FRIDAY, AUGUST 26
Dozens of local, state, and federal disaster officials meet to discuss FEMA Disaster Declaration No. 1601 that was issued as a result of tropical storm Cindy damages that occurred in July.
They also briefly discussed Katrina – although not quite in the context you might think:
“We’ve got this one storm we’re clearing up, yet we have another in the Gulf,” he said of Katrina, a rapidly strengthening storm that crossed south Florida on Thursday night and is expected to make a second landfall as a strong Category 3 hurricane somewhere between Louisiana and Florida late Sunday or Monday.
The subject of Friday’s meeting was serious, but as is often the case, participants relied on a bit of humor to ease the tension.
“Shouldn’t we just apply for Katrina money now? It would save time and taxpayers’ money,” joked Jim Baker, operations superintendent for the East Jefferson Levee District, one of the public agencies in line for a FEMA check.
Wonder what the group thought about this?
Off and on throughout the morning, Smith and Col. Steve Dabadie, Louisiana National Guard chief of staff, used a hand-held device to keep a check on Katrina’s track.
When the storm began a slight shift to the west, the device was passed from hand-to-hand for others to get a look.
Bet that room sobered up quite a bit after that.
The Mississippi Valley Division of the Army Corps of Engineers activates teams along the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coasts to prepare for a potential response to Hurricane Katrina. (HT: Random 10)
Governor Blanco declares a State of Emergency for all of Louisiana. The President also issues a State of Emergency declaration and directs DHS and FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts. Revised 9/8.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 27
Overnight, Katrina strengthened and was drawing a bead on the gulf coast, moving west-northwest at 15 miles an hour and packing winds of 115 MPH.
A press conference with Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco sounded the alarm. The Mayor urged residents to take the storm seriously saying to residents of low lying areas, “We want you to take this a little more seriously and start moving — right now, as a matter of fact,” Nagin said he would open the Superdome as a shelter of “last resort” for people with “special needs.”
He advised anyone planning to stay there to bring there own food, drinks and other comforts such as folding chairs, as if planning to go camping.
“No weapons, no large items, and bring small quanties of food for three or four days, to be safe,” he said.
Nagin spokeswoman Tami Frazier stressed that the mayor does not want citizens to plan on staying in the Dome—instead, they should make arrangements to leave the city if possible.
Police Superintendent Edward Compass said that looters would be “dealt with severly and harshly and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
By mid-afternoon, officials in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, Lafourche, Terrebonne and Jefferson parishes had called for voluntary or mandatory evacuations.
Mayor Nagin issued a voluntary evacuation order at 5:00 PM.
Nagin said late Saturday that he’s having his legal staff look into whether he can order a mandatory evacuation of the city, a step he’s been hesitant to do because of potential liability on the part of the city for closing hotels and other businesses. “Come the first break of light in the morning, you may have the first mandatory evacuation of New Orleans,” Nagin told WWL-TV.
The National Hurrican Center warns officials that Katrina is strengthening and will probably make landfall as a Category 4 or 5. This is really scary. This is not a test, as your governor said earlier today. This is the real thing,” said Director Max Mayfield. “The bottom line is this is a worst-case scenario and everybody needs to recognize it,” he said.
National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield calls Mayor Nagin at his home telling him that a mandatory evacuation was needed. He also calls Governor Blanco informing her of the strength of the Hurricane and its potential damage. Revised 9/7
SUNDAY, AUGUST 28
By 8:00 AM, Katrina, a category 5 hurricane, is headed straight for New Orleans. According to this peice in Editor and Publisher FEMA Director Brown, DHS Secretary Chertoff as well as local and state officials are informed by National Hurricane Director Max Mayfield via electronic briefing that the storm will cause massive damage and flooding – including levee toppings (not breeches) – in New Orleans 32 hours before the eye of the storm makes landfall. Mayfield briefed the President later in the day via video conference.
