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Hurricane Katrina

Execution of Emergency Plans

Project: Hurricane Katrina
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As part of the program, “Preparing for the Big One,” aimed at ensuring that none of New Orleans residents are left behind during a mandatory hurricane evacuation, the city contracts Total Community Action, a community faith-based network, to produce 70,000 30-minute DVDs. The DVD is meant to serve as a guide for the city’s poorest residents, many of whom do not own cars and live in the city’s lowest, most flood-prone, areas. At one point during the video, Rev. Marshall Truehill, who heads Total Community Action, warns, “Don’t wait for the city, don’t wait for the state, don’t wait for the Red Cross.” He tells the viewers, “It’s your personal responsibility” to escape before a hurricane. Other guests appearing on the video—including Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas—reiterate the same message. “You’re responsible for your safety, and you should be responsible for the person next to you,” Wilkins says. “If you have some room to get that person out of town, the Red Cross will have a space for that person outside the area. We can help you.… But we don’t have the transportation.” The Los Angeles Times says that one of the video’s central message is that those without cars would not be able to rely on the city to evacuate them and that they would need to devise their own evacuation strategies. The video suggests that residents without cars should prearrange rides with other residents who do have cars. “Everybody needs to have their own plans,” New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin says on the video. “Check with your neighbors, check with your relatives.” Nagin also warns that public schools are no longer considered safe shelters. Other parts of the program provide advice on how to clear storm drains, pack an evacuation kit and medical supplies, and keep pets safe. [Times-Picayune, 7/24/2005; Los Angeles Times, 9/13/2005]

Entity Tags: Ray Nagin, Preparing for the Big One, Total Community Action, Marshall Truehill, American Red Cross

Category Tags: Evacuation, Federal, Disaster Preparedness, NGOs, Louisiana: NOLA, Before Katrina

President Bush declares that a major disaster exists in Louisiana, releasing federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by Tropical Storm Cindy on July 5-6, 2005. [White House, 8/23/2005] Louisiana Governor Blanco had declared a state of emergency in light of Tropical Storm Cindy on July 6, 2005. [Louisiana, 7/6/2005]

Entity Tags: Tropical Storm Cindy, George W. Bush

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

Florida Governor Jeb Bush declares a State of Emergency for Florida in light of the impending Tropical Storm Katrina. [WBBM-AM, 8/24/2005; Cox News Service, 8/24/2005; Florida, 8/24/2005 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, John Ellis (“Jeb”) Bush

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Emergency Response

FEMA issues a press release urging residents to heed the hurricane warnings, noting that, “Even as FEMA continues our work on recovery from the past five storms, we stand with our partners at the state and local levels encouraging Floridians to take the necessary precautionary measures for the looming storm.” [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/25/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Emergency Response

FEMA’s Friday Situation Update leads with Katrina, but does not discuss current FEMA operations related to the hurricane. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/25/2005] According to the Saturday Update, however, FEMA will activate its Red Team at the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) today. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/26/2005] The NRCC, a functional component of the Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC), is a multi-agency center that provides overall federal response coordination. [US Department of Homeland Security, 9/16/2005] The NRCC activates the following Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) and operations to prepare for Katrina:
bullet 1-Transportation (with an Air Ops Element)
bullet 3-Public Works and Engineering
bullet 4-Fire Fighting
bullet 5-Information and Planning
bullet 7-Resource Support
bullet 15-External Affairs
bullet Military Liaison. Note that FEMA does not list ESFs 14 and 15 as standard functions on its FEMA website. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 10/24/2004] However, these functions are part of the National Response Plan (NRP) issued by the Department of Homeland Security in December 2004. [US Department of Homeland Security, 12/2004] According to the NRP, ESF-15 provides the resource support and mechanisms to implement the DHS’s Public Affairs policies and procedures. The Public Affairs policies and procedures, in turn, are intended “to rapidly mobilize Federal assets to prepare and deliver coordinated and sustained messages to the public in response to Incidents of National Significance and other major domestic emergencies.” [US Department of Homeland Security, 12/2004] At the same time, FEMA’s Region 4 Response Coordination Center (RRCC), which serves Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, elevates to Level 2. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/26/2005] The RRCC coordinates regional response efforts and implements local Federal program support until a Joint Field Office is established. [US Department of Homeland Security, 9/16/2005] Region 4’s RRCC activates the ESFs listed above, along with ESF-14 (long-term community recovery and mitigation). [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/26/2005] There is no mention of Region 6, which serves Louisiana.

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Response Coordination Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Emergency Response

The Mississippi Valley Division of the US Army Corps of Engineers, based in Vicksburg, Mississippi, begins preparations today to support hurricane response operations in Louisiana and Mississippi, according to an undated Army Corps news release. This same release notes that “[w]ith an estimated 500 Corps personnel still deployed in support of the Global War on Terror, it will require an even larger contingent of Corps personnel to support emergency operations if Katrina comes ashore in our area of responsibility as a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. Anticipating potential requirements to pump water out of New Orleans, the Corps has begun discussions with partners to preposition assets to conduct un-watering operations should Katrina strike the southern Louisiana and New Orleans area.” [US Army Corps of Engineers, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: US Army Corps of Engineers

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

Today, 700 Marines stationed at the Marine Reserve Headquarters in New Orleans are ordered to evacuate, according to a Knight Ridder report. [Knight Ridder, 9/11/2005]

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response, Evacuation

FEMA’s National Situation Update again leads with Katrina, anticipating that Katrina will regenerate today as it travels across the Gulf of Mexico. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/26/2005] The Update indicates that Emergency Operations Centers in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi have been activated at various levels. However, Louisiana is not even mentioned today’s Update. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/26/2005] A team leader critical of FEMA’s response in Louisiana will later speak to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity, asserting that there was no sense of urgency within FEMA at this time: “Nobody’s turning the key to start the engine.” He wondered, “Why aren’t we treating this as a bigger emergency? Why aren’t we doing anything?” [Washington Post, 9/11/2005] Note, however, that the Washington Post report that FEMA is operating at Level 1 at this time contradicts FEMA’s contemporaneous report, which states that it began operating at Level 2 on Thursday. The National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) will not transition to Level 1 until Saturday, August 27 at 7:00 am EDT. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Execution of Emergency Plans, Emergency Response

Lt. Gen. Russel Honore will later report that the Northern Command begins coordinating emergency response efforts with Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana between Friday, August 26 and Saturday, August 27. [US Department of Defense, 9/1/2005]
Note - Honore does not identify the state(s) in which efforts begin today; nor does he describe what state-specific efforts are initiated. However, given that Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama have not yet declared states of emergency, it seems unlikely that the Northern Command is coordinating emergency efforts with these states at this time.

Entity Tags: Bobby Jindal, US Northern Command

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

Public works employees in St. Tammany Parish clean storm drains and ditches to prevent them from clogging during heavy rains. Emergency Operations Center employees go on standby alert. [Times-Picayune, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: National Emergency Operations Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

Walter Maestri, Director of the Emergency Management Center in Jefferson Parish, receives a call from Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center. As Maestri later recalls, “Max said to me, ‘Walter, I just want to alert you that a couple of the models are heading this thing right to New Orleans, and I think this thing is going to seriously intensify. You need to be ready.’ At that time, the track was going up the west coast of Florida, so I said to Max, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And he said, ‘No, Walt, this is real.’” Maestri immediately convenes his staff to begin preparations. According to Maestri, government officials—at all levels—have prepared for this event for years. During conferences, officials repeatedly have repeatedly discussed the fact that a hurricane could flood all of New Orleans and kill up to 40,000 people. Manuals, spanning hundreds of pages, set forth who (local, state, and federal) will do what and when, when the “monster storm hits.” These officials have repeatedly run hurricane exercises to practice execution of the plans. Mayfield will also warn Louisiana and FEMA officials. He briefs FEMA headquarters in a video teleconference, so that he can see the decision-makers during the call. [National Public Radio, 9/9/2005]

Entity Tags: Walter Maestri, Max Mayfield, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

As set forth in the emergency planning manuals, Walter Maestri, Director of the Emergency Management Center in Jefferson Parish, calls Jeff Smith, Deputy Director of Louisiana’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Planning. Maestri learns that NHC Director Max Mayfield has called them too. “So I said, ‘Then you know what he’s sharing?’ And he says, ‘Yes, but the storm right now…’ and I said, ‘Please, please. You’ve indicated you don’t know Max. Let me tell you. When he calls you like that, he’s telling you you need to be ready, be prepared.’” [National Public Radio, 9/9/2005]

Entity Tags: Jeff Smith, Walter Maestri, Max Mayfield

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declares a state of emergency in light of the threat to the state posed by Katrina. This declaration effectively activates Louisiana’s emergency response and recovery program under the command of the director of the state office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. [Louisiana, 8/26/2005] According to Deputy Press Secretary Roderick Hawkins, Blanco issued the declaration in anticipation of possible damage from Hurricane Katrina, noting that the declaration effectively places the Louisiana National Guard on alert: “It puts us on standby just in case we need to mobilize the National Guard.” [KSLA 12 (Shreveport), 8/26/2005 Sources: Roderick Hawkins] . This declaration, in fact, grants Blanco broad powers to respond to the pending disaster, including the power to “[d]irect and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from any stricken or threatened area within the state if he deems this action necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response or recovery.” [Louisiana State Law, Rev. St. sec. 766] Blanco, however, will decline to exercise this power in the coming hours, electing to defer to local officials.

