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Context of 'Late Evening August 28, 2005: Superdome Official Request Portable Toilets, Says Cannot Accommodate Thousands for Four Days'

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Funding is cut for a FEMA disaster exercise meant to prepare government agencies for a major hurricane in New Orleans. The exercise, a follow-up to the Hurricane “Pam” exercise that was conducted the prior year (see July 19-23, 2004), was to develop a plan to fix such unresolved problems as evacuating sick and injured people from the Superdome and housing tens of thousands of displaced residents. [Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005] “Money was not available to do the follow-up,” Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will later say in an interview with the Associated Press. [Associated Press, 9/9/2005] After the disastrous Hurricane Katrina, Eric Tolbert, FEMA’s former disaster response chief, will tell Knight Ridder Newspapers: “A lot of good was done, but it just wasn’t finished. I don’t know if it would have saved more lives. It would have made the response faster. You might say it would have saved lives.” [Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Eric Tolbert, Michael D. Brown

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

By this afternoon, several thousand residents have made their way to the Superdome, many dropped off by city buses that are looping between the dome and the pickup sites throughout the city. Residents with medical illnesses or disabilities are directed to one side of the dome, which is equipped with supplies and medical personnel. The remaining residents pour into the other side. “The people arriving on this side of the building are expected to fend for themselves,” says Terry Ebbert, the city’s Homeland Security Director, although he does notes that the city has water for the evacuees. National Guard soldiers, New Orleans police, and civil sheriff’s deputies patrol the dome. Officials expect that the Superdome’s field will flood, and that it will lose power early tomorrow morning. However, Ebbert says, “I’m not worried about what is tolerable or intolerable. I’m worried about, whether you are alive on Tuesday.” [Times-Picayune, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Terry Ebbert, Louisiana National Guard, New Orleans Superdome

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Doug Thornton, General Manager of the Superdome has requested portable toilets, recognizing that the water pressure may fail, according to an Associated Press report. He also notes that they are not set up to manage the thousands of evacuees for very long: “We’re expecting to be here for the long haul,” he said. “We can make things very nice for 75,000 people for four hours. But we aren’t set up to really accommodate 8,000 for four days.” [Associated Press, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Doug Thornton, New Orleans Superdome

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

In an early morning interview with NBC’s Today Show, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin tells Matt Lauer that the city has “everything planned for them to be in there four to five days. And then if it has to extend beyond that, we’re going to—we’re basically counting on the federal government to supply us with what we need.” [MSNBC, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Matt Lauer, Ray Nagin

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Katrina’s winds tear two sections from the roof of the Superdome, and rain begins to pour in through the holes, where thousands of New Orleans residents have sought refuge from the storm, was damaged and there are reports of water pouring into the building. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005; Associated Press, 8/29/2005; Associated Press, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Superdome

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

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