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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
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 (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)

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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December 1998: Diverse Team Devises Strategy to Restore Louisiana Coastal Wetlands

       The State of Louisiana, the US Army Corps of Engineers, federal agencies, local governments, academics, and local community groups work together to develop a comprehensive restoration plan aimed at rebuilding Louisiana's coastal wetlands. The plan, named “Coast 2050: Toward a Sustainable Coast,” outlines more than 80 restoration concepts that will serve as the basis for the more technical “Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Comprehensive Coastwide Study” that will eventually be submitted to the White House in 2004 (see October 2003). The Coast 2050 plan is a direct outgrowth of lessons learned from implementation of restoration projects under the Breaux Act (see November 29, 1990) and reflects a growing recognition that a more comprehensive systemic approach is needed. It is estimated that the Coast 2050 plan would cost $14 billion over the next 30 years to implement and require an annual budget of $470 million. It would restore natural drainage along Louisiana's coast and direct the movement of sediment from the Mississippi to rebuild marshes. One of the plan's strategies would be to install sediment traps at key locations in the river, from where sediment would be pumped through 100-mile long pipelines to rebuild wetlands and barrier islands. [Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Restoration Task Force, 1998; Louisiana Coastal Area Study, 6/2004; Civil Engineering Magazine, 6/2003; Louisiana Coastal Area Study, 1/2003; USA Today, 8/30/2005; Civil Engineering Magazine, 7/2004] The Coast 2050 plan is endorsed by all 20 Louisiana coastal parishes, the federal Breaux Act (CWPPRA) Task Force, the State Wetlands Authority, and various environmental organizations, including the Coalition to Save Coastal Louisiana. “This approval is unprecedented,” says the Louisiana Coastal Area website. [LACoast [.gov] website, 9/20/2005]
People and organizations involved: US Army Corps of Engineers, Coast 2050: Toward a Sustainable Coast, Louisiana State Wetlands Authority, CWPPRA Task Force
          

Summer 2001: Louisiana Governor Endorses Plan to Rebuild State's Coastal Wetlands

       Louisiana Governor Mike Foster (R) endorses the Coast 2050 plan (see December 1998) to spend $14 billion over a 20-30 -year period to rebuild Louisiana's coastal wetlands as a means of protecting the mainland from the full destructive force of a major hurricane. [Chronicle of Higher Education, 4/26/2002]
People and organizations involved: Ivor Van Heerden, Coast 2050: Toward a Sustainable Coast
          

(April 2002): $3.7 Million Granted for Five-Year Hurricane Study

       The Louisiana Board of Regents approves a $3.7 million grant to fund a five-year study intended to learn more about New Orleans' hurricane risk. The newly-formed LSU Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes will manage the project. Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center, will serve as the project's head. The project will consider and evaluate possible hurricane scenarios in an attempt to predict the impact of a hurricane strike, the preparations that should be made to prepare for such a strike, and post-disaster recovery. It will also work with health experts to develop plans for dealing with the anticipated health crisis that would result if the city were to flood. The project will employ the use of the LSU Hurricane Center's supercomputer, SuperMike, to generate computer-based hurricane path and impact prediction models. “Once complete, the model can be applied to other sites nationally and internationally and to other disasters such as tornadoes, chemical spills, or terrorist attacks,” LSU Research reports. [Baton Rouge Advocate, 4/21/2002; LSU Research, Winter 2004] The project's progress, however, will be impeded by it limited funds (see April 2002-2005).
People and organizations involved: Ivor Van Heerden, LSU Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes, LSU Hurricane Center
          

Fall 2002: Campaign Launched to Increase Public Awareness about Louisiana's Disappearing Wetlands

       A coalition of governmental agencies, elected officials, environmental organizations, and community groups launch a campaign to increase public awareness about Louisiana's disappearing coastal wetlands. The campaign—backed with a $3 million grant from Shell Oil, one of the campaign's partners—is called “America's Wetland.” The impact of the wetlands' disappearance on Louisiana's coastal ecology has been the focus of environmentalists and scientists for years. And scientists have also been warning that the loss of the state's coastal wetlands and barrier islands has made coastal population centers such as New Orleans increasingly susceptible to hurricane-generated storm surges that could cause massive flooding. What's unique about this program is that it stresses how the loss of wetlands will impact the oil industry and national economy. The campaign argues that coastal erosion is threatening the oil companies' network of oil and natural gas rigs, pipelines, and refineries throughout the region. Losing this infrastructure would result in higher oil prices. Furthermore, the state's fisheries—which make up 30 percent of the nation's total annual catch—are also vulnerable. “The coast is really about money, aside from the ecological value of it,” explains outgoing Republican Governor Mike Foster, who played a major role in the campaign's formation. [Associated Press, 6/6/2004; Americas Wetlands Website, 9/21/2005]
People and organizations involved: State of Louisiana, Royal Dutch/Shell
          

After March 1, 2003: FEMA Loses Control Over Emergency Management Preparedness Grants

       When FEMA is incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (see After March 1, 2003), FEMA loses control of more than $800 million in federal grant money to the Office of Domestic Preparedness, another part of DHS. Included in that sum are funds designated for emergency management preparedness grants, which fund states' emergency management offices. After the merger, these preparedness grants are no longer given directly to the country's state emergency management directors. Instead, they are given to state homeland security offices [Wall Street Journal, 8/31/2005] where they are generally designated for use in counterterrorism. [Committee on Government Reform Minority Office, 9/6/2005]
People and organizations involved: National Emergency Management Association, Federal Emergency Management Agency
          

