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Hurricane Katrina

Events immediately before Hurricane Katrina's landfall

Project: Hurricane Katrina
Open-Content project managed by mtuck

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President Bush, who has been on vacation for the month of August, changes venues, traveling to Idaho for more biking and fishing. As he noted 10 days ago during a bike ride with journalists at his Crawford ranch, “I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy… . And part of my being is to be outside exercising. So I’m mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I’m also mindful that I’ve got a life to live, and will do so.” [Cox News Service, 8/13/2005; USA Today, 8/24/2005]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal

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

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues its first advisory for Tropical Depression 12, noting that a tropical storm or hurricane watch may be required for southern Florida later in the evening. [National Hurricane Center, 8/23/2005] The NHC probabilities notice indicates Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida are most likely to be directly impacted. [National Hurricane Center, 8/23/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues its second forecast/advisory for Tropical Depression 12, indicating that the storm is organizing and moving northwest. It issues a tropical storm watch for portions of the Florida Keys and Florida East Coast. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 36 hours. [National Hurricane Center, 8/23/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues its third advisory for Tropical Depression 12, indicating that the storm is organizing and moving northwest. The tropical storm watch for portions of the Florida Keys and Florida East Coast remains in effect. A hurricane watch may be required later today for portions of the Florida East Coast. [National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, a popular web-based weather service, reports that several models indicate that Katrina will enter the Gulf of Mexico by Sunday, “where it has an excellent chance of intensifying into a hurricane. Since the GFS is the only model calling for this stall, it is more believable to assume that Katrina will push into the Gulf of Mexico and threaten the US Gulf coast early next week.” [Masters, 8/24/2005]

Entity Tags: Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues its fourth advisory for Tropical Depression 12, upgrading its forecast to a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch for the Southeast Florida Coast from Vero Beach to Florida City. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 36 hours. [National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues its fifth forecast/advisory. Tropical Depression 12 has been upgraded to Tropical Storm Katrina. The NHC expects additional strengthening in the next 24 hours. The NHC models indicate that Katrina will keep building slowly eastward, moving across South Florida over the next 36-48 hours and into the Gulf of Mexico within 72 hours. The models, however, are inconsistent in predicting the next landfall. One model indicates Katrina will hit New Orleans, others indicate Katrina will make second landfall on the Northern Florida Peninsula. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: At 25.6 N, 77.2 W
bullet Direction and speed: NW at 9 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 45 mph with higher gusts
bullet Probability that Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet West Palm Beach, FL: 29 percent
bullet Panama City, FL: 10 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 3 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 2 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

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

In its sixth advisory, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues a hurricane warning for Southeast Florida Coast from Vero Beach to Florida City. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected in the warning area within the next 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. A tropical storm watch remains in effect for the East-Central Florida coast. The NHC expects Katrina to become a hurricane on Thursday before reaching the Southeast Florida coastt. In its discussion, The NHC indicates that Katrina has turned west in the past few hours and is expected to continue to move slowly on a westward track for the next 24 to 48 hours. The models continue to diverge significantly on where Katrina will head after entering the Gulf of Mexico. Tracks cover the coast from Mississippi eastward. The official forecast turns Katrina northward over the eastern Gulf of Mexico. One model indicates that Katrina will barely touch the east coast of Florida before moving north, while another model indicates Katrina will travel south of due west across South Florida and the Keys as a very intense hurricane. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: Near 26.0 N, 78.0 W., moving west at 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 50 mph, with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 1001 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet West Palm Beach, FL: 40 percent
bullet Panama City, FL: 9 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 4 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 3 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) repeats its hurricane warning for the Southeast Florida Coast from Vero Beach to Florida City. The tropical storm watch remains in effect for the east-central Florida coast. The NHC expects Katrina to strengthen into a hurricane before her center reaches Florida coast. Models are beginning to “agree” that Katrina will turn northward, although “there is still a notable spread.” The NHC predicts that Katrina will become a hurricane before landfall, will weaken while crossing the Florida peninsula, and then will re-intensify over the Golf of Mexico. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 26.2 N, 78.7 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West at near 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 50 mph
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 1000 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet West Palm Beach, FL: 64 percent
bullet Panama City, FL: 11 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 5 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 4 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

