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Period

Before Katrina (140)
Pre-Impact Katrina (195)
During Katrina (76)
Immediate Katrina Aftermath (19)
After Katrina (3)

Organization

Federal (140)
Federal: FEMA (64)
Louisiana: State (73)
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 (0)
Media (27)
NGOs (17)
General Public (9)

Knowledge

Flood Risk (28)
Evacuation Problem
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)

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 (122)
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 (3)
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Hurricane Katrina

 
  

Project: Hurricane Katrina

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1960: population of the New Orleans Metro Area Approaches 1 Million

       The population of the New Orleans metro area is 987,695. [CensusScope (.org), 9/15/2005]
          

1970: population of the New Orleans Metro Area is 1.14 Million

       The population of the New Orleans metro area is 1,144,791. [CensusScope (.org), 9/15/2005]
          

1980: population of the New Orleans Metro Area is 1.30 Million

       The population of the New Orleans metro area is 1,303,800. [CensusScope (.org), 9/15/2005]
          

1990: population of the New Orleans Metro Area is 1.29 Million

       The population of the New Orleans metro area is 1,285,270. [CensusScope (.org), 9/15/2005]
          

2000: Louisiana Coastal Population Reaches 2 Million; New Orleans Metro Area Population is 1.34 Million

       The population of Louisiana's coastal parishes reaches 2 million, or 46 percent of the state's entire population. [US Army Corp of Engineers, 11/8/2004 (A), pp ii] The population of the New Orleans metro area is 1,337,726. [Censusscope [.org], 9/21/2005]
          

August 2001: FEMA: Major Hurricane Strike on New Orleans among Top Three Most Likely Catastrophes

       During a FEMA disaster training session, agency officials lists a number of catastrophic disasters that could strike the US soon. The three most likely disasters, the report says, are a hurricane striking New Orleans, a massive earthquake in San Francisco, and a terrorist attack on New York City. The study predicts that as many as 250,000 people would be stranded in New Orleans because of the city's less-than-adequate evacuation routes and that one-tenth of those who remain (25,000 people), would probably die. [New Republic, 9/15/2005; Houston Chronicle, 12/1/2001]
People and organizations involved: Federal Emergency Management Agency
          

December 1, 2001: Houston Chronicle Warns of Doomsday Scenario If Hurricane Hits New Orleans

       In “Keeping its head above water: New Orleans faces doomsday scenario,” Houston Chronicle science reporter Eric Berger says New Orleans will be devastated by a major hurricane. According to scientists, “[i]n the face of an approaching storm, ... the city's less-than-adequate evacuation routes would strand 250,000 people or more, and probably kill one of 10 left behind as the city drowned under 20 feet of water. Thousands of refugees could land in Houston. Economically, the toll would be shattering... .” [Houston Chronicle, 12/1/2001]
People and organizations involved: Eric Berger
          

September 2002: FEMA Hosts Meeting to Address Problem of Evacuating New Orleans' Poor Residents

       FEMA calls a meeting with New Orleans's city officials and civic leaders to address the well-known challenge of evacuating the many city residents who do not have cars, and to develop a plan to ensure that “no one [will be] left behind” when a hurricane threatens the city. During the meeting, FEMA officials present a computer simulation showing that a hurricane hitting southeast Louisiana could bring floodwaters all the way to the French Quarter, one of the highest points in the city. The officials also say that detailed surveys and census data reveal that many city residents do not own cars and therefore have no means to evacuate on their own. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/2005]
People and organizations involved: Federal Emergency Management Agency
          

October 2, 2002: Louisiana Senator Warns Congress of New Orleans' Vulnerability to Major Hurricane

       Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La) urges Congress to protect and rebuild Louisiana wetlands, which would buffer the impact of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans. She also informs her colleagues of the need to improve the region's transportation infrastructure so residents would be able to safely flee the city in case of a hurricane. “We are telling you and begging this Senate and this Congress to recognize benefits Louisiana provides to the nation. Louisiana is proud of that, but we need extra federal help to secure this marshland, to help rebuild it, and protect us. If Louisiana does not receive help the wetlands will disappear, and the people of Louisiana will be sitting ducks for future floods and storms. ... While we are making progress, we have a long way to go. So whether it is at the energy conference, where I hope we will have a positive outcome, or in the new transportation bill where we can talk about the highways and evacuation routes in south Louisiana and the Gulf South need our attention. Not only do they serve as economic highways that are really necessary for commerce to flourish, but, as you know, when the hurricanes come, it is the only way for people to flee the storm. We don't have trains, as people do in the Northeast, to get out of harm's way. All we have in Louisiana are highways dangerously crowded with automobiles and pickup trucks. We need to make sure people can get north to higher ground...” [Congressional Record, 10/2/2002, pp S9834]
People and organizations involved: Mary L. Landrieu
          