January 2004: Louisiana Governor Personally Asks Bush to Fund Louisiana Coastal Restoration Project

       During President Bush's visit to Louisiana, Governor Kathleen Blanco asks the president in a private conversation to include $50 million in his budget to begin construction work on the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) wetlands restoration project. She follows up with a formal letter outlining her request. [Associated Press, 2/3/2004]
People and organizations involved: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, George W. Bush, Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Ecosystem Restoration Study
          

January 12, 2004: Kathleen Blanco Becomes Governor of Louisiana

       Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) is sworn into office as Louisiana's first woman governor, replacing Governor Mike Foster (R). [Louisiana Governor's Office, 9/28/2005]
People and organizations involved: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Mike Foster
          

February 2, 2004: Louisiana Governor Criticizes President's Failure to Include Adequate Funds for Louisiana Coastal Wetland Restoration Project

       Governor Kathleen Blanco says in response to the release of President Bush's 2005 budget (see February 2, 2004): “While I am pleased to see that President Bush included some money in his executive budget to address coastal restoration in Louisiana, I must say I am disappointed that the $8 million he proposed is less than one-sixth of what I had requested. We need immediate help ... to protect our state and our nation from the continued degradation of the area we call America's Wetland.” [Associated Press, 2/3/2004]
People and organizations involved: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, George W. Bush
          

April 29, 2004: GAO Report: National Guard Response Ability Harmed by Diversion of Troops to Iraq

       The General Accounting Office releases a report, titled “Reserve Forces: Observations on Recent National Guard Use in Overseas and Homeland Missions and Future Challenges,” which warns that the nationwide diversion of National Guard troops to Iraq could have a significant negative impact on the Guard's ability to respond to domestic emergencies. “[There are] urgent personnel and equipment shortages in units that have not yet been deployed,” the report says. “[E]quipment and personnel may not be available to the states when they are needed because they have been deployed overseas. Moreover, the Guard may have difficulty ensuring that each state has access to units with key specialized capabilities—such as engineering or medical assets—needed for homeland security and other domestic missions. ... [U]nless DOD, Congress, and the states work closely to address these challenges, Guard units may continue to experience a high pace of operations and declining readiness that could affect their ability to meet future requirements both at home and overseas.” [GAO, 4/29/2004]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Defense, National Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency, US Congress
          

June 7, 2004: Louisiana Legislature Rejects Proposed Immunity Measure Designed to Enhance Evacuation Capacity for New Orleans' Residents

       The House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure in Louisiana's House of Representatives votes against Senate Bill 598, which would have provided immunity from civil liability for private drivers who evacuate carless hurricane evacuees. Voting against the measure are Representatives Shirley Bowler, (R-Harahan), and Austin Badon Jr., (D-New Orleans). The measure, already passed in the Senate with a 33-0 vote, was introduced by Senator Francis Heitmeier (D-Algiers) at the request of the New Orleans emergency preparedness office, as well as a coalition of government officials, the Red Cross, and community groups seeking to implement “Operation Brother's Keeper,” a program designed to increase evacuation of New Orlean's poor population (see (Spring 2004)). House members who rejected the bill were reportedly concerned that a drunken driver giving a ride to an evacuee could evade responsibility if there was an accident. Representative Badon also argued that immunity was not necessary since a driver's insurance policy would provide indemnity in the case of an accident. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/2005]
People and organizations involved: Operation Brother's Keeper, State Farm Insurance, American Red Cross
          

Summer 2004: FEMA Again Denies Funding for Louisiana Pre-Disaster Mitigation Programs

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

November 8, 2004: Army Corps of Engineers Releases Final Reports on Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Restoration Study

       The US Army Corps of Engineers releases its final report and programmatic environmental impact statement on the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Ecosystem Restoration Study. The plan would cost $1.9 billion and take ten years to implement. The Corps recommends a 65-35 federal-state cost-sharing formula, with the federal government contributing $1.28 billion, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources paying the rest. The comment period will end on December 6, after which point a Chief of Engineers report will be completed and provided to the Secretary of the Army for review and submission to Congress. [US Army Corp of Engineers, 11/8/2004 (A); US Army Corp of Engineers, 11/8/2004 (B); Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/8/2004] The LCA ecosystem restoration plan contains several components:
Near-Term Critical Restoration Features - “The recommended plan includes a number of critical restoration projects, five of which are recommended for near-term continued study, design, and implementation. These five projects address the most critical ecological needs of the coastal area and address a range of effects essential for success in restoring the coast. The five near-term critical restoration features are (1) Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Environmental Restoration Features; (2) Small Diversion at Hope Canal; (3) Barataria Basin Barrier Shoreline Restoration, Caminada Headland, Shell Island; (4) Small Bayou Lafourche Reintroduction; and (5) Medium Diversion at Myrtle Grove with Dedicated Dredging.” In addition to these five projects, an additional ten near-term critical restoration features are recommended for study and future congressional authorization. The strategies that the Corps intends to implement in these projects include “(1) Freshwater and sediment re-introductions by diverting some Mississippi River flows into hydrologic basins; (2) Barrier island restoration through placement of sand from offshore sources or the Mississippi River to sustain key geomorphic structures; (3) This would help protect the ecology of estuarine bays and marshes by reducing gulf influences as well as protect nationally important water bird nesting areas; (4) Hydrologic modifications to help restore salinity and marsh inundation patterns and provide fishery access in previously unavailable habitats; and (5) Creating a marsh platform for habitat in areas near existing navigation channels through the beneficial use of maintenance dredging material.” [US Army Corp of Engineers, 11/8/2004 (B); US Army Corp of Engineers, 12/15/2004; US Army Corp of Engineers, 11/8/2004 (A)]