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

In its eight advisory, The National Hurricane Center (NHC) retains the hurricane warning for southeast Florida, and tropical storm watches and warnings elsewhere, noting that the storm continues to strengthen. Models continue to agree Katrina will travel westward across the southern Florida peninsula for next 48 hours or so, but continue to diverge significantly in forecasting when and where Katrina will move north towards Florida panhandle or northwest Florida. One model indicates Katrina will move across northeast Florida, while another indicates Katrina will hit the western Florida panhandle. Katrina could still become a Category 1 hurricane prior to Florida landfall, and expected to re-strengthen after entering the Gulf of Mexico. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 26.2 N, 79.3 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West at 6 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 60 mph
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 997 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet West Palm Beach, FL: 99 percent
bullet Panama City, FL: 13 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 7 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 5 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

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

Several counties anticipate issuing evacuation orders. Currently, Palm Beach plans to begin evacuations at 1:00 pm today. Voluntary and mandatory evacuations will begin in areas of Broward County, Martin County including the Barrier Islands, and low-lying areas of Miami-Dade County. [Florida, 8/25/2005 pdf file]

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Tropical Storm Katrina becomes Hurricane Katrina, according to the latest advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Hurricane Katrina now has maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane. The NHC expects that Katrina could strengthen before making landfall, and then weaken as it moves inland across South Florida through Friday. Models indicate that Katrina will move slight south of due west for next 12 hours, before moving northwest than north after 48 hours. NHC models agree on westward motion for next 36 hours, but continue to diverge significantly after that. One model takes Katrina northeast after 72 hours across the Florida panhandle, while three other models take Katrina significantly westward, indicating Katrina landfall between Mobile, Alabama and Grand Isle, Louisiana. However, the NHC gives two of the three models indicating a westward turn “less weight” because they have not been accurate over past 24 hours. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 26.1 N, 79.9 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West at near 6 mph
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 985 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet West Palm Beach, FL: 99 percent
bullet Panama City, FL: 14 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 8 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 7 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

At 7:00 pm, the eye of Hurricane Katrina makes landfall near North Miami Beach with winds of 80 mph and higher gusts. [National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

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

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Today’s Times-Picayune reports that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin may ask voters to approve a special tax to improve public safety in the city. Increasingly frustrated with the city’s rising murder rate, Nagin wants to “ask voters to tax themselves to help pay for several items aimed at curbing violent crime in the city: additional police officers, higher salaries for cops, better computer systems, more crime cameras and enhanced recreational and youth programs.” “I think this is kind of a put-up-or-shut-up moment,” Nagin said. “How concerned are you, City of New Orleans, about fixing this problem?” Nagin, who seemed poised for unchallenged reelection, acknowledged that some might question the sanity of proposing a big idea that could invite a challenger into the race. “At the end of the day, I may go down as the craziest man that’s ever run for public office in the City of New Orleans’ history,” he said. [Times-Picayune, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Ray Nagin

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: NOLA

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

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

Today, Senator David Vitter (R-La) will argue before a Senate committee hearing that the federal government should bear more of the cost of a 10-year plan to stop coastal land loss. The Bush administration has argued that Louisiana should bear 50 percent of the costs, while Vitter argues that the federal government should bear 75 percent of the cost. [Associated Press, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: David Vitter, Bush administration (43)

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Louisiana: State, Policies, Coastal Wetlands