“Mayfield said the strength of the storm and the potential disaster it could bring were made clear during both the briefings and in formal advisories, which warned of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans and winds strong enough to blow out windows of high-rise buildings.” Revised 9/10
The Superdome opens at 8:00 AM and begins to take people in.
In the face of a catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, a mandatory evacuation was ordered Sunday for New Orleans by Mayor Ray Nagin.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation. The President’s call came just prior to the news conference and occurred after the decision had already been made. for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding. Revised 9/6 (HT: Jay) Lexis-Nexis Subscription needed to access link.
“There doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight,” Blanco said.
The Mayor’s office announces at 9:30 AM that RTA (Regional Transit Authority) busses will pick people up at 12 locations throughout the city and take them to shelters – including the Superdome. This is in accordance with both the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan for the city of New Orleans and The State of Louisiana Emergency Operations Plan Supplement 1B which clearly states that people who cannot be evacuated will be taken to “last resort” shelters such as the Superdome.
At 11:30 AM the President delivers a statement vowing to help those affected by the hurricane.
Governor Blanco requests that the President declare an “expected major disaster” for the state of Louisiana under the auspices of the Stafford Act. The declaration is designed to start major relief supplies flowing immediately to the affected area. Revised 9/8
By noon, the city puts its contraflow traffic system in effect so that both sides of major highways will allow for traffic out of the city.
The Coast Guard Auxillary was preparing to deploy. “William Crouch, Vice Commodore of the Auxiliary Eighth District Central Region stated this afternoon that “units from outlying areas are preparing to depart for the disaster area as soon as the situation becomes clear.”
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state’s National Guard on Sunday. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn’t come from Washington until late Thursday. Revised 9/7
National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield holds a video conference call with President Bush in which he outlines the strength of the hurricane and potential damage. Revised 9/8
By 3:00 PM, more than 10,000 people had either made their way into the Superdome or were standing outside. Those with medical problems were shuffled over to one side of the dome. Everyone else went to the other side:
“The people arriving on this side of the building are expected to fend for themselves,” said Terry Ebbert, the city’s homeland security director. “We have some water.”
About 150 National Guard soldiers, New Orleans police and civil sheriff’s deputies were patrolling the facility. Some weapons were confiscated.
Officials were settling in for what they predicted would be an incredibly hot and uncomfortable night. They expected flooding on the field and loss of power early today.
But officials were confident they could care for those with special needs.
“I’m not worried about what is tolerable or intolerable,” he [Ebbert] said. “I’m worried about, whether you are alive on Tuesday.”
Mayor Nagin ordered a curfew for the city beginning at 6:00 PM.
Louisiana Senators send a joint letter to the President thanking him for his actions and requesting that he visit the storm ravaged area “as soon as practical.”
The Coast Guard closes the ports and waterways into New Orleans. “The Guard also moved 40 aircraft and 30 boats and cutters in positions surrounding the expected strike zone, such as Houston and Jacksonville, readying to conduct search and rescue and humantarian missions, the Guard release said. ”
A 10:00 PM Katrina advisory by the National Hurricane Center has the storm moving slightly to the east and weakening.
About 26,000 people are taking refuge in the Superdome. “To help keep them fed and hydrated, the Louisiana National Guard delivered three truckloads of water and seven truckloads of MREs — short for “meals ready to eat.” That’s enough to supply 15,000 people for three days, according to Col. Jay Mayeaux, deputy director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Preparedness.
Wes McDermott with the Office of Emergency Preparedness reports on conditions inside the Superdome. There are between 8,000 and 9,000 (later reports put the number at 26,000) people with more than 600 people with medical needs on hand.
Also, General Ralph Lupin, who commands the 550 National Guardsmen at the Superdome, reports that an additional 400 people have been sent to area hospitals before the 11:00 PM curfew. Revised 9/10
Louis Armstrong Airport closes late Sunday night.