Science and Technology Program - “The major goal of the program would be to decrease scientific and engineering uncertainties of restoration efforts and to optimize restoration opportunities.” [US Army Corp of Engineers, 12/15/2004]

Science and Technology Program Demonstration Projects - “The recommended plan includes funding over a 10-year period for demonstration projects to be developed by the Science and Technology Program. These projects will cost a maximum of $25 million each.” [US Army Corp of Engineers, 12/15/2004]

Beneficial Use of Dredged Material Program - This program intends to use “dredged material to restore, protect, and create aquatic and wetland habitats in connection with construction or maintenance dredging of an authorized project.” [US Army Corp of Engineers, 11/8/2004 (A); US Army Corp of Engineers, 11/8/2004 (B)]

Modifications Program - The Corps will investigate how existing structures or their operation management plans can be modified to improve environmental performance. [US Army Corp of Engineers, 11/8/2004 (A); US Army Corp of Engineers, 11/8/2004 (B)]

Large-Scale and Long-Term Concepts Requiring Detailed Study - This study will “determine their potential for achieving restoration objectives beyond the critical needs, near-term focus of other LCA Plan components.” [US Army Corp of Engineers, 11/8/2004 (B); US Army Corp of Engineers, 11/8/2004 (A)]

People and organizations involved: US Army Corps of Engineers, Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Ecosystem Restoration Study
          

June 17, 2005: Authorities Distribute Evacuation Maps to New Orleans Residents

       The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development begins distributing one million evacuation maps to the residents of New Orleans. “We learned the lessons from the Hurricane Ivan evacuation (see September 14, 2004), and we put those lessons to use in developing a new plan,” DOTD Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry says. “This document is proof that government can and does listen to the concerns of citizens.” The initial printing of the maps was paid for by the American Red Cross and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. [Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, 6/17/2005]
People and organizations involved: Johnny B. Bradberry, Department of Homeland Security, American Red Cross, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
          

July 28, 2005: Blanco Invites Bush and Energy Secretary to See Louisiana's Coastal Erosion Problem

       In a letter to President Bush, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco urges the president and his energy secretary, Samuel W. Bodman, to visit the Louisiana coast and see first-hand the deteriorating condition of the state's coastal wetlands. She wants the administration to reconsider its objection (see July 15, 2004) to a provision in the House (see April 21, 2005) and Senate (see June 28, 2005) versions of the 2005 Energy Policy Act (HR 6) that would channel oil and gas royalties from offshore operations to coastal states for coastal wetland restoration. In her letter, she emphasizes how Louisiana's disappearing wetlands is making the oil and gas industry's vast network of pipelines increasingly vulnerable to damage. She also stresses that coastal wetlands have historically protected the coast from the full fury of hurricanes and, without this barrier, a major hurricane could devastate low-elevation coastal communities like New Orleans. “Let me show you the fragile wetlands that are the only protection for the thousands of miles of pipelines that connect this nation to 80 percent of its offshore energy supply and to a full third of all its oil and gas, both foreign and domestic. The vulnerability of those protective wetlands is all the more apparent to our two million coastal zone residents during this active hurricane season.” [Office of Louisiana Governor, 7/20/2005; Houma Today, 7/21/2005]
People and organizations involved: Samuel W. Bodman, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, George W. Bush
          

August 26, 2005: Louisiana Senator Argues for More Federal Funding to Repair Disappearing Louisiana Coast

       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.
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, David Vitter
          

4:00 pm August 26, 2005: Louisiana Governor Declares State of Emergency

       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. [LA Governor Press Release, 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, 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.” [La. Rev. St. οΎ§766 (D)(5)] Blanco, however, will decline to exercise this power in the coming hours, electing to defer to local officials.
People and organizations involved: Hurricane Katrina, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
          

(After 4:00 pm) August 26, 2005: Louisiana Officials Discuss Emergency Preparations

       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. [Times-Picayune, 8/27/2005; LA Governor Press Release 2, 8/26/2005]
People and organizations involved: National Emergency Operations Center, Mark Smith
          

Early Morning August 27, 2005: Louisiana Governor Asks President Bush to Declare an Emergency For Louisiana

       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. [Letter from Blanco to Bush (PDF), 8/28/2005] However, the Federal News dateline for the letter is 4:27 am EDT August 27. Governor Blanco's office and the Times-Picayune will publish the full text of the letter today. [LA Press Release, 8/27/2005; Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
          

(6:00-8:00 am) August 27, 2005: Louisiana State Police Open Emergency Operations Center

       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 Police Press Release, 8/27/2005 (6:00 am); Louisiana Police News Release, 8/27/2005 (8:00 am)]
People and organizations involved: National Emergency Operations Center, Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana State Police
          

6:10 am August 27, 2005: ‘48-Hour Window’ Closes

       Hurricane Katrina will make landfall in Louisiana in only 48 hours . Governor Blanco has declared a state of emergency , and requested that President Bush declare a state of emergency, to enable direct federal assistance in the potential disaster . FEMA has apparently sent 10-20 staff members to Louisiana by this time .
People and organizations involved: Hurricane Katrina
          

Morning-Afternoon, August 27, 2005: Louisiana National Guard Activates, Pre-Positions