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

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Hurricane Katrina will make landfall in Louisiana in only 72 hours, and critics will later charge that, by failing to call for an evacuation at this hour, local and state officials fail to execute their own emergency plans properly. Other critics will question why the federal government does focus efforts towards Louisiana and, particularly, the New Orleans area today. However, at this hour, Katrina has just reconstituted as a Category 1 hurricane, and it appears more likely to head towards the Florida Panhandle (Northeastern Gulf Coast than towards Louisiana. Indeed, the first National Hurricane Center Advisory to indicate that Katrina threatens New Orleans is still several hours away (see 10:00 am August 26, 2005), and, according to its own reports, FEMA has not yet activated the Region 6 Response Coordination Center, which serves Louisiana.
Note 1 - The particular plan(s) implemented by local, state, and national officials during this crisis remains unclear. While various government websites contain several “plans,” it is not clear that the posted plans are the operative documents at this time, and some reports indicate that officials are operating under another plan (or plans). [Chicago Tribune, 9/11/2005]
Note 2 - Contrary to many published reports, the New Orleans Emergency Plan for Hurricane Evacuations (NOLA Plan), or the version of this Plan available online, does not require evacuation 72 hours in advance of all hurricanes, and does not address the concept of “mandatory” evacuations at all. Rather, the Plan contemplates a maximum time of 72 hours to prepare for a hurricane. The NOLA Plan contemplates that, “Slow developing weather conditions (primarily hurricane) will create increased readiness culminating in an evacuation order 24 hours (12 daylight hours) prior to predicted landfall.” [City of New Orleans, n.d.] In another place, the NOLA Plan states as follows: “Using information developed as part of the Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force and other research, the City of New Orleans has established a maximum acceptable hurricane evacuation time standard for a Category 3 storm event of 72 hours. This is based on clearance time or is the time required to clear all vehicles evacuating in response to a hurricane situation from area roadways. Clearance time begins when the first evacuating vehicle enters the road network and ends when the last evacuating vehicle reaches its destination.” The NOLA Plan continues: “Evacuation notices or orders will be issued during three stages prior to gale force winds making landfall.”
bullet Precautionary Evacuation Notice: 72 hours or less
bullet Special Needs Evacuation Order: 8-12 hours after Precautionary Evacuation Notice issued
bullet General Evacuation Notice: 48 hours or less [City of New Orleans, n.d.]
Note 3 - The two Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Evacuation and Sheltering Plans posted on the Louisiana State website each reference a table which “give[s] information on the times at which action to evacuate people must be taken if the total number of people in the risk area is to be evacuated in Category 3 (Slow), 4 and 5 hurricanes” for parishes in Southeastern Louisiana. However, the referenced table is missing from the plans. [Louisiana, 1/2000 pdf file; Louisiana, 1/2000 pdf file] Therefore, the timetable contemplated under these plans for implementing evacuation orders remains unclear.

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, City of New Orleans, Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, reports on the latest modeling: “Although Katrina is currently moving just south of due west, the computer track models unanimously agree that a trough moving across the central US this weekend will ‘pick up’ Katrina and force it on a northward path towards the Florida Panhandle.… While New Orleans [certainly] needs to keep a wary eye on Katrina, it seems that the Florida Panhandle has its usual hurricane magnet in place, and the same piece of coast punished by Ivan and Dennis is destined for another strike by a major hurricane.” [Masters, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Jeff Matthews

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Florida’s Situation Report this morning notes that seven counties are under evacuation orders. Forty-one shelters currently house 2,000 evacuees. Several counties have announced school closings, and 1.2 million customers have no power. [Florida, 8/26/2005 pdf file]

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Florida

Katrina gains strength as it moves westward away from Florida, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The NHC expects Katrina to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane by Saturday. Most of the models indicate that Katrina’s path will flatten out in more westward direction over next 12 hours. Two models indicate “large jump” west over Louisiana, while most other models indicate Katrina will move inland over the Northeast Gulf Coast. The NHC expects Katrina to strengthen into a major hurricane. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 25.1 N, 82.2 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West at near 7 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 80 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 981 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 18 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 12 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 10 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues a special advisory that Katrina, now a Category 2 hurricane, is rapidly gaining strength as it moves westward. Forecasters expect Katrina to strengthen during the next 24 hours and may become a Category 3 hurricane. Given the drop in pressure, the NHC predicts that Katrina will rapidly strengthen to near Category 4 hurricane within 72 hours. (In fact, Katrina will become a Category 4 hurricane in 61 hours (see 1:00 am August 28, 2005), and will make landfall in only 67 hours .) Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 25.1 N, 82.2 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West near 7 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 100 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 971 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 18 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 13 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 11 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Around this time, various weather forums and bloggers begin to discuss the threat to New Orleans that Katrina poses. Brendan Loy, a self-described “meteorology nerd” from Indiana, posts the following blog, titled “New Orleans in Peril,” at 11:37 am: “At the risk of being alarmist, we could be 3-4 days away from an unprecedented cataclysm that could kill as many as 100,000 people in New Orleans. Such a scenario is unlikely—the conditions would have been just right (or rather, just wrong)—but IMHO, it’s not nearly unlikely enough to feel good about things. If I were in New Orleans, I would seriously consider getting the hell out of dodge right now, just in case.” Loy continues: “Normally, watches go up approximately 48 hours before the leading edge of the storm is expected to hit, but I wonder whether the NHC might fudge that a bit, and issue watches earlier, if New Orleans looks like the target, in light of the time-consuming logistical nightmare that a citywide evacuation would be. On the other hand, an evacuation that ultimately proves to have been unnecessary is economically costly and, more importantly, may have a vigilance-lowering ‘boy who cried wolf’ effect, especially since it would be the second time in as many years. So this is going to be a tough call for the NHC. Here’s hoping they get it right… and here’s praying that New Orleans is spared.” [Loy, 8/26/2005] (See also, generally, [Masters, 8/26/2005] )

