Saturday, September 10

ThinkProgress: Katrina Timeline

KATRINA TIMELINE

Friday, August 26

GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY IN LOUISIANA[Office of the Governor
[

(Edit by Vyan -- White House responds to Blanco and declares impending disaster area and orders DHS and FEMA to prepare "to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures" in the path of the storm. It will be 8 days before a significant National Guard presence is seen in many of the affected areas in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The declaration does not include parishes on the Gulf of Mexico: "The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, Catahoula, Concordia, De Soto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupee, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, West Feliciana, and Winn."

This is particularly odd since Gov Blanco's Disaster Relief Request, to which President Bush was responding specifically states that the Parishes expected to receive major damage -
Ascension, Assumption, Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St Charles, St James, St Tammany, Tagipahoa, Terrebone and Washington - are all on the southeast corner of the state - and are shown on the map in Green! Bush had it exactly backwards)

GULF COAST STATES REQUEST TROOP ASSISTANCE FROM PENTAGON: At a 9/1 press conference, Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, commander, Joint Task Force Katrina, said that the Gulf States began the process of requesting additional forces on Friday, 8/26. [DOD]

Saturday, August 27

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY IN MISSISSIPPIOffice of the Governor] [

5AM CDT — KATRINA UPGRADED TO CATEGORY 3 HURRICANE [CNN]

GOV. BLANCO ASKS BUSH TO DECLARE FEDERAL STATE OF EMERGENCY IN LOUISIANA: “I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.” [Office of the Governor]

FEDERAL EMERGENCY DECLARED, DHS AND FEMA GIVEN FULL AUTHORITY TO RESPOND TO KATRINA: “Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.” [White House]

Sunday, August 28

2AM CDT – KATRINA UPGRADED TO CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE [CNN]

7AM CDT – KATRINA UPGRADED TO CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE [CNN]

MORNING — LOUISIANA NEWSPAPER SIGNALS LEVEES MAY GIVE: “Forecasters Fear Levees Won’t Hold Katrina”: “Forecasters feared Sunday afternoon that storm driven waters will lap over the New Orleans levees when monster Hurricane Katrina pushes past the Crescent City tomorrow.” [Lafayette Daily Advertiser]

(Edit by Vyan - Brown and Chertoff receive Hurricane Center briefings about risk of levee breach in New Orleans - FEMA director Mike Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff listen in on electronic briefings from National Hurricane Center warning of storm's dangers. Hurricane Center staff warns both men of storm's potential for catastrophic damage and that it may produce "storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans.")

9:30 AM CDT — MAYOR NAGIN ISSUES FIRST EVER MANDATORY EVACUATION OF NEW ORLEANS: “We’re facing the storm most of us have feared,” said Nagin. “This is going to be an unprecedented event"

(Edit by Vyan... Mayor Nagin further stated that Katrina’s “awesome” winds are likely to create storm surges that overwhelm the city’s system of levees, causing water to pour into lower-lying areas. He then authorized use of Regional Transit Authority Buses to ferry an estimated 112,000 residents without their own transportation to the Superdome (as a refuge of last resort). Highways out of the city were gridlocked, Hotels up to 150 miles away are booked solid. The Picayune reported that the Govenor also said that President Bush had telephoned shortly before the 9:30 am press conference (announcing the evacuation) began. She said Bush said he was "very concerned about the storm's impact" and urged Blanco and Nagin to order the evacuation) . [Times-Picayune] )

4PM CDT – NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ISSUES SPECIAL HURRICANE WARNING: In the event of a category 4 or 5 hit, “Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer. … At least one-half of well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail, leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed. … Power outages will last for weeks. … Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.” [National Weather Service]

AFTERNOON — BUSH, BROWN, CHERTOFF WARNED OF LEVEE FAILURE BY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR: Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center: “‘We were briefing them way before landfall. … It’s not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped.’” [Times-Picayune; St. Petersburg Times]

LATE PM – REPORTS OF WATER TOPPLING OVER LEVEE: “Waves crashed atop the exercise path on the Lake Pontchartrain levee in Kenner early Monday as Katrina churned closer.” [Times-Picayune]