       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.’ ” [NPR (Audio), 9/09/2005 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. [NPR (Audio), 9/09/2005; Salon, 9/1/2005 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. [National Guard, 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. [Salon, 9/1/2005; National Guard, 8/29/2005; Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]
. Other news reports state that 4,000 members are called to duty. [NPR (Audio), 9/09/2005] 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. [Baton Rouge Advocate, 9/09/2005]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, New Orleans Police Department, Louisiana National Guard, Steven Blum
          

Morning, August 27, 2005: Alabama Governor Offers Assistance to Louisiana, Mississippi Governors

       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 Press Release, 8/27/2005]
People and organizations involved: National Weather Service, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Haley Barbour, Bob Riley, Hurricane Katrina
          

Between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm August 27, 2005: Louisiana Official Describes Status of Evacuations

       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.” [Sources: Jim Ballow]
People and organizations involved: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
          

12:00 pm August 27, 2005: Louisiana Opens Special Needs Shelters

       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 DHH News Release, 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]
People and organizations involved: Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals
          

(Midday) August 27, 2005: States Request Additional Assistance from Northern Command

       Some state governors request additional assistance today, according Army Lt. General Honoré will not identify which specific states (i.e., Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, or Mississippi) request assistance at this time. [Department of Defense Transcript, 9/1/2005]
People and organizations involved: Russel Honore
          

(1:30 pm) August 27, 2005: Louisiana Officials Urges Preparation and Evacuations

       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.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005; Washington Post, 9/11/2005; USA Today/AP, 8/27/2005]
People and organizations involved: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Hurricane Katrina, Eddie Compass, Aaron Broussard, Ray Nagin
          

2:50 pm August 27, 2005: Louisiana Governor Announces Upcoming Contraflow Order; Police Urge Care, Courteousness

       Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco orders Louisiana State Police and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to implement the Contraflow Plan 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 Police Press Release, 8/27/2005]
People and organizations involved: Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
          

Afternoon August 27, 2005: State Department of Transportation Suspends Tolls on Roads Leading Out of New Orleans

       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]
People and organizations involved: Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
          

(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
          

Evening August 27, 2005: Louisiana Governor Urges Residents to Help Each Other

       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.”
People and organizations involved: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
          

August 28, 2005: Louisiana Governor Asks President to Declare Expedited Major Disaster, President Bush Grants Request

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

August 28-29 2005: Gulf Coast Governors Request Additional Security Forces; FEMA Requests Search and Rescue Support

       Louisiana Governor Blanco and Mississippi Governor Barbour will specifically request additional security forces, beginning today, according to General Honoré does not specifically identify the governor(s) who make this request. According to Honoreé through collaboration between the adjutant general and the National Guard Bureau, additional security force capabilities begin flowing into Louisiana and to Mississippi “approximately around Sunday.” FEMA requests support in search and rescue beginning Sunday as well. [DoD News Transcript, 9/1/2005 Sources: Russel Honore] According to a later New York Times report, FEMA will deploy only seven of its 28 urban search and rescue teams by the end of today, and will send no FEMA staff into New Orleans until after the storm has passed. [New York Times, 9/11/2005] On the other hand, Knight Ridder will report that FEMA will deploy 18 search and rescue teams and 39 medical teams before the storm. [Knight Ridder, 8/31/2005]
People and organizations involved: Haley Barbour, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Federal Emergency Management Agency
          

Between 7:00-8:00 am August 28, 2005: Louisiana Governor Discusses Evacuation Plans on ABC

       After noting that the Red Cross has predicted that as many as 100,000 people could die if a hurricane would hit New Orleans, ABC reporter Kate Snow asks Louisiana Governor Blanco how the evacuation is proceeding. Blanco responds: “We started evacuations early yesterday. Started encouraging people to voluntarily evacuate from the low-lying areas surrounding the Orleans area. And today we're focusing on the final people who are still in the city, encouraging them to leave. There will be all sorts of modes of transportation available to those who have no transportation. City buses will be available. Other people are bringing buses in. We also, I believe are lining up trains to move as many people out as possible.” Note that Amtrak's last train reportedly left Saturday evening around 8:30 pm .
People and organizations involved: Kate Snow, American Red Cross, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
          

(8:00 am) August 28, 2005: Superdome Opens for Evacuees with Special Needs

       The Superdome opens this morning at 8:00 am for residents with special needs. [Times-Picayune, 8/28/2005]
People and organizations involved: Bryan C. Williams
          

(8:05 am) August 28, 2005: FEMA Director Urges Residents to Evacuate, Says FEMA is Prepared

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

(8:17 am) August 28, 2005: Louisiana State Police Announce Mandatory Evacuation for New Orleans

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

Shortly before 9:30 am August 28, 2005: President Bush Calls Louisiana Governor

       President Bush telephones Governor Blanco (apparently in response to FEMA Director Michael Brown's request to call New Orleans Mayor Nagin , to urge a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, according to later reports. Blanco responds that Mayor Nagin has already decided to do so, and will make the announcement shortly. [Washington Post, 9/11/2005]
People and organizations involved: Ray Nagin, George W. Bush, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
          

Shortly after 9:30 am August 28, 2005: Louisiana Governor Urges New Orleans-area Residents to Evacuate

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

10:00 am August 28, 2005: Louisiana Opens Fourth Special Needs Shelter

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

Afternoon August 28, 2005: Louisiana Senators Urge Bush to Tour Devastated Area as soon as Possible

       Mary Landrieu (D-La) and David Vitter (R-La) send a joint letter to President Bush. After thanking Bush for the early declaration of emergency and for his public comments urging residents to flee Hurricane Katrina, the senators urge Bush “respectfully but in the strongest possible terms to tour the devastated area as soon as practical,” to reassure the affected residents that federal agencies will help the area recover. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Mary L. Landrieu, Hurricane Katrina, David Vitter
          