Entity Tags: Brendan Loy

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, General Public, Advisories

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

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

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

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

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

Entity Tags: Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, General Public, Advisories

Florida reports four confirmed fatalities because of Katrina. Over one million customers remain without power. Eleven shelters are housing 546 evacuees. [Florida, 8/26/2005 pdf file]

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Florida

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

Entity Tags: Hurricane Camille, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories, Before Katrina

Florida now has 11 confirmed Katrina-related fatalities. Less than 500,000 customers remain without power. Shelters now house approximately 100 evacuees. [Florida, 8/28/2005 pdf file]

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Florida

CNN’s Larry King focuses on Hurricane Katrina tonight. Meteorologists Sam Champion (WABC-TV) and Rob Marciano (CNN) both predict that that Katrina will be a Category 3 or four storm that could hit near New Orleans or western Florida by Monday morning. Marciano warns that the storm could be “as bad if not worse than Hurricane Charlie coming on shore.” Champion characterizes the situation for people from “Pensacola all the way to New Orleans” as “bad news. I think its trouble. I think it certainly is one of those things that you get up and you watch very carefully.” [CNN, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Sam Champion, Hurricane Charlie, Rob Marciano, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Media, Advisories

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

FEMA Director Michael Brown appears on CNN’s Larry King to report on preparations: “FEMA is positioning all of its material and manpower to be ready to respond as this thing makes—begins to move through the Gulf and make landfall again,” and warns that “all those people living all the way from Louisiana over to the Florida Panhandle need to think now about getting ready for what could be a very major storm.” Brown continues: “You know, everyone has been talking about the fact that we’re over a million people without power [in Florida]. And that’s at a Category 1 level. Think about if this storm moves to a Category 4 level. I want folks in that potential strike zone to think very seriously this weekend about a storm striking anywhere from Louisiana over to the Florida Panhandle area.” Brown also explains FEMA’s role. According to Brown, FEMA prepares for the “maybes” (i.e., places like Mobile, New Orleans, and Mississippi), by pre-positioning things. “We have literally convoys of trucks going to different Air Force bases. We talk to the governors about what their potential evacuation plans are. And we really try to get the message out to individuals in those areas. To listen to your local newscast, listen to your local weather reports, follow those instructions.… And then we try to anticipate where it might make landfall across a broad range of land, and be ready to move in anywhere any governor might ask us to go.” [CNN, 8/26/2005]

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

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

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that Katrina continues to move west-southwest, but will likely turn west, then west-northwest on Saturday. Katrina is following the typical pattern observed in intense hurricanes, and likely will become a Category 4 hurricane. Indeed, some models indicate it could become a Category 5 hurricane. NHC warns, “most of the reliable numerical model tracks are now clustered between the eastern coast of Louisiana and the coast of Mississippi.” The official forecast indicates that Katrina will move over the north central Gulf of Mexico in approximately 48 hours. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 24.6 N, 83.6 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West-southwest at 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 105 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 965 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from the center up to 25 miles; and tropical storm force winds extend up to 85 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 15 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 18 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 17 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The Red Cross is reportedly preparing for 150,000 casualties in New Orleans. [Dallas Morning News, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: American Red Cross

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, NGOs, Response to Emergency Response