MONDAY, AUGUST 29
Overnight and Morning
More than 4,000 National Guardsmen are mobilizing in Memphis” to help police New Orleans streets.
The city’s director of homeland security said tonight that officials hope Katrina gets through the region Monday with several hours of daylight left so they can get up in the air and assess the damage.
“We are going to have very limited communication,” Terry Ebbert said. “The first order of business will be life-saving operations.” That may mean relocating thousands of people in the Superdome once power goes out and temperatures start to rise above 100 degrees, he said
At 3:00 AM the National Hurricane Center reported Katrian three hours from landfall with winds of 150 MPH.
Aircraft in position to help assess the damage and carry out rescues:
Aircraft are positioned from Hammond to the Texas border ready to fly behind the storm to check damage after it passes over New Orleans, said Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, head of the Louisiana National Guard.
Search and rescue operations are being coordinated by the Guard with the state Wildlife and Fisheries Department and Coast Guard poised to help search for survivors stranded by the storm. Guardsmen are also deployed at the Jackson Barracks ready to head into the city using high-water vehicles, Landreneau said.
Director Ebbert said rescue priorities would be given to those stranded in their homes and those hospitalized. “If the storm passes by 2 p.m., Ebbert said, “we have a few hours to get these people out before dark. It may involve some airlifts.’’
Hurricane Katrina strikes New Orleans at 8:00 AM with winds at 120 MPH and a storm surge of 18 feet. Revised 9/8
As the Category 4 surged ashore just east of New Orleans on Monday, FEMA had medical teams, rescue squads and groups prepared to supply food and water poised in a semicircle around the city, said agency Director Michael Brown.
Brown, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, said the evacuation of the city and the general emergency response were working as planned in an exercise a year ago. “I was impressed with the evacuation, once it was ordered it was very smooth.”
Levee break at 17th street floods about 20% of the city.
At 11:00 AM, FEMA Director Brown arrives in Baton Rouge at the State Office of Emergency Preparedness.
FEMA Director Brown sends a memo to DHS Secretary Chertoff requesting the additonal 1,000 FEMA employees engaged in victims assistance (aiding residents in filling out disaster relief forms) and community outreach be dispatched to Louisiana. Brown indicates that the employees have two days to report to LA Homeland Security headquarters. Revised 9/7
FEMA issues a statement urging first responders from other states not to come to disaster area unless there’s coordination between state and local disaster management officials. Revised 9/6
At 1:30 PM, boil order goes into effect for water.
At 1:45 PM, President Bush declares the states of Louisiana and Mississippi “Major Disaster Areas.”
Midafternoon: First reports of looting. TP terms it “widespread.”
At midafternoon Monday, a parade of looters streamed from Coleman’s Retail Store at 4001 Earhart Blvd. The looters, men and women who appeared to be in their early teens to mid-40s, braved a steady rain and infrequent tropical-stormforce winds to tote away boxes of clothing and shoes from the store.
By 2:00 PM, “Wes McDermott, from the office of emergency preparedness in New Orleans, said officials have fielded at least 100 calls from people in distress in the Lower 9th Ward and eastern New Orleans.”
At 3:00 PM President Bush said in a speech in Arizona “the federal government has got assets and resources that we’ll be deploying to help you.”
At 3:00 PM, Director Ebbett said “Everybody who had a way or wanted to get out of the way of this storm was able to. For some that didn’t, it was their last night on this earth.’’ He also said that the city had 100 boats to carry out search and rescue operations.
At 3:45 PM Louisiana Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown said this afternoon that it’s too early to give an estimate on damage in New Orleans, because he is unable to get a team into downtown. The water level in St. Bernard Parish had reached the second story of the courthouse. Revised 9/8
By 5:00 PM, hundreds of reports are coming in of people trapped by the flood.
At 6:50 PM, more reports of looting.
Search and Rescue teams work through the night to bring people to safety.
[Wildlife Secretary] Landreneau said by dawn he will have more than 200 boats in the water, 120 more than he had Monday. He said he has a commitment from Texas for another 50 boats.