Entity Tags: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response

State officials hold a conference call with emergency preparedness directors for the Southeastern Louisiana parishes to discuss the storm forecasts and state plans. The Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (LOHSEP), has already mobilized its crisis action team, although, representative Mark Smith remarks that while they are getting prepared, they are “in a state of flux. Nobody’s real sure exactly what Katrina is going to do.” The office plans to activate its Baton Rouge Emergency Operations Center Saturday morning at 7:30 am, with a statewide conference call. [Louisiana, 8/26/2005; Times-Picayune, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: National Emergency Operations Center, Mark Smith

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin tells the Times-Picayune that he is alarmed with Hurricane Katrina’s potential path and the lack of time available to prepare for such a large storm. “This storm really scares me,” he says. The state’s new Contraflow Plan calls for evacuation plans to be implemented 50 hours before a storm hits. “That’s why I’m trying to stress to everyone now to get prepared,” Nagin says. City officials will not make a decision regarding emergency measures or evacuations until Saturday, which will not give residents much time to prepare. Officials from Jefferson Parish, St. Bernard Parish, and Plaquemines Parish also encourage residents to prepare for the storm. [Times-Picayune, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Ray Nagin

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Evacuation, Execution of Emergency Plans

As Katrina barrels towards the Gulf Coast, most of the top White House staff members are on vacation, taking advantage of President Bush’s five-week vacation at his Crawford, Texas ranch. Andrew Card, White House Chief of Staff, and a veteran crisis manager who managed the federal response to hurricanes under George H.W. Bush, is vacationing at his lakefront summer home in Maine. Vice President Dick Cheney is vacationing at his Wyoming ranch. Frances Townsend, the White House Homeland Security Advisor who reports to Bush on Homeland Security policy and combating terrorism matters, is vacationing as well. After Katrina sweeps through the Gulf Coast, she will attend several meetings in Washington, before leaving on a previously scheduled trip to Saudi Arabia where she will work on joint counterterrorism projects. Bush will urge Townsend to make the trip despite the unfolding Katrina disaster as a “signal to… the enemy” that the hurricane has not distracted Bush’s attention from terrorists, according to one report. Later, White House representatives will decline to identify the person in charge of preparing for the hurricane in Washington, maintaining that Bush and his aides can run the government just as well from their summer homes. “Andy Card is the chief of staff, and he was in close contact with everyone,” White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan will say at one point. “And the president is the one who’s in charge at the White House.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/11/2005] On Tuesday, August 30, when asked to identify the person leading the White House’s response to Katrina, McClellan will reply that Joe Hagin, Deputy Chief of staff is the “point person in terms of overseeing efforts from the White House.” [White House, 8/30/2005]

Entity Tags: Scott McClellan, Andrew Card, Hurricane Katrina, Joseph W. Hagin, Richard (“Dick”) Cheney, George W. Bush, Frances Townsend

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

At least 21 oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of New Orleans will evacuate today. [ONASA (Bosnia-Herzegovina), 8/27/2005]

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Private Sector, Evacuation

Louisiana Governor Blanco, determining that the storm will be so big that state and local governments will not be able to handle it, asks President Bush to declare a state of emergency. The exact timing of Blanco’s letter is unclear. The PDF version of the letter is dated August 28. [Louisiana, 8/28/2005 pdf file] However, the Federal News dateline for the letter is 4:27 am EDT August 27. [Federal News Service, 8/27/2005] Governor Blanco’s office and the Times-Picayune will publish the full text of the letter today. [Louisiana, 8/27/2005; Walker, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response

FEMA Director Michael Brown will spend today working on hurricane preparations in his office. Brown will sign off on two declarations; one releasing federal money for the response to Katrina, the other approving a similar request for money to battle a California wildfire, FEMA officials will later tell National Public Radio. DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff will monitor the situation from his home, according to a later statement from Russ Knocke, the Homeland Security representative. [National Public Radio, 9/16/2005]

Entity Tags: Michael Chertoff, Michael D. Brown, Russ Knocke

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Emergency Response

FEMA’s National Situation Update once again leads with Katrina, noting that the Mississippi and Louisiana governors have declared a state of emergency, due to the threat posed by the hurricane. The Update warns, in bold type, that “New Orleans is of particular concern because much of that city lies below sea level,” and then continues: “[I]f the hurricane winds blow from a certain direction, there are dire predictions of what may happen in the city.” According to the Update, Department of Defense and Rapid Needs Assessment functions “are being activated,” while Region 4 (which serves Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, among others) remains at Level 2 operations. Curiously, the Update does not mention the status of Region 6, which serves Louisiana. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/27/2005] Leo Bosner, FEMA Emergency Management Specialist (and president of the union representing FEMA staff), will later state that FEMA staff issues this Update at 5:30 this morning, and that they pointedly focused on New Orleans: “We used good, heavy black type. We said there’s a storm going toward New Orleans and it’s a Force—I think it was a Force 3, expected to strengthen into a Force 4 at that point. And we let them know this is a very serious situation. There were some resources being mobilized but really not quite enough for that kind of a scale. They get these things in person. They go to their office computer and to their BlackBerry.” According to Bosner’s later recollection, “We sent the information up and we’d expected that by the time we come in, everything would be swinging into action. We got there, and there was the sounds of silence.” [National Public Radio, 9/16/2005 Sources: Leo Bosner]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Execution of Emergency Plans, Emergency Response

At 6:00 am, FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) transitions to 24-hour operations, activating the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). FEMA also activates several more emergency support functions (in addition to those that were activated on Thursday (see 11:00 am EDT August 25, 2005)), including: communications; mass care (managing and coordinating food, shelter and first aid for victims, providing bulk distribution of relief supplies, and operating a system to assist family reunification); health and medical services; urban search and rescue; food delivery; hazardous materials management; and energy (restoring power and fuel supplies). [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Emergency Management Assistance Compact, National Response Coordination Center, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Emergency Response

The Louisiana State Police activates the Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge, and opens a toll-free hotline. The center will monitor the path of Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, local troops have placed additional troopers on telephone standby in preparations to assist with increased traffic flow. [Louisiana State Police, 8/27/2005; Louisiana State Police, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Louisiana State Police, National Emergency Operations Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response

Hurricane Katrina will make landfall in Louisiana in only 48 hours . Governor Blanco has declared a state of emergency (see 4:00 pm August 26, 2005), and requested that President Bush declare a state of emergency, to enable direct federal assistance in the potential disaster (see Early Morning August 27, 2005). FEMA has apparently sent 10-20 staff members to Louisiana by this time (see 11:00 am August 27, 2005).

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories, Federal: FEMA, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response

Several public schools announce that they will be closed next week. Tulane University announces that it will close at 5:00 pm today, and encourages its students to evacuate. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005]

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Private Sector, Evacuation

St. Charles Parish issues a mandatory evacuation at 9:00 am. Around the same time, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin encourages Jefferson Parish officials to follow the state evacuation plan, which calls for low-lying coastal areas to evacuate first, warning that: “The problem with this storm is that it’s going to compress everything. We have a shorter window to deal with this storm and we’ve got to get people to start evacuating.” Jefferson Parish declares a voluntarily evacuation for most of the parish and a mandatory evacuation for the coastal areas of Grand isle, Crown Point, Lafitte and Barataria. Plaquemines Parish declares a mandatory evacuation and begins evacuating special-needs residents by mid-day. St. Bernard Parish officials recommend that all residents evacuate, although Larry Ingargiola, Emergency Management Director, states that the parish will not declare a mandatory evacuation because it will not offer shelters. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005 Sources: Jefferson Parish]

Entity Tags: Larry Ingargiola, St. Charles Parish, Ray Nagin

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Evacuation

Phil Capitano, Mayor of Kenner (Jefferson Parish, Louisiana), issues an urgent announcement on the city website: “Residents of Kenner: I AM URGING, I AM BEGGING YOU TO LEAVE TOWN NOW!…Hurricane Katrina is going to deal a devastating blow to Kenner…THIS IS A KILLER STORM…” Capitano states that “If you decide to stay, and again we strongly urge against it…one of the most important things to have is an ax, pick, hammer or some type of device [t]hat will allow you to break through your roof and get away from flood waters…, and we do expect much of Kenner to be under water.” He continues, “I cannot emphasize enough to Kenner residents—the urgency, the absolute need to evacuate,” warning that the weakest spot is the parish line along Airline highway, where the levee board sandbags will only be six feet high, and thus, “they are going to be overrun.” [Kenner, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Phil Capitano

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Execution of Emergency Plans, Evacuation, Levee Breach/Flooding