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

Katrina, now Category 3 hurricane, will only strengthen during the next 24 hours, The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports. Katrina’s eye is now clearly visible, and central pressure is dropping. Models now agree Katrina will move west-northwest later today, before turning northwest and north over the next 2-3 days. Katrina is likely to be a major hurricane upon landfall. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 435 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: West at near 7 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 115 mph, with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 945 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 40 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 150 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 11 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 16 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 17 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

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

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’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

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, urges New Orleans residents to leave: “Emergency management officials in New Orleans are no doubt waiting to see where Katrina makes her turn before ordering evacuations. However, if I lived in the city, I would eva[cu]ate NOW! The risks are too great from this storm, and a weekend away from the city would be nice anyway, right? GO! New Orleans needs a full 72 hours to evacuate, and landfall is already less than 72 hours away, so I would get out now and beat the rush. If an evacuation is ordered, not everyone who wants to get out may be able to do so.” Matthews also speculates that Katrina could be the costliest hurricane ever: “Insurers estimate that Katrina already did about $1 to $4 billion in damage.… This is a shocking number for a Category 1 hurricane, and bodes ill for the residents of New Orleans and the US insurance industry if Katrina makes a direct hit on New Orleans as a Category 4 storm, which would likely cost $100 billion. But, New Orleans’ amazing run of luck could well continue at the expense of Mississippi or Alabama or Florida. Like Camille in 1969, Katrina may come ashore far enough east of New Orleans to largely spare it.” [Masters, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Jeff Matthews

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

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

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

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

Alabama Governor Bob Riley offers Louisiana Governor Blanco and Mississippi Governor Barbour assistance if necessary, upon reviewing this morning’s National Weather Service report showing that Katrina’s most serious impact will most likely be in Louisiana and Mississippi. [Alabama, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Bob Riley, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Haley Barbour, National Weather Service

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Mississippi: State, Advisories

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

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues its first hurricane watch for the southeastern coast of Louisiana, from east of Morgan City to the mouth of the Pearl River, including New Orleans. A hurricane watch likely will be required for other portions of northern gulf coast later today. Models also indicate Katrina will strengthen and could become a Category 5 hurricane, and the hurricane will likely move west-northwest during the next 24 hours. Katrina’s eye has begun a concentric eyewall cycle. Models now agree that Katrina is likely to make landfall in the next 72 hours over the northern Gulf Coast, however, the models disagree about where Katrina will make landfall: Two models indicate landfall will be near Morgan City or Intracoastal City, Louisiana. The other guidance ranges from Grand Isle, Louisiana to Pensacola, Florida. The official NHC forecast calls for landfall in Southeastern Louisiana—in 48-60 hours. (In fact, Katrina will make landfall in only 38 hours .) Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 405 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
bullet Direction and Speed: West at 7 mph.
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 115 mph, with higher gusts.
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 940 mb.
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 65 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 150 miles.
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 12 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 18 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 19 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, reports that, “Katrina has increased markedly in size the past 12 hours, and will deliver a widespread damaging blow wherever she comes ashore.… I’d hate to be an Emergency Management official in New Orleans right now. Katrina is pretty much following the NHC forecast, and appears likely to pass VERY close to New Orleans. I’m surprised they haven’t ordered an evacuation of the city yet. While the odds of a catastrop[h]ic hit that would completely flood the City of New Orleans are probably 10 percent, that is way too high in my opinion to justify leaving the people in the city. If I lived in the city, I would eva[cu]ate NOW! There is a very good reason that the Coroner’s office in New Orleans keeps 10,000 body bags on hand. The risks are too great from this storm, and a weekend away from the city would be nice anyway, right? GO! New Orleans needs a full 72 hours to evacuate, and landfall is already less than 72 hours away. Get out now and beat the rush. You’re not going to have to go to work or school on Monday anyway. If an evacuation is ordered, not everyone who wants to get out may be able to do so—particularly the 60,000 poor people with no cars.” [Masters, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Jeff Matthews

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, General Public, Advisories, Evacuation Problem

