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Context of 'After 9:00 am August 29, 2005: St. Bernard Reports Widespread Flooding and Damage'

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St. Bernard’s Parish reportedly will issue a mandatory evacuation order at some point today. This afternoon, the Times-Picayune will refer to the mandatory order, and report that two shelters of last resort are open. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005] St. Bernard’s website will later reference the mandatory order, stating that “Hurricane Katrina has decimated St. Bernard Parish. Parish government ordered a mandatory evacuation Sunday, August 28.” [St. Bernard Parish, 9/18/2005]

Entity Tags: St. Bernards Parish

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The LSU Hurricane Center supercomputer generates new models based on the National Hurricane Center’s 10:00 pm advisory. LSU’s revised models indicate that the storm surge outside the levee system will be 16-18 feet in eastern Orleans Parish (reduced from the earlier estimated 20 feet). The revised model continues to predict extensive flooding in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and eastern Orleans parishes. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, LSU Hurricane Center

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Kenner police receive reports of street flooding in the 900 to 1200 blocks of Williams Boulevard, and reports that the Duncan Canal is close to overflowing. (Kenner is located just south of Lake Pontchartrain, in Jefferson Parish) Armstrong International Airport and St Charles Parish each record winds of at least 80 mph. St. Bernard records winds up to 70 mph and loses power by 5:00 am. More than 348,000 area residents lose power. Some East Jefferson drainage canals already are topping out as huge pumps struggle to drain the rain out of neighborhoods and into Lake Pontchartrain, according to Walter Maestri, Director of the Emergency Management Center in Jefferson Parish. Jefferson Parish streets near Transcontinental Drive and Kawanee Avenue, a frequent trouble spot about halfway between the Suburban and Elmwood canals, are also flooded. However, according to Maestri, “We have had no reports of serious wind damage, and we don’t see any indication of tidal surge problems. But of course it’s still really early. The next four to five hours will tell the tale.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005; Schleifstein and Broach, 8/29/2005 Sources: Walter Maestri]

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Before dawn this morning, as Katrina approaches the coast of Southeastern Louisiana, the hurricane’s easterly winds from its northern quadrant shove a rising surge into the marshy Lake Borgne area east of St. Bernard. There, two hurricane levees come together into a large V-shape. Storm surge researchers later say that this point “acts as a giant funnel: Water pouring into the confined area rises up—perhaps as much as 20 feet in this case—and is funneled between the levees all the way into New Orleans.” The water probably tops the levees along the north side adjacent to eastern New Orleans, which average only 14 or 15 feet. The surge reaches the Industrial Canal before dawn and quickly overflows on both sides, the canal lockmaster reports to the Corps. At some point not long afterward, Corps officials believe a barge breaks loose and crashes through the floodwall, opening a breach that accelerated flooding into the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish. [McQuaid, 9/7/2005]
Note - Reports about when this breach occurs vary. For example, the Army Corps of Engineers will report this evening that this breach occurs later, “during the storm.” [US Army Corps of Engineers, 8/29/2005 pdf file] The Boston Globe will report that this breach occurs around 9:00 am. [Boston Globe, 9/11/2005] However, it appears more likely that at least one breach of occurred on this canal early this morning. Army Corps engineers will later indicate that this Industrial Canal breach occurs overnight as the storm is barreling towards New Orleans [McQuaid, 9/7/2005] ; while the 17th Street Canal levee-floodwall is not breached until sometime around 9:00 am during the height of the storm’s pass near New Orleans (see (9:00 am) August 29, 2005).

Entity Tags: US Army Corps of Engineers, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

As Katrina’s storm surge pushes inland, it causes significant damage to a large portion of the levee system along the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MGRO). The storm surge also damages a smaller levee built on the northern portions of neighborhoods in St. Bernard along Florida Avenue, from Arabi to Poydras, according to Col. Richard Wagenaar, the Army Corps’ head of engineers for the New Orleans district. The MRGO, shipping channel built in the early 1960s with very strong local support, had a 17-foot high earthen levee that extended for 10 miles and was the area’s easternmost line of defense against storm surges. Although St. Bernard officials initially strongly supported the construction of the MGRO, more recently, officials had charged that building the waterway destroyed wetlands that absorb the impact of storm surges, making the parish vulnerable. [Times-Picayune, 9/13/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, US Army Corps of Engineers

