8-12-05 Irene moves towards Carolinas
8-16-05 - Irene slides past U.S. - no damages
8-25-05 - Katrina - Tropical Storm - turns deadly
wipes out New Orleans
11 dead in south Florida
3 dead in Baton Rouge, MS
50 deaths in Biloxi, MS
Over 100 deaths in MS
New Orleans Death Toll May Eclipse 10,000

Official toll is over 975 - still rising
Some deaths are NOT being counted as 'official' 
Bodies still be found in April, 2006




updated 7-19-05 - HURRICANE SEASON of 2005 - PAGE 1
10 dead in Cuba - 15 Dead in Haiti


4 die in JAMAICA

In years that have seen at least eight named storms, the eighth storm develops, on average, on Sept. 29, said hurricane specialist James Franklin.  "In about half the years, we don't even get that far," Franklin said. Liz Tropical Storm Harvey Approaches Bermuda Aug 3, 12:23 PM (ET)

 MIAMI (AP) - A depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Harvey on Wednesday as it slowly approached Bermuda, forecasters said.

Harvey, the eighth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, had top sustained wind of about 40 mph, just 1 mph above the minimum for tropical storms.

Harvey is the earliest eighth named storm on record for the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1.

A tropical storm warning was posted for Bermuda, meaning tropical storm conditions were expected within 24 hours. One to 3 inches of rain was possible for the islands that sit about 1,000 northeast of Miami, meteorologists said.

At 11 a.m. EDT, the tropical storm was centered 215 miles west-southwest of Bermuda, the National Hurricane Center said. It was moving toward the north-northeast at about 10 mph.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs through Nov. 30. The government on Tuesday sharply boosted its forecast for hurricanes this season, predicting the season total would reach 18 to 21 named storms. That was up from a forecast in May of 12 to 15 named storms.

In years that have seen at least eight named storms, the eighth storm develops, on average, on Sept. 29, said hurricane specialist James Franklin.

"In about half the years, we don't even get that far," Franklin said.

Tropical Storm Irene Advisory



Tropical Storm Irene Moving Westward, May be Hurricane Sunday

NOAA/NWS via BBSNews 2005-08-09 - [11:00 pm EDT advisory] - At 11 Pm Ast...0300Z...The Center Of Tropical Depression Irene Was Located Near Latitude 22.4 North... Longitude 55.5 West Or About 890 Miles...1430 Km... Southeast Of Bermuda.

Five Day forecast track of Tropical Storm Irene from NOAA.

Photo Credit: NOAA.

The image shown above in its full size is available here.

For real-time hurricane tracking and the BBSNews HurrTrak Tools Menu of animated radar and satellite imagery click here.

To track your weather by US City, Zip Code or major international city, click here.

The Depression Is Moving Toward The West Near 10 Mph ...17 Km/Hr...And A Turn To The West-Northwest Is Expected During The Next 24 Hours.

Maximum Sustained Winds Are Near 35 Mph... 55 Km/Hr...With Higher Gusts. Some Strengthening Is Forecast During The Next 24 Hours.

Estimated Minimum Central Pressure Is 1008 Mb...29.77 Inches.

Repeating The 11 Pm Ast Position...22.4 N... 55.5 W. Movement Toward...West Near 10 Mph. Maximum Sustained Winds... 35 Mph. Minimum Central Pressure...1008 Mb.

The Next Advisory Will Be Issued By The National Hurricane Center At 5 Am Ast

Tropical Storm Irene Strengthens, Moves Toward U.S.
May Become Hurricane Soon

MIAMI (Aug. 12) - Tropical Storm Irene was expected to intensify Friday and possibly reach hurricane strength as it approached the U.S. East Coast, forecasters said.


Irene's potential threat to land was still uncertain, as its path had shifted east, according to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Forecasters said the storm could strike the coast anywhere from South Carolina to New Jersey.

Irene's top sustained winds increased to about 60 mph, and forecasters said conditions appeared favorable for the storm to strengthen. Hurricanes sustain winds of at least 74 mph.

At 5 a.m. EDT, the storm's center was located about 325 miles south of Bermuda and about 795 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

It was moving northwest near 15 mph, though it was expected to slow down, forecasters said.

Irene broke records Sunday when it became the earliest ninth named storm in the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Typically, there are only two named storms by this time in the season.

