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Context of '10:00 pm August 30, 2005: CNN NewsNight: Levees Failed to Hold; Hundreds Stranded in Flooded Areas'

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A new computer model developed by the National Weather Service suggests that most areas inside and outside the levees in New Orleans and vicinity would be flooded if a slow-moving Category 2 hurricane were to make landfall at New Orleans. Under certain conditions, even a Category 1 could submerge the city in as much as 9 feet of water, the model predicts. The model, named SLOSH, an acronym for Sea, Lake and Overland Surge from Hurricanes, factors in the effects of Louisiana’s eroding coastline. [Times-Picayune, 6/25/2004]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Around 7 pm this evening, LSU Hurricane Center scientists share their latest prediction models with emergency officials at the Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge. On the giant screen looming over the officials, scientists post the sum of all fears: New Orleans will go under. Everyone knows what that means: a major water rescue of untold thousands. [Time, 9/4/2005] The model predicts that Katrina’s storm surge may weaken and overtop New Orleans’ levees, causing massive flooding of Plaquemines Parish, New Orleans’ 9th Ward, Michoud area, and Mid-City, as well as large parts of Slidell. [Schleifstein, 8/27/2005; Daily Advertiser, 8/27/2005] The Times-Picayune will publish the projected storm surge map the next morning. [Times-Picayune, 8/28/2005 pdf file] Reportedly, the Center also e-mails their modeling results to state and federal agencies, including the National Hurricane Center. [MSNBC, 9/9/2005]

Entity Tags: LSU Hurricane Center, National Emergency Operations Center, National Hurricane Center

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

FEMA Director Michael Brown appears on ABC’s Nightline. When Ted Koppel asks Brown about the massive flooding in New Orleans and the need to drain the water from the city, Brown responds as follows: “[A] few years ago, I decided that FEMA really needed to do some catastrophic disaster planning. And so, the President gave us the money to do that and the first place we did a study was in New Orleans. And as you know, you’ve probably heard everyone talk about the bowl. What happened is, you know, Max Mayfield at the National Hurricane Center was right. We had a huge storm surge that came across those levees. I’m not sure we had breeches but we certainly had some areas where there’s some leaks and flooding continuing to occur. That water all gets in. We now have to rely upon the pumps. We need generators to do that pumping because the power was out. And some of those pumps may or may not fail. So, it’s going to be a long, tedious process to now get that water back out so we can then even start rebuilding homes, let alone let people back into them.” Asked to compare the damage in New Orleans to elsewhere in the region, and even though he has just acknowledged the widespread flooding in the city, Brown responds as follows: “[W]hat happened—believe it or not, I think New Orleans is the one that got off easy because Katrina moved to the east 30 or 45 miles. And that prevented what we would have seen had it hit the bull’s eye. And that is widespread flooding, breeches of all of the levees. And you would have seen downtown inundated also.” [ABC, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Michael D. Brown, Max Mayfield, Ted Koppel, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

FEMA Director Michael Brown describes the situation to CNN’s Larry King as “a catastrophic disaster,” before focusing on the devastation to New Orleans, which he describes as follows: “It saved downtown New Orleans but it decimated everything east of downtown and then, of course, decimated everything up through Mississippi, so there’s always good news and bad news and it here is it means we don’t have the flooding in downtown New Orleans but we’ve got the flooding everywhere. We’ve got some storm surges that have come across the levees. We have some, I’m not going to call them breaches but we have some areas where the lake and the rivers are continuing to spill over. The flood waters are still spilling into those neighborhoods, so it’s frankly unfortunately going to get worse before it gets better.” Brown reports that FEMA is assessing the situation and remarks that, “It’s just amazing to see the pictures and to hear the firsthand reports of these FEMA folks who have been with the agency for, you know, 15 or 20 years to call in and talk about how this is the worst flooding they’ve ever seen in their entire lives and talking about just neighborhoods after neighborhoods gone.” Brown also praises the Coast Guard rescue efforts: “I can’t say enough about the Coast Guard. They go out and they’re trying to do reconnaissance and the next thing you know there’s a guy on the roof that needs rescuing, so they rescue that guy and try to get him back to safety. That’s the kind of stuff we’re going to find in the near future.” [CNN, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency, US Coast Guard, Michael D. Brown

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

CNN NewsNight’s Aaron Brown opens this evening’s program by describing New Orleans’ massive flooding: “It is especially bad in the eastern suburbs of New Orleans and the exurbs of New Orleans. And you’ve got a lot of people live out in the developments out there. The lev[ees] that are supposed to keep the city dry, New Orleans city mostly below sea level, failed to hold the storm surges back. No one really believed they would.” During the course of the hour, CNN reporters repeatedly provide harrowing accounts of the flooding and rescue attempts throughout the New Orleans area, as well as the massive devastation in Mississippi. At the end of the two-hour special, Brown closes with the following: “I suppose over the last 15 years, every year it seems like I’ve covered, chased hurricanes in one part of the southeast or another. And I never remember a situation quite like the one we have now, where 12, 18 hours after the center of the hurricane passed, or hit land and passed, we still don’t have an especially clear picture of what has—how devastating the damage is. I think it’s going to be well into tomorrow before we really understand the magnitude of the destruction and the magnitude of the loss of life. And just based on what we’ve learned in the last little bit, my gut says if nothing else, that the numbers are going to be extraordinarily disquieting.” [CNN, 8/29/2005]

Timeline Tags: Hurricane Katrina

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