Between 4:00 and 5:00 pm August 28, 2005: Traffic Contraflow Ends

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

After 5:00 pm August 28, 2005: Governor Blanco Again Urges Residents to Leave New Orleans or Go to a Shelter of Last Resort

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

Evening August 28, 2005: FEMA Director, Louisiana Officials at Odds on Response

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

Evening August 28, 2005: New Orleans Expects 4,000 National Guardsmen to Help Patrol City

       More than 4,000 National Guardsmen are mobilizing in Memphis, Tennessee to help police the streets of New Orleans after the storm has passed, according to Terry Ebbert, New Orleans Director of Homeland Security. In the meantime, as the storm approaches, officials are “hunkered down. There is not much we can do tonight,” he says. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005 Sources: Terry Ebbert]
People and organizations involved: National Guard
          

Evening August 28, 2005: Superdome Evacuees with Special Needs are Transferred to Hospitals

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

Evening August 28, 2005: FEMA Director, Louisiana Officials at Odds on Response

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

Late Evening August 28, 2005: Louisiana State Workers Seek Shelter in Museum

       Because all Baton Rouge and nearby hotels are full, the state is housing about 20 state employees from New Orleans at the Louisiana State Museum. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005]
People and organizations involved: State of Louisiana
          

Late Evening August 28, 2005: Evacuation Appears Successful; FEMA Director Praises Evacuation of Risky Population

       The 2004 Hurricane Pam exercise indicated that approximately 65 percent of the New Orleans-area population would evacuate before a major hurricane . [Washington Post, 9/11/2005] However, initial reports indicate that the Katrina evacuation has exceeded these expectations—significantly. Almost one million people (or about 80 percent of the population) have left the greater New Orleans area, according to Jeff Smith, Deputy Director of Louisiana's Emergency Planning. Later, Smith will note that, “Everyone is kind of focusing on response at this point in time. I don't hear anybody talking about how successful that evacuation was. It probably saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and nobody wants to talk about that.” Smith will acknowledge, however, that up to 100,000 residents may not have evacuated. [NPR (Audio), 9/09/2005 Sources: Jeff Smith] When asked about the evacuation of the reported 100,000 residents without transportation, FEMA Director Mike Brown will say “I think enough was done,” adding that his only question is whether the mandatory evacuation should have been announced sooner. [Wall Street Journal Online, 9/12/2005] Jefferson Parish reports a 70 percent evacuation rate, in part due to a “church buddy program,” which provided rides for approximately 25,000 residents. St. Bernard Parish reports an astounding 90 percent evacuation rate. [Washington Post, 9/11/2005] The Chicago Tribune later reports that the area has achieved 75 percent evacuation. [Chicago Tribune, 9/11/2005]
People and organizations involved: Michael D. Brown
          

Late Evening August 28, 2005: Superdome Official Request Portable Toilets, Says Cannot Accommodate Thousands for Four Days

       Doug Thorton, General Manager of the Superdome has requested portable toilets, recognizing that the water pressure may fail, according to an Associated Press report. He also notes that they are not set up to manage the thousands of evacuees for very long: “We're expecting to be here for the long haul,” he said. “We can make things very nice for 75,000 people for four hours. But we aren't set up to really accommodate 8,000 for four days.”
People and organizations involved: New Orleans Superdome, Doug Thornton
          

Late Evening August 28, 2005: Superdome Shelters Thousands; National Guard is on Duty

       Approximately 10,000 residents are now sheltering in the New Orleans Superdome. The Louisiana National Guard has delivered three truckloads of water and seven truckloads of MREs, which it expects is sufficient to provision 15,000 people for up to three days, according to Col. Jay Mayeaux, Deputy Director of Louisiana Homeland Security Office of Emergency Preparedness. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005 Sources: Michael D. Brown] More than 600 people with medical needs are housed at the dome. Some 200-550 National Guard members are inside the Superdome providing security and water. Other Guard engineers will be in the dome to monitor the structural integrity of the facility. ( [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005] reports 200 Guard members on duty; [Baton Rouge Advocate, 9/09/2005] reports 400 Guard members on duty; and [Associated Press, 8/29/2005] reports 5500 Guard members on duty.
Note - Reports vary regarding the number of residents in the Superdome this evening. One contemporaneous report indicates that 26,000 people are sheltered there. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005]
A few hours from now, the same paper will report that the dome is sheltering more than 30,000 people. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005] However, the next morning, the same paper will report that approximately 8,000-9,000 people are there, citing Doug Thornton, General Manager of the Superdome. [Times-Picayune, 8/29/2005 Sources: Doug Thornton] FEMA Director Michael Brown will tell National Public Radio tomorrow morning that 9,000-10,000 people are sheltered there. [Sources: Michael D. Brown] See also, .
People and organizations involved: Louisiana National Guard, New Orleans Superdome
          

Late Evening August 28, 2005: Thousands of Louisiana Evacuees are in Shelters across Louisiana

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

12:00 am August 29, 2005: Louisiana Emergency Officials Discuss Response Plan

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

Early Morning August 29, 2005: Florida Air Force Unit to FEMA: Ready to Deploy

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

Early Morning August 29, 2005: New Orleans' Industrial Canal Floodwalls Breached or Overtopped by Storm Surge

