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Hurricane Katrina

Louisiana: Southeastern LA Parishes

Project: Hurricane Katrina
Open-Content project managed by mtuck

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After Congress approves the Bush administration’s proposal to terminate Project Impact (see October 14, 1997-2001), FEMA institutes a new program under which pre-disaster mitigation (PDMs) grants are awarded on a competitive basis. Critics, such as the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), say that under the competitive based program, lower income communities will not be able to effectively compete with higher income areas. [Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Project Impact, Bush administration (43)

Category Tags: Federal: FEMA, Disaster Mitigation, Before Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Resource Allocation

FEMA grants $89.5 million in pre-disaster mitigation (PDM) grants to communities in more than 40 different states, possessions, and other territories. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 7/18/2005] PDM grant requests from Louisiana—which has parishes that have more repetitive loss structures than any parish [or county] in the country [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 3/5/2002] —are denied. [Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004; Gambit Weekly, 9/28/2004] A repetitive loss structure is one that has suffered flood damage two or more times over a 10-year period and for which repair costs will exceed 25 percent of its market value. [FEMA, 10/22/2004]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Federal, Disaster Mitigation, Before Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Resource Allocation

After FEMA is incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security (see March 1, 2003), veteran FEMA employees complain of a massive “brain drain.” FEMA “has gone downhill within the department, drained of resources and leadership,” I.M. “Mac” Destler, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, will tell the Washington Post shortly after the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster. At least one veteran FEMA staff member, Pleasant Mann, complains on the record about the changes FEMA is undergoing (see Mid-September 2004). [Washington Post, 9/9/2005] Local officials complain that FEMA’s new focus on terrorism threatens other necessary prevention programs. “With the creation of Homeland Security, [natural disaster prevention programs] have taken a backseat,” says Walter Maestri, emergency management director in Jefferson Parish. “To us, it is pretty obvious which is the greater threat. One is maybe, the other is when.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/8/2004]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael D. Brown, US Department of Homeland Security

Category Tags: FEMA Restructuring, Organization Capacity, Resource Allocation, Federal: FEMA, Louisiana: SELA, Before Katrina, Academia/Professional

The Bush administration’s proposed fiscal year 2005 budget sets aside $325 million for civil works projects in the US Army Corps of Engineers’ New Orleans district—slightly less than the $337 million approved by Congress the year before. According to Marcia Demma, chief of the Corps’ programs management branch, the Corps will need $425 million for 2005. “We have a backlog of contracts, and it’s just been for the past few years that… we haven’t been funded at our full capability,” Marcia Demma, chief of the Corps’ programs management branch, tells New Orleans CItyBusiness. Of the $325 million proposed in the Bush budget, the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA) would receive $30 million, far short of the $42 million the Corps says it needs, and $4 million less than fiscal year 2004’s actual budget. According to Stan Green, SELA project manager, the $30 million would probably allow the Corps to continue its current work on 12 projects in Jefferson and Orleans parishes. But if it were fully funded, he says, it could award contracts for an additional 14 projects. [New Orleans CityBusiness, 2/16/2004] (Congress ultimately approves $36.5 million for SELA. [Los Angeles Times, 9/4/2005] ) The administration’s proposed budget includes only $3.9 million for the New Orleans’ East Bank Hurricane Levee Project, a mere fraction of the $27.1 million requested by the Corps. According to Al Naomi, who manages this project, the budgeted allotment would not even cover the $4.5 million required for unpaid fiscal year 2004 work. (The sum ultimately approved by Congress for the east bank project is $5.7 million.) [New Orleans CityBusiness, 2/16/2004; Times-Picayune, 6/8/2004; Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005; Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005; Washington Post, 9/8/2005, pp. A01] Additionally, the president’s budget rejects a draft plan, submitted in October 2003 (see October 2003) by the Army Corp of Engineers, to begin a $14 billion dollar project to restore Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. Instead, the president directs the Corps to refocus its ongoing restoration study to produce a single, prioritized list of projects that can be completed in 10 years. Additionally, the corps is directed to include in its study several other larger restoration projects that are not part of the Louisiana Coastal Area study, and determine whether the mouth of the Mississippi can be altered to let sediment create new areas of wetlands to its east and west quickly, while still allowing shipping to reach port facilities in New Orleans and elsewhere along the river. Eight million dollars is allocated to the effort, only a fraction of the $50 million that was requested by Louisiana’s Governor (see January 2004). In the budget’s narrative, the White House acknowledges for the first time that Louisiana’s disappearing wetlands are partly the result of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ channeling of the Mississippi River for shipping and the construction of flood-control levees along the river to protect New Orleans. It also says that canals built by the oil and gas industry, natural subsidence, and rising sea levels are contributing factors to Louisiana’s net loss of coastal wetlands. [Associated Press, 2/3/2004; Times-Picayune, 2/3/2004; Louisiana Coastal Area Study, 4/2004 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Stan Green, Marcia Demma, Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Ecosystem Restoration Study, Bush administration (43), Al Naomi, US Army Corps of Engineers