Red Cross issues a statement. Expects largest recovery operation ever:
American Red Cross spokesman Victor Howell said 750 to 1,000 Red Cross personnel are now at work on hurricane recovery in Louisiana, and 2,000 more volunteers will be here in the next few days.
The Red Cross will bring in three large mobile kitchens to prepare 500,000 meals per day. There are 40 shelters statewide, housing about 32,000 people, “and you’re going to have more,” Howell said.
Mayor Nagin, in an interview with TP relates a conversation with federal disaster officials. “FEMA said give us a list of your needs,” said Nagin, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “And let me tell you, we’re giving them a hell of a list.”
TUESDAY, AUGUST 30
Overnight, New Orleans city officials consider whether or not to use the Ernest E. Morial Convention Center as an additional refuge for survivors:
City officials said they might open the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center as a temporary refuge to shelter an estimated 50,000 people made homeless by the storm.
This is the first mention by city officials of using the Convention Center, a shelter not listed in the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan nor listed in any other public statements as a place of refuge for residents. As of 9/7, there is no evidence city officials ever told FEMA or LA Homeland Security officials that they planned to use the Center to house evacuees. Revised 9/7
My Way News reports 4725 LA National Guardsmen deployed on Tuesday. Revised 9/6
DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff activates the National Response Plan and declares Katrina an “incident of national significance”:
The National Response Plan (NRP) fully mobilizes the resources of the entire federal government to support response and recovery efforts for state and local authorities – particularly in the event of a catastrophic incident. Secretary Chertoff has declared the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina an incident of national significance – the first-ever use of this designation. Revised 9/7
Water continues to rise with officials at a loss how to explain it.
It is announced that 500 “special needs patients” at the Superdome will be moved by the end of the day “by whatever means necessary.” Also, Director Landenreau says that 350 boats are in the water looking for trapped residents with 60 more on the way from Texas.
By midmorning it is confirmed that 4 people have died at the Superdome; 3 sick patients and one probable suicide.
Prisoner evacuation from two jails begins.
President’s statement on Katrina devastation.
In an interview with Hugh Hewitt on 9/7, Fox News Correspondent Major Garrett reports that the American Red Cross was ready to go to the Superdome “on Monday or Tuesday” to assist in the relief of the 25,000 people who had taken refuge there but were prevented by the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security from doing so. According to Garrett and this FAQ at the Red Cross website, the reason given was because their presence “would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.” Revised 9/8
At the request of FEMA, the military begins to move additional ships and helicopters to the region. (HT: Jay) Revised 9/6
TP evacuates - moves to Houma.
In an interview with Tim Russert on 9/4, DHS Secretary Chertoff reveals that the first he heard of the 17th street levee break was “midday on Tuesday.” Revised 9/8
Pentagon spokesman Di Rita issues statement saying “the states have adequate National Guard units to handle the hurricane needs, with at least 60 percent of the guard available in each state. He said about 6,500 National Guard troops were available in Louisiana, about 7,000 troops in Mississippi, nearly 10,000 in Alabama and about 8,200 in Florida.
At 4:30 PM, officials send out a call for anyone with boats to help in the rescue effort.
TP reports that police and firefighters are joining in the looting:
At the Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, an initial effort to hand out provisions to stranded citizens quickly disintegrated into mass looting. Authorities at the scene said bedlam erupted after the giveaway was announced over the radio.
While many people carried out food and essential supplies, others cleared out jewelry racks and carted out computers, TVs and appliances on handtrucks.
Some officers joined in taking whatever they could, including one New Orleans cop who loaded a shopping cart with a compact computer and a 27-inch flat screen television. (Um…read the whole thing. You won’t believe it. Ed.)
Director Ebbert announces that work has begun to plug the 17th street levee. (Note: Work on plugging the levee did not begin at this time. It is unclear whether he was told that it was beginning or whether he assumed it was from a conversation with the Army Corps of Engineers who said work would begin that afternoon. Ed.)