       Before dawn this morning, as Katrina approaches the coast of Southeastern Louisiana, the hurricane's easterly winds from its northern quadrant shove a rising surge into the marshy Lake Borgne area east of St. Bernard. There, two hurricane levees come together into a large V-shape. Storm surge researchers later say that this point “acts as a giant funnel: Water pouring into the confined area rises up—perhaps as much as 20 feet in this case—and is funneled between the levees all the way into New Orleans.” The water probably tops the levees along the north side adjacent to eastern New Orleans, which average only 14 or 15 feet. The surge reaches the Industrial Canal before dawn and quickly overflows on both sides, the canal lockmaster reports to the Corps. At some point not long afterward, Corps officials believe a barge breaks loose and crashes through the floodwall, opening a breach that accelerated flooding into the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish. [Times-Picayune Blog, 9/07/2005]
Note - Reports about when this breach occurs vary. For example, the Army Corps of Engineers will report this evening that this breach occurs later, “during the storm.” [Army Corps (PDF), 8/29/2005]
The Boston Globe will report that this breach occurs around 9:00 am. [Boston Globe, 9/11/2005] However, it appears more likely that at least one breach of occurred on this canal early this morning. Army Corps engineers will later indicate that this Industrial Canal breach occurs overnight as the storm is barreling towards New Orleans [Times-Picayune Blog, 9/07/2005] ; while the 17th Street Canal levee-floodwall is not breached until sometime around 9:00 am during the height of the storm's pass near New Orleans .
People and organizations involved: US Army Corps of Engineers, Hurricane Katrina
          

Early Morning August 29, 2005: Katrina Wrecks Havoc on Oil Rigs in Gulf Coast

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

Early Morning August 29, 2005: Louisiana National Guard Stands Ready to Respond to the Storm

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

Between 7:00 am and 9:30 am August 29, 2005: Louisiana Governor: Water has Breached the Levee System; Eastern New Orleans is Flooding

       Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, appearing on NBC, Today Show, reports that “I believe the water has breached the levee system, and is—is coming in. I mean, we've got water in so many areas there that, you know, none of that's a big surprise. It's just a big worry.” (Blanco is likely referring to the Industrial Canal floodwall.) Officials are “hearing of flooding of six-to-eight-foot waters in eastern New Orleans near the parish line of Orleans and St. Bernard. Obviously, our low-lying areas are experiencing a lot of flooding as well.” According to Blanco, the water is rising at about one foot per hour: “And yes, that gives us great concern. The area that we're talking about is a heavily populated area. We're hoping that it—that it was 100 percent evacuated. Eight-foot waters are—are very serious.” Blanco warns that, “We have not seen the last of—of the damage. I expect that it will worsen throughout the day.”
People and organizations involved: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
          

(8:00 am) August 29, 2005: Authorities Report Rising Water around New Orleans' Industrial Canal; People on Rooftops

       At around 8:00 am this morning, authorities report rising water on both sides of the Industrial Canal, in St. Bernard and eastern New Orleans. The Coast Guard reports that residents are on rooftops in the Upper 9th Ward. “Water is inundating everywhere,” in St. Bernard, Parish Council Chairman Joey DiFatta says. [Times-Picayune Blog, 9/07/2005 Sources: US Coast Guard, Joey DiFatta]
          

Before 9:00 am August 29, 2005: Louisiana State Officials: Floodwaters are a Serious Problem

       At a briefing just before 9:00 am this morning, state officials report that flooding is becoming a problem in Orleans Parish. About six to eight feet of water has already collected in the Lower 9th Ward. Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau reports that emergency personnel stationed at Jackson Barracks have confirmed that the waters are rising, although he does not know whether the flooding is due to a levee breach or overtopping. Extensive flooding already has been reported along St. Claude and Claiborne avenues. Charity Hospital reports flooding on the first floor. St. Bernard and Plaquemines officials also report flooding. Governor Blanco urges residents that they should not return, because their homes will likely be unreachable: “You will hamper search and rescue efforts ... [and it] will be impossible for you to get where you need to go.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]
People and organizations involved: Bennett C. Landreneau, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
          

Before 9:00 am, August 29, 2005: Louisiana Emergency Officials Discuss Massive Flooding, Collapsed Buildings in Morning Teleconference

       Emergency preparedness officials from across southeast Louisiana report damage during a morning teleconference. The officials report flooding, building collapses, power outages and fires. The Times-Picayune provides a rundown of the reports on its blog this morning:
In New Orleans, water is topping a floodwall along the Industrial Canal. The city's 911 system is out of service. Charity Hospital is on emergency power; windows have been blown out on five floors. The Police Department is operating on a backup power system. Three to four feet of water is reported on St. Claude Avenue at Jackson Barracks. A 20-foot tidal surge has knocked out four pumping stations; only one is back into service.

Jefferson Parish reports a building collapse in the 200 block of Wright Avenue in Terrytown. Reportedly, people were inside the building when it collapsed.

St. Charles Parish reports significant flooding on the East Bank.

Arabi reports up to eight feet of water. People are climbing into their attics to escape the flooding. “We're telling people to get into the attic and take something with them to cut through the roof if necessary,” reports Col. Richard Baumy of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office. “It's the same scenario as Betsy.” 100-plus mph winds are preventing rescue efforts.

Bayou Bienvenue reports water levels of 9 1/2 feet, almost twice normal levels.

St. John reports massive power outages.

Gramercy reports extensive damage to the town's 1 1/2-year-old fire station.

Terrebonne Parish reports one death due to a heart attack. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]
Note: The exact time of this call is not clear. However, this entry appears on the Times-Picayune Blog before reports of the hole in the Superdome's roof, indicating that the call takes place relatively early this morning.
          