The Louisiana National Guard is alerted this morning, according to Lt. Col. Pete Schneider: “[A]ll of a sudden, on Saturday morning, the call went out, you know, this thing is in the Gulf. The call still went out to, ‘Hey, we got to keep an eye on it a little bit more now,’ but it was still projected to go into the eastern Panhandle. You know, everybody was keeping an eye on it, but—and then Friday—and then Saturday afternoon was, ‘That’s it, you know, it’s not making the turn. It’s time to roll.’” [National Public Radio, 9/9/2005 Sources: Pete Schneider] Approximately 3,500-4,000 National Guard members called to state active duty, along with along with Guard equipment such as vehicles, generators, and Humvees. According to Schneider, troops fan out to staging areas across the state, where they will wait for the storm to pass, before distributing supplies and maintaining order. The emergency plan anticipates the possibility of looting and violence. The plans call for Guard troops to be pre-positioned with the New Orleans Police Department and with state police troops throughout the greater New Orleans area. [Salon, 9/1/2005; National Public Radio, 9/9/2005 Sources: Pete Schneider] As of today, approximately 35 percent of Louisiana’s National Guard troops are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to the National Guard. Approximately 40 percent of Mississippi’s National Guard Troops and approximately 23 percent of Alabama’s National Guard troops are also serving overseas. [American Forces Press Service, 8/29/2005] Louisiana’s 256th Infantry and Mississippi’s 155th Armored, each deployed overseas, contain hundreds of members who serve in “combat support” roles such as engineers, truck drivers, and logisticians, and thus who specialize in the disaster relief functions. [Los Angeles Times, 9/11/2005] Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, head of the National Guard, will later claim that the deployment of Guard troops and equipment oversees has left troops at home without the equipment and vehicles necessary to respond to a crisis such as Katrina. Most of the Guard’s satellite phones, which are essential during power and cell phone service outages that will occur when Katrina sweeps through, are overseas, according to Blum, as is most of the Guard’s best equipment. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will state that “once again our Guard is, I don’t like to use the word ‘stressed,’ but they are challenged” by commitments at home and overseas. [Chicago Tribune, 9/17/2005] However, top Pentagon officials will deny that the Guard’s deployment in Iraq has any impact on the Guard’s ability to respond to the disaster. “That’s just flat wrong. Anyone who’s saying that doesn’t understand the situation,” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will contend. [Los Angeles Times, 9/11/2005]
Note - The exact number of members called to active duty today is unclear. Several news reports indicate that 3,500 members are called to duty. [MacCash and O.Byrne, 8/29/2005; American Forces Press Service, 8/29/2005; Salon, 9/1/2005] . Other news reports state that 4,000 members are called to duty. [National Public Radio, 9/9/2005] The Boston Globe will report that 5,700 Guard members are deployed by Monday. The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that it based on a timeline received from the Louisiana National Guard, 2,000 members are mobilized on Saturday, and 4,000 members are mobilized by Sunday. [Advocate (Baton Rouge), 9/9/2005]

Entity Tags: Steven Blum, New Orleans Police Department, Donald Rumsfeld, Louisiana National Guard

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour declares a state of emergency for Mississippi. [Mississippi, 8/26/2005; Mississippi, 8/26/2005]
Note - The timing of this declaration is unclear. The official documents are dated Friday, August 26. However, news reports indicate that the declaration occurs on Saturday. [Associated Press, 8/27/2005; United Press International, 8/27/2005] Further, while President Bush signs the disaster declaration for Louisiana today (see (Midday) August 27, 2005), he will not sign the Mississippi emergency declaration until Sunday morning (see Before 11:30 am August 28, 2005).

Entity Tags: Haley Barbour

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Mississippi: State, Emergency Response

FEMA activates its National Emergency Response Team (Blue Team), deploying to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/28/2005] FEMA Director Michael Brown will tell the New York Times that the team arriving in Louisiana today to review evacuation plans with local officials consists of “10 or 20 people.” [New York Times, 9/15/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Emergency Response Team, Michael D. Brown

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Emergency Response

FEMA Director Michael Brown appears on CNN to discuss the pending crisis in New Orleans posed by Hurricane Katrina. According to Brown, FEMA has “done a lot of planning for a hurricane striking New Orleans because of New Orleans lying below sea level.” He urges residents to evacuate, warning that there will be significant flooding, and travel will be impossible: “So, people have between now and Sunday afternoon to really get ready and I encourage them to do that right now.” According to Brown, FEMA has already dispatched teams to Mississippi and Louisiana, and “[w]e’re ready to respond in every possible way, because we do anticipate this being a very significant event.” Brown states that Governor Blanco is currently in conference with emergency officials, and, “once she gets all the detailed information from the hurricane center, from FEMA and the rest of us,” she will decide when to implement the Contraflow plan to facilitate the evacuation. Brown warns residents in the storm’s path: “[Y]ou have about 36 hours now to understand how serious this storm is, and to make your preparations to keep your family and to keep your business safe. You’ve got to do that now, tomorrow and Monday is going to be too late.” [CNN, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Hurricane Katrina, Michael D. Brown

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Emergency Response, Warnings

By this time, Louisiana has asked for voluntary evacuations of ten parishes, and mandatory evacuations of St. Charles Parish, according to Jim Ballow, Assistant Chief of Operations of the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Local parishes are in conference with Governor Blanco to discuss further evacuations. Ballow explains the challenges of evacuating New Orleans: Evacuating residents “with… limited evacuation routes and some that are susceptible to high water as well, pose[] a challenge. We need to decide early—certain number of hours out, as per state evacuation plan, to begin evacuating them, so we can effectively remove as many people as possible and then stop the evacuation prior to the storm striking.” [CNN, 8/27/2005 Sources: Jim Ballow]

Entity Tags: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Execution of Emergency Plans, Evacuation

President Bush declares an emergency for Louisiana, and orders federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the affected area. This declaration activates the National Response Plan, and authorizes FEMA to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures to save lives, protect property and public health and safety for parishes in the storm’s path and to minimize or avert the threat of a catastrophe in multiple parishes. Bush’s declaration authorizes FEMA to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, including specifically, “[m]easures undertaken to preserve public health and safety and to eliminate threats to public or private property.” In response to this declaration, FEMA Director Michael Brown appoints William Lokey as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. [White House, 8/27/2005; US Department of Homeland Security, 9/7/2005] . As Governor Blanco will later note, this pre-impact declaration is extremely unusual. The last time a president issued a pre-impact declaration was when Hurricane Andrew was bearing down on Florida in 1992. [CNN, 8/27/2005] Note that while President Bush’s emergency declaration identifies 39 parishes, it does not identify the parishes in Katrina’s path, apparently due to a clerical error. [Knight Ridder, 9/11/2005] This omission has no practical effect, and a corrected declaration will be issued on Monday. [US Department of Homeland Security, 9/7/2005]
Note 1 - Reuters will later incorrectly report that Bush appoints William Lokey as the Federal Coordinating Officer, and will imply that such action is somehow unusual. [Reuters, 9/15/2005] In fact, as reflected in the official Federal Register entry, and in the White House release, Brown appoints Lokey as the coordinating officer for Louisiana. This appointment is consistent with standard practice: For each declared emergency, a different (lower level) individual is appointed as the federal coordinating officer.
Note 2 - Knight Ridder (and other news media) will later incorrectly report that Bush failed to trigger the federal government’s responsibility, and that it is not triggered until DHS Secretary Chertoff’s August 31 announcement that the Katrina disaster is an “Incident of National Significance.” [Knight Ridder, 9/11/2005; Knight Ridder, 9/15/2005] In fact, Bush’s declaration (a) effectively authorizes FEMA to provide a full and immediate federal response to the unfolding crisis, and (b) makes the crisis an “Incident of National Significance.” [US Department of Homeland Security, 12/2004] , at 7 (“Note that while all Presidentially declared disasters and emergencies under the Stafford Act are considered Incidents of National Significance, not all Incidents of National Significance necessarily result in disaster or emergency declarations under the Stafford Act.”); [US Department of Homeland Security, 9/7/2005] (granting FEMA full authority to respond to the emergency.) The strategy behind DHS Secretary Chertoff’s much ballyhooed—and inaccurate—August 31 announcement that his declaration triggers for the first time a coordinated federal response to states and localities overwhelmed by disaster remains unclear at this time.

