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  • Katrina: New Orleans updates II

       August 31, 2005

    I'm still glued to the news - here's the latest for today on how New Orleans is recovering from Katrina. The little bit that I've seen on how Katrina impacted Mississippi is unbelievable.

    • BREAKING: Firefighters try to put out the fire, apparently set by looters, at the Crowne Plaza hotel on the corner of Bourbon and Canal. Water pressure is very low, and they are standing knee deep in water with sewage and fuel.
    • Text message from Methodist hospital to reporter: please help us! Apparently they have been unable to get in touch with officials, but have no power, no water, etc. When all this is over, the emergency plan needs to be amended to include alternate communication methods for times like this. Radios or something, to contact officials directly.
    • Here is a really great map with neighborhood flooding info. And I found out from a message board that as of 3pm yesterday my neighborhood was not flooded. That was before the predicted 9 feet of water from the levee break, but still, great news!!
    • WDSU says Mayor Nagin reports that water is flowing out of the city through one of the levee breaks. WDSU did not say which break.
    • 12:44 Michael Chertoff with Homeland Security weighs in: "our thoughts and prayers... we'll work tirelessly... assist and protect those citizens... this is the first time we're going to implement the National Response Plan." Homeland security is apparently going to take the point on this whole mess. This is probably not a good thing, unless they are going to rely heavily on locals who actually know what's going on. As Nagin said, we do not need more cooks in the kitchen, and frankly I don't trust the Feds further than I can throw them in anything but supply - as for organization I'd rather see locals manage it. -FEMA has deployed 39 teams to various areas affected by the hurricane. Truckloads of water, ice, meals, etc. are on the way. -Standards for gas and fuels are being waived for LA, MS, AL and FL so that supply is not affected. -The rules for trucker hours are relaxed to facilitate supply delivery -A public health emergency has been declared (good idea, because we're going to start seeing disease with all this standing water) -More beds will be made available, more shelters will be opened
    • Mayor Nagin said yesterday that "there are way to many frickin' - excuse me - cooks in the kitchen... they should have done these sandbagging operations first thing in the morning and it didn't get done... quite frankly I'm very frustrated" and today he is already on track to get the organizational problems fixed. New Orleans made a very rare, wise decision to elect this man, and I hope they keep him in office for quite a while. He is one Democrat I could vote for if he ran for statewide office.
    • FEMA expects the recovery efforts to go on for months.
    • Reporter Camille Whitworth is on WDSU talking about how terrifying it was in the hospital when the looters attacked. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff - that'd be Harry Lee, who is GREAT - said looters will be shot on sight. Go, HARRY!
    • Several looting arrests have been made (where are they putting them?) and the officer who was shot in the head yesterday by a looter is expected to recover.
    • No gasoline from New Orleans to Jackson, MS
    • 8am - The generators at Charity and University hospitals ran out of fuel this morning.
    • Slidell (north of the city) is still flooded - worse than I expected.
    • Charity is hoping to evac patients to other hospitals, including Parkland Memorial in Dallas. I saw on the local news here in Dallas this morning that Dallas and Houston are doing quite a lot for evacuees, it's a nice counterbalance to all the looters running amok back at home.
    • Entergy has thousands of workers mobilized to get the power back on, but due to new flooding due to levee breaks (thanks a lot to all those folks who decided to "stay at home" "tough it out" and "ride out the storm" you had a large part in creating the post-storm problems) they can't do much.
    • Dan Milham is wondering where the Saints will play. I'm thinking that crowd of evacuees in the Dome could probably do as well as the official team, and that lot is being moved to the Astrodome today, so, problem solved.

    Click here for more on Hurricane Katrina

    Posted by Laura Curtis at August 31, 2005 11:16 AM

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    #  August 31st, 2005 1:38 PM      LemonTetra
    Back about 15 years ago, I worked for a major oil company in their environmental group. We did a Oil Spill Drill scenario that included a Levee failure (out of control ship floating with the current drops an anchor rips up a pipeline crashes into a levee, oil in neighborhoods, fires ... etc. All of the nasties the Coast Guard could throw at us)

    I was assigned to a group to deal with the levee break. I remember asking a Corp of Engineers rep if this was realistic. He said yes. Apparently, the levees were not designed to offer the maximum protection from ships or water levels.

    The story I was told was that the NO mayor and his buddies skimmed a bunch of the construction money and then built sub-standard levees. Since those theives were still controlling the coffers nobody wanted to throw more money down the drain.

    BTW, our solution to the levee problem was to yank the disabled vessel off of the levee, then position a mini-oil tanker in its place and fill with river water. We used the local ferry as a tug to gently push into postition. It didn't stop the flow but it slowed it down enough to get heavy equipment to the site. Of course, this was all fake and simulated.

    My major point is that Levee breaks should have been anticipated and solutions should have already been ready.

    #  August 31st, 2005 1:57 PM      Laura
    Marc Morial and many of his predecessors, including Moon Morial, were corrupt. So far as I can tell, Nagin is not; this is his first political job, he's in his first term, he has an excellent business reputation, and by all accounts is honest. He started his administration with a substantial housecleaning and got rid of decades of corruption.

    As I understand it from the news coverage, breaks were anticipated, and they had 3000 pound bags of sand ready to go. They needed a helicopter to move the sand, and were promised one. Nagin and the Corps of Engineers had a plan, and expected it to work. The ball got dropped administratively, because when the helicopter didn't show, someone should have been on a phone or radio screaming loudly about it, and taken care of it early. As it was, the Sewerage and Water Board people who were monitoring the pumps near the levee break didn't report that the helicopter didn't show up until they only had about 15 minutes until the water got so high that the pumps wouldn't run.

    Nagin, with his business background, gave an order, expected it to be implemented, and went on to the next crisis. That was his biggest mistake.  
    #  September 1st, 2005 10:13 PM      kilabe
    Yeah, it was probably a good thing you didn't take me up on the offer to ride out the storm in Jackson.  



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