(9:00 am) August 29, 2005: New Orleans' 17th Street Canal Levee-Floodwall is Breached

       Around 9:00 am this morning, the 17th Street Canal levee-floodwall system is breached. However, according to Al Naomi, Army Corps of Engineers' New Orleans project manager, the breach occurs in mid- or late-morning after Katrina's eye has passed east of New Orleans. By that time, north winds have pushed storm surge water in Lake Pontchartrain south against the hurricane levees and into the canals, and then the wind shifts to the west. “As I remember it the worst of the storm had passed when we got word the floodwall had collapsed,” Naomi later says. “It could have been when we were experiencing westerly winds in the aftermath of the storm, which would have been pushing water against it.” Naomi and other Corps officials will later say that they believe that the water in the canal topped the levee on the Orleans Parish side, weakening its structure on the interior side and causing its collapse. Ivor Van Heerden, LSU Hurricane Center expert, however, will say that he does not believe the water was high enough in the lake to top the 14-foot wall and that the pressure caused a “catastrophic structural failure.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 9/07/2005 Sources: Ivor Van Heerden, Al Naomi]
Note - Reports about when this breach occurs vary. For example, Knight Ridder reports that the breach occurred at 3:00 am this morning, and that the breach was reported to the Army Corps of Engineers around 5:00 am. [Knight Ridder, 9/11/2005]
Later today, the Army Corps of Engineers will report that the breach occurred “overnight” and that the Industrial Canal breach occurs at this time. [Army Corps (PDF), 8/29/2005 Sources: US Army Corps of Engineers] The Boston Globe will report that the breach occurs later this afternoon. [Boston Globe, 9/11/2005] The Chicago Tribune will report that the breach does not occur until August 30. [Chicago Tribune, 9/11/2005] However, it appears more likely that the 17th Street Canal floodwall-levee is breached around this time, and that the early morning breach reported is the breach of the floodwall(s) in the Industrial Canal. [ITEM]
          

(11:00 am) August 29, 2005: Emergency Officials Learn of New Orleans Flooding; FEMA Director Arrives in Baton Rouge

       FEMA Director Mike Brown arrives at the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness, in Baton Rouge shortly before 11 am, and joins a conference call with Louisiana Governor Blanco and other federal and state officials. According to the Times-Picayune, “Researchers watching the storm from Baton Rouge have gotten reports of [six] feet of water at Jackson Barracks in the Lower 9th Ward, as well as flooding along the Industrial Canal.” Kevin Robbins, director of the Southern Regional Climate Center at LSU, states that water should begin receding around the Industrial Canal area, and they have received no reports of flooding in the Uptown area. Because Katrina destroyed or disabled many of the stations that record water surges in lakes and rivers, information about the worst surges is just not available. “We are working in a data poor environment,” Robbins says. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]
People and organizations involved: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Michael D. Brown, Kevin Robbins
          

12:00 pm August 29, 2005: Senator Landrieu Issues Statement

       From the Baton Rouge emergency center, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) issues a statement regarding Hurricane Katrina, commending local officials and Governor Blanco for their work. “Unfortunately, the reverberations of this storm will be felt not only in Louisiana but across the nation.” Blanco also reiterates her appeal for protection of Louisiana's wetlands: “Our port system provides the nation with the transportation needs for our country's economy while our coastline provides the energy for our homes and industries. And Louisiana's unique wetlands provide our state with a buffer zone from natural disasters such as hurricanes. But our wetlands have been eroding. As I have said before, in order for us to protect America's energy supply and transportation needs, the federal government must join with the people of Louisiana to preserve America's wetlands.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]
People and organizations involved: Mary L. Landrieu, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Hurricane Katrina
          

(3:00 pm) August 29, 2005: Senator Vitter Issues Statement on Katrina

       Senator David Vitter (R-La.) issues a statement on Hurricane Katrina: “While I am extremely grateful that the City of New Orleans didn't take a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina, many, many families throughout southeast Louisiana have suffered major destruction. My heart and prayers go out to all of the families who have experienced catastrophic loss because of Hurricane Katrina. I would like to commend all of the local leaders who helped the people of Louisiana prepare for evacuation and who are working even now to prepare for recovery after the storm subsides. Working together, leaders at the federal, state and local levels, will help the families of Louisiana rebuild their homes and their lives.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]
People and organizations involved: Hurricane Katrina, David Vitter
          

(3:00 pm) August 29, 2005: Louisiana Governor, Emergency Officials Hold Press Conference

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

After 3:00 pm August 29, 2005: Army Corps Confirms New Orleans' Levee System Breaches; Catastrophic Flooding

       The Army Corp's Al Naomi calls the state emergency headquarters in Baton Rouge to inform officials of a catastrophic situation in the city. Water from the increasingly large breach in the 17th Street Canal floodwall, which will grow to 200 feet wide, is pouring out, and flooding New Orleans. [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005] According to Al Naomi, Army Corps of Engineers' New Orleans project manager, the Corps reports the other breaches in the levee system as well: “It was disseminated. It went to our OEP in Baton Rouge, to the state, FEMA, the Corps,” Naomi will later recall. “The people in the field knew it. The people here (in Corps offices) in Louisiana and Mississippi knew it. I don't know how communication worked in those agencies.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 9/07/2005] Yet, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La) will later recall that the mood in the state's headquarters is not one of panic this afternoon: “We were saying, ‘Thank you, God,’ because the experts were telling the governor it could have been even worse.” [Newsweek, 9/19/2005 Sources: Mary L. Landrieu]
People and organizations involved: Al Naomi, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
          