Entity Tags: Stafford Act, National Response Plan, William Lokey, Michael Chertoff, George W. Bush, Michael D. Brown, Hurricane Andrew, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

The Coast Guard issues its second Katrina-related safety bulletin, ordering all oceangoing vessels to leave port immediately and reiterating its notice that the affected waterways will be closed no later than 2:00 am Monday, August 29. [US Coast Guard, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, US Coast Guard

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Emergency Response, Federal

Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) announces that special triage telephone numbers for residents with special needs who need shelter will open at noon today. The DHH provides a toll-free number for each of the state’s seven regions, as well as a special number for the New Orleans area. “Residents in the area who anticipate the need for Special Needs Shelter services must call this number.… Because of limited staffing, those going to a Special Needs Shelter must have a caretaker to assist with ongoing support and they should bring all necessary supplies including sheets, blankets, and pillows.” [Louisiana Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, 8/27/2005] As of this afternoon, two shelters well away from Katrina’s anticipated path are open, and the state will open more if they become necessary. The two open shelters are in Alexandria (215 miles northwest of New Orleans) and Monroe (330 miles northwest of New Orleans) [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response, Evacuation

Some state governors request additional assistance today, according to Army Lt. General Honore who does not identify which specific states (i.e., Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, or Mississippi) request assistance at this time. [US Department of Defense, 9/1/2005]

Entity Tags: Russel Honore

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Mississippi: State, Emergency Response

Delta, the second-biggest carrier at New Orleans, cancels its entire schedule for Sunday. The last Delta Flight will take off shortly after midnight tonight. [Wall Street Journal, 9/2/2005] Other airlines will continue to fly planes until early Sunday Evening (see 1:00 pm August 27, 2005).

Entity Tags: Delta Airlines

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Private Sector, Emergency Response

All American Airlines, flights scheduled after 1:00 pm today have been cancelled. However, American used larger planes for its last two flights, transporting 300 extra passengers out of the area. [Wall Street Journal, 9/2/2005]

Entity Tags: American Airlines

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Private Sector, Emergency Response

Alabama Governor Bob Riley orders the evacuation of residents south of Interstate 10 in Mobile County and in low-lying areas of Baldwin County due to the significant threat posed by Hurricane Katrina. The evacuation for areas in Baldwin County goes into effect at 1:00 pm and the evacuation order for areas south of I-10 in Mobile County goes into effect at 1:30 pm. [Alabama, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Bob Riley, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Private Sector, Emergency Response

Louisiana Governor Blanco and local officials from Southeastern Louisiana parishes hold a special press conference to urge residents to evacuate. Blanco reports that the parishes are cooperating in following the evacuation plan, and encourages residents to listen to their parish leaders regarding when they should leave their area. Aaron Broussard, President of Jefferson Parish, then outlines the particulars of the evacuations, noting that residents of low-lying regions need to leave immediately, so that other residents can follow. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin warns residents that Hurricane Katrina poses a grave danger to the city: “This is not a test. This is the real deal. Things could change, but as of right now, New Orleans is definitely the target for this hurricane.” Nagin says that New Orleans will follow the state’s evacuation plan, and thus, he will not officially order evacuations until 30 hours before expected landfall, to allow those residents in low-lying surrounding areas to leave first. However, he recommends that residents in low-lying areas of the city, such as Algiers and the 9th Ward, get a head start, noting: “We want you to take this a little more seriously and start moving—right now, as a matter of fact.” Acknowledging that many residents have no independent means of transportation, Nagin says that the city might open the Superdome as a shelter of last resort for evacuees with special needs, but advises evacuees who plan to stay there to bring their own food, drinks, and other comforts necessary. Police Chief Eddie Compass states that New Orleans likely will issue a curfew at some point, and the police department will station police officers at shopping centers to prevent looting. Blanco sums up the situation: “We have been very blessed so far. We’ve escaped the brunt of most of the hurricanes that have been generated. But now it looks like we’re going to have to bear some of the brunt of this storm.” [CNN, 8/27/2005; Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005; Associated Press, 8/27/2005; Washington Post, 9/11/2005]

Entity Tags: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Hurricane Katrina, Aaron Broussard, Ray Nagin, Eddie Compass

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: SELA, Louisiana: NOLA, Execution of Emergency Plans, Evacuation

The Coast Guard orders most vessels to leave several Gulf Coast ports and prohibits vessels from entering the ports, in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina. The Coast Guard warns that all waterways will close no later than 2:00 am Monday, August 29. [US Coast Guard, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, US Coast Guard

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco orders Louisiana State Police and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to implement the Contraflow Plan (see 4:00 pm August 27, 2005) beginning 4:00 pm. State Police announce that they have already staged necessary assets in anticipation of the Contraflow implementation. Police remind all drivers to be cautious. If a minor crash occurs, motorists should move the vehicles off the roadway and notify local law enforcement. Traffic will be heavy. Police request that residents “please be patient and courteous to other motorists.” [Louisiana State Police, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Louisiana State Police

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response, Evacuation

This afternoon, New Orleans officials meet in a closed-door session. Mayor Ray Nagin, Police Superintendent Eddie Compass, the city’s department heads, and several City Council members attend. The atmosphere is “calm, routine,” according to Jasmine Haralson, council member Jay Batt’s chief of staff, who attended the meeting. City officials assume that state and federal resources will assist the city in responding to the storm’s aftermath, according to Batt, who will later recall: “I expected State Police.… I expected the National Guard. I expected the Marines. I expected federal support, bringing in Black Hawk helicopters, basically locking down parts of the city in turmoil.” [Boston Globe, 9/11/2005]

Entity Tags: Jasmine Haralson, Eddie Compass, City of New Orleans, Ray Nagin

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Emergency Response

In a meeting with aides this afternoon, President Bush discusses the coming storm. Aides inform Bush that the evacuations are proceedings as planned, and that 11,000 National Guard troops will be in a position to respond to the emergency, according to a senior White House official. (The actual number in position will be less than half of this number, however.) Bush tells senior advisor Dan Bartlett that he may need to rearrange his schedule to add a trip to the Gulf Coast next week. [Washington Post, 9/11/2005]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Dan Bartlett, Louisiana National Guard, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

St. Tammany Parish issues an evacuation order, asking residents to evacuate by noon on Sunday. Officials announce that two shelters will open at noon on Sunday. Parish President Kevin Davis warns, “The… probabilities of a strike in our area are increasing. Therefore, I urge residents to make storm preparations today.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: St. Tammany Parish, Kevin Davis

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response, Evacuation

St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis declares a State of Emergency, and parish officials prepare for the coming storm, setting up five sandbag distribution stations. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Kevin Davis

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

The Louisiana Department of Transportation (DOT) suspends tolls on the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway and on the Crescent City Connection. Officials warn that the DOT may close ferries and bridges Sunday if high winds begin to occur. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response, Evacuation

Officials at New Orleans’ police headquarters, who are receiving reports of the pending storm, remain calm this afternoon, according to later reports. The general feeling is that the 1,600-officer force could handle the storm just as it has handled storms in the past, Deputy Chief Steve Nicholas of the New Orleans Police Department will later recall. The Police department is prepared to lose some radio communication (though not for days on end), and they expect some flooding (though not the massive flooding that will occur). Police officials believe that if their resources prove insufficient, state and federal officials that (they assume) are pre-deployed outside of the city, will step in to meet the need. [Boston Globe, 9/11/2005] According to the Boston Globe, the department has four boats at its disposal, and believes that this will be sufficient. However, the Times-Picayune will report that, according to Mayor Nagin, the city has 30 boats at its disposal, “but may need far more, depending on the water level in the city after the storm.” [Times-Picayune, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: New Orleans Police Department, Ray Nagin

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Emergency Response

Police activate the state’s redesigned Contraflow Plan, which allows traffic to use both sides of highways leading out of the New Orleans area, including I-10, I-12, I-55, I-59, and the Causeway. Thousands of southeastern Louisiana residents clog all major freeways as they flee the area for higher ground. [Louisiana State Police, 8/27/2005; Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Louisiana State Police

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

When Leo Bosner, FEMA Emergency Management Specialist (and president of the union representing FEMA staff), returns to FEMA’s Emergency Operations Center this evening, he and his colleagues are “aghast” at the lack of preparations taking place, according to a later interview with National Public Radio: “We’d been expecting that, given our reports and so on, that there’d be some extraordinary measures taking place. So when we come in Saturday night and nothing much had happened—you know, we had a few medical teams, a few search teams were in place, but there was no massive effort that we could see. There was no massive effort to organize the city of New Orleans in an organized way that clearly had to be done. There was no massive mobilization of national resources other than the few that were out there. And I think most of us—I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that I and a number of my colleagues just—we felt sort of shocked.… You assume that if there’s a fire, you’re gonna pull that lever and—someone will pull the lever, and you assume if you pull the lever that in no time these trucks and sirens are gonna come roaring up to your building and people will jump out and will have hoses and fire extinguishers and rescue equipment and things will be taken care of. Well, you sort of imagine now if your building catches fire and you pull that lever and nothing happens, the lever comes off in your hand, there’s nothing there; that’s, I think, how we felt.” Senior FEMA officials deny Bosner’s claim, although their denial reflects an expectation that state and local officials will handle the emergency. “We pleaded and informed state and local officials of the severity of this and encouraged everyone to take it seriously,” Russ Knocke, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff representative, will later contend, after asserting that, “Without question, there was a significant amount of recognition and appreciation for the magnitude of this storm.” [National Public Radio, 9/16/2005]

Entity Tags: Leo Bosner, National Emergency Operations Center, Russ Knocke, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Emergency Response