November 21, 2003: Study Predicts a Third of New Orleans Residents Would Not Evacuate in Event of Major Hurricane

       Ivor van Heerden, director of the LSU Center for the Study of the Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes, presents the preliminary findings of a five-year study (see (April 2002)) of the hurricane risk to New Orleans at a special meeting held in the district headquarters of the US Army Corps of Engineers. The preliminary findings indicate that a third of the city's residents would not evacuate in the event of a major hurricane. Of those who do attempt evacuation, many would get stuck in traffic despite plans to use both sides of the highway. The draft findings also indicate that a major hurricane strike on New Orleans would submerge certain parts of the city under as much as 22 feet of water polluted by a mix of oil, gasoline, and other toxic substances released from myriad storage tanks, cars, trucks, flooded homes, stores, and industrial sites during the storm. Wind would cause damage to most buildings, possibly destroying half of them. To mitigate the risk of such a disaster, Van Heerden recommends that federal and state officials revisit two previously rejected proposals to restore the Louisiana coastal wetlands. One of these proposals, which would reroute the Mississippi River to the east of New Orleans, into Breton Sound, had been blocked by shipping interests. The other proposal that should be reconsidered contemplated construction of a barrier wall along the Interstate 10 twin span bridge between eastern New Orleans and the adjacent city of Slidell to reduce the amount of a hurricane storm surge entering the Lake Pontchartrain. [Times-Picayune, 11/22/2003]
People and organizations involved: LSU Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes, Ivor Van Heerden
          

(Before June 2004): FEMA Acutely Aware Danger to New Orleans Posed by Hurricane

       Consistent with its strategy to outsource disaster management functions (see Summer 2004), FEMA solicits bids for a contract to develop a hurricane disaster management plan for Southeastern Louisiana. FEMA's “Scope of Work” for the contract demonstrates that it is acutely aware of the region's vulnerability to hurricanes, and of the inadequacy of current plans to manage a major hurricane effectively. According to the document, FEMA and the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness “believe that the gravity of the situation calls for an extraordinary level of advance planning to improve government readiness to respond effectively to such an event.” FEMA describes the catastrophe that will result when a hurricane strikes Southeastern Louisiana. For example, FEMA writes that “the emergency management community has long feared the occurrence of a catastrophic disaster” that would cause “unprecedented levels of damage, casualties, dislocation, and disruption that would have nationwide consequences and jeopardize national security.” It cites “various hurricane studies” predicting that “a slow-moving Category 3 or almost any Category 4 or 5 hurricane approaching Southeast Louisiana from the south could severely damage the heavily populated southeast portion of the state creating a catastrophe with which the State would not be able to cope without massive help from neighboring states and the Federal Government.” FEMA also expressly recognizes that “existing plans, policies, procedures and resources” are inadequate to effectively manage such a “mega-disaster.” The work specified in the contract, awarded to Innovative Emergency Management (IEM) in early June (see June 3, 2004), is to be performed in three stages. During Stage I, scheduled for completion between May 19 and September 30, 2004, IEM will conduct a simulation exercise featuring a “catastrophic hurricane striking southeastern Louisiana” for local, state, and FEMA emergency officials. (FEMA will pay IEM $518,284 for this stage (see July 19-23, 2004)) IEM completes this stage when it conducts the “Hurricane Pam” exercise in July 2004 (see July 19-23, 2004). During Stage 2, IEM will develop a “full catastrophic hurricane disaster plan.” FEMA allocates $199,969 for this stage, which is to be completed between September 23, 2004 and September 30, 2005 (see September 23, 2004). The status of Stage 2 is currently unclear. [Committee on Government Reform Minority Office, 9/9/2005 Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004 (B), Department of Homeland Security, 2004] IEM apparently provides FEMA with a draft document titled “Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Functional Plan,” in August 2004. [IEM Draft Hurricane Functional Plan, 8/6/2004] The Times-Picayune will identify a later 109-page draft, dated September 20, 2004 [Times-Picayune, 9/9/2005] [Times-Picayune, 9/9/2005] , and the Chicago Tribune will report that as Hurricane Katrina bears down on Louisiana during the evening of August 28, 2005, emergency officials are working from a functional plan, based on the 2004 Hurricane Pam exercise, that is only a few months old. The third stage relates to earthquake planning for the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) in the Central United States. [Committee on Government Reform Minority Office, 9/9/2005; Chicago Tribune, 9/11/2005] The Scope of Work specifies that the contractor must plan for the following conditions:
“Over one million people would evacuate from New Orleans. Evacuees would crowd shelters throughout Louisiana and adjacent states.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“Hurricane surge would block highways and trap 300,000 to 350,000 persons in flooded areas. Storm surge of over 18 feet would overflow flood-protection levees on the Lake Pontchartrain side of New Orleans. Storm surge combined with heavy rain could leave much of New Orleans under 14 to 17 feet of water. More than 200 square miles of urban areas would be flooded.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“It could take weeks to ‘de-water’ (drain) New Orleans: Inundated pumping stations and damaged pump motors would be inoperable. Flood-protection levees would prevent drainage of floodwater. Breaching the levees would be a complicated and politically sensitive problem: The Corps of Engineers may have to use barges or helicopters to haul earthmoving equipment to open several hundred feet of levee.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“Rescue operations would be difficult because much of the area would be reachable only by helicopters and boats.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“Hospitals would be overcrowded with special-needs patients. Backup generators would run out of fuel or fail before patients could be moved elsewhere.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“The New Orleans area would be without electric power, food, potable water, medicine, or transportation for an extended time period.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“Damaged chemical plants and industries could spill hazardous materials.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“Standing water and disease could threaten public health.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“There would be severe economic repercussions for the state and region.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