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

During FEMA’s daily video conference, Max Mayfield, National Hurricane Center Director, warns FEMA officials that Hurricane Katrina could make landfall near New Orleans as a Category 4 hurricane: “This one is different… It’s strong, but it’s also much, much larger.” Mayfield also warns FEMA that the anticipated storm surge could overwhelm the levees. Mayfield will later recall that he sees many “newcomers to the disaster world” around the table during this conference. However, he knows that many professionals listening in from the Gulf states have been through his hurricane prep course and they know that this is no drill: “The emergency guys, they know what a Cat 4 is,” Mayfield states. Jack Colley, State Coordinator for Texas’ Division of Emergency Management similarly recalls that, “Clearly on Saturday, we knew it was going to be the Big One.… We were very convinced this was going to be a very catastrophic event.” [Washington Post, 9/11/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Max Mayfield, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories, Federal: FEMA

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

Throughout this afternoon and evening, Katrina’s threat to New Orleans dominates the airwaves and the internet. Residents, officials, and weather experts repeatedly plead with residents to evacuate and warn of the inevitability of massive flooding Katrina will bring. Douglas Brinkley, historian and New Orleans resident, sums up the twin problems as follows: “Unfortunately, this is an economically depressed city. And a lot of poor people living in shotgun shacks and public housing don’t have the ability to get in a car and just disappear. And we’ve made openings at the Superdome where people will be fed and have a place to sleep if they want to get out of their low-lying house.” With respect to the flooding threat, Brinkley laments: “The Army Corp. of Engineers has done a good job with the levee system. Not good enough. I’ve heard it, it’s almost become a cliche, but it is like a tea cup or bowl here in New Orleans. And if you get hit from the east, Pontchartrain water comes flooding in. And that’s—at all costs, we don’t want that to happen. By and large, more than any major city in the United States, New Orleans is unprepared for a disaster from a hurricane. It’s just the—one of the names you called it the Big Easy. It’s also the City Time Forgot, and sometimes we let things get into disrepair, you know. Potholes and weak levees are recipes for potential disaster when a hurricane like Katrina comes around the bend.” [Fox, 8/27/2005] Online news and blogs buzz with the coming catastrophe. [Associated Press, 8/27/2005; Masters, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, US Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans Superdome

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Media, Advisories, Evacuation Problem

Announcing President Bush’s declaration of emergency for Louisiana (see (Midday) August 27, 2005), White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan states that, “We urge residents in the areas that could be impacted to follow the recommendations of local authorities.” Bush, who is vacationing at his ranch in Crawford Texas, is receiving regular updates on the storm, according to McClellan. [Shreveport Times, 8/27/2005; Associated Press, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Scott McClellan

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

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

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

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

Ivor Van Heerden, a scientist at the LSU Hurricane Center tells the Time-Picayune that the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina will weaken the Lake Pontchartrain levees and cause additional overtopping: “The bottom line is this is a worst-case scenario and everybody needs to recognize it,” he said. “You can always rebuild your house, but you can never regain a life. And there’s no point risking your life and the lives of your children.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Ivor Van Heerden, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories, Levee Breach/Flooding

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

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

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Opal, Max Mayfield

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

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

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

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

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) expands the hurricane watch westward to Intracoastal City, Louisiana and eastward to the Florida-Alabama border, and states that a hurricane warning likely will be required for portions of the Northern Gulf Coast later tonight or Sunday. Landfall in southeast Louisiana is likely in “a little under” 48 hours. (In fact, Katrina will make landfall in 32 hours .) According to the NHC, Katrina will likely strengthen, and may become a Category 5 hurricane before landfall. Katrina likely will move west-northwest during the next 24 hours. Models continue to diverge, with some indicating Katrina will turn northward, while others indicate Katrina will shift westward. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 380 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: West at 7 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 115 mph, with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 945 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 45 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 160 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 12 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 20 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 21 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La) appears on CNN to discuss the challenges to evacuating Southeastern Louisiana. Landrieu first notes, “[W]e don’t have enough highways.… We have urged the federal government to stay focused on helping us to expand our highway infrastructure just for this purpose.… We don’t, literally, have enough highways to get people out.” Landrieu also describes the challenges to an evacuation of New Orleans: “About 30 percent of the population doesn’t have access to an automobile or owns an automobile. So they’ve got to count on extended families or friends or neighbors. The evacuation of the elderly is always a challenge of course and those that are in hospitals. The mayor is working and has been working diligently on that plan. Hopefully it will be carried out,” although, she notes, 3,000 of Louisiana’s National Guard are in Iraq and thus unable to assist in the evacuation. [CNN, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana National Guard