Irene weakened into a tropical depression Monday, but regained tropical storm strength Wednesday.

08/12/05 06:08 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

August 16, 2005 update ... hurricane Irene is pulling out to the north Atlantic with a near miss but the US oil industry's newest ploy to drive up prices using hurricane and severe weather continues (something I started showing earlier this summer and is augmented greatly over these phony but effective efforts of past years) ... 

per James McCanney



Part of the blame goes here: 

06 June 2005 In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding. It would be the largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, Corps officials
said. I've been here over 30 years and I've never seen this level of reduction, said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district... The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.

Full article at:


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Providing medical care to residents of Louisiana.

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Assisting victims of Hurricane Katrina.

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(CNN) -- Disaster response officials are urging evacuated residents not to return for at least a week to areas of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.

"When folks who are desperate are trying to get home, it just makes it more difficult for us to get to folks whose lives are in danger," Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Tuesday.

"The roads are blocked with water in many cases," she explained. "Even if you drive up to a certain area, you're going to have to get into a boat, and we don't have boats to take citizens back to their property. All our boats are engaged in search and rescue."

Officials are asking people not to contact local fire and police agencies, which are busy responding to emergencies. Instead, disaster officials recommend the following Web sites and phone numbers:

General information


Alabama Emergency Management Agency - 


HEADS UP!!  8-28-05


Waters off the Florida Coast extremely warm....88-89 degrees which will feed this storm as it moves closer to the mainland....Because of possible CME arrivals, which some scientists claim feed these hurricanes, this storm could develop rapidly into a much higher classification, catching everyone by plans for evacuation anywhere...

Katrina is plotted to go over southern Florida and then over the gulf, where it should regain strength and become a major hurricane. Remember that Florida is targeted by the Lord for trouble. Watch Katrinka carefully during the next few days....
MIAMI (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Katrina formed in the central Bahamas on Wednesday and headed toward Florida's southern Atlantic Coast with the potential to become a hurricane. Katrina was expected to hit the Miami area by Friday as a strong tropical storm or a weak hurricane, dumping up to 12 inches of rain on the southern tip of Florida as it moved slowly across the state into the Gulf of Mexico, forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Some isolated areas could get up to 20 inches of rain, said Jennifer Pralgo, a meteorologist at the hurricane center. "It's going to soak us," Pralgo said.


Floridians Brace For Katrina

MIAMI, Aug. 25, 2005

In this National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) handout, a computer generated satellite illustration shows Tropical Storm Katrina approaching Florida, August 24, 2005.)

(CBS/AP) Battered by four major hurricanes last year, Floridians are accustomed to going through the motions of preparing for dangerous storms. But as a tropical storm blows its way toward South Florida, prompting a run on gas stations Thursday, there's concern people may not be taking it seriously enough.

The leading edge of Tropical Storm Katrina reached South Florida this morning and forecasters said severe squalls should begin by mid-afternoon. The center of the slow-moving, rain-intensive system could reach land — probably in Broward County and possibly as a minimal hurricane — around 7 p.m. tonight.

But Katrina's center was surrounded by multiple bands of rain and wind. Regardless of the precise site of landfall, forecasters warned the entire region to prepare for gusty wind and a severe soaking, with some areas receiving a foot or more of rain.

Hurricane warnings have been posted for the southeast Florida coast and for people living along Lake Okeechobee inland. The big danger could be from flooding, with a forecast of up to 20 inches of rain.

Officials have already begun lowering water levels in canals due to the heavy rain threat, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports for The Early Show.

Authorities around Ft. Pierce are urging people on the barrier island to get out voluntarily. And gas stations report people have been topping off their tanks and stocking up on supplies, but not leaving.

The storm had maximum sustained winds near 50 mph, and was expected to reach hurricane strength as it slowly approached the Florida coastline, the National Hurricane Center said. Hurricanes sustain winds of at least 74 mph.

A hurricane warning was issued for the southeast Florida coast from Vero Beach to Florida City, as well as inland Lake Okeechobee. A tropical storm watch was issued for Florida's west coast.

Katrina's path appeared centered on the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, but forecasters warned it could easily move to the north or south before making landfall late Thursday or early Friday.

The storm was expected to cross Florida before heading into the Gulf of Mexico, dumping 6 to 12 inches of rain on the state, with some spots getting up to 20 inches.