“Outside responders and resources, including the Federal response personnel and materials, would have difficulty entering and working in the affected area.” [Sources: Department of Homeland Security, 2004]

People and organizations involved: Federal Emergency Management Agency
          

July 19-23, 2004: Hurricane Evacuation Drill Demonstrates New Orleans Vulnerabilities

       FEMA sponsors a 5-day exercise rehearsing for a mock storm, named “Pam,” that destroys over half a million buildings in New Orleans and forces the evacuation of a million residents. The drill is conducted by Innovative Emergency Management (IEM). [Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005] It is attended by about 250 emergency officials and involves more than 40 federal, state, and local agencies, as well as volunteer organizations. As part of the scenario, about 200,000 people fail to heed evacuation orders. Pam slams directly into New Orleans bringing 120 mph winds, 20 inches of rain, 14 tornadoes, and a massive storm surge that overtops levees flooding the city with 20 feet of water containing a toxic mix of corpses, chemicals, and human waste. Eighty percent of the city's buildings are damaged. Survivors crawl to the rooftops to wait for help, but rescue workers are impeded by impassable roads. [Associated Press, 9/9/2005; FEMA, 7/23/2004; New York Times, 9/1/2005; MSNBC, 9/2/2005; Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005] The flooding results in a massive number of casualties and leaves large portions of southeast Louisiana uninhabitable for more than a year. [Associated Press, 9/9/2005] At the conclusion of the exercise, Ron Castleman, regional director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, states: “We made great progress this week in our preparedness efforts. Disaster response teams developed action plans in critical areas such as search and rescue, medical care, sheltering, temporary housing, school restoration and debris management. These plans are essential for quick response to a hurricane but will also help in other emergencies.” [Reuters, 9/2/2005] As a result of the exercise, officials come to realize how difficult it will be to evacuate the city's population in the event of a real hurricane. They expect that only a third of the population will be able leave before the storm hits, in part due to the fact that up to 100,000 residents live in households without a car. When asked how many people might die in such a storm, FEMA spokesman David Passey hesitates before stating, “We would see casualties not seen in the United States in the last century.” [Louisiana Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness, 7/20/2004] In December 2004, a 412-page draft report summarizing the exercise will be completed with detailed predictions of what the government should expect in the event that a major hurricane strikes New Orleans.
Predictions - Flood waters would surge over levees, creating “a catastrophic mass casualty/mass evacuation” and leaving drainage pumps crippled for up to six months. “It will take over one year to re-enter areas most heavily impacted,” the report predicts. More than 600,000 houses and 6,000 businesses would be affected, and more than two-thirds of them would be destroyed. Almost a quarter-million children would have no school. “All 40 medical facilities in the impacted area [would be] isolated and useless.” Casualties would be staggering: 61,290 deaths, 187,862 injured, and 196,395 ill. A half million people would be made homeless by the storm. Storm “refugees” would be housed at college campuses, military barracks, hotels, travel trailers, recreational vehicles, private homes, cottages, churches, Boy Scout camps, and cruise ships. [Associated Press, 9/9/2005]

Recommendations - “Federal support must be provided in a timely manner to save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate severe damage. This may require mobilizing and deploying assets before they are requested via normal (National Response Plan) protocols.” [Associated Press, 9/9/2005]

