Wednesday, January 25, 2006

White House had Accurate Predictions on Katrina Devastation Two Days before Storm

Just after Katrina, I was somewhat obsessed with the timeline of Hurricane Katrina. That timeline drove me crazy! August 27th, 4pm, the storm picks up speed, and Nagin is warned that the storm will be much worse than expected. Shortly after 5pm he calls for the evacuation of New Orleans, and after calls the White House to request support in evacuating the city. But Nagin is not contacted by FEMA Director Michael Brown until Sunday late afternoon when some helicopters were sent down to help evacuate some of the sick and elderly. But thousands were left behind because FEMA support came so late.

Monday morning, April 29th, about 4:30 am the storm begins. By 6:00 am the city is getting rocked, and by 10 am the levees are breaking. Whole sections of the city are flooded by that afternoon, people are trapped all over the city, and both the survivors in their homes and the evacuation centers are isolated from food, water, power, and the law. Chaos breaks out throughout the city, and by nightfall lawlessness has broken out throughout the city.

By Tuesday, April 30th, the US citizens were realizing the extent of the devestation in New Orleans and surrounding areas, and individuals across the county were mobilizing support to the region. Inside New Orleans, there was a complete disregard for authority, a massive fear amongst most people in New Orleans for their own safety, hunger and thirst throughout the city, and no medical supplies were available for even the worst cases. On the other hand, individuals were driving South with whatever supplies they could gather to help individuals, and in many cases to save lives, restoring some faith in humanity.

But it wasn’t until the evening of Wednesday, August 31st, that the US began to send some support down to the victims of Katrina. On Monday and Tuesday, Bush had been out of contact, for the most part. He was on his ranch in Texas, and was said to have shot one of the best golf games of his life on Tuesday, August 30th. Wednesday morning he flew from his ranch to Mississippi, where he had told all the troops heading down to New Orleans to wait for him to arrive, and address the troops. Thousands of men with food and water for the victims waited in Mississippi for as many as 5 hours for Bush to arrive.

After noon, Bush addressed those troops. He and Brown then dispatched helicopters with Engineering Corps to the levees, to start draining water from the city. About 3pm troops began to move towards New Orleans, and by 6pm they reached the Superdome with water and food, the first water and food seen by most of these people since Monday morning. The troops dispensed food until the later evening, and then left to get more food and water from their outpost in Mississippi. This was necessary, but there was not proper planning by the troops, who left the Superdome unguarded. The Superdomee decended into lawlessness again that night.

All of this was horrendous. How could our government take so long to attend to their own citizens? How could our neighbors be left to die without a bit of help from our elected officials? But today, it got much more horrible.

The investigation into Katrina has unearthed documents showing that FEMA director Brown had presented a slide show indicating definitively that, at the trajectory of the storm, and with the speed it had reached on Saturday, the levees would break and the city would be flooded. The prediction extended out, illustrating the exact devestation seen in the storm, including the lack of food, water, and law. Brown even had suggestions for evacuations and preventing some of the devestation; so far we have no idea why nothing was done about these forecasts.

Emergency-preparedness experts have said in the past that additional advance warning could also have been used by federal officials to press local officials to evacuate those New Orleans residents without easy access to transportation. It's been estimated that about 100,000 New Orleans residents were left behind when Katrina struck.

Seed agreed, saying the advance warning "could have been used by the federal government to stage additional resources in the city and massively improved the FEMA response."

Furthermore, he said the ongoing Science Foundation study has found that the schoolbuses frequently seen in their flooded parking spaces could have been used to evacuate stranded residents. After the storm struck, their gas tanks were found to be full and they were used to help evacuate stranded residents.

We don’t know who received this report; it certainly wasn’t George W. Bush, because he was on his ranch in Texas. But maybe he should have been in his office, listening to reports and ordering relief down to New Orleans in advance of the storm. But certainly, someone in the White House knew the situation, knew how bad it was going to be, and did nothing. They didn’t move ready-made meals or water into the area in advance, didn’t move people down south, didn’t provide information to New Orleans in advance and didn’t respond to Nagin’s plea for help. Sorry, President Bush, but you blew it, and we’re paying with thousands of American lives… again!

Posted by Scottage at 12:21 AM / | |