Levee repair timeline uncertain. This from National Guard Commander Jeff Smith:
Col. Jeff Smith with the Louisiana National Guard said the Corps has informed the state that they are beginning to plan how exactly to fill the holes in the levee, which observers described as several hundred feet long.
Ebbert says work has started. Smith says work has started on planning. This would be a possible explanation for both Ebbert and the Mayor’s frustration. Could they have misunderstood?
Also, hospitals are being evacuated and rescue operations continue. The Governor made it clear that search and rescue was the highest priority:
Blanco said that while search and rescue operations continued that officials were also getting supplies to hospitals and people who sought refuge at the Superdome, which is receiving more residents as people are rescued. After officials have completed all of their rescue operations, they will begin to assess how to evacuate other people in the city who are in high, dry locations.
People being rescued and others looking for food and water are told to go to the Convention Center by local officials. When they get there they find no food, no water, and just a few police. (First mention of Convention Center shelter by TP at 11:09 PM on Wednesday)
A man in a passing pickup truck from the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries finally directed Wallace and the 50 other evacuees under the overpass to the convention center.
But they would find little relief there.
New evacuees were being dropped off after being pulled from inundated eastern New Orleans and Carrollton, pooling with those who arrived on foot. Some had been at the convention center since Tuesday morning but had received no food, water or instructions. They waited both inside and outside the cavernous building.
The influx overwhelmed the few staffers and Louisiana National Guardsmen on hand. Added 9/5.
At 5:50 PM Bush announces he is cutting short his vacation and returning to Washington.
As of Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the storm had passed over the area, this represented the federal response to date as publicized to the disaster. Here are some highlights: Revised 9/8
FEMA deployed 23 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams from all across the U.S. to staging areas in Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Louisiana and is now moving them into impacted areas.
Seven Urban Search and Rescue task forces and two Incident Support Teams have been deployed and propositioned in Shreveport, La., and Jackson, Miss., including teams from Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Three more Urban Search and Rescue teams are in the process of deployment.
FEMA is moving supplies and equipment into the hardest hit areas as quickly as possible, especially water, ice, meals, medical supplies, generators, tents, and tarps.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) dispatched more than 390 trucks that are beginning to deliver millions of meals ready to eat, millions of liters of water, tarps, millions of pounds of ice, mobile homes, generators, containers of disaster supplies, and forklifts to flood damaged areas. DOT has helicopters and a plane assisting delivery of essential supplies.
The National Guard of the four most heavily impacted states are providing support to civil authorities as well as generator, medical and shelter with approximately 7,500 troops on State Active Duty. The National Guard is augmenting civilian law enforcement capacity; not acting in lieu of it.
At 6:30 PM Mayor Nagin issued an urgent bulletin:
Nagin said efforts to stop the flow of water at the breach on the 17th Street Canal are failing, which means the floodwaters will rise again.
Nagin said the waters will soon overwhelm the pump, shutting it down. He said the water will rise to 3 feet above sea level – or 12-15 feet in some places of east Jefferson and Orleans parishes.
The additional flooding causes 80% of the city to be underwater.
At 8:10 PM, TP reports that more than 24 hours after it started, looting is now city wide.
“People are leaving the Superdome to go to Canal Street to loot,” Thomas said. “Some people broke into drug stores and stole the drugs off the shelves. It is looting times five. I’m telling you, it’s like Sodom and Gomorrah.”
At 8:55 TP reports that the Army Corps of Engineers is working frantically to try and fix the breach in the 17th street levee.
Mark Lambert, chief spokesman for the agency, said that a convoy of trucks carrying 108 15,000-pound concrete barriers – like those used as highway construction dividers—was en route to the site Tuesday night
The USS Bataan deploys two helicopter squadrons for search and rescue operations in New Orleans. Revised 9/6
At 9:02 PM TP reports that the State Attorney General’s office is denying that martial law has been declared.