Broward County recommended that people evacuate barrier islands and low-lying regions, and some schools in the area were closing. Battering waves and storm surge flooding of 4 to 6 feet were expected.

Gas stations along the Interstate 95 corridor between Miami and Fort Lauderdale were seeing up to 25 motorists an hour Thursday, instead of the usual handful. People were buying gas and stocking up on water and cigarettes.

"People go out and fill their tanks to the brim, but they don't leave. They buckle down," said Chris Bonhorst, a gas attendant.

Carlos Sarcos, 48, of North Miami, said he would only evacuate his family if Katrina grew into a Category 3 storm, with winds of at least 111 mph.

"I don't think it's going to be dangerous," he said.

But Strassmann reports that on the 13th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, officials warn that resident should beware.

Gov. Jeb Bush canceled a business trip to Peru that was to begin Wednesday and planned to return to Florida from Virginia, where he was attending a hearing on military base realignment.

Katrina formed Wednesday over the Bahamas, bringing heavy showers and battering waves but causing no reported damage or flooding.

"For the most part it's just been pretty much a wet storm, but not much wind," said Basil Dean, the Bahamas' chief meteorological officer.

At 5 a.m. EDT, Katrina was centered about 90 miles east of Fort Lauderdale and was moving west at about 8 mph. Forecasters said the storm was expected to slow down as it crossed the warm, storm-feeding waters of the Gulf Stream.

The Florida Panhandle was hit by Tropical Storm Cindy and Hurricane Dennis earlier this year. Early indications were that Dennis caused about $2 billion in total damage.

Last year, four hurricanes caused an estimated $46 billion in damage across the country.

In an average year, only a few tropical storms develop by this time in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane season began June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

Tropical Storm Katrina Gradually Strengthening As It Moves Slowly Westward

NOAA/NWS via BBSNews 2005-08-25 - [11:00 am EDT Advisory] - A Hurricane Warning Remains In Effect For The Southeast Florida Coast From Vero Beach Southward To Florida City...Including Lake Okeechobee. A Hurricane Warning Means That Hurricane Conditions Are Expected Within The Warning Area Within The Next 24 Hours. Preparations To Protect Life And Property Should Be Rushed To Completion.

Click here for full size map

Five Day forecast track of Tropical Storm Katrina from NOAA.

Photo Credit: NOAA.

For real-time hurricane tracking and the BBSNews HurrTrak Tools Menu of animated radar and satellite imagery click here.

To track your weather by US City, Zip Code or major international city, click here.

As this important advisory might be dated or obsolete, the latest Tropical Storm or Hurricane advisory is always contained in BBSNews This Just In.

A Tropical Storm Warning Remains In Effect For The Grand Bahama Island...Bimini...And The Berry Islands In The Northwest Bahamas. The Warning Has Been Discontinued For The Remainder Of The Northwest Bahamas.

A Tropical Storm Watch Remains In Effect For The East-Central Florida Coast From North Of Vero Beach Northward To Titusville ...Including All Of Merritt Island...And For The Middle And Upper Florida Keys From The West End Of The Seven Mile Bridge Northward To South Of Florida City. A Tropical Storm Watch Is Also In Effect For The Florida West Coast From Florida City To Englewood...Including Florida Bay. A Tropical Storm Watch Means That Tropical Storm Conditions Are Possible Within The Watch Area...Generally Within 36 Hours.

For Storm Information Specific To Your Area...Including Possible Inland Watches And Warnings...Please Monitor Products Issued By Your Local Weather Office.

At 11 Am Edt...1500Z...The Center Of Tropical Storm Katrina Was Located Near Latitude 26.2 North... Longitude 79.3 West Or About 55 Miles... 85 Km... East Of Fort Lauderdale Florida.

Katrina Is Moving Toward The West Near 6 Mph... 9 Km/Hr. This General Motion Is Expected To Continue With Some Decrease In Forward Speed During The Next 24 Hours. On This Track... The Center Should Be Near Or Over The Southeast Florida Coast Later Tonight Or Early Friday Morning.

Maximum Sustained Winds Are Near 60 Mph... 95 Km/Hr...With Higher Gusts. Additional Strengthening Is Possible Today And Tonight... And Katrina Could Become A Category One Hurricane Before The Center Reaches The Southeastern Coast Of Florida.