APPROXIMATELY 30,000 EVACUEES GATHER AT SUPERDOME WITH ROUGHLY 36 HOURS WORTH OF FOOD [Times-Picayune]

Monday, August 29

7AM CDT – KATRINA MAKES LANDFALL AS A CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE [CNN]

8AM CDT – MAYOR NAGIN REPORTS THAT WATER IS FLOWING OVER LEVEE: “I’ve gotten reports this morning that there is already water coming over some of the levee systems. In the lower ninth ward, we’ve had one of our pumping stations to stop operating, so we will have significant flooding, it is just a matter of how much.” [NBC’s “Today Show”]

MORNING — BUSH CALLS SECRETARY CHERTOFF TO DISCUSS IMMIGRATION:White House] “I spoke to Mike Chertoff today — he’s the head of the Department of Homeland Security. I knew people would want me to discuss this issue [immigration], so we got us an airplane on — a telephone on Air Force One, so I called him. I said, are you working with the governor? He said, you bet we are.” [

MORNING – BUSH SHARES BIRTHDAY CAKE PHOTO-OP WITH SEN. JOHN MCCAIN [White House]

10:30AM CDT — MICHAEL BROWN FINALLY REQUESTS THAT DHS DISPATCH 1,000 EMPLOYEES TO REGION, GIVES THEM TWO DAYS TO ARRIVE: “Brown’s memo to Chertoff described Katrina as ‘this near catastrophic event’ but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, ‘Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities.’” [AP]

(Edit by Vyan - on 08/29 FEMA director Brown tells outside fire and rescue departments not to enter disaster area unless invited - Brown urges local fire and rescue departments outside Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi not to send trucks or emergency workers into disaster area without explicit requests for help from state or local governments. Brown says it is vital to coordinate fire and rescue efforts. This besides the fact that Govenor Blanco had already made such requests for help in her original Declaration of Emergency and call for Federal Assistance on the 26th.)

LATE MORNING – LEVEE BREACHED: “A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new ‘hurricane proof’ Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north.” [Times-Picayune]

11AM CDT — BUSH VISITS ARIZONA RESORT TO PROMOTE MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: “This new bill I signed says, if you’re a senior and you like the way things are today, you’re in good shape, don’t change. But, by the way, there’s a lot of different options for you. And we’re here to talk about what that means to our seniors.” [White House]

4PM CDT — BUSH TRAVELS TO CALIFORNIA SENIOR CENTER TO DISCUSS MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: “We’ve got some folks up here who are concerned about their Social Security or Medicare. Joan Geist is with us. … I could tell — she was looking at me when I first walked in the room to meet her, she was wondering whether or not old George W. is going to take away her Social Security check.” [White House]

8PM CDT — RUMSFELD ATTENDS SAN DIEGO PADRES BASEBALL GAME: Rumsfeld “joined Padres President John Moores in the owner’s box…at Petco Park.” [Editor & Publisher]

Tuesday, August 30

11AM CDT – BUSH SPEAKS ON IRAQ AT NAVAL BASE CORONADO [White House]

MIDDAY – CHERTOFF FINALLY BECOMES AWARE THAT LEVEE HAS FAILED: “It was on Tuesday that the levee–may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday–that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake was going to start to drain into the city.” [Meet the Press, 9/4/05]

PENTAGON CLAIMS THERE ARE ENOUGH NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS IN REGION: “Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the states have adequate National Guard units to handle the hurricane needs.” [WWL-TV]

MASS LOOTING REPORTED, SECURITY SHORTAGE CITED: “The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked,” Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said. “We’re using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops.” [AP]

U.S.S. BATAAN SITS OFF SHORE, VIRTUALLY UNUSED: “The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore. The Bataan rode out the storm and then followed it toward shore, awaiting relief orders. Helicopter pilots flying from its deck were some of the first to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents. But now the Bataan’s hospital facilities, including six operating rooms and beds for 600 patients, are empty.” [Chicago Tribune]

2PM CDT – PRESIDENT BUSH PLAYS GUITAR WITH COUNTRY SINGER MARK WILLIS [AP]

BUSH RETURNS TO CRAWFORD FOR FINAL NIGHT OF VACATION [AP]