Category Tags: Flood Control Programs, Federal, Resource Allocation, Before Katrina, Coastal Wetlands, Land Development, Environmental Policies/Programs, Louisiana: SELA

Al Naomi, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ project manager, “begs” the East Jefferson Levee Authority for $2 million to fund necessary levee repairs that Washington has refused to fund. “The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don’t get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can’t stay ahead of the settlement,” he says. “The problem that we have isn’t that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can’t raise them.” The authority agrees to fund the repairs. [Editor & Publisher, 8/31/2005; Guardian, 9/1/2005]

Entity Tags: East Jefferson Levee Authority, Al Naomi

Category Tags: Flood Control Programs, Louisiana: SELA, Federal, Before Katrina

Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, which borders New Orleans’ west and south side, tells the local Times-Picayune that the war on terror is endangering flood control: “It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.” [Editor & Publisher, 8/31/2005; Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005]

Entity Tags: Walter Maestri

Category Tags: Flood Control Programs, Resource Allocation, Louisiana: SELA, Before Katrina

For the second year in a row, FEMA rejects requests for pre-disaster mitigation funding in Louisiana (see 2003). Flood zone manager Tom Rodrigue, of Jefferson Parish, expresses shock. “You would think we would get maximum consideration” for the funds, he says. “This is what the grant program called for. We were more than qualified for it.” [Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004]

Entity Tags: Tom Rodrigue, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Disaster Mitigation, Louisiana: State, Federal: FEMA, Louisiana: SELA, Before Katrina

The East Jefferson Levee Authority provides the US Army Corps of Engineers with another $250,000 after learning that portions of the levee in Metairie have sunk by four feet. The extra work is funded with increased property taxes in Jefferson Parish. [Editor & Publisher, 8/31/2005]

Entity Tags: East Jefferson Levee Authority, US Army Corps of Engineers

Category Tags: Federal, Louisiana: SELA, Flood Control Programs, Policies, Resource Allocation, Before Katrina