Top officials briefed - Ivor van Heerden, the Louisiana State University hurricane researcher who ran the exercise, reports that a “White House staffer was briefed on the exercise,” and thus, “there is now a far greater awareness in the federal government about the consequences of storm surges.” [Louisiana State University (website), Summer 2005]
After the Hurricane Katrina Disaster, van Heerden will recall in an interview with MSNBC that the federal government didn't take the exercise seriously. “Those FEMA officials wouldn't listen to me. Those Corps of Engineers people giggled in the back of the room when we tried to present information.” When Heerden recommended that tent cities be prepared for displaced residents, “their response ... was: ‘Americans don't live in tents’ and that was about it.” [MSNBC, 9/2/2005]
Follow-up - Another exercise is scheduled the following year, but it's cancelled when its funding is cut (see 2005).

People and organizations involved: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Ron Castleman, Ivor Van Heerden
          

September 14, 2004: Hurricane Ivan Demonstrates Need to Improve New Orleans Evacuation Plan

       Hurricane Ivan approaches the Southern Gulf Coast. Residents of New Orleans have been urged to leave the city, but its evacuation routes are “spectacularly clogged, and authorities [acknowledge] that hundreds of thousands of residents [will] not get out in time.” [Dallas Morning News, 9/14/2004; The Washington Post, 9/15/2004, pp A01] Terry Tullier, director of emergency preparedness for the city of New Orleans, explains to the Associated Press. “There is no plan that exists that will keep this logjam from occurring.” Notwithstanding, approximately 600,000 residents will successfully flee the city, [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/8/2004] though for some the trip takes as long as ten hours. [US News & World Report, 7/18/05] Ivan will make landfall east of Louisiana near Gulf Shores, Alabama, sparing the city of New Orleans from a catastrophe. [The Washington Post, 9/15/2004, pp A01] Hurricane researchers will hope that the close call will convince the federal government of the need to fund flood control and wetland restoration projects in Southern Louisiana. “Ivan was a real wake-up call. We have to take Ivan's near-miss to get the federal government to fast-track some of these restoration projects,” says Ivor van Heerden, the deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: Hurricane Ivan, Ivor Van Heerden
          

September 15, 2004: Senator Appeals to Congressional Colleagues to Fund Flood Control Projects in New Orleans

       Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D) warns colleagues in Senate that US must invest in flood control projects in Louisiana in order to avert a major natural disaster in the event of a hurricane making landfall in Southern Louisiana. “I want to speak this morning about what we can do here in Washington a little better, with a little more energy, with a little more focus to help the people in Louisiana and throughout the gulf coast area. Not only do they deserve our help, but because of the energy industry and the economic benefits they bring to the whole country, they not only need our help, they deserve our help. They deserve our attention.... We are talking about severe devastation when a Category 3 or Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane pushes that water out of the gulf, out of Lake Pontchartrain into the tremendously populated areas around the gulf coast. ... We are in Iraq, in an important battle, but part of our objective there is to secure an oil supply for the region and for the Nation and to use that for the betterment of the people of Iraq, for their growth and development and the security and stability of the world, as well as to fight for other issues. We are fighting to get 1 to 3 million barrels out of Iraq, and right here in the Gulf of Mexico, today, we have a facility that has virtually been shut down because of a hurricane. Nearly a million barrels is being imported in this country, and exported, a year. ... My point is, I hope we will again use this opportunity to focus on the critical infrastructure needs necessary for Louisiana and the gulf coast of Mississippi and Alabama primarily to protect itself not just from homeland security threats from terrorists but real threats of weather. ... Yet time and time again, when Louisiana comes to ask, ‘Could we please have just a portion of the revenue that we send?’ —we are not asking for charity; we are asking for something we earned; we are happy to share with the rest of the country to help invest in infrastructure—we are told: ‘We cannot do it this year. We do not have enough money. It is not a high enough priority.’ ... Well, I do not know when it is going to get to be a high enough priority. I hate to say maybe it is going to take the loss thousands of lives on the Gulf Coast to make this country wake up and realize in what we are under-investing. ... We also have a bill through the WRDA legislation, which is the traditional funding for the Corps of Engineers, the federal agency primarily responsible to keep the waterways dredged, to keep the levees up as high as possible, to work with our local flood control folks, particularly our levee boards in Louisiana, which are some of the most important public entities we have, that literally keep people dry from heavy rains and from floods and storms of this nature. ... We need our federal government to understand that we are happy to share our resources and riches with the world, but we do deserve a greater portion of these revenues to keep our people safe, to keep our infrastructure intact, and, most certainly, to be respectful of what the people of Louisiana and the entire gulf coast contribute to our national well-being and security. .. [A]s a Senator representing the State of Louisiana, the chances of it happening sometime are pretty good. If we do not improve our transportation evacuation routes, invest in protecting this infrastructure, and focusing on reinvesting some of the tremendous wealth that has been taken from this area, and reinvesting it back, we will only have ourselves to blame.” [Congressional Record]
People and organizations involved: Mary L. Landrieu, US Army Corps of Engineers
          