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, appearing on NBC, Today Show, reports that “I believe the water has breached the levee system, and is—is coming in. I mean, we’ve got water in so many areas there that, you know, none of that’s a big surprise. It’s just a big worry.” (Blanco is likely referring to the Industrial Canal floodwall.) Officials are “hearing of flooding of six-to-eight-foot waters in eastern New Orleans near the parish line of Orleans and St. Bernard. Obviously, our low-lying areas are experiencing a lot of flooding as well.” According to Blanco, the water is rising at about one foot per hour: “And yes, that gives us great concern. The area that we’re talking about is a heavily populated area. We’re hoping that it—that it was 100 percent evacuated. Eight-foot waters are—are very serious.” Blanco warns that, “We have not seen the last of—of the damage. I expect that it will worsen throughout the day.” [MSNBC, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

At around 8:00 am this morning, authorities report rising water on both sides of the Industrial Canal, in St. Bernard and eastern New Orleans. The Coast Guard reports that residents are on rooftops in the Upper 9th Ward. “Water is inundating everywhere,” in St. Bernard, Parish Council Chairman Joey DiFatta says. [McQuaid, 9/7/2005 Sources: Joey DiFatta, US Coast Guard]

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Weather Service (NWS) issues a flash flood warning for Orleans Parish, reporting that a breach has occurred along the Industrial Canal at Tennessee Street. It expects three to eight feet of flooding due to the breach. The warning includes New Orleans, including the 9th Ward, St. Bernard Parish, Chalmette, and Arabi. The NWS urges residents to “[m]ove to higher ground. A flash flood warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring. If you are in the warning area move to higher ground immediately.” [Wall Street Journal, 9/12/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Emergency preparedness officials from across southeast Louisiana report damage during a morning teleconference. The officials report flooding, building collapses, power outages and fires. The Times-Picayune provides a rundown of the reports on its blog this morning:
bullet In New Orleans, water is topping a floodwall along the Industrial Canal. The city’s 911 system is out of service. Charity Hospital is on emergency power; windows have been blown out on five floors. The Police Department is operating on a backup power system. Three to four feet of water is reported on St. Claude Avenue at Jackson Barracks. A 20-foot tidal surge has knocked out four pumping stations; only one is back into service.
bullet Jefferson Parish reports a building collapse in the 200 block of Wright Avenue in Terrytown. Reportedly, people were inside the building when it collapsed.
bullet St. Charles Parish reports significant flooding on the East Bank.
bullet Arabi reports up to eight feet of water. People are climbing into their attics to escape the flooding. “We’re telling people to get into the attic and take something with them to cut through the roof if necessary,” reports Col. Richard Baumy of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office. “It’s the same scenario as Betsy.” 100-plus mph winds are preventing rescue efforts.
bullet Bayou Bienvenue reports water levels of 9 1/2 feet, almost twice normal levels.
bullet St. John reports massive power outages.
bullet Gramercy reports extensive damage to the town’s 1 1/2-year-old fire station.
bullet Terrebonne Parish reports one death due to a heart attack. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005] Note: The exact time of this call is not clear. However, this entry appears on the Times-Picayune Blog before reports of the hole in the Superdome’s roof, indicating that the call takes place relatively early this morning.

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Around 9:00 am this morning, the 17th Street Canal levee-floodwall system is breached. However, according to Al Naomi, Army Corps of Engineers’ New Orleans project manager, the breach occurs in mid- or late-morning after Katrina’s eye has passed east of New Orleans. By that time, north winds have pushed storm surge water in Lake Pontchartrain south against the hurricane levees and into the canals, and then the wind shifts to the west. “As I remember it the worst of the storm had passed when we got word the floodwall had collapsed,” Naomi later says. “It could have been when we were experiencing westerly winds in the aftermath of the storm, which would have been pushing water against it.” Naomi and other Corps officials will later say that they believe that the water in the canal topped the levee on the Orleans Parish side, weakening its structure on the interior side and causing its collapse. Ivor Van Heerden, LSU Hurricane Center expert, however, will say that he does not believe the water was high enough in the lake to top the 14-foot wall and that the pressure caused a “catastrophic structural failure.” [McQuaid, 9/7/2005 Sources: Al Naomi, Ivor Van Heerden]
Note - Reports about when this breach occurs vary. For example, Knight Ridder reports that the breach occurred at 3:00 am this morning, and that the breach was reported to the Army Corps of Engineers around 5:00 am. [Knight Ridder, 9/11/2005] Later today, the Army Corps of Engineers will report that the breach occurred “overnight” and that the Industrial Canal breach occurs at this time. [US Army Corps of Engineers, 8/29/2005 pdf file Sources: US Army Corps of Engineers] The Boston Globe will report that the breach occurs later this afternoon. [Boston Globe, 9/11/2005] The Chicago Tribune will report that the breach does not occur until August 30. [Chicago Tribune, 9/11/2005] However, it appears more likely that the 17th Street Canal floodwall-levee is breached around this time, and that the early morning breach reported is the breach of the floodwall(s) in the Industrial Canal.