FEMA sponsors a 5-day exercise rehearsing for a mock storm, named “Pam,” that destroys over half a million buildings in New Orleans and forces the evacuation of a million residents. The drill is conducted by Innovative Emergency Management (IEM). [Associated Press, 7/24/2004; Times-Picayune, 7/24/2004; Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005] It is attended by about 250 emergency officials and involves more than 40 federal, state, and local agencies, as well as volunteer organizations. As part of the scenario, about 200,000 people fail to heed evacuation orders. Pam slams directly into New Orleans bringing 120 mph winds, 20 inches of rain, 14 tornadoes, and a massive storm surge that overtops levees flooding the city with 20 feet of water containing a toxic mix of corpses, chemicals, and human waste. Eighty percent of the city’s buildings are damaged. Survivors crawl to the rooftops to wait for help, but rescue workers are impeded by impassable roads. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 7/23/2004; Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005; New York Times, 9/1/2005; MSNBC, 9/2/2005; Associated Press, 9/9/2005] The flooding results in a massive number of casualties and leaves large portions of southeast Louisiana uninhabitable for more than a year. [Associated Press, 9/9/2005] At the conclusion of the exercise, Ron Castleman, regional director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, states: “We made great progress this week in our preparedness efforts. Disaster response teams developed action plans in critical areas such as search and rescue, medical care, sheltering, temporary housing, school restoration and debris management. These plans are essential for quick response to a hurricane but will also help in other emergencies.” [Reuters, 9/2/2005] As a result of the exercise, officials come to realize how difficult it will be to evacuate the city’s population in the event of a real hurricane. They expect that only a third of the population will be able leave before the storm hits, in part due to the fact that up to 100,000 residents live in households without a car. When asked how many people might die in such a storm, FEMA spokesman David Passey hesitates before stating, “We would see casualties not seen in the United States in the last century.” [Times-Picayune, 7/20/2004] In December 2004, a 412-page draft report summarizing the exercise will be completed with detailed predictions of what the government should expect in the event that a major hurricane strikes New Orleans.
Predictions - Flood waters would surge over levees, creating “a catastrophic mass casualty/mass evacuation” and leaving drainage pumps crippled for up to six months. “It will take over one year to re-enter areas most heavily impacted,” the report predicts. More than 600,000 houses and 6,000 businesses would be affected, and more than two-thirds of them would be destroyed. Almost a quarter-million children would have no school. “All 40 medical facilities in the impacted area [would be] isolated and useless.” Casualties would be staggering: 61,290 deaths, 187,862 injured, and 196,395 ill. A half million people would be made homeless by the storm. Storm “refugees” would be housed at college campuses, military barracks, hotels, travel trailers, recreational vehicles, private homes, cottages, churches, Boy Scout camps, and cruise ships. [Associated Press, 9/9/2005]
Recommendations - “Federal support must be provided in a timely manner to save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate severe damage. This may require mobilizing and deploying assets before they are requested via normal (National Response Plan) protocols.” [Associated Press, 9/9/2005]
Top officials briefed - Ivor van Heerden, the Louisiana State University hurricane researcher who ran the exercise, reports that a “White House staffer was briefed on the exercise,” and thus, “there is now a far greater awareness in the federal government about the consequences of storm surges.” [Louisiana State University, 2005] After the Hurricane Katrina Disaster, van Heerden will recall in an interview with MSNBC that the federal government didn’t take the exercise seriously. “Those FEMA officials wouldn’t listen to me. Those Corps of Engineers people giggled in the back of the room when we tried to present information.” When Heerden recommended that tent cities be prepared for displaced residents, “their response… was: ‘Americans don’t live in tents’ and that was about it.” [MSNBC, 9/2/2005]
Follow-up - Another exercise is scheduled the following year, but it’s cancelled when its funding is cut (see 2005).

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Ivor Van Heerden, Ron Castleman

Category Tags: Disaster Preparedness, Federal: FEMA, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Private Sector, Outsourcing, Flood Risk, Environmental Risk, Evacuation Problem, Sheltering, Before Katrina

Hurricane Ivan approaches the Southern Gulf Coast. Residents of New Orleans have been urged to leave the city, but its evacuation routes are “spectacularly clogged, and authorities [acknowledge] that hundreds of thousands of residents [will] not get out in time.” [Dallas Morning News, 9/14/2004; Washington Post, 9/15/2004] Terry Tullier, director of emergency preparedness for the city of New Orleans, explains to the Associated Press. “There is no plan that exists that will keep this logjam from occurring.” [Associated Press, 9/13/2004] Notwithstanding, approximately 600,000 residents will successfully flee the city, [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/8/2004] though for some the trip takes as long as ten hours. [US News and World Report, 7/18/2005] Ivan will make landfall east of Louisiana near Gulf Shores, Alabama, sparing the city of New Orleans from a catastrophe. [Washington Post, 9/15/2004] Hurricane researchers will hope that the close call will convince the federal government of the need to fund flood control and wetland restoration projects in Southern Louisiana. “Ivan was a real wake-up call. We have to take Ivan’s near-miss to get the federal government to fast-track some of these restoration projects,” says Ivor van Heerden, the deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/8/2004]

Entity Tags: Ivor Van Heerden, Hurricane Ivan

Category Tags: Evacuation Problem, Federal, Federal: FEMA, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Louisiana: State, Before Katrina

The East Jefferson Levee Authority complains that the federal government refuses to fund a hoped-for $15 million project to better shore up the banks of Lake Pontchartrain. [Editor & Publisher, 8/31/2005]

Entity Tags: East Jefferson Levee Authority

Category Tags: Flood Control Programs, Louisiana: SELA, Resource Allocation, Federal, Before Katrina

FEMA awards 24 states $27.4 million in pre-disaster mitigation (PDM) grants. For the third consecutive year, grants request submitted by the flood-prone communities of Southern Louisiana are denied. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/8/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Disaster Mitigation, Federal: FEMA, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Resource Allocation, Before Katrina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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 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

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

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

Police in Kenner (Jefferson Parish) halt operations at this time, because gusts have become too intense, according to Steve Caraway, Captain of the Police Department. Throughout the night, police have tried to respond to calls from across the city, many of them from people experiencing cardiac distress, Caraway said. Several people have been taken to area hospitals. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005 Sources: Steve Caraway]