Tropical Storm Force Winds Extend Outward Up To 70 Miles ...110 Km From The Center. An Automated Observing Station At Settlement Point On Grand Bahama Island Recently Reported Sustained Winds Of 33 Mph.

The Estimated Minimum Central Pressure Is 997 Mb...29.44 Inches.

Storm Surge Flooding Of 2 To 4 Feet Above Normal Tide Levels... Along With Large And Dangerous Battering Waves...Can Be Expected Near And To The North Of Where The Center Makes Landfall In Florida. Storm Surge Flooding Of 2 To 4 Feet Above Normal Tide Levels... Along With Large And Dangerous Battering Waves...Can Be Also Expected In Areas Of Onshore Winds In The Bahamas. Storm Surge Values Will Gradually Decrease In The Bahamas Later Today.

Due To Its Slow Forward Speed...Katrina Is Expected To Produce A Significant Heavy Rainfall Event Over The Northwest Bahamas...And South Florida. Total Rainfall Accumulations Of 6 To 10 Inches With Isolated Maximum Amounts Of 15 Inches Are Possible.

Isolated Tornadoes Are Possible Over Southern Florida And The Florida Keys.

Repeating The 11 Am Edt Position...26.2 N... 79.3 W. Movement Toward...West Near 6 Mph. Maximum Sustained Winds... 60 Mph. Minimum Central Pressure... 997 Mb.

Intermediate Advisories Will Be Issued By The National Hurricane Center At 1 Pm Edt And 3 Pm Edt Followed By The Next Complete Advisory At 5 Pm Edt.

Posted on Fri, Aug. 26, 2005
  R E L A T E D   C O N T E N T 
 R E L A T E D   L I N K S 
 •  Partially built flyover collapses
 •  Dade feels punch from wind, rain
 •  Broward unfazed until strike
 •  South shift no surprise to experts
 •  Builders left materials unsecured
 •  Officials, residents watch, fret
 •  Plans washed away for MTV
 •  There's a downside to being dockside
 •  FPL crews assembled; 1.4 million lose power
 •  4 dead; deluge spreads through S. Fla.
 •  Post-storm safety tips

Katrina leaves widespread floods and other damage

Shaken residents of Miami-Dade and Broward counties carefully emerged from their homes this morning and assessed the floods, blocked roads, damaged houses, downed trees and the surprising havoc delivered overnight by Hurricane Katrina -- the storm that refuses to die.

Authorities urged everyone in South Florida to stay close to home and avoid standing water, which can cause deaths by drowning or -- when combined with the countless fallen power lines -- electrocution.

The casualty toll: four people killed in Broward, three by falling trees, one in a storm-related traffic accident. The Coast Guard searched for a couple believed to have departed the Middle Keys in their boat Thursday morning with their three children, en route to Cape Coral on Florida's Gulf Coast.

About 1.2 million customers were still without power in the region.

Cutler Ridge, Goulds, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and other parts of Miami-Dade were a watery mess of fallen trees and abandoned cars. A large portion of the Dolphin Expressway was closed. Roofs were damaged in Key Biscayne, Davie and elsewhere. Light planes were flipped over at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and Tamiamai Airport.

''We definitely have a big job ahead of us,'' said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez.

The worst flooding occurred in Cutler Ridge, Goulds, Homestead and Florida City, he said. Public works crews have been out since 4 a.m., he said, and their top priority was to clear roadways.

At the same time, residents of the Florida Keys sought shelter from Katrina's rain and wind, as the resilient storm turned its attention to the chain of islands before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. There, forecasters said, it will recharge itself for another attack on Florida early next week, this time on the Panhandle.

Briefly downgraded to a tropical storm but now again a Category 1 hurricane, Katrina pelted the Lower Keys and Key West with sheets of rain and wind. Monroe County officials warned residents to remain indoors until the storm leaves.

Some parts of U.S. 1 -- the only artery in and out of the islands -- were beginning to flood as rainfall accumulated, according to police.

Schools are closed all day in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.

As early as 6 a.m., homeowners in Kendall and Doral got busy breaking out chain saws, loaded up pickup trucks and SUVs with fallen limbs and cautiously drove through streets made nearly impassable by downed trees.

The winds wrecked havoc along Doral's famous Blue Monster golf course, turning the normally impeccable landscape into a tangle of strewn limbs and cracked tree trunks.