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco appears on CNN to discuss the evacuation: “We’re asking neighbors to be concerned about their neighbors.… We want people to help each other. I’m actually encouraging the ministers, who’s flock may be showing up for services in the morning, to encourage their people say a prayer and send them home packing, and help each other get out of town. I think the mayor’s also arranging for some transportation measures. We’ve got to work this whole thing together.” [CNN, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Execution of Emergency Plans, Evacuation

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin tells local WWLTV that, “Come the first break of light in the morning, you may have the first mandatory evacuation of New Orleans.” Nagin states that that his legal staff is researching 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. [Times-Picayune, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Ray Nagin

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Evacuation, Emergency Response

The last Amtrak train leaves New Orleans, with equipment—but no passengers. Earlier, Amtrak decided to run a nonscheduled train from New Orleans to Macomb Mississippi to move equipment out of harm’s way. Amtrak representative Cliff Black will later assert that Amtrak offered to take New Orleans evacuees on the train, which has room for several hundred passengers, but the city declined the offer. [Washington Post, 9/11/2005] Mayor Ray Nagin, however, denies this claim, asserting, “Amtrak never contacted me to make that offer. As a matter of fact, we checked the Amtrak lines for availability, and every available train was booked, as far as the report that I got, through September. So I’d like to see that report.… I would love to have had that call. But it never happened.” [MSNBC, 9/11/2005] The Los Angeles Times will later report that Total Community Action, a non-profit community based agency serving disadvantaged New Orleans residents, had previously secured a commitment from Amtrak to transport residents without cars to safety in the event of an evacuation (see (Spring-Summer 2005)). Most reports indicate that no such transport occurred, although the Los Angeles Times article references “reports that at least one Amtrak train got out of the city with evacuees.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/2005]

Entity Tags: Ray Nagin, Cliff Black, Amtrak

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Private Sector, Evacuation, Emergency Response

The Waterford nuclear power plant, located about 20 miles west of New Orleans, will shut down today. [US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 8/28/2005; Government Executive, 8/29/2005]

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Emergency Response, Federal

Coast Guard Admiral Robert Duncan, head of the Eighth District in New Orleans, deploys cutters, helicopters, and other vessels today, and requests additional forces from the commander of the Coast Guard’s Eastern Area, in Norfolk, Va., which is responsible for everything east of the Mississippi, according to Coast Guard officials. In response to Duncan’s request, Jayhawk rescue helicopters from Coast Guard locations along the Eastern Seaboard take off today. They will follow the hurricane to the Gulf Coast and arrive just behind Katrina. “We don’t have to get approval to execute,” according to Richard J. Dein, a retired Coast Guard commander and a search-and-rescue specialist. “The Coast Guard is organized by geography. All of those districts act autonomously. They each have a command and control center. What you [have is] a ready response network.” [Boston Globe, 9/11/2005 Sources: Richard J. Dein] }

Entity Tags: US Coast Guard, Robert Duncan

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

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

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Evacuation

FEMA will pre-stage supplies and responders in Louisiana and the surrounding region today. Pre-staged supplies include generators, water, ice and food, baby formula, and communications equipment. [Associated Press, 8/29/2005] The Chicago Tribune will report that FEMA stages its emergency supplies at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Louisiana, about four hours from New Orleans. [Chicago Tribune, 9/11/2005] The FEMA responders who are pre-positioning today include Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) Teams and Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs). Just how many responders are deployed remains unclear. The Dallas Morning News, will later report FEMA deploys 500 people in search-and-rescue and medical teams to Shreveport, Louisiana today. [Dallas Morning News, 8/29/2005] FEMA will report that it has deployed 18 DMATs to staging areas in Houston, Anniston and Memphis, including nine full DMATs (35 members per team) and nine strike teams (5 members per team). [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/28/2005] ABC News will report that FEMA pre-positions approximately 1,300 disaster assistance workers before landfall. [ABC News, 9/8/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Emergency Response

Governor Blanco will send a letter to President Bush today, requesting that he declare an “expedited major disaster” for Louisiana in light of the approaching hurricane. According to Blanco, “this incident will be of such severity and magnitude that effective response will be beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance will be necessary.” [Louisiana, 8/28/2005 pdf file] Note: A Presidential declaration of a major disaster expands the federal assistance programs available to assist the affected area in recovering from the impact of the disaster, while the earlier declaration of emergency authorizes shorter-term federal assistance to protect lives, property, and the public safety immediately before or after a disaster. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1/21/2006]

Entity Tags: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, George W. Bush

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff will spend today monitoring the path of Hurricane Katrina from his Washington DC office, according to representative Russ Knocke. [Knight Ridder, 9/15/2005 Sources: Russ Knocke]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Michael Chertoff

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

The Defense Department dispatches emergency coordinators to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi “to provide a wide range of assistance including communications equipment, search and rescue operations, medical teams and other emergency supplies,” according to an Associated Press report. Pentagon representative Lawrence Di Rita says that the states have adequate National Guard units to adequately respond to the hurricane; at least 60 percent of the Guard available in each state. According to Di Rita, the First US Army, based at Fort Gillem near Atlanta, has 1,600 National Guard troops that were there training to go to Iraq, and they will be available to assist the states or evacuate Camp Shelby in Mississippi, if necessary. [Associated Press, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: National Guard, US Department of Defense, Lawrence Di Rita

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

Emergency Director Walter Maestri sends the parish fire department to the streets. Beginning this morning, and throughout the day, fire trucks travel throughout the parish, their loudspeakers blaring, “‘Alert! Alert! For your information, you live in a low-lying area that is highly prone to flooding. And it is the recommendation of your parish government that you immediately evacuate.’” [National Public Radio, 9/9/2005]

Entity Tags: Walter Maestri

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Emergency Response, Federal

The Environmental Protection Agency dispatches emergency crews to Louisiana and Texas, to address potential oil and chemical spills. The agency sets up facilities to assess the damage, but will not actually deploy until it can safely send more people into the field. An EPA employee dispatched to Baton Rouge will oversee the agency’s after-storm review of petrochemical, wastewater treatment and drinking water plants, according to Sam Coleman, a regional director for EPA’s Superfund toxic waste division in Dallas. Colman tells the Associated Press that, “We have the equipment standing by, an aspect plane for surveillance that can see petrochemical spills from the air, but it’s not cleared to fly in high winds or dangerous weather.” [Associated Press, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Environmental Protection Agency, Sam Coleman

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

Beginning this morning, and throughout the day, FEMA representatives and other officials appear on TV shows throughout the day. When asked to identify the biggest challenge to preparing for Katrina, FEMA Director Michael Brown replies as follows: “Primarily making sure that as many people as possible get out of the way of the storm. The more people that are in the way of the storm, the more potential they have of becoming a disaster victim.” When asked whether it is possible for the area to weather the storm without loss of life, Brown responds that such an expectation is unreasonable. [CNN, 8/29/2005]

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

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Federal: FEMA, Advisories, Emergency Response, Evacuation

Louisiana Governor Blanco and Mississippi Governor Barbour will specifically request additional security forces, beginning today, according to General Honore does not specifically identify the governor(s) who make this request. According to Honoree through collaboration between the adjutant general and the National Guard Bureau, additional security force capabilities begin flowing into Louisiana and to Mississippi “approximately around Sunday.” FEMA requests support in search and rescue beginning Sunday as well. [US Department of Defense, 9/1/2005 Sources: Russel Honore] According to a later New York Times report, FEMA will deploy only seven of its 28 urban search and rescue teams by the end of today, and will send no FEMA staff into New Orleans until after the storm has passed. [New York Times, 9/11/2005] On the other hand, Knight Ridder will report that FEMA will deploy 18 search and rescue teams and 39 medical teams before the storm. [Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Haley Barbour, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Mississippi: State, Emergency Response

Inside FEMA’s National Emergency Operations Center this morning, “None of the things that [are] supposed to be happening at the national level are happening. Nobody [is] mobilizing extra National Guard troops or organizing buses to help evacuate New Orleans,” Leo Bosner, FEMA Emergency Management Specialist, will later claim. (Bosner is president of the union representing FEMA staff.) According to Bosner, at one point today, he looks around and counts only 12 people in the office: “We [are] sitting around and somebody [says], you know, ‘Where are the buses? Where are the resources to get these people out of here?’ And I think we all just felt pretty despondent, let down, kind of numb about the whole thing.” [National Public Radio, 9/16/2005] FEMA Director Michael Brown, however, will paint a very different picture of FEMA’s preparation to President Bush (see (10:00-11:00 am) August 28, 2005), and to the public (see (8:05 am) August 28, 2005) later today.
Note - Bosner will be inconsistent regarding exactly when this conversation about buses takes place. He reportedly tells the New York Times that it occurs on Friday. [New York Times, 9/11/2005] However, given that by his own reports, he and other staff members became focused on the threat to Louisiana on Friday night and Saturday morning [National Public Radio, 9/16/2005] , it appears more likely that this conversation takes place on Sunday morning.