Wednesday, August 31

TENS OF THOUSANDS TRAPPED IN SUPERDOME; CONDITIONS DETERIORATE:Los Angeles Times, 9/1/05] “A 2-year-old girl slept in a pool of urine. Crack vials littered a restroom. Blood stained the walls next to vending machines smashed by teenagers. ‘We pee on the floor. We are like animals,’ said Taffany Smith, 25, as she cradled her 3-week-old son, Terry. … By Wednesday, it had degenerated into horror. … At least two people, including a child, have been raped. At least three people have died, including one man who jumped 50 feet to his death, saying he had nothing left to live for. There is no sanitation. The stench is overwhelming.”" [

PRESIDENT BUSH FINALLY ORGANIZES TASK FORCE TO COORDINATE FEDERAL RESPONSE: Bush says on Tuesday he will “fly to Washington to begin work…with a task force that will coordinate the work of 14 federal agencies involved in the relief effort.” [New York Times, 8/31/05]

JEFFERSON PARISH EMERGENCY DIRECTOR SAYS FOOD AND WATER SUPPLY GONE: “Director Walter Maestri: FEMA and national agencies not delivering the help nearly as fast as it is needed.” [WWL-TV]

80,000 BELIEVED STRANDED IN NEW ORLEANS: Former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy “estimated 80,000 were trapped in the flooded city and urged President Bush to send more troops.” [Reuters]

3,000 STRANDED AT CONVENTION CENTER WITHOUT FOOD OR WATER: “With 3,000 or more evacuees stranded at the convention center — and with no apparent contingency plan or authority to deal with them — collecting a body was no one’s priority. … Some had been at the convention center since Tuesday morning but had received no food, water or instructions.” [Times-Picayune]

PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY DECLARED FOR ENTIRE GULF COAST: “After a natural disaster, short and long-term medical problems can occur. Diseases like cholera, typhoid, hepatitis and mosquito-borne illnesses tend to break out under these conditions.” [WCBS-TV]

4PM CDT — BUSH GIVES FIRST MAJOR ADDRESS ON KATRINA: “Nothing about the president’s demeanor… — which seemed casual to the point of carelessness — suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.” [New York Times]

7PM CDT – CONDOLEEZZA RICE TAKES IN A BROADWAY SHOW: “On Wednesday night, Secretary Rice was booed by some audience members at ‘Spamalot!, the Monty Python musical at the Shubert, when the lights went up after the performance.” [New York Post, 9/2/05]

8PM CDT — FEMA DIRECTOR BROWN CLAIMS SURPRISE OVER SIZE OF STORM: “I must say, this storm is much much bigger than anyone expected.” [CNN]

Thursday, September 1

7AM CDT — BUSH CLAIMS NO ONE EXPECTED LEVEES TO BREAK: “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.” [Washington Post]

(Edit by Vyan - This statement was made by Bush despite the fact the both Brown and Chertoff were briefed on this possibility on 8/28, that both Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin made public statements declaring the levees were in danger and the fact the President had telephoned the governor just prior to those public statements on the 28th saying he was "very concerned" about the storms impact as he urged on the Mayor's original Manditory evacuation of New Orleans.)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE VISITS U.S. OPEN: “Rice, [in New York] on three days’ vacation to shop and see the U.S. Open, hitting some balls with retired champ Monica Seles at the Indoor Tennis Club at Grand Central.” [New York Post]

STILL NO COMMAND AND CONTROL ESTABLISHED: Terry Ebbert, New Orleans Homeland Security Director: “This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace. FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can’t bail out the city of New Orleans.” [Fox News]

2PM CDT — MAYOR NAGIN ISSUES “DESPERATE SOS” TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: “This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the convention centre and don’t anticipate enough buses. We need buses. Currently the convention centre is unsanitary and unsafe and we’re running out of supplies.” [Guardian, 9/2/05]

2PM CDT — MICHAEL BROWN CLAIMS NOT TO HAVE HEARD OF REPORTS OF VIOLENCE: “I’ve had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word unrest means that people are beginning to riot, or you know, they’re banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I’ve had no reports of that.” [CNN]