Even trees at the county's Emergency Operation Center were toppled, and all along major streets like Costa Del Sol development, fallen trees punctured screened balconies on the first and second floors.

Danpatti Ramlakhan spent Thursday night baling water out of her Cutler Ridge home, only to wake up early this morning with another problem: Her grandson's car broke down because of flood waters in the neighborhood.

Ramlakhan's story was repeated all over south Miami-Dade as tens of thousands of residents coped with flooded streets and homes.

''There was a lot of water, too much water,'' Ramlakhan said. ``We had to take water out with buckets. We were baling, baling, baling. And now this car is wrecked.''

Many motorists foolishly attempted to drive through more than two feet of water before dawn -- in the dark, unaware of anything that might be lurking under the silty slosh.

As dawn broke, abandoned cars in water up to their doors could be seen along most east-west routes. Trees were down, often cutting across the roadway, making any attempt to drive even more difficult.

Hernando Saavedra of Kendall experienced a taste of Katrina's aftermath early this morning when he attempted to drive to work.

Saavedra, a construction worker, misjudged standing water on SW 107th Street near Old Cutler Road and got stuck when his engine went dead. Ninety minutes later, he and his friends were still trying to figure out how to retrieve his car.

''I think I made a little bit of mistake,'' he said, staring at his Plymouth Voyager.

In Lakes By The Bay, a large development in Culter Ridge east of Old Cutler Road, lakes were so swollen that the roadway could not be distinguished.

At one point, resident Josie Guzman said, her friend, who lives across Southwest 98th Place, called and said the lake behind her was creeping closer every hour.

''She said she thought the lake was going to come into her house,'' said Guzman. Still, the water was so deep and the winds so strong she wouldn't dare make the 100 foot trip across the street.

The development's main entrance on Southwest 216th Street was so deep with water, regular access was blocked. A couple of people got in by climbing a five-foot wall near the entrance. Tree frogs were stuck to walls. Homeowners were just coming outside to assess the damage.

And in Goulds, adjacent to Cutler Ridge but west of U.S. 1, there were reports of floods as high was three-feet, and many homes were filled with water. It was virtually impossible to get there by 7 a.m.

In Little Haiti and Miami's Design District, downed trees and broken branches littered neighborhood streets, as residents quietly assessed the damage.

Along Northeast Second Avenue and 59th Street, a portable toilet stood in the middle of the roadway, making the street nearly impassable.

Meanwhile, the biggest draw was the nearby Dunkin Donuts at 51st Street and Biscayne Boulevard, where caffeine-seekers waited in line for up to an hour. There was plenty of coffee, but no doughnuts as hungry customers settled instead for egg and cheese sandwiches.

''Coffee first, clean-up later,'' quipped one resident.

In Broward, evidence of the 92-mph wind gusts that were reported at Port Everglades was widespread on Fort Lauderdale beach.

Sand covered A1A from Sunrise Boulevard south to Harbor Beach. In some places, the sand was so thick it appeared that the beachfront highway was a dirt road. In other spots, the combination of winds and water left a ridged residue -- cars bumped over it as if they were driving over cobblestones.

Palm fronds littered Las Olas Boulevard from the beach into downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Many Broward residents left their homes searching for a place to sleep with power when the lights went out. Hotels reported a flood of reservation requests from residents and tourists like Theresa and Robert Smith of Marlboro, N.Y., who were vacationing in their timeshare on Hollywood Beach.

Although their neighbors chose to stay, Smith said they weren't taking any chances when they learned flooding and power outages would probably affect their condominium. They took a room at a Hampton Inn in western Pembroke Pines

''I'm getting older and smarter,'' Robert Smith said. ``I've had enough thrills in my life.''

Broward officials were preparing to tour the county this morning for a damage assessment. Crews were clearing roadways of debris, and many cities were picking up trash from swales,

Several homes in Southwest Ranches, Fort Lauderdale, Davie and Cooper City were damaged by falling trees. The roof of an apartment complex in Davie collapsed around 10 p.m., displacing 20 families.

Numerous traffic signals were not working and some were dangling at windshield level. ''People should exercise extreme caution when diving near intersections,'' said Sheriff Ken Jenne.

In the Keys, about 4,500 residents were reported to be without power.

A hangar at Marathon's tiny airport and a few houses were damaged in the early morning hours when a small tornado apparently touched down in the Middle Keys. Water spouts also were reported.