Entity Tags: Leo Bosner, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Emergency Operations Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Emergency Response

FEMA’s Situation Update indicates that it is starkly aware of the dire situation in New Orleans, including the lack of transportation for many of the poorer residents: “Katrina could be especially devastating if it strikes New Orleans because the city sits below sea level and is dependent on levees and pumps to keep the water out. A direct hit could wind up submerging the city in several feet of water. Making matters worse, at least 100,000 people in the city lack the transportation to get out of town.” FEMA outlines preparations as follows: FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) Red Team and the National Emergency Response Team (Blue) have been fully activated. Region 4 (serving Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, among others) and Region 6 (serving Louisiana) are also fully activated. At the state level, both Mississippi’s and Louisiana’s Emergency Operations Centers are fully activated. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: National Emergency Operations Center, National Response Coordination Center, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Emergency Response, Advisories, Flood Risk, Evacuation Problem

The Superdome opens this morning at 8:00 am for residents with special needs. [Times-Picayune, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Bryan C. Williams

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: NOLA, Emergency Response

FEMA Director Michael Brown appears on CNN this morning. Brown first assures viewers that FEMA has been preparing to respond to a catastrophic hurricane hitting New Orleans for two years, before turning to the issue of evacuation: “I’m more concerned right now, not about our readiness, but about the individual people in Louisiana. I understand that there are, you know, voluntary evacuations right now. I’ll tell you this personally. If I lived in New Orleans, I’d be getting out of there. I think it’s time to leave now.” Brown warns that the hurricane likely will bring massive flooding: “[T]he storm surge in a category five, can easily exceed 20 feet. You have areas that are already below sea level. We have photographs that show, graphically show what that means. If you go into the French quarter, we’re talking about a storm surge that is on the tops of those buildings. It’s very, very devastating. So people need to take the storm seriously. Let me put it this way. I’ve got rescue teams, urban search and rescue teams, swift water teams that are moving in there right now to be prepared. You don’t want them to have to come and rescue you. So you need to get out of the way of the storm now.” If the “devastation is widespread as we anticipate it to be,” people may be cut off from rescuers for up to 48 hours. Brown promises that FEMA is ready: “We’re going to respond and we’re going to do exactly what we did in Florida and Alabama and the other places. We’re going to do whatever it takes to help victims.” [CNN, 8/28/2005]

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

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: NOLA, Emergency Response

Although Mayor Nagin will not officially announce the mandatory evacuation for another hour, the Louisiana Police issues a news release at 8:17 am this morning, announcing that that New Orleans is now under a mandatory evacuation order, along with several other nearby parishes. [Louisiana State Police, 8/28/2005] CNN announces the mandatory evacuation around this time as well, reporting that Mayor Nagin will make the official announcement within the hour. [CNN, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Ray Nagin, CNN, Louisiana State Police

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: NOLA, Emergency Response

According to a later interview with the New York Times, FEMA Director Mike Brown states that by this time, he has grown so frustrated with Mayor Nagin’s apparent refusal to order a mandatory evacuation that he calls President Bush to ask for help. “‘Mike, you want me to call the mayor?’ the president responds in surprise,” according to Brown. [New York Times, 9/15/2005]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Ray Nagin, Michael D. Brown

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, After Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

President Bush telephones Governor Blanco (apparently in response to FEMA Director Michael Brown’s request to call New Orleans Mayor Nagin (see Before 9:30am August 28, 2005), to urge a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, according to later reports. Blanco responds that Mayor Nagin has already decided to do so, and will make the announcement shortly. [Washington Post, 9/11/2005]

Entity Tags: Ray Nagin, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, George W. Bush

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: NOLA, Emergency Response

At 9:30 am this morning, Mayor Nagin announces the first-ever mandatory evacuation of New Orleans. After reading the official declaration, Nagin states: “Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I had better news for you. But we are facing a storm that most of us have feared. I do not want to create panic. But I do want the residents to understand that this is very serious, and it’s of the highest nature. And that’s why we are taking this unprecedented move. The storm is now a Cat 5… with sustained winds of 150 miles an hour, with wind gusts of 190 miles per hour. The storm surge most likely will topple our levy system. So we are preparing to deal with that also. So that’s why we’re ordering a mandatory evacuation.” Acknowledging that many people will be unable to obtain transportation, Nagin announces that the city has established ten pickup areas for residents without transportation. City buses will transport residents from the pickup areas to the city’s shelters. The Superdome will open as a shelter of last resort, although Nagin states that, “I want to emphasize, the first choice of every resident should be to leave the city.” The Superdome is likely to be without power for days—and possibly weeks—after the storm fits, and it will not be a comfortable place. Hotels and their patrons are exempted from the order. Police and firefighters will spread out throughout the city sounding sirens and using bullhorns to tell residents to get out. Police may commandeer any vehicle or building that could be used for evacuation or shelter. Nagin concludes his announcement as follows: “This is an opportunity in New Orleans for us to come together in the way that we’ve never come together before. This is a threat that we’ve never faced before. And if we galvanize and rally around each other, I am sure that we will get through this. God bless us.” [CNN, 8/28/2005; Russell, 8/28/2005; City of New Orleans, 8/28/2005]
Note 1 - Various sources have reported that Nagin issued the mandatory evacuation later than 9:30. [Houston Chronicle, 9/8/2005; Knight Ridder, 9/11/2005; Boston Globe, 9/11/2005] However, according to the contemporaneous CNN transcript, Nagin makes this announcement only minutes after 9:23 am CDT.
Note 2 - The Washington Post will later report, incorrectly, that Nagin never mentioned the estimated 100,000 residents who had no personal means of transportation. [Washington Post, 9/11/2005] In fact, Nagin acknowledged this issue as early as Saturday (see (1:30 pm) August 27, 2005). State and federal officials also acknowledge this problem, and are seeking buses to evacuate these residents. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/28/2005; Dallas Morning News, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Ray Nagin, New Orleans Superdome

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Evacuation, Emergency Response

Louisiana Governor Blanco takes the podium to reinforce the need for evacuation: “I want to reiterate what the mayor has said (see (9:30 am) August 28, 2005). This is a very dangerous time. Just before we walked into this room, President Bush called (see Shortly before 9:30 am August 28, 2005) and told me to share with all of you that he is very concerned about the residents. He is concerned about the impact that this hurricane would have on our people. And he asked me to please ensure that there would be a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans. The leaders at the highest ranks of our nation have recognized the destructive forces and the possible awesome danger that we are in. And I just want to say, we need to get as many people out as possible. The shelters will end up probably without electricity or with minimum electricity from generators in the end. There may be intense flooding that will be not in our control, which would be ultimately the most dangerous situation that many of our people could face. Waters could be as high as 15 to 20 feet.… That would probably be ultimately the worst situation. We’re hoping that it does not happen that way. We need to pray, of course, very strongly, that the hurricane force would diminish.” Blanco then describes the gridlock on roads leading out of New Orleans, and urges residents to take alternate routes. [CNN, 8/28/2005; WWLTV 4 (New Orleans), 8/28/2005; KATC News (Lafayette, LA), 8/30/2005]

Entity Tags: Ray Nagin, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, George W. Bush

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Execution of Emergency Plans, Evacuation

Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) opens the fourth Special Needs Shelter in LaFayette, about 135 miles west-nortwest of New Orleans. The DHH warns, however, “Due to the uncertainty of the damage that Baton Rouge and LaFayette will sustain from the storm, DHH officials stress that it is very important to move to a shelter further north in Alexandria or Monroe if at all possible.” [Louisiana Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response

Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center hosts a teleconference with FEMA officials, including FEMA Director Michael Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. [Times-Picayune, 9/4/2005; Los Angeles Times, 9/5/2005] President Bush receives a briefing via video conference from his ranch in Crawford Texas. [US President, 9/5/2005] Brown assures Bush during this briefing that FEMA is ready for the storm, according to ABC News. [ABC News, 9/8/2005] Bush tells Brown that he is very impressed with everything FEMA is doing, according to Brown [CBS News, 8/29/2005]
Note - Whether President Bush participates in this particular briefing is not clear from current reports. However, it is undisputed that Bush receives a briefing from Mayfield via videoconference at some point this morning.