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

St. Bernard Parish officials are receiving reports of widespread flooding and damage across the parish. More than eight feet of water is reported in Arabi. However, according to Parish Council Chairman Joey DiFatta, other parts of St. Bernard have also been also hit. “Water is inundating everywhere. We have buildings and roofs collapsing. We’re preparing rescue efforts and as soon as the wind subsides we’ll start trying to get people out of St. Bernard.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005 Sources: Joey DiFatta]

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

“Although the damage will be incredible, it could have been much, much worse,” states Jeff Matthews, meteorologist with the Weather Underground. Masters notes, however, that the National Weather Service “is reporting that the levees in Orleans and St Bernard parishes have been overtopped by the storm surge, and there are reports of life-threatening flooding, roof damage, and building collapses in the city.” Masters warns that “Bay Saint Louis, Biloxi, and Gulfport Mississippi will take the full force of Katrina’s right eyewall, and a storm surge of 15-20 feet is likely along the west and central Mississippi coast.” Masters closes his post with a personal note: “A special thanks need to be given to the Air Force Hurricane Hunters based at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, who have flown Katrina around the clock while their families remained on the ground in Biloxi. Biloxi will suffer Katrina’s harshest blow, and many of the Hurricane Hunters will see their homes destroyed or heavily damaged.” [Masters, 8/29/2005] Tomorrow morning, Masters will recall the initial relief after Hurricane Andrew: “As news reports begin to filter in from the hardest hit areas, the scope of Katrina’s destruction is slowly being realized. Remember in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, how there was a lot of relief about how much worse it could have been, and how well Miami fared? This cheerfulness faded once the search teams penetrated to Homestead and found the near-total devastation there [W]ith a two block long breach in the Lake Pontchartrain levee allowing the entire City of New Orleans to flood today, we are witnessing a natural disaster of the scope unseen in America since the great 1938 Hurricane devastated New England, killing 600. Damage from Katrina will probably top $50 billion, and the death toll will be in the hundreds.” [Masters, 8/30/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service, Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Andrew, Keesler Air Force Base, Air Force Hurricane Hunters

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The Associated Press reports that, according to the National Weather Service, a floodwall has been breached on the Industrial Canal near the St. Bernard-Orleans parish line (see (9:00 am) August 29, 2005). Three to eight feed of flooding is possible. [Associated Press, 8/29/2005 Sources: National Weather Service] The Associated Press will report on breaches in New Orleans’ levee system at least 15 times before the end of the day, identifying both the Industrial Canal floodwall breach and the 17th Street Canal floodwall-levee breach.

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Water has risen beyond the second floor in some houses in Chalmette (St. Bernard’s Parish), according to local officials. People are being forced into their attics to escape the floodwaters. North of Judge Perez Drive, waters have already risen as high as 10 feet. Chalmette High School, a refuge of last resort, has sustained structural damage, and the Civic Auditorium has lost its roof. Floodwall-levee overtopping has caused the extensive flooding in the Lower 9th Board and St. Bernard Parish. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Chalmette High School

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Weather Service’s local weather statement for Mobile Alabama repeats the 8:14 am Flash Flood Warning (see 8:14 am August 29, 2005), which reported that the Industrial Canal is breached at Tennessee Street. [Wall Street Journal, 9/12/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The St. Bernard Parish website reports on the breach to the Industrial Canal floodwall, near the St. Bernard-Orleans parish line (Tennessee St.), citing the National Weather Service advisory (see 8:14 am August 29, 2005). According to Larry Ingargiola, Director of St. Bernard’s OEP, both parish shelters, housing 300 residents, are suffering significant flooding damage. Chalmette High is losing its roof; many windows are broken at St. Bernard High. “We cannot see the tops of the levees!” [St. Bernard Parish, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service, Chalmette High School