Among the damage reported in the Keys: Traffic lights were out at mile marker 100, a tree blocked U.S. 1 in Tavernier, but was eventually removed, and the roof at a lumber company in Tavernier collapsed.

''Dispatch was getting calls all night from people, mostly in the Middle and Upper Keys, who said parts of their roofs were peeling off,'' said Becky Herrin, a spokeswoman for the Monroe Sheriff's Office. ``Mostly people were kind of scared because they weren't expecting the weather they got.''

That could be said for many people in the region, and more rain was predicted for today and tonight. Katrina could deliver as much as 20 inches of rain to some areas.

South Florida's luck ran out Thursday as Katrina's center struck the coast between Hallandale Beach and Sunny Isles, then unexpectedly dipped deeply south into Miami-Dade, surprising many residents with its power.

Countless residents -- especially in Miami-Dade -- huddled in the dark throughout the night as fierce squalls rocked their homes. Some gusts exceeded 90 mph.

Katrina was the sixth hurricane to assault Florida in a little more than a year, but the first of the barrage to launch a direct strike at South Florida -- its wind and rain blanketing Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

''Eventually it was going to hit in Fort Lauderdale,'' said Michael Conenna, 27, owner of Las Olas Riverfront Pizza, which closed early. ``They're always so close, but we have been lucky in the last years.''

With Katrina striking as a Category 1 hurricane, no buildings were crushed -- as they were by some of the other hurricanes -- but, in many cases, damage was dramatically evident.

With a mighty groan, a massive ficus tree crashed down on Bianca Avenue, just off Le Jeune Road in Coral Gables. Another ficus was leaning over, ready to come down.

Particularly heavy rain fell in Kendall, Country Walk, Coral Gables, Key Biscayne and elsewhere in Miami-Dade, far from the storm's center.

Throughout the area, many residents said they had not bothered to put up hurricane shutters, clearly a mistake whenever an area is under a hurricane warning -- as was all of South Florida.

''We just didn't expect it,'' said Alfredo Manrara, who lives in Kings Creek South in Kendall. ``We don't have shutters up, so now if anything goes flying, it will come right through the window.''

The power flickered at the National Hurricane Center in west Miami-Dade soon after Katrina's calm eye passed overhead around 8:30 p.m., as if the storm were paying homage to forecasters there.

Katrina's bands of rain and gusty wind slashed through a region spared direct hits by last year's historic and deadly quartet of Florida hurricanes and this year's Hurricane Dennis.

The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 95 mph on Virginia Key, 92 mph at Port Everglades, 82 mph at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, 64 mph in Pembroke Pines, 57 mph in Sweetwater and 53 mph at Miami International Airport.

Herald staff writers Jennifer Babson, Erika Bolstad, Jacqueline Charles, Tere Figueras Negrete, Susannah Nesmith, Janette Neuwahl and Noaki Schwartz contributed to this report.

Aug. 27, 2005, 11:27PM

Big Easy gets busy as Katrina takes aim for Gulf coast

Louisiana and Mississippi residents urged to evacuate early

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
Tropical updates: Latest storm locations, landfall predictions, advisories and more.
2005 Hurricane Tracker: From the Harris County Flood Control District.
National Hurricane Center
  - Spanish

Forecast for Houston
Current local radar
NWS for Houston/Galveston
Rainfall amounts

Red Cross preparedness guide
Emergency supplies
NOAA radio information
Risk maps: Harris / Galveston / Chambers /
Brazoria / Matagorda / Liberty

Hurricane basics
Hurricane categories

Are we ready? If the big one hits, what will happen in the Houston-Galveston area?

(Free Acrobat Reader required for some files.)

NEW ORLEANS - With a killer storm bearing down on them, hundreds of thousands of people Saturday closed up their homes, gassed up their cars and fled low-lying areas of southern Louisiana expected to be flooded by a potentially deadly storm surge when Hurricane Katrina roars ashore Monday.

Evacuees were spurred by strident pleas from public officials to get out early.

"This is not a drill," New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin told residents during a news conference televised live in the region. "We want you to take this very seriously. This is a major, major hurricane."

The season's 11th named storm was expected to strengthen to Category 4 with winds of at least 131 mph by early Monday. A hurricane watch extended from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, but forecasters predicted landfall in the New Orleans area.