October 2004: National Geographic Poses Hypothetical Scenario of Hurricane Hitting New Orleans

       A National Geographic article hypothesizes a scenario of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans. “[T]he storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however—the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party. The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level—more than eight feet below in places—so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it. Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States. When did this calamity happen? It hasn't—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.” Joe Suhayda, a retired coastal engineer at Louisiana State University, says, “I don't think people realize how precarious we are.” The article further notes, “The chances of such a storm hitting New Orleans in any given year are slight, but the danger is growing. Climatologists predict that powerful storms may occur more frequently this century, while rising sea level from global warming is putting low-lying coasts at greater risk. ‘It's not if it will happen,’ says University of New Orleans geologist Shea Penland. ‘It's when.’ Yet just as the risks of a killer storm are rising, the city's natural defenses are quietly melting away. From the Mississippi border to the Texas state line, Louisiana is losing its protective fringe of marshes and barrier islands faster than any place in the US.” [National Geographic, 10/2004]
          

November 23, 2004-January 31, 2005: Survey Indicates New Orleans Residents May Not Evacuate In Event of Major Hurricane

       A poll conducted by the University of New Orleans finds that 62 percent of greater New Orleans' 1.3 million residents would feel safe in their homes during a Category 3 storm. Only in the case of a larger Category 4 or 5 hurricane would a majority of the residents—78 percent—decide to evacuate the city. A total of 401 residents from St. Charles Parish take part in the survey. The figures cause grave concern for the university's researchers who say the results suggest that residents have developed a false sense of security. For decades, residents have successfully rode out moderate-sized hurricanes. But as University of New Orleans pollster Susan Howell explains, Louisiana's dramatic loss of its coastal wetlands means storms will have a greater impact, thus putting the city's residents at greater risk. [The Times-Picayune, 6/23/2005; The Times-Picayune, 6/23/2005]
          

2005: Funding Cut For FEMA New Orleans Hurricane Response Exercise

       Funding is cut for a FEMA disaster exercise meant to prepare government agencies for a major hurricane in New Orleans. The exercise, a follow-up to the Hurricane “Pam” exercise that was conducted the prior year (see July 19-23, 2004), was to develop a plan to fix such unresolved problems as evacuating sick and injured people from the Superdome and housing tens of thousands of displaced residents. [Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005] “Money was not available to do the follow-up,” Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will later say in an interview with the Associated Press. [Associated Press, 9/9/2005] After the disastrous Hurricane Katrina, Eric Tolbert, FEMA's former disaster response chief, will tell Knight Ridder Newspapers: “A lot of good was done, but it just wasn't finished. I don't know if it would have saved more lives. It would have made the response faster. You might say it would have saved lives.” [Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005]
People and organizations involved: Michael D. Brown, Eric Tolbert, Federal Emergency Management Agency
          

Late May 2005: New Orleans City Official: City Unable to Evacuate All Residents

       New Orleans Emergency Preparedness Director Joseph Matthews admits in an interview that the city lacks the ability to safely evacuate residents who do not have their own transportation. “It's important to emphasize that we just don't have the resources to take everybody out,” he says. [Times-Picayune, 7/24/2005]
People and organizations involved: Joseph Matthews
          

10:25 am August 27, 2005: Weather Underground Director Again Urges New Orleans Evacuation

       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.” [Wundergound Blog, 8/27/2005]
People and organizations involved: Hurricane Katrina, Jeff Matthews
          

Afternoon-Evening August 27, 2005: Katrina's Threat to New Orleans Dominates National TV; Flood Risk, Lack of Evacuation Options for Poor Highlighted

       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 cliché, 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.” Online news and blogs buzz with the coming catastrophe. [Weatherunderground (.com), 8/27/2005]
People and organizations involved: New Orleans Superdome, US Army Corps of Engineers, Hurricane Katrina
          

(4:00 pm) August 27, 2005: Senator Landrieu Discusses Evacuation's Twin Challenges: Inadequate Highways, Poor Population

       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.
People and organizations involved: Louisiana National Guard, Mary L. Landrieu
          

Morning August 28, 2005: FEMA's National Situation Update Focuses on Preparations for Hurricane Katrina

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


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