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The St. Bernard Parish website reports: “Most of the parish has no power and widespread flooding is reported. Phone services are severely hampered into/out of the parish. Estimated 40,000 [h]omes are flooded.” [St. Bernard Parish, 8/29/2005]

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The St. Bernard Parish website reports that Chalmette’s Gibb Drive and community is underwater to the roof, and residents have been driven to their rooftops. [St. Bernard Parish, 8/29/2005]

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Residents in the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish report heavy flooding. Residents are being rescued from rooftops by passing boaters. Reportedly, floodwaters are as high as 12 feet well into Chalmette. Homes on Champagna Drive are nearly under water, and businesses are flooded. The first floor of Chalmette High School, a St. Bernard Parish shelter of last resort, is flooded and residents are reporting that they can see only the rooftops of nearby homes. St. Bernard Parish’s government building reportedly has at least eight to ten feet of water. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Chalmette High School

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The St. Bernard Parish website reports: “Communications into the New Orleans/St. Bernard area are little to none due to power and downed telecommunications equipment and massive calls into state.” [St. Bernard Parish, 8/29/2005]

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The St. Bernard Parish website reports that about 150 people have been sighted on rooftops in area with “8-10 feet (perhaps more) of water.” “Search and Rescue teams are being dispensed to areas hard hit. Presently no deaths have been reported as was sighted in New Orleans.” [St. Bernard Parish, 8/29/2005]

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The St. Bernard Parish website states that the area around Violet Canal is reportedly under 8 to 12 feet of water. Officials plan on an aerial view to access information in the parish at its earliest opportunity. Officials will block re-entry to communities deemed affected by Katrina until authorities can access the damage. [St. Bernard Parish, 8/29/2005]

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Reporters and Guests on National Public Radio’s afternoon repeatedly report the extensive flooding. Greg Allen reports: “The good news is that the extreme flooding feared from a storm surge didn’t materialize here.… At least one part of the levee [system] did give way in St. Bernard Parish, but authorities say in a critical area along Lake Pontchartrain the levees largely did their job. Even so, Hurricane Katrina was still the worst storm to hit New Orleans in memory, worse, many residents say, than Hurricane Betsy which devastated the city in 1965.” [National Public Radio, 8/29/2005] Mark Schleifstein of the Times-Picayune reports, “There is definitely some flooding in several areas that we’re still trying to get a handle on to see whether or not it’s as bad as Hurricane Betsy was in 1965. The worst areas are actually in a community called Chalmette that’s a little bit south of the city.… Now it has already overtopped some levees along the lake front rather early on in the process and it did—also the Chalmette flooding was also caused by a storm surge that went up what’s called the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.” [National Public Radio, 8/29/2005] However, John Burnett reports: “[T]he National Guard has just begun in those big deuce and a half trucks of theirs to go out and do some assessments, and what they’re finding is—one of the most distressing things that’s happened is the famous lower 9th Ward of New Orleans…really got hit hard. That’s where there was a big breach in the [floodwall of the Industrial Canal], that leads into the Mississippi River. And so we’ve heard reports of people on tops of houses, of a woman in an attic trying to, you know—concerned that the flood waters were gonna trap her in there. So that is an area of great concern. A lot of the city is not in near those dire circumstances. More like one, two feet of water on the ground. Nothing like, you know, up to the rooftops.” [MSNBC, 8/29/2005] Senator Landrieu (D-La) appears on the show to say, “We have reports that some of the levees have either been breached or the water has come over the levees. [T]here’s still a tremendous amount of water from the first images that we’re able to receive, which is just in the last hour, of levels of water in and around the city. Now Plaquemine Parish, St. Bernard Parish have been very hard hit. Areas of Lakeview and New Orleans East have substantial water in them that we know of; downtown has been hit. The levels of water don’t seem that high in the central business district and the French Quarter, but of course, our assessment teams haven’t gotten there yet.” [National Public Radio, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Greg Allen, John Burnett, Hurricane Betsy, All Things Considered, National Public Radio, National Guard