Nagin ordered a voluntary evacuation of the city at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Some residents decided to go, some to stay, and some still were undecided late Saturday.

"I want to have fun and watch God's fury," said Gaetano Zarzana, a street performer and musician who said he planned to stay in town. "I'm going to hang out in Johnny White's bar on Bourbon Street and watch the flood come up."

Luis Molina, a hotel employee who lives across the Mississippi in Marrero, La., said he planned to take his wife and two sons, 7 and 12, to stay in Houston near the Galleria.

"I don't like to take chances," said Molina, who has evacuated at least four times since he moved to New Orleans in 1981.

Kimberly Rosenberg was cleaning out the storm drain outside her home on Bourbon Street on Saturday evening.

She said three neighbors were leaving town. Her husband, Harry, said the couple usually stays in town during storm threats.

"But this might be the one that constrains us to leave the city for safer ground," he said. "At the moment, I think we're inclined to try and weather the storm."

Hoping to move more people to safety as quickly as possible, officials imposed a controversial evacuation-traffic plan at 4 p.m Saturday, turning inbound lanes of highways into the New Orleans metropolitan area into outbound lanes and nearly doubling the flow of traffic away from Katrina's path.

Called "contraflow," the traffic plan caused huge bottlenecks and long delays in some spots when Louisiana officials tried it when Hurricane Ivan threatened the area in 2004.

But Gov. Kathleen Blanco said the system has been refined, and she expected that people would not have to spend hours trying to go just 100 miles or so.

"Now we've got a very clear plan of departure, and we believe we're going to avoid bottlenecks," Blanco said.

Shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday, the only traffic on a section of Interstate 10 in New Orleans was westbound on both sides of the highway. Traffic seemed to be flowing well as more people began making their way out of southeast Louisiana.

"We have a million and a half people just in the New Orleans metro area, and we have several hundred thousand more in the outlying areas," Blanco said. "We hope to have a million and a half to 2 million people moving out of this region."

With Katrina still nearly 400 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, the National Hurricane Center had not issued official hurricane warnings for a specific area of the Gulf Coast. But Blanco, Nagin and officials in coastal parishes of the state seemed to have little hope that Katrina would miss the New Orleans area and were planning for the worst.

Blanco said she expects Katrina's damage to be "rampant" in Louisiana.

"We've seen it many, many times over the years in many regions of the state," Blanco said. "We always worry the most about the New Orleans area because we have so many people living here."

But Blanco said too many people in southeast Louisiana have seen many hurricanes miss the New Orleans area in recent years, and officials were worried that residents have become complacent about storm threats.

"And those people are the ones we worry about," Blanco said. "We don't want any complacency."

Roy Williams, director of the Louis Armstrong International Airport, said operations were normal Saturday, but he expects airlines to cancel some flights today.

The airport will shut down when winds reach 50 mph and traffic controllers cease operations, Williams said.

Louisiana officials got an early start on evacuations from the low-lying parishes south and west of New Orleans.

As Katrina sprawled over an ever-growing area of the Gulf on Saturday, officials in Plaquemines, St. Bernard and other parishes began at 9 a.m. to urge people to evacuate their homes.

Under the state's plan, New Orleans and Orleans Parish don't call for evacuations until after the low-lying areas, to allow people who live south and east of the city to get on the road first and head for safety.

Nagin said the city is preparing to mobilize Regional Transit Authority buses to pick up people who are unable to evacuate and take them to the Superdome for shelter.

If the storm takes dead aim on the city, tens of thousands of people might ride it out in the stadium, Nagin said.

The mayor urged residents to check on neighbors and make sure that people have somewhere to go.

"This is a very serious storm, and it's going to take all New Orleanians rallying around each other and help our neighbors to make sure everyone is safe," Nagin said.

City officials were preparing to close floodgates in the levees that surround New Orleans, which is below sea level and relies on pumps to prevent flooding.

As city officials started the evacuation, officials at power company Entergy were mobilizing crews from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas to be prepared to restore electricity to southeast Louisiana if the storm knocks out power lines.

Entergy President Dan Packer said about 4,000 linemen will be ready to move into stricken areas after the storm passes.

Packer said another 3,000 workers were being mobilized to help clear downed trees and tree limbs if needed after the hurricane moves through.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour declared a state of emergency, and the director of his Emergency Management Agency, Robert Latham, urged coastal residents not to wait for evacuation orders.