NEW ORLEANS “DESCEND[S] INTO ANARCHY”: “Storm victims were raped and beaten, fights and fires broke out, corpses lay out in the open, and rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers were shot at as flooded-out New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday. ‘This is a desperate SOS,’ the mayor said.” [AP]

CONDOLEEZZA RICE GOES SHOE SHOPPING: “Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, ‘How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!’” [Gawker]

MICHAEL BROWN FINALLY LEARNS OF EVACUEES IN CONVENTION CENTER:CNN] “We learned about that (Thursday), so I have directed that we have all available resources to get that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water and medical care that they need.” [

Friday, September 2

ROVE-LED CAMPAIGN TO BLAME LOCAL OFFICIALS BEGINS: “Under the command of President Bush’s two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan…to contain the political damage from the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.” President Bush’s comments from the Rose Garden Friday morning formed “the start of this campaign.” [New York Times, 9/5/05]

9:35AM CDT — BUSH PRAISES MICHAEL BROWN: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” [White House, 9/2/05]

10 AM CDT — PRESIDENT BUSH STAGES PHOTO-OP “BRIEFING”: Coast Guard helicopters and crew diverted to act as backdrop for President Bush’s photo-op.

BUSH VISIT GROUNDS FOOD AID: “Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s visit to New Orleans, officials said.” [Times-Picayune]

LEVEE REPAIR WORK ORCHESTRATED FOR PRESIDENT’S VISIT: Sen. Mary Landrieu, 9/3: “Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment.” [Sen. Mary Landrieu]

BUSH USES 50 FIREFIGHTERS AS PROPS IN DISASTER AREA PHOTO-OP: A group of 1,000 firefighters convened in Atlanta to volunteer with the Katrina relief efforts. Of those, “a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew’s first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.” [Salt Lake Tribune; Reuters]

12PM CDT — BUSH “SATISFIED WITH THE RESPONSE”:AP] “I am satisfied with the response. I am not satisfied with all the results.” [

Saturday, September 3

SENIOR BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL LIES TO WASHINGTON POST, CLAIMS GOV. BLANCO NEVER DECLARED STATE OF EMERGENCY: The Post reported in their Sunday edition “As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.” They were forced to issue a correction hours later. [Washington Post, 9/4/05]

9AM CDT — BUSH BLAMES STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS: “[T]he magnitude of responding to a crisis over a disaster area that is larger than the size of Great Britain has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities. The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need.” [White House, 9/3/05]

(Edit by Vyan - On Sept 3 : News breaks that the Red Cross has been kept out of New Orleans by the Department of Homeland Security -Media reports and an announcement on the American Red Cross's own website (page created Friday, September 2nd) explains that the Red Cross has stayed out of New Orleans and not provided food and water to New Orleans residents dying of heat exhaustion and hunger on orders of the Department of Homeland Security. Local American Red Cross CEO, Tom Foley, states to KWY Newsradio in Philadelphia: "The state Department of Homeland Security in Louisiana asked the Red Cross not to go into the city because they want that message to be, 'You need to leave the city. This isn't going to be a sheltering spot.' "

On Sept 4th: News breaks that FEMA blocked aid to Jefferson Parish, New Orleans - Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, New Orleans, announces on Meet the Press that FEMA blocked life-saving aid to Jefferson Parish. FEMA prevented the delivery of three trailer trucks of water donated by Wal-Mart, forbade the Coast Guard from donating 1000 gallons of diesel fuel that happened to be on a Coast Guard vessel docked in Jefferson Parish, and cut all emergency communication lines out of the parish. The communication lines were repaired and put under armed guard. Mr. Broussard then broke down as he described how the mother of the head of emergency management in the parish was trapped in a nursing home and phoned her son every day asking when help would come. The son tried to reassure her that help was coming, but the woman died Friday evening (after President Bush's flyby) when she drowned to death.

Tuesday, September 6

Nobody knew - or did they?

Source:
Date:
2000-01-21









New Orleans ... The New Atlantis?

