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Context of '(3:00 pm) August 29, 2005: New Orleans Director of Homeland Security Expects Casualties'

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Innovative Emergency Management (IEM), an emergency management and homeland security consulting firm, announces that the Department of Homeland Security has awarded it a $500,000 contract to lead the development of a catastrophic hurricane disaster plan (see September 23, 2004) for Louisiana and the city of New Orleans. Announcing the award, IEM Director of Homeland Security Wayne Thomas notes that “the greater New Orleans area is one of the nation’s most vulnerable locations for hurricane landfall. Given this area’s vulnerability, unique geographic location and elevation, and troubled escape routes, a plan that facilitates a rapid and effective hurricane response and recovery is critical.” [Innovative Emergency Management, 6/3/2004; Insurance Journal, 6/9/2004; US Congress, 9/9/2005]

Entity Tags: US Department of Homeland Security, Innovative Emergency Management

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The eye of Hurricane Katrina, now a Category 1 hurricane, is moving southwest across Miami-Dade County, and expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico Friday morning. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects Katrina to strengthen as it moves into the Gulf. Two models indicate Katrina will become a major hurricane. Indications are that Katrina will move westward before being forced northerly over the eastern Gulf of Mexico. “All indications are that Katrina will be a dangerous hurricane in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico in about 3 days.” Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: Miami-Dade County, Florida
bullet Direction and Speed: Southwest at near 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 75 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 961 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 16 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 9 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 7 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that Katrina has regained hurricane strength upon leaving Florida and entering the Gulf of Mexico. NHC expects Katrina to continue, with slight increase in speed, over next 24 hours. Models generally agree that Katrina will migrate westward, gradually turning northwest. The “consensus” of models has shifted westward. Indications are now stronger that Katrina will be a dangerous hurricane in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico within the next couple of days. The official forecast indicates Katrina winds will strengthen to 100 mph, although two models forecast a major hurricane. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 25.3 N, 81.5W
bullet Direction and Speed: Due west at near 5 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 75 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 987 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 17 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 11 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 8 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that Katrina, now a Category 2 hurricane, continues to move west-southwest away from Florida, and is expected to gradually turn west on Saturday. Models have now shifted significantly westward. The NHC states that the “projected landfall is still about 72 hours away.” (In fact, Katrina will make landfall in only 55 hours.) The NHC expects that Katrina will strengthen over the next 24 hours, becoming a Category 3—or major—hurricane later today, and may be a Category 4 hurricane at landfall. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 24.8 N, 82.9 W (approximately 70 miles west-northwest of Key West, Florida)
bullet Direction and Speed: West-southwest at near 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 100 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 965 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from the center up to 25 miles; and tropical storm force winds extend up to 85 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 17 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 16 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 15 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, reports that the latest computer models indicate, “the threat of a strike on New Orleans by Katrina as a major hurricane has grown. The official NHC forecast is now 170 miles west of where it was at 11am, and still is to the east of the consensus model guidance. It would be no surprise if later advisories shift the forecast track even further west and put Katrina over New Orleans. Until Katrina makes its northward turn, I would cast a very doubtful eye on the model predictions of Katrina’s track.” [Masters, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

CBS News reports that new models indicate that Katrina may shift west towards New Orleans. Noting that New Orleans is “among one of the most vulnerable hurricane places, if not the most vulnerable in the country,” the reporter reminds viewers that although hurricanes generally weaken before hitting land, “Hurricane Camille didn’t in ‘69; there’s no guarantee that this one will. This could very well be a Category 4.” [CBS News, 8/26/2005] ABC News contains a similar report tonight, nothing that Katrina could hit near New Orleans and be a catastrophic hurricane. [ABC, 8/26/2005] MSNBC reports that four out of five computer models indicate that Katrina will hit between New Orleans and the Mississippi-Alabama Border. [MSNBC, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Camille, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center, warns the Times-Picayune that Hurricane Katrina poses an imminent danger to New Orleans: “The guidance we get and common sense and experience suggests this storm is not done strengthening.… This is really scary. This is not a test, as your governor said earlier today. This is the real thing.” Katrina “is a very, very dangerous hurricane, and capable of causing a lot of damage and loss of life if we’re not careful.” “This thing is like Hurricane Opal,” Mayfield says, referring to the 1995 Category 3 hurricane that hit the Florida panhandle. “We’re seeing 12-foot seas along the Louisiana coast already.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Opal, Max Mayfield

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warns that Katrina, still a Category 4 hurricane, continues to intensify and grow larger. The NHC reiterates the hurricane warning for Louisiana to Florida, and expands the area covered by a tropical storm warning. It warns further that, “While the details of the landfall intensity cannot be known at this time… Katrina will be a very dangerous hurricane at landfall…. It must be emphasized that the exact landfall point cannot be specified and that Katrina is a large hurricane that will affect a large area,” warns the NHC. “NHC now expects Katrina’s path to move north later today.” Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 275 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: West-northwest at 10 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 145 mph, with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 935 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 85 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 185 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 11 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 26 percent;
bullet New Orleans, LA: 29 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

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

More than 4,000 National Guardsmen are mobilizing in Memphis, Tennessee to help police the streets of New Orleans after the storm has passed, according to Terry Ebbert, New Orleans Director of Homeland Security. In the meantime, as the storm approaches, officials are “hunkered down. There is not much we can do tonight,” he says. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005 Sources: Terry Ebbert]

Entity Tags: National Guard

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Katrina, still an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds at 135 mph, is now moving north at nearly 15 mph and its eye is now approximately 40 miles southeast of New Orleans and 65 miles southwest of Biloxi. The National Hurricane Center expects Katrina to pass just to the east of New Orleans during the next few hours, and then move into Southern Mississippi. Katrina has grown yet again, with hurricane force winds extending 125 miles from the center, and tropical storm force winds extending 230 miles. NHC warns that storm surge flooding of “10 to 15 feet… near the tops of the levees… is possible in the Greater New Orleans area.” Minimum central pressure has increased to 923 MB. [National Hurricane Center, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Terry Ebbert, New Orleans Director of Homeland Security, states that he is positive there are casualties resulting from Hurricane Katrina, based on the number of calls to emergency workers from people trapped in trees and attics. According to Ebbert, authorities lost communications with those pleading for help in some cases. “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.” Police are fanning out across the city to assess the damage and rescue people where possible. The city also has 100 boats stationed at Jackson Barracks on the Orleans-St. Bernard parish line. According to Ebbert, the Lower 9th Ward, eastern New Orleans, Treme, and Lakeview near a levee breech seem to be the most devastated. Although damage is extensive, Ebbert says that if the storm had passed just 10 miles west of its track, the city would have been inundated with 25 feet of water. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Terry Ebbert, Hurricane Katrina

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

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