At 10:40 PM TP reports that 40 additional state troopers have been deployed more than 28 hours after initial reports of looting.
At 10:15 PM, Governor Blanco releases a statement calling for the evacuation of the Superdome.
She set no timetable for the withdrawal but insisted that the facility was damaged, degrading and no longer able to support the local citizens who had sought refuge in the Dome from Hurricane Katrina.
“It’s a very, very desperate situation,” Blanco said late Tuesday after returning to the capital from her visit, when she comforted the exhausted throngs of people, many of whom checked in over the weekend. “It’s imperative that we get them out. The situation is degenerating rapidly.”
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31
My Way News reports an additional 700 National Guardsmen from TX, OH, and OK are deployed in LA. Revised 9/6
“Early Aug. 31, an MC-130P Combat Shadow from Hurlburt’s 16th Special Operations Squadron flew a team of combat controllers to the New Orleans airport to set up lights which would allow reopening the runway for nighttime operations. The airport has no electrical power.” Revised 9/6
Governor Blanco called for a total evacuation of the city of New Orleans.
In an interview on Good Morning America, the Governor said “We’ve sent buses in. We will be either loading them by boat, helicopter, anything that is necessary.”
When asked about looting the Governor said “We don’t like looters one bit, but first and foremost is search and rescue.”
Blanco said she wanted the Superdome — which had become a shelter of last resort for about 20,000 people — evacuated within two days, along with other gathering points for storm refugees. The situation inside the dank and sweltering Superdome was becoming desperate: The water was rising, the air conditioning was out, toilets were broken, and tempers were rising.
Governor Blanco asks the President to send federal troops to conduct law enforcement activities.
At 10:00 AM TP reports that a spokesperson for the Texas Governors office says refugees from the Superdome will be put up in the Astrodome:
FEMA is providing 475 buses for the convoy and the Astrodome’s schedule has been cleared through December for housing evacuees, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry said.
A spokseman for Homeland Security:
Mark Smith, a Louisiana Department of Homeland Security spokesman, said 3,000 Louisiana National Guard members are helping with the rescue effort and that more guard troops are on their way from other states. The main focus Wednesday morning is to evacuate patients from hospitals and to evacuate the Superdome, where conditions are deteriorating for the estimated 15,000 people sheltered there. (HT: Blueguitar guy) Revised 9/6
Gov. Kathleen Blanco said she has asked the White House to send more people to help with evacuations and rescues, thereby freeing up National Guardsmen to stop looters.
“We will restore law and order,” Blanco said. “What angers me the most is that disasters like this often bring out the worst in people. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior.”
Governor Blanco announces that Superdome evacuation will begin Wednesday evening.
Department of Social Services Secretary Ann Williamson said the buses should start rolling later Wednesday. About 475 vehicles have been arranged to ferry the evacuees to Houston.
State officials said they hope that bringing in the Army to help with search, rescue and relief efforts will allow National Guard troops to redirect their efforts to restoring order and curtail the widespread looting taking place in New Orleans and elsewhere. “We’re trying to shift our resources,” said Denise Bottcher, a Blanco spokeswoman.
“This is one of the largest, if not the largest evacuations in this country,” said Col. Jeff Smith, deputy director of the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
“This (plan) buys us some time so we can figure things out,” said FEMA spokesman Bill Lokey.
At 1:40 PM State Secrertary of Transportation and Development Johnny Bradberry said Lake Pontchatrain has receded by two feet since yesterday as water levels equalized between the lake and the flooded city interior.
“The good news here is that we’ve stabilized. Water is not rising in the city,” Bradberry said.
The feds declare a Public Health Emergency:
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt Wednesday declared a federal public health emergency and accelerated efforts to create up to 40 emergency medical shelters to provide care for evacuees and victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Working with its federal partners, HHS is helping provide and staff 250 beds in each shelter for a total of 10,000 beds for the region. Ten of these facilities will be staged within the next 72 hours and another 10 will be deployed within the next 100 hours after that. In addition, HHS is deploying up to 4,000 medically-qualified personnel to staff these facilities and to meet other health care needs in this region.
