Clearly, New Orleans is in bad shape. As of 2:00 p.m. today, levees were breaking, winds well over 100 mph were whipping through the bars and bordellos of the French Quarter, and the Superdome, where 10,000 were taking refuge, had suffered a power outage and some roof damage.

Is it possible to overdramatize a situation this dramatic?

We wouldn’t have thought so, but we weren’t counting on CNN.com, which did just that in the form of one Ivor van Heerden, a hurricane expert from Louisiana State University.

Our favorite line from van Heerden’s repertoire:

“Imagine you’re the poor person who decides not to evacuate: Your house will disintegrate around you. The best you’ll be able to do is hang on to a light pole, and while you’re hanging on, the fire ants from all the mounds — of which there [are] two per yard on average — will clamber up that same pole. And eventually, the fire ants will win.”

Van Heerden goes on to describe how the floodwaters, after picking up “benzene, hydrochloric acid, chlorine and so on” from New Orleans’ “Industrial Canal,” will leave survivors splashing around in “a bowl of toxic soup.” (That’ll probably get rid of those fire ants, at least.)

But then, guess what? The soup catches on fire and — we kid you not — the whole city goes up in flames.

So says Ivor.

We have two questions: Where do they find these guys? And why?

Gal Beckerman

Gal Beckerman is a former staff writer at CJR.