5:10 pm August 29, 2005: Louisiana State Representative Issues Statement

       State Representative Charlie Melancon (D-Napoleonville), issues the following statement on Katrina: “I am grateful for the strong leadership of Governor Blanco and for the tireless professionalism of the team here in Baton Rouge. I'd also like to thank President Bush for signing the Declaration of Disaster and starting the flow of aid. The entire range of federal and state resources is being coordinated here for the most immediate and effective response. With cooperation from our entire delegation, and the help of our colleagues and friends here in Congress, we hope to gather support for a federal response that will address the needs of our state following this disaster declaration. We must meet this challenge and move forward together. Peachy and I are praying for all of you affected by Katrina. This is not our first hurricane, and it will surely not be our last. But South Louisianans are good and strong people and we are committed to making it through this disaster together. Damage assessments have yet to begin but it is clear that we will have significant immediate and long term needs. Our wetlands and coastal area contribute greatly to America and this is a moment when we will need a lot back from our nation. Supporting a quick recovery of the oil and gas industry, while providing federal assistance for our commercial fishermen and agricultural industries will be critical to rebuilding the fabric of south Louisiana and our contributions to the national economy. We must also redouble our efforts to rebuild South Louisiana itself. The true costs of losing the buffers of our wetlands and barrier islands are now apparent. And after Katrina, what was earlier a $14 billion need for coastal restoration may have become billions of dollars more expensive. I urge residents of Parishes affected by Katrina to heed the orders of Emergency Preparedness officials and do not return to your homes until the all clear is given.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/29/2005]
People and organizations involved: Charlie Melancon, Hurricane Katrina, George W. Bush, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
          

(8:00 pm) August 29, 2005: Louisiana Governor Asks President for ‘Everything You've Got’

       Louisiana Governor Blanco calls President Bush this evening. Reportedly, she tells him, “Mr. President, we need your help. We need everything you've got.” Blanco later recalls that Bush was reassuring. However, the conversation is rather vague, according to later reports. Blanco does not specifically ask for a massive intervention by the active-duty military. “She wouldn't know the 82nd Airborne from the Harlem Boys' Choir,” says an official in Governor Blanco's office (who wishes to remain anonymous). [Newsweek, 9/19/2005] Blanco will later acknowledge that she does not “give him a checklist or anything.” [Time, 9/11/2005] “Do we stop and think about it?” she will ask. “We just stop and think about help.” [New York Times, 9/11/2005] Blanco's aides will contend that she should not have to provide a detailed list under the circumstances: “That's like telling a drowning man that you are not going to help him until he asks for a life preserver.” [Time, 9/11/2005]
People and organizations involved: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, George W. Bush
          

Evening August 29, 2005: Emergency Response is Out of Control, FEMA Director Later Alleges

       In a subsequent interview with the New York Times, FEMA Director Mike Brown will state that by this evening, he is calling the DHS and White House to report that the emergency response is in chaos. Reportedly, in a status call with Washington, Brown reports that Governor Blanco's office is “proving incapable of organizing a coherent state effort.” (Bob Mann, Blanco's Communications Director flatly denies Mr. Brown's description: “That is just totally inaccurate. Everything that Mr. Brown needed in terms of resources or information from the state, he had those available to him.”) Brown also reports that his field officers are reporting an “ ‘out of control’ situation” in New Orleans. According to Brown, he informs the White House early and repeatedly that state and local officials are overwhelmed and that the response is going badly, saying a dozen times, “I cannot get a unified command established.” The White House, contend that Brown's communications are “not filled with the urgency” that he later recalls. [New York Times, 9/15/2005] Other officials report chaos within FEMA's Washington headquarters. It becomes “a zoo” at the height of the disaster, according to one longtime FEMA official. “Everything is being done by the seat of the pants,” the official will say. “It's like reinventing the wheel. We're starting from scratch as though no planning had even been done before.” Chertoff representative Russ Knocke, however, will insist that FEMA's response is relying upon long-standing plans and goes “much smoother than the response to the Sept. 11 attacks.” “Because of the National Response Plan,” Knocke will say, “ ‘there is no confusion, no chaos, there's just immediate action and results.’ ” [Los Angeles Times, 9/11/2005]
People and organizations involved: Russ Knocke, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael D. Brown, National Response Plan
          

(8:30 pm) August 39, 2005: Louisiana Governor Larry King Live: Whole Parishes are Underwater; Massive Search and Rescue Operation Underway

       Louisiana Governor Blanco tells CNN's Larry King that entire parishes in southeastern Louisiana are underwater, with many homes flooded to the rooftops, leaving thousands stranded: “[W]e're in full search and rescue operation. We have pulled hundreds of people out of the waters. As we speak we've got boats moving up and down streets that, well, canals that used to be streets and people are beckoning our rescuers.” Asked whether Louisiana has adequate National Guard troops on hand, Blanco responds that, “We have an extraordinary number of National Guard members who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan but we have activated 4,000 members. We have some support coming from Texas as well. Our Guard is really helping us in extraordinary ways in bringing in a lot of search and rescue equipment in the morning. We will be in full swing tomorrow. We believe there will still be hundreds more people.”
People and organizations involved: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Louisiana National Guard
          

August 29, 2005: Approximately 70 percent of New Orleans First Responders Lose Homes In Hurricane

       According to one report, approximately 70 percent of New Orleans fire fighters, fire officers and their families will lose their homes and belongings because of Hurricane Katrina. [International Association of Fire Fighters Press Release]
People and organizations involved: Hurricane Katrina
          


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