-away party. It has since grown into a massive end-of-summer celebration of gay music and culture. The Southern Decadence Web site estimates that the event brings in $100 million to the New Orleans economy. (Steve Newman/Sirius OutQ News)

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