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Policies, Warnings, Evacuation Problem

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that “dangerous Hurricane Katrina” is now moving west-northwest, and is expected to strengthen. Portions of the northern Gulf Coast are already experiencing 12-foot waves. The Central Gulf Coast can expect 5-10 inches of rainfall, with 15 inches in some areas, on Sunday. The expanded hurricane watch from Intracoastal City, Louisiana and eastward to the Florida-Alabama border remains in effect; a hurricane warning likely will be required for portions of the Northern Gulf Coast later tonight. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 360 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
bullet Direction and Speed: West at 7 mph.
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 115 mph, with higher gusts.
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 944 mb.
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 45 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 160 miles. [National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

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

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

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories, Levee Breach/Flooding

Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) appears on CNN to warn that Hurricane Katrina is a very dangerous storm: “Well, it’s very serious. And it can not only cause a lot of damage, but large loss of life if people don’t heed the advice of those local officials. This could be stronger than Hurricane Betsy in 1965. And I know there’s been a lot of focus on New Orleans, as there should be, but we don’t want to forget about Mississippi and Alabama. They’re going to have a tremendous storm surge, not only near, but well out to the east to where the center of this hurricane makes landfall.” Mayfield states that “I certainly would [evacuate] if I lived in a place that did not have some high terrain. And that’s much of southeast Louisiana. This has always been our greatest, you know, concern anywhere on the Gulf of Mexico. And I think when we start talking about storm surge values, up as high as Camille, you know, that will get people’s attention. We’re going to very likely put up the hurricane warning later tonight.” [CNN, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Max Mayfield, Hurricane Betsy

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Advisories

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

NHC Director Max Mayfield personally calls Louisiana Governor Blanco and Mississippi Governor Barbour. Mayfield tells Barbour that Katrina may be a “Camille-like storm.” He tells Blanco that this one will be a “big, big deal.” “I wanted to be able to go to sleep that night,” he will later recall. According to Mayfield, Blanco is unsure that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has fully grasped the situation and urges Mayfield to call him. [Washington Post, 9/11/2005]

Entity Tags: Ray Nagin, Hurricane Camille, Haley Barbour, Max Mayfield, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

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

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

NHC Director Max Mayfield calls New Orleans Mayor Nagin: “This is going to be a defining moment for a lot of people.” [Houston Chronicle, 9/8/2005; Washington Post, 9/11/2005] Nagin will tell City Councilwoman Cynthia Morrell early Sunday morning, “Max Mayfield has scared me to death.” [Newsweek, 9/19/2005] Nagin will later recall that Mayfled’s message “scared the crap out of me.” “I immediately said, ‘My God, I have to call a mandatory evacuation,’” according to a later Knight Ridder report. [Knight Ridder, 9/11/2005] Nagin will call for the evacuation Sunday morning at 9:30 am (see (9:30 am) August 28, 2005).

Entity Tags: Max Mayfield, Cynthia Morrell, Ray Nagin

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, a popular web-based weather service, reports: “We may be on the verge of a rapid deepening phase, and Katrina is growing from a medium sized hurricane to a large hurricane. Where the pressure will bottom out after this deepening phase is anyone’s guess, and I believe something in the 915—925 mb range is most likely, which would make Katrina a strong Category 4 or weak Category 5 hurricane by tomorrow afternoon.” He then laments: “New Orleans finally got serious and ordered an evacuation, but far too late. There is no way everyone will be able to get out of the city in time, and they may be forced to take shelter in the Superdome, which is above sea level. If Katrina makes a direct hit on New Orleans as a Category 4 hurricane, the levees protecting the city will be breached, and New Orleans, which is 6—10 feet below sea level, will fill with water. On top of this 6 feet of water will come a 15 foot storm surge, and on top of that will be 20 foot waves, so the potential for high loss of life is great. Given the current track and intensity forecast, I’d put the odds of this at about 20 percent” [Masters, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Superdome

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, General Public, Advisories, Flood Risk

Page 1 of 2 (192 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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