With predicted sea level rise, wetland loss, subsidence, and the absence of restoration programs, the future of New Orleans appears bleak. Research from University of New Orleans scientists examine the processes driving catastrophic coastal conditions and the breakdown of the Mississippi River Delta

(New Orleans) -- By the year 2100, the city of New Orleans may be extinct, submerged in water. A future akin to the fabled sunken city of Atlantis? Yes, according to Dr. Chip Groat, Director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Washington, D.C., "With the projected rate of subsidence (the natural sinking of land), wetland loss, and sea level rise," he said, "New Orleans will likely be on the verge of extinction by this time next century."

University of New Orleans coastal geologist Dr. Shea Penland and coastal geomorphologist Dr. Denise Reed have spent their careers (combined 40 years) figuring out exactly what is driving this catastrophic condition. Their research has identified the specific problems jeopardizing the future of New Orleans and southern Louisiana. "We have the greatest coastal land loss problem in North America. This is more than a serious problem . . . it's a catastrophic one. We're living on the verge of a coastal collapse," warns Dr. Penland.

Currently, 40% of all coastal wetlands in the United States are located in Louisiana, and 80% of all wetland loss in our nation occurs in Louisiana. From 1930-1990, the Mississippi River Delta lost more than 1,000 square miles of land.

Over the last 50 years, land loss rates had accelerated from 10 miles to 40 miles per year by the 1970s, with the current rate being approximately 25 square miles or 16,000 acres of wetlands a year. Coastal Louisiana is poised to lose more than 10,000 acres per year for the foreseeable future.

New Orleans is sinking three feet per century--eight times faster than the worldwide rate of only 0.4 feet per century. Currently, New Orleans, on average, is eight feet below sea level--11 feet in some places.

Many of the low-lying barrier islands will disappear by 2050.

UNO scientists suggest that, without appropriate restoration efforts, Louisiana faces continued wetland loss, the deterioration of the Mississippi River Delta (the largest and most economically profitable in the nation), and the possible collapse of the entire ecosystem.

However, Penland, Reed, and other researchers have shown that the coastal ecosystem, while damaged, is sufficiently intact for restoration efforts to succeed in managing the problem. They, along with other University of New Orleans scientists, continue to work in close concert with state and federal agencies to create, evaluate, and monitor restoration strategies and coastal management solutions. There work is included in: the Coast 2050--a new multi-agency, $14 billion restoration report/plan for coastal Louisiana.

Today, Penland, Reed and other university scientists continue to work on the issue: restoring barrier islands; working on a $5 million contract with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to document and assist in the beneficial use of dredge material; studying the biochemistry of the waterways; detecting and measuring water stratification such as that associated with the "Dead Zones" offshore in the Gulf; engaged in the long-term establishment and preservation of grassbed populations; designing restoration projects; training the next generation of students with coastal restoration courses; and much more.

Disaster Relief 2004 vs 2005

Here then, are some of the highlights from last year's relief efforts in Florida:

Gov. Jeb Bush sought federal help Friday while [Hurricane] Charley was still in the Gulf of Mexico. President Bush approved the aid about an hour after the hurricane made landfall.

By Monday afternoon, the cavalry seemed to be in place . . . Cargo planes were shuttling FEMA supplies from a Georgia Air Force base to a staging area in Lakeland, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had shipped 11 truckloads of water and 14 truckloads of ice. The first assistance checks to victims were to be shipped Monday night.

St. Petersberg Times
Unlike Andrew, aid's right on Charley's heels
August 17, 2004

___________
Just weeks after Hurricane Charley tore through Florida, Hurricane Frances aimed for the Sunshine State Saturday morning [September 4, 2004] packing winds of 105 mph and bringing the potential for up to 20 inches of rain.

CNN
Hurricane Frances weakens slightly
September 4, 2004
-----------------------------------
As of noon Monday [two days after Frances made landfall] FEMA and other Federal response agencies have taken the following actions:

* About one hundred trucks of water and 280 trucks of ice are present or will arrive in the Jacksonville staging area today.

* 900,000 Meals-Ready-to-Eat are on site in Jacksonville, ready to be distributed.

* Over 7,000 cases of food (e.g., vegetables, fruits, cheese, ham, and turkey) are scheduled to arrive in Winter Haven today.

* Disaster medical assistance teams (DMAT) are on the ground and setting up comfort stations. FEMA community relations personnel will coordinate with DMATs to assist victims.