Mayor Ray Nagin ordered 1,500 police – or however many officers were still on the force – to leave their search-and-rescue mission Wednesday night and return to the streets of New Orleans to stop looting. Revised 9/8
Governor Blanco issues an Executive Order allowing the National Guard to seize school busses in order to help in the evacuation:
National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Pete Schneider, said the order, signed by Gov. Kathleen Blanco late Wednesday, means “we are going to take the buses. We need to get people out of New Orleans.. . . .Either they will give them up or we will take them.’’ It is unclear whether the Governor is referring to the hundreds of school busses in a New Orleans city parking lot 1.2 miles from the Superdome that contained 255 busses, all underwater. She was also procuring busses from around the state. In an press conference the next day, General Honore says that busses from FEMA have also arrived. (HT: Tony & Junkyard Blog) Revised 9/6
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1
My Way News reports 6500 National Guardsmen from AR, CO, KS, MO, NV, OH, OK, and TX are deployed in Louisiana. Revised 9/6
At 12:30 AM evacuees from the Superdome begin arriving in Houston.
Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard said this morning that the evacuation of the rest of New Orleans was in full swing. At least 70 buses had picked up refugees from the Superdome, and officials were considering using trains and boats to ship people to safety.
At 4:15 AM TP reports that the Coast Guard says it has rescued 3,000 stranded victims from the city.
President Bush calls for “zero tolerance” for looters or price gougers in an interview with Diane Sawyer.
More snafus in attempts to fix the levee at 17th street:
Spokeswoman Cleo Allen of the state Department of Transportation and Development said the agency is coordinating with railroads and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to raise the Seabrook bridge, the Almonaster Ave. bridge and the Danziger Road bridge. Farther southwest, authorities are also trying to raise a bridge at Larose so that a barge loaded with relief supplies can get through Bayou Lafourche.
More National Guard troops on the way:
Lt. Col Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard also said 7,500 guard soldiers from around the country are en route to Louisiana to complement the 3,000 from Louisiana who have been helping with search and rescue operations and security since Katrina struck on Monday.
President Bush agrees to have the federal government pick up the entire tab for relief efforts.
In an interview with NPR’s Michael Seigel, DHS Secretary Chertoff admits he knows nothing of the people stranded at the convention center. Revised 9/6
Governor Blanco announces at a press conference that there are less than 2400 people left at the Superdome.
The Defense Department announces the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to the Gulf region.
State and Federal authorities begin the evacuations of Charity and University Hospitals. They are halted briefly when shots are fired at helicopters evacuating patients.
In an article on Thursday afternoon, Brian Thevenot of TP reports that officials are starting to get control of the city.
As military and humantarian efforts finally began to take hold, the anarchy that has consumed New Orleans over the past two days, making the city resemble a Third World war zone, had not fully subsided but authorities appeared to have amassed sufficient numbers to seize the upper hand.
Neighborhoods that had been populated by bands of wanderers and armed thieves looked nearly empty, save for police patrols that were non-existent a day earlier. In Uptown, the Central Business District and the French Quarter, substantially smaller crowds of refugees and potential looters found themselves surrounded by ever increasing numbers of National Guard troops and police officers.
Mayor Nagin explodes on live radio, railing against federal relief efforts. If you’ve come this far with me, all I ask is that you read his comments and compare them to what has been reported in this timeline previously.
“You know the reason why the looters got out of control?” Nagin said. “We have most of our resources saving people. They were stuck in attics, man, old ladies. You pull off the doggone ventilator and look down and they’re standing there in water up to their fricking neck.”
“I need reinforcements,” he said. “I need troops, man. I need 500 buses.”
The relief efforts made so far had been pathetically insufficient, Nagin said.