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

Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau reports that the Guard is ready to respond to the storm: Aircraft positioned from Hammond to the Texas border are ready to fly behind the storm to check damage after it passes over New Orleans. Search and rescue operations are coordinating with the state Wildlife and Fisheries Department and the Coast Guard. More guardsmen stationed at the Jackson Barracks, stand ready to head into the city with high-water vehicles as soon as the storm passes. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Coast Guard, Louisiana National Guard, Bennett C. Landreneau

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

Early this morning, Colonel Tim Tarchick, wing commander for the Air Force’s Reserve 920th Rescue Wing at Florida’s Patrick Air Force Base, tells FEMA and Northcom that his men are “ready to go,” and requests permission to conduct search and rescue missions as soon as the storm subsides. FEMA tells Tarchick that it is not authorized to task military units, according to Tarchick. Tarchick will be unable to cut through the red tape and deploy for more than 24 hours, until Tuesday afternoon, a delay Tarchick describes as “unacceptable.” Within 72 hours of deployment, his men will rescue 400 people in the New Orleans area. “He wonders how many more they might have saved.” [Time, 9/4/2005; Newsweek, 9/12/2005]

Entity Tags: US Northern Command, US Department of the Air Force, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Tim Tarchick

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

Hurricane Katrina will damage more than 40 crucial oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico beyond repair, and will inflice extensive damage to at least another 100 rigs. The damage is so extensive, some of the platforms are now lying on the Gulf floor, according to Capt. Frank Paskewich, commander of the US Coast Guard in New Orleans, and weeks from now, the full extent of the damage will remain unclear. [ABC News, 9/19/2005]

Entity Tags: US Coast Guard, Hurricane Katrina

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

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

Category Tags: During Katrina, Federal, Louisiana: SELA, Louisiana: State, Levee Breach/Flooding

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

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: SELA, Media, Louisiana: SELA, Levee Breach/Flooding

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

Category Tags: During Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Louisiana: SELA, Levee Breach/Flooding

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

Category Tags: During Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Louisiana: SELA, Levee Breach/Flooding

Governor Kathleen Blanco holds a press conference urging evacuated residents to stay put. Blanco reports that officials have received calls from 115 people in New Orleans who say they are stranded, as well as an Unknown number of people in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. When the winds subside, boats will be deployed from Jackson Barracks in the Lower 9th Ward to go look for people who are trapped. Blanco discusses the widespread flooding in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes, reporting that the water as deep as 10-12 feet in some places. Local officials at the St. Bernard courthouse are trapped on the second floor, and water is rising to that level. State officials have received reports that as many as 20 buildings in New Orleans have collapsed or toppled from the winds. Water is leaking from the 17th Street Canal floodwall. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005] During the press conference, Blanco thanks FEMA Director Michael Brown and says, “I hope you will tell President Bush how much we appreciated—these are the times that really count—to know that our federal government will step in and give us the kind of assistance that we need.” Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) reiterates Blanco’s praise: “We are indeed fortunate to have an able and experienced director of FEMA who has been with us on the ground for some time.” Brown responds to their praise in kind: “What I’ve seen here today is a team that is very tight-knit, working closely together, being very professional doing it, and in my humble opinion, making the right calls.” [New York Times, 9/11/2005]

Entity Tags: Mary L. Landrieu, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael D. Brown, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, George W. Bush

Category Tags: During Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: SELA, Louisiana: NOLA, Media, Emergency Response, Levee Breach/Flooding, Execution of Emergency Plans

Jefferson Parish officials say that authorities are headed to the Lincolnshire subdivision in Marrerro, where residents trapped by floodwaters have called for rescue. Officials apparently do not yet know the extent of damage. “At this point, one official said, it’s not so much an assessment of damage that parish emergency crews are after. It’s a search and rescue mission.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Jefferson Parish

Category Tags: During Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response, Levee Breach/Flooding

This morning, St. Tammany Parish officials are finalizing their plans for recovery. According to Dexter Accardo, St. Tammany’s emergency preparedness director, trucks with supplies such as water, ice, meals-ready-to-eat and blue tarps for torn roofs, have waited out the storm in Alabama, but will report to two distribution sites in the Parish once roads are cleared. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005 Sources: Dexter Accardo]

Category Tags: During Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Emergency Response

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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