* Urban search and rescue teams are completing reconnaissance missions in coordination with state officials.

* FEMA is coordinating with the Department of Energy and the state to ensure that necessary fuel supplies can be distributed throughout the state, with a special focus on hospitals and other emergency facilities that are running on generators.

* The Army Corps of Engineers will soon begin its efforts to provide tarps to tens of thousands of owners of homes and buildings that have seen damage to their roofs . . .

* The Departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and Defense together have organized 300 medical personnel to be on standby. Medical personnel will begin deployment to Florida tomorrow . . .

White House
Responding to Hurricanes Charley and Frances
September 6, 2004

_____________

Here's the kicker:

FEMA officials must have been deeply gratified to see the effect their heroic efforts had in the place where they were most desperately needed -- Bush's poll numbers:

Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan may count as some of the biggest political contributors to President Bush's reelection campaign, according to a poll.

The post-hurricane survey shows Bush surging ahead of his Democratic challenger by 49 to 41 percent -- an about-face from August, when Bush trailed Sen. John Kerry 41-47 percent, Quinnipiac University reported Thursday.

''The ill winds of the hurricanes have blown some political goodwill for President Bush,'' said Clay F. Richards, a pollster for the independent Connecticut university.

Miami Herald
Bush bypasses Kerry in polls
Sept. 24, 2004

Olbermann Swings

Video link here http://media.putfile.com/OlbermannSwings


SECAUCUS — Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater..."

Well there's your problem right there.

If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.

The seeming definition of our time and our leaders had been their insistence on slashing federal budgets for projects that might’ve saved New Orleans. The seeming characterization of our government that it was on vacation when the city was lost, and could barely tear itself away from commemorating V.J. Day and watching Monty Python's Flying Circus, to at least pretend to get back to work. The seeming identification of these hapless bureaucrats: their pathetic use of the future tense in terms of relief they could’ve brought last Monday and Tuesday — like the President, whose statements have looked like they’re being transmitted to us by some kind of four-day tape-delay.

But no. The incompetence and the ludicrous prioritization will forever be symbolized by one gaffe by of the head of what is ironically called “The Department of Homeland Security”: “Louisiana is a city…”

Politician after politician — Republican and Democrat alike — has paraded before us, unwilling or unable to shut off the "I-Me" switch in their heads, condescendingly telling us about how moved they were or how devastated they were — congenitally incapable of telling the difference between the destruction of a city and the opening of a supermarket.

And as that sorry recital of self-absorption dragged on, I have resisted editorial comment. The focus needed to be on the efforts to save the stranded — even the internet's meager powers were correctly devoted to telling the stories of the twin disasters, natural... and government-made.

But now, at least, it is has stopped getting exponentially worse in Mississippi and Alabama and New Orleans and Louisiana (the state, not the city). And, having given our leaders what we know now is the week or so they need to get their act together, that period of editorial silence I mentioned, should come to an end.

No one is suggesting that mayors or governors in the afflicted areas, nor the federal government, should be able to stop hurricanes. Lord knows, no one is suggesting that we should ever prioritize levee improvement for a below-sea-level city, ahead of $454 million worth of trophy bridges for the politicians of Alaska.

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the "chatter" from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, "we are not satisfied," with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which "we" he thinks he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.

For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been — as we were taught in Social Studies it should always be — whether or not I voted for this President — he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to '08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government — our government — "New Orleans."

For him, it is a shame — in all senses of the word. A few changes of pronouns in there, and he might not have looked so much like a 21st Century Marie Antoinette. All that was needed was just a quick "I'm not satisfied with my government's response." Instead of hiding behind phrases like "no one could have forseen," had he only remembered Winston Churchill's quote from the 1930's. "The responsibility," of government, Churchill told the British Parliament "for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence."

In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself — it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.

As we emphasized to you here all last week, the realities of the region are such that New Orleans is going to be largely uninhabitable for a lot longer than anybody is yet willing to recognize. Lord knows when the last body will be found, or the last artifact of the levee break, dug up. Could be next March. Could be 2100. By then, in the muck and toxic mire of New Orleans, they may even find our government's credibility.

Somewhere, in the City of Louisiana.