“They’re thinking small, man, and this is a major, MAJOR deal,” Nagin said. “God is looking down on this and if they are not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price. Every day that we delay, people are dying, and they’re dying by the hundreds, I’m willing to bet you.”
Rolling now, Nagin described distress calls he’d heard. Nagin mocked the efforts to block the 17th Street
“I flew over that thing yesterday and it was in the same shape it was in after the storm hit,” he said.
“There is nothing happening there. They’re feeding the public a line of bull and they’re spinning and people are dying down here.” (HT: Ghosty) Revised 9/6 – moved from Friday to Thursday.
In an interview with Paula Zahn, FEMA Director Brown says he just heard about people stranded at the convention center “a few hours ago.” Revised 9/6
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2
My Way News reports that an additional 3000 National Guardsmen from 15 states are deployed in LA. Revised 9/6
In the early morning, 20 deputies and six emergency medical technicians from Loudon County, Virginia were turned away because “neither FEMA nor the Louisiana authorities was willing to act on the request from Jefferson Parish.” (HT: Jay) Revised 9/6
At 9:35 AM in a speech given in Mississippi, the President praises FEMA Director Brown saying “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”
State Rep. Karen Carter, D-New Orleans, made an urgent plea Friday morning for gasoline and buses to ferry victims to safety who have been stuck in New Orleans under deteriorating conditions since Hurricane Katrina struck the city four days ago.
“If you want to save a life get a bus down here,” said Carter, whose district includes the French Quarter. “I’m asking the American people to help save a wonderful American city.” Her voice cracking with emotion and her eyes bloodshot from fatigue and distress, Carter said pledges of money and other assistance are of secondary importance right now to the urgent need for transportation.
“Don’t give me your money. Don’t send me $10 million today. Give me buses and gas. Buses and gas. Buses and gas,” she said. “If you have to commandeer Greyhound, commandeer Greyhound. … If you donn’t get a bus, if we don’t get them out of there, they will die.”
Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, who is coordinating federal relief efforts on behalf of the National Guard, could not say when people can expect to be rescued. â€œIf you’re human you’ve got to be affected by it, Blum said. “These people, their heartstrings are torn as are yours. (But) the magnitude of this problem is you cannot help everybody at the same time.”
The Coast Guard announced it has rescued more than 4,000 victims of the hurricane and flood.
President Bush visits New Orleans, taking a helicopter tour with Mayor Nagin. According to the Mayor Bush tells him that “he [the President] was fully committed to getting us the resources we need,” Nagin said in the tattered Hyatt hotel next to the Superdome. “I told him I knew we could work together, and he said he understood.”
In an interview with CNN on 9/5, Mayor Nagin says that Governor Blanco resisted a request from the Federal government to nationalize the relief effort when meeting with President Bush aboard Air Force I. Blanco is reported to have asked for 24 hours to “think about it.” (HT: Sue Hanley) Revised 9/6
In a special briefing on efforts to repair the damaged levees carried out by Lieutenant General Carl Strock, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Chief of Engineers, the General summarized the difficulties he was experiencing in closing the breaches, including the difficulty in reaching the site of the breach by land (land ops couldn’t start until a causeway was built), by water (bridges couldn’t be raised to allow for the huge cranes to pass), and air (helicopters were being used to rescue people). Revised 9/7
NOTE ON MILITARY OPS: It has not been my intention to slight the contributions of our nation’s military in saving lives and relieving suffering during this disaster. The fact is, our armed force’s contributions have been so numerous and so widespread that listing them would double the length of this timeline. Their selfless dedication to our nation’s well being has been on display this past week as dozens of ships, aircraft, medical and rescue teams, and other supporting personnel have taken part in disaster relief. I am in awe of their professionalism and courage.
Rather than detail each operation, I will link to each service’s website where you can find plenty of information detailing their efforts. Revised 9/8US Navy
US Coast Guard
US Air Force