Entity Tags: Michael D. Brown, Michael Chertoff, George W. Bush, Max Mayfield, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Emergency Response, Federal

Responding to Governor Barbour’s request , President Bush declares an emergency for Mississippi, and orders federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the affected areas. This declaration authorizes FEMA to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures to save lives, protect property and public health and safety for counties in the storm’s path and to minimize or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the surrounding parishes of Louisiana. FEMA is thus authorized to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, including specifically, “[m]easures undertaken to preserve public health and safety and to eliminate threats to public or private property” in southern Mississippi. FEMA Director Michael Brown appoints William L. Carwile, III as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Mississippi. [White House, 8/28/2005; US President, 9/5/2005; US Department of Homeland Security, 9/7/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Coordinating Officer for Mississippi, Michael D. Brown, George W. Bush

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Emergency Response, Federal

Throughout this afternoon and evening, Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and some school buses will run between the designated pick-up areas and the Superdome throughout the afternoon and evening. “They’re using school buses and about everything they can find to get people out of here,” reports French Quarter resident Rob Ramsey. [Commercial Appeal (Memphis), 8/29/2005; Times-Picayune, 8/29/2005 pdf file] Nagin will later explain that the plan is to get people to higher ground: “Get them out of their homes, which—most people are under sea level—Get them to a higher ground and then depending upon our state and federal officials to move them out of harm’s way after the storm has hit.” [MSNBC, 9/11/2005] Neither the number of buses deployed by the city, nor the number of people successfully evacuated on city buses, is known at this time. In the days to come, after publication of a photo showing hundreds of flooded buses, many will question why the city failed to use these buses to evacuate more people. [MSNBC, 9/6/2005] However, as Mayor Nagin will later note, “Sure, there was lots of buses out there. But guess what? You can’t find drivers that would stay behind with a Category 5 hurricane, you know, pending down on New Orleans. We barely got enough drivers to move people on Sunday, or Saturday and Sunday, to move them to the Superdome. We barely had enough drivers for that. So sure, we had the assets, but the drivers just weren’t available.” [MSNBC, 9/11/2005] In fact, officials at all levels of government:
bullet (a) know that that many residents will need transportation (see (1:30 pm) August 27, 2005) (see Between 7:00-8:00 am August 28, 2005) (see Morning August 28, 2005)
bullet (b) know that local officials do not have sufficient resources to evacuate all residents who lack transportation (see (Spring 2004)) (see July 19-23, 2004) ; and
bullet (c) fail to dispatch the number of buses necessary for the evacuation. [Dallas Morning News, 8/29/2005; Advocate (Baton Rouge), 9/9/2005; Boston Globe, 9/11/2005] In short, officials at all levels of government are seeking buses; and officials at all levels of government fail to use the fleet of buses in the city that will be flooded during the hurricane. [MSNBC, 9/6/2005]
Note 1 - MSBNC will later report that it has obtained a draft emergency plan prepared by FEMA, which calls for “400 buses to… evacuate victims.” [MSNBC, 9/6/2005] More details regarding this plan are not yet known.
Note 2 - It is unclear whether Passey’s post-hurricane statement refers to buses requested before the hurricane or after. However, his report that FEMA is scrambling for buses occurs sometime prior to August 29, when it is reported in the Dallas Morning News. Regardless of which bus request (i.e., pre- or post-hurricane) Passey is referencing, it is undisputed that, along with the city and state, FEMA was scrambling for buses pre-hurricane, and that, along with the city and state, FEMA failed to deploy the many city school buses that will be flooded due to the hurricane.
Note 3 - Although not yet clear, it may be that officials elect to stage people at the Superdome because of their inability to deploy sufficient buses, in order to maximize the number of people that can be evacuated from low-lying neighborhoods in the hours leading up to the storm. Had officials used the available buses to transport people out of the city via the clogged interstates, the total number of people evacuated necessarily would have been much smaller. Each bus likely could make only a single run. Instead, the buses can make multiple trips from pickup areas to the Superdome.

Entity Tags: Rob Ramsey, Ray Nagin, New Orleans Superdome, Regional Transit Authority

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Emergency Response

Several parishes transport emergency equipment and personnel west, away from the storm. “If the place is destroyed, we will have equipment to restore it,” the Zito fire chief says. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005]

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

Employees at New Orlean’s Children’s Hospital are moving patients and departments off the first floor, because they anticipate major flooding when Katrina sweeps tomorrow, according to Alan Robson, Medical Director. Roberts reports that the hospital has discharged as many patients as can, but about 100 patients and many medical professionals remain in the hospital this evening. The hospital has enough fuel to last two or three weeks. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Alan Robson, Ralph Lupin

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Emergency Response, Before Katrina

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announces that a curfew will be imposed at 6:00 pm. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005] Other parishes impose similar curfews. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005; Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Ray Nagin

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

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

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Emergency Response

The Contraflow Plan, which was activated 24 hours ago to expedite evacuation of Southeastern Louisiana (see 4:00 pm August 27, 2005), ends at 4:00 pm today according to State Police, and the roads return to the two-way traffic. (The Times-Picayune reports that Contraflow ends at 5:00 pm. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005] ) Police warn that the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway will close when maximum sustained winds reach 35 mph. [Louisiana State Police, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Louisiana State Police

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

The last Continental Airlines plane leaves New Orleans with 54 empty seats. Continental has flown 10 of its 12 flights today. Twenty extra employees, flown in earlier to help process customers, are on the last plane out. [Wall Street Journal, 9/2/2005]

Entity Tags: Continental Airlines

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Private Sector, Emergency Response

Alabama Governor Bob Riley declares a state of emergency, and asks President Bush to issue an “expedited major disaster declaration” for six counties in the southwestern part of Alabama most likely to suffer significant damage due to Hurricane Katrina. [Alabama, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Bob Riley, George W. Bush

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Emergency Response

William Crouch, Vice Commodore of the Coast Guard’s Auxiliary Eighth District Central Region, states that boats, radios, aviation units will be ready to respond “based on the District’s Contingency plan which has been in effect since Hurricane Ivan.” According to Crouch, “units from outlying areas are preparing to depart for the disaster area as soon as the situation becomes clear.” Units from as far away as Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Missouri, and Mississippi and other areas of Louisiana are preparing to respond. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: William Crouch, Hurricane Ivan, US Coast Guard

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Emergency Response, Federal

Governor Blanco once again urges evacuation and shelter: “To those residents who have the ability to leave, I urge you to leave now. If you cannot leave the city, I urge you to go to one of the city-sponsored shelters in the New Orleans area. I am gravely concerned about reports coming in regarding those who are choosing not to evacuation. I strongly urge you to get to safety while there is still time to do so.” Blanco reports, “I am thankful to say that we’ve successfully evacuated hundreds of thousands of residents in the last 24 hours. State officials, working with local and parish officials and officials in Mississippi, have worked hard to maintain a safe evacuation process. While many people are still on the roads trying to get out of the city, traffic patterns indicate that everyone who has the ability to leave New Orleans will be able to evacuate by this evening.….With the exception of Highway 61 and I-10 eastbound at Slidell, all evacuation routes out of the city will remain open for residents desiring to leave this evening. Contraflow loading has ended, but evacuation has not.” [Louisiana, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Execution of Emergency Plans, Evacuation

The last Southwest Airlines flight leaves New Orleans at 6:00 pm today, according to a company representative. [Wall Street Journal, 9/2/2005] Note, however that at 4:30, the Airport issued a press release stating that all commercial passenger flights had departed from Louis Armstrong International Airport and all flight operations had ceased. [Louis Armstrong International Airport, 8/28/2005 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Southwest Airlines, Louis Armstrong International Airport

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Private Sector, Emergency Response

FEMA issues a special announcement “warning residents along Gulf Coast states to take immediate action to prepare for dangerous Hurricane Katrina as it approaches land. ‘There’s still time to take action now, but you must be prepared and take shelter and other emergency precautions immediately,’ said Michael D. Brown, [FEMA Director]. FEMA has pre-positioned many assets including ice, water, food and rescue teams to move into the stricken areas as soon as it is safe to do so.” [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Emergency Response

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

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: NOLA, Emergency Response

According to a later interview with the New York Times, FEMA Director Mike Brown states that upon return to Baton Rouge from New Orleans, he has become concerned about the lack of coordinated response from Louisiana officials. “What do you need? Help me help you,” Brown said he asked them. “The response was like, ‘Let us find out,’ and then I never received specific requests for specific things that needed doing.” Bob Mann, Blanco’s Communications Director will assert, however, that during this period, Blanco becomes frustrated with Brown and FEMA for expecting itemized requests before they will do anything. According to Mann, “It was like walking into an emergency room bleeding profusely and being expected to instruct the doctors how to treat you.” [New York Times, 9/15/2005]

Entity Tags: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Michael D. Brown, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: After Katrina, Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response

The National Guard transfers approximately 400 people with special medical needs from the Superdome to hospitals in other cities, according to Gen. Ralph Lupin, commander of troops deployed at the Superdome. Additionally, personnel transport another 40 evacuees with serious medical conditions to Tulane Medical Center, after Wes McDermott, from the Office of Emergency Preparedness invokes a little-known rule of the Homeland Security Act to commandeer seven Acadian ambulances. [Associated Press, 8/29/2005 Sources: Ralph Lupin]

Entity Tags: Wes McDermott, Louisiana National Guard, Homeland Security Act, Tulane Medical Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

The Coast Guard announces that it is closing ports and waterways along the Gulf Coast, and evacuating its own personnel and resources from out of harm’s way. “Extensive damage and closures to ports and waterways throughout the central Gulf coast should be expected,” the Coast Guard warns. More than 40 Coast Guard aircraft from units and more than 30 small boats, patrol boats, and cutters, are positioning themselves in staging areas around the projected impact area (from Jacksonville, Florida, to Houston, Texas), and they are preparing to conduct immediate post-hurricane search, rescue, and humanitarian aid operations, as well as waterway impact assessments and waterway reconstitution operations. [US Coast Guard, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: US Coast Guard