"I realize that we have done this drill two or three times in the past few months, but we cannot take this storm lightly," Latham said.

A Holiday Inn Express in Jackson, Miss., was booked up, said manager Jeff Rogers.

"Most of the people that we have are coming from Florida, the Alabama Gulf Coast, Mississippi Gulf Coast and southern Louisiana," Rogers said.

The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency urged people to heed evacuation orders.

"I'm very concerned about people in Mississippi and Louisiana who have watched these storms the past two years hit Florida and Alabama and may have a little lackadaisical attitude toward this thing," FEMA Director Michael Brown told AP Radio.

Chronicle wire services contributed to this report.


New Orleans braces as Hurricane Katrina bears down
28 Aug 2005 04:56:42 GMT
Source: Reuters

By Michael Depp and Russell McCulley

NEW ORLEANS, La., Aug 28 (Reuters) - Shopkeepers sandbagged galleries and stores in the French Quarter of the vulnerable Gulf Coast city of New Orleans and workers boarded up city hall as Hurricane Katrina churned across Gulf waters.

Officials in the low-lying city famed for its Mardi Gras parades urged residents to evacuate and stranded tourists to shelter on at least the third floor of their hotels as Katrina threatened to make a second and possibly more deadly assault on the U.S. coast after killing seven people in Florida.

"I think there is a very good possibility it will indeed get stronger," Max Mayfield, director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center, told WSVN television in Miami.

"This hurricane has the potential to cause extreme damage and large loss of lives if they don't take action very soon."

By 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT) on Saturday, Katrina was about 335 miles (540 km) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River with 115 mph (190 kph) winds.

It had begun a turn to the northwest that could see it roaring ashore somewhere between the Florida-Alabama border and Morgan City in Louisiana on Monday, and taking a course through the heart of U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production.

Computer models showed that New Orleans, much of which lies below sea level, could be in the storm's bull's eye. They also indicated Katrina could grow into at least a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with destructive winds of more than 131 mph (210 kph).

Some predictions saw it becoming a catastrophic Category 5 -- like Hurricane Andrew which struck south of Miami in 1992 and ranks as the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, or Hurricane Camille in 1969, which just missed New Orleans but devastated Louisiana and Alabama and killed more than 400.


New Orleans officials turned some major routes out of the city into one-way streets, helping to speed the exodus.

Mayor Ray Nagin said the Louisiana Superdome would become a giant shelter for people with special needs on Sunday. As for others, Nagin said he hoped "people are taking the necessary steps to leave the city of New Orleans."

Art gallery owner R.R. Lyons boarded up the windows and doors of his store on Royal St., and said he would take shelter on the third floor of the building to escape any possible storm surge and flooding.

"We didn't board up for the last one, but word on the street is that this one is going to be a Category 4 storm. That could take our glass out, and some of our glass goes back to the 1890s," Lyons said.

President George W. Bush declared an emergency in Louisiana, a measure that allows federal emergency assistance to be deployed.

The storm was larger and more powerful than when it hit Florida's southeast coast on Thursday, killing seven.

Insured losses from Katrina's first strike on U.S. shores were estimated at $600 million to $2 billion by independent forecasting firms. That compared with an estimated $45 billion in total damages caused in 2004 by four powerful hurricanes that struck Florida in a six-week period.

U.S. energy companies said U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude oil output was cut by more than one-third on Saturday as Hurricane Katrina appeared poised to charge through central production areas, much like Hurricane Ivan did last September.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to roughly a quarter of U.S. domestic oil and gas output, and the storm's impact could well be felt at gas station pumps by U.S. car drivers already struggling with soaring gasoline prices. (Additional reporting by Mark Babineck and Erwin Seba in Houston, and Michael Christie in Miami)

Posted on Sun, Aug. 28, 2005

More than 500,000 remain powerless in Miami-Dade, Broward

More than 500,000 people in Miami-Dade and Broward are still without electricity in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Florida Power & Light reported.

As of 9:30 a.m. Sunday, some 341,200 customers in Miami-Dade and 176,400 in Broward were still in the dark. Since 2 p.m. Saturday, some 218,000 had their power restored. Since FPL crews began working, they have restored electricity to a total of 374,500 in Broward, 449,400 in Miami-Dade.