yes, this situation is far greater than September 11. Both of them however, occured at the same sort of point in my life.
Tuesday, Sept. 11 2001: I woke up in my dorm room around 745am cst and walked into a friends room to see the world trade center billowing smoke from a gaping hole. I had been a freshman in college for about 2 weeks at the time and this event was definitely a fundamental part of my undergrad experience.
Tuesday, August 30 2005: I woke up in my room in my house around 800am and turned on my television to find New Orleans totally underwater and unliveable. I have been a graduate student for about 1 week and I can already tell that this will probably have a greater effect on my overall personality and attitude then September 11, 2001.
The shock of seeing a great American city under many feet of water is just something I don't think a lot of American people ever really considered. This is far more damaging to the entire national economy than September 11.
Something like 30-40% of the entire US Oil Supply (not our total oil supply, just the amount of it that comes from inside our borders) comes from this region. That means for a few weeks, a rather large percentage of the entire US Oil supply (probably 5-10%) will be lost, and despite the summer season coming to an end, there will not be a 5-10% drop in demand. This is causing far greater gas prices and for a much longer period of time then the relatively minor gas price increases following 9/11. This means all industries who rely on gas will have fewer profits (some will take heavy losses), these industries include but are not limited to (and most are inter-related):
retail: needs to ship their goods from the vendor to the distribution centers to the stores
transportation: truckers, airlines, and trains are instrumental in the infrastructure of the United States, and all of the companies involved will be facing much higher fuel prices across the board, causing them to past the cost along to the shipper themselves and then along to the consumer
agriculture: The Mississippi River Delta in southern Louisiana plays host to nearly half of the crops produced in the Midwest, when they are floated down on barges to be processed and then shipped overseas.
heavy industry: Factories and supply warehouses use trucks and trains to ship their products to the places they need to go (think of companies like Caterpillar, John Deere, Ford Motor Co, etc...). Fuel shortages cause delays in shipping, which cause delays in sale and sometimes no sales, which cause hang ups in other industries that these products are used (agriculture, construction, electrical, power, etc..etc..)
and this is just the macro-economic side of it. no telling what the socio economic impacts will be on each individual person (over 1,000,000 people displaced and out of options), not to mention the fact that our government has not responded in the best and most productive way, which will probably make the general public question whether or not their government can protect them if a situation like this arises again.
This natural disaster is probably the worst thing that has happened to the United States since the stock market crash of 1927 and subsequent depression. I don't believe the hurricane and flooding will have that bad of an effect on everything, but everyone will be feeling the effects for months and years to come.
Do you like movies about gladiators?