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The Times-Picayune files a report describing New Orleans’ devastated 9th Ward, where the flooding is so extensive that only rooftops poke out from beneath the waters for stretches of square miles. Residents fear for what has happened in the Lower 9th Ward, which edges St. Bernard Parish. “It’s got to be worse in the lower 9,” a city police officer working the scene says. “It always is.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005] Treme and the city’s 8th and 9th Wards are severely flooded. Eastern New Orleans is inaccessible by car due to the high water on Interstate 10 East. The farther east on Interstates 10 and 610, one goes, “the deeper the water and the danger.” Hurricane Katrina has caused the highway to end at the first exit for Louisa Street. For miles, there are only rooftops, with floodwaters lapping at the eves, visible from I-10. Rows of homes have been swallowed by water. Standing outside on the concrete interstate, in the whipping winds, signs can be spotted that so many of the city’s residents did not evacuate. One man wades up to his chest below, holding an orange water cooler as a buoy. Another single man watches him from the rooftop of a trucking business. Bursts of orange lights can be seen from another house, from the highest window, where at least two people are stranded. Their house nearly swallowed by the flooding, they blink flashlights to attract attention, but are forced to wait. Rescue officials say that boats are coming, but they have not yet arrived. The visions of destruction are overwhelming. There is a yell here and there, a holler from somewhere, but no one in sight. Desperate images fill the neighborhoods: Small children and a woman standing on their front porch as water licks the raised house’s top steps. A black van completely entrenched in the flooding. A drenched dog alone on a rooftop. Household-type items strewn in the dirty floodwater. In one case, rescuers use a boat to get a group of stranded people from their roof to the highway. They leave the group on the overpass, presumably to make other rescues. The interstate has become a kind of eerie desert. The stranded include an elderly woman in a wheelchair and a small barefoot boy. Both are accompanied by their respective families. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

New Orleans Firefighter Nick Felton reports that “downtown has major damage with windows and parts of buildings gone and, of course, major flooding with the water still rising. At this time feeder bands are still coming through the area and they are not responding yet. There are people on their rooftops waiting to be rescued. There have been three breaches of the levee system—in Kenner, at Lakefront along Lake Pontchartrain and west bank. Officials are very concerned about lower New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish. No one has been able to communicate with any [firefighters in St. Bernard Parish].” [International Association of Fire Fighters, 8/29/2005]

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Mayor Nagin appears on WWLTV to provide viewers with a “status report” on the city: “My heart is heavy. I don’t have any good news to really share. Other than at some point in time the federal government will be coming in here in mass. But, the city is in a state of devastation. Eighty percent of it is under water, as much as 20 feet in some places. There’s an incredible amount of water in the city. Residents are on roofs and trapped in attics, awaiting rescue. Fire, Police, and National Guard personnel are out rescuing those trapped right now. Both airports are under water. Twin spans in New Orleans East are totally destroyed. Three huge boats have run aground. An oil tanker has run aground and is leaking oil. There is a serious [floodwall-levee] break at 17th Street Canal,” and the water continues to rise. Houses have been picked up off their foundation and moved. The Yacht Club has burned; it’s totally destroyed. A barge has hit one of the main structures of High Rise (a bridge/span) and we’re not sure that the High Rise is structurally sound. All of Slidell is under water. Most of Metaraie is under water. “The list just goes on and on.” There are gas leaks throughout the city. It’s not a pretty picture. On the somewhat good news side, many people have survived. Uptown is pretty dry. The French Quarter and Central Business District is dry, but they also have buildings that look like a bazooka was shot through. There is no clear path in or out of the city, whether east or west. I-10 West is still full of water.… The water system has been contaminated except for the Central Business District and Algiers. We have no electricity and they expect electricity to be out about 4-6 weeks. “And the list goes on and on.” Nagin reports that flooding is worst in New Orleans East and in the Lower 9th Ward, but it’s “coming from everywhere.” Nagin is basing his information on a briefing he received, apparently from Marty Evans, President of the Red Cross. Nagin states that he is reading from a briefing provided by a FEMA official (later identified as Marty Bahamonde). “The FEMA guy here is saying that 80 percent of New Orleans is under water and a significant portion of Metaraie and Kenner—everything north of I-10 is under water.” Nagin also reports that St. Bernard is in even worse shape: “There is total devastation in St. Bernard alone.” (WWLTV reporter notes earlier Associated Press report that 40,000 houses in that parish are under water.) [WWLTV 4 (New Orleans), 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: National Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Marty Bahamonde, Marty Evans, Ray Nagin

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Floodwaters have risen quickly in Arabi (St. Bernard Parish), flooding houses and forcing residents to evacuate by boat. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

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