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Emergency Response

By this evening, 3,000 residents have sought refuge in 45 emergency shelters throughout Louisiana, according to Victor Howell of the Louisiana Capital Area Red Cross. The Red Cross is prepared to deploy 750 employees and volunteers from Louisiana, plus an additional 2,000 others from around the country. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005 Sources: Victor Howell] By early morning tomorrow, over 11,400 evacuees will be sheltered in more than 70 Red Cross facilities throughout the state. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005] A Louisiana Department of Social Services representative will report that an estimated 27,639 evacuees are in state and Red Cross shelters. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: American Red Cross

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Sheltering, Emergency Response

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

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: NOLA, Emergency Response

Most of the main roads and bridges in the New Orleans area close, including the Crescent City Connection, Huey P. Long Bridge, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Belle Chasse tunnel, and Louisiana 632 (in St. Charles Parish). [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005]

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Evacuation

Because all Baton Rouge and nearby hotels are full, the state is housing about 20 state employees from New Orleans at the Louisiana State Museum. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: State of Louisiana

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response

The 2004 Hurricane Pam exercise (see July 19-23, 2004) indicated that approximately 65 percent of the New Orleans-area population would evacuate before a major hurricane. [Washington Post, 9/11/2005] However, initial reports indicate that the Katrina evacuation has exceeded these expectations—significantly. Almost one million people (or about 80 percent of the population) have left the greater New Orleans area, according to Jeff Smith, Deputy Director of Louisiana’s Emergency Planning. Later, Smith will note that, “Everyone is kind of focusing on response at this point in time. I don’t hear anybody talking about how successful that evacuation was. It probably saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and nobody wants to talk about that.” Smith will acknowledge, however, that up to 100,000 residents may not have evacuated. [National Public Radio, 9/9/2005 Sources: Jeff Smith] When asked about the evacuation of the reported 100,000 residents without transportation, FEMA Director Mike Brown will say “I think enough was done,” adding that his only question is whether the mandatory evacuation should have been announced sooner. [Wall Street Journal, 9/12/2005] Jefferson Parish reports a 70 percent evacuation rate, in part due to a “church buddy program,” which provided rides for approximately 25,000 residents. St. Bernard Parish reports an astounding 90 percent evacuation rate. [Washington Post, 9/11/2005] The Chicago Tribune later reports that the area has achieved 75 percent evacuation. [Chicago Tribune, 9/11/2005]

Entity Tags: Michael D. Brown

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

Only 15 of the 82 nursing homes in southeast Louisiana will have conducted full evacuations before Katrina makes landfall, according to Joe Donchess, executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association. About five to seven other facilities have moved their patients to area hospitals or hotels. However, at least 40 facilities will have elected to “shelter in place” rather than evacuate. (About 15 facilities have failed to report their evacuation plans, and thus, their status is unknown.) [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005; New York Times, 9/11/2005 Sources: Joe Donchess]

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Pre-Impact Katrina, Emergency Response

Approximately 10,000 residents are now sheltering in the New Orleans Superdome. The Louisiana National Guard has delivered three truckloads of water and seven truckloads of MREs, which it expects is sufficient to provision 15,000 people for up to three days, according to Col. Jay Mayeaux, Deputy Director of Louisiana Homeland Security Office of Emergency Preparedness. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005 Sources: Jay Mayeaux] More than 600 people with medical needs are housed at the dome. [Associated Press, 8/29/2005] Some 200-550 National Guard members are inside the Superdome providing security and water. Other Guard engineers will be in the dome to monitor the structural integrity of the facility. ( [MacCash and O.Byrne, 8/29/2005] reports 200 Guard members on duty; [Advocate (Baton Rouge), 9/9/2005] reports 400 Guard members on duty; and [Associated Press, 8/29/2005] reports 5500 Guard members on duty.
Note - Reports vary regarding the number of residents in the Superdome this evening. One contemporaneous report indicates that 26,000 people are sheltered there. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005] A few hours from now, the same paper will report that the dome is sheltering more than 30,000 people. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005] However, the next morning, the same paper will report that approximately 8,000-9,000 people are there, citing Doug Thornton, General Manager of the Superdome. [Associated Press, 8/29/2005 Sources: Doug Thornton] FEMA Director Michael Brown will tell National Public Radio tomorrow morning that 9,000-10,000 people are sheltered there. [National Public Radio, 8/29/2005 Sources: Michael D. Brown] See also, [ABC, 8/29/2005; CBS News, 8/29/2005] .

Entity Tags: Louisiana National Guard, New Orleans Superdome

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: NOLA, Emergency Response

Around midnight, local emergency officials from southeastern Louisiana hold a teleconference with FEMA to discuss plans for responding to Katrina’s aftermath. Local officials are so certain of catastrophe that they ask FEMA to include extra medical staff in its first wave of responders to help the expected casualties. At this point, officials are reportedly following a plan drafted only months ago, as a result of the Hurricane Pam exercise conducted in 2004 (see July 19-23, 2004). [Chicago Tribune, 9/11/2005]
Note - Following the 2004 Hurricane Pam exercise, Innovative Emergency Management (IEM issued a Draft Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Functional Plan (Draft Plan) on August 6, 2004. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/6/2004 pdf file] Whether local officials are following this draft plan, or a later plan, remains unclear at this time. The Chicago Tribune reports that the plan in place provides that local officials should be prepared to deal with the aftermath of the storm for 48 to 60 hours (or until August 31). However, the Draft Plan expressly contemplates that local search and rescue resources will be unavailable to rescue the estimated 500,000 people in flooded or damaged areas. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/6/2004, pp. 69-70, 72 pdf file] Thus, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the US Coast Guard are expected to serve as the primary first-responders, while local officials are tasked with requesting assistance. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/6/2004, pp. 70-74 pdf file] Further, while local parishes are tasked with identifying required support, the Plan recognizes that they may be unable to do so: “State and Federal SAR operations personnel will respond to Parishes without a request if initial assessment indicates that the Parish is severely damaged and is not capable of requesting assistance.” [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/6/2004, pp. 75 pdf file] The Plan also contemplates that 500,000 residents will need transport from the initial search and rescue staging area to shelters, and that because the Louisiana National Guard will be otherwise tasked, it will be unable to meet this transportation need. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/6/2004, pp. 27-28 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Pam, US Coast Guard, Louisiana National Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: SELA, Response, Emergency Response

Fire Department Units in Jefferson Parish have been ordered to stand down. New Orleans follows suit. After thanking firefighters for all their work Charles Parent, New Orleans’ Fire Department Superintendent, orders firefighters to “lock down their gear and head for their refuge of last resort.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Charles Parent, Jefferson Parish

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

Page 1 of 2 (134 events)
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Ordering 

Time period


Categories

Period

Before Katrina (140)Pre-Impact Katrina (192)During Katrina (76)Immediate Katrina Aftermath (19)After Katrina (3)

Organization

Federal (138)Federal: FEMA (64)Louisiana: State (72)Louisiana: NOLA (46)Louisiana: SELA (42)Mississippi: State (4)Mississippi: Biloxi (0)Mississippi: Gulfport (0)Mississippi: Other Local (0)Alabama: State (0)Florida: State (0)States: Other States (0)Private Sector (19)Academia/Professional (9)Media (27)NGOs (17)General Public (9)

Knowledge

Flood Risk (28)Evacuation Problem (22)Public Safety Risk (3)Environmental Risk (5)Organization Capacity (10)Levee Breach/Flooding (58)Sheltering (1)Response Level (1)Advisories (81)Increased Chance of Hurricane (1)

Disaster Management Legislation Relevant to Katrina

Legislation (3)

Emergency Preparedness/Response Plans

Evacuation (13)Shelter (4)Response (7)Recovery (1)

Policies that Affected Intensity of Katrina Impact

Environmental Policies/Programs (16)Land Development (3)Flood Control Programs (23)Disaster Mitigation (12)Disaster Preparedness (11)Resource Allocation (29)FEMA Restructuring (16)Outsourcing (5)Political Patronage (9)Canvassing (0)

Progress and Impact Hurricane Katrina

Florida (3)Louisiana: State (2)Louisiana: NOLA (20)Louisiana: SELA (18)Mississippi: Local (0)Mississippi: State (0)Mississippi: Biloxi (0)Mississippi: Gulfport (0)Mississippi: Other Local (0)Alabama: State (0)

Execution of Emergency Plans

Evacuation (22)Sheltering (2)Emergency Response (120)Other States' Assistance (0)

Response in Wake of Katrina Disaster

Response to Evacuation Execution (0)Response to Emergency Response (1)Investigations (0)

Recovery from Katrina

Infrastructure (bridges; roads) (0)Governmental Services (water, electricity, etc) (0)Industry (oil industry, etc.) (0)citizenship (0)

Statements

Policies (5)Warnings (15)Plans (0)Mitigation (4)Katrina (6)Execution of Emergency Plans (25)Response (0)Recovery (0)

Specific Cases and Issues

Coastal Wetlands (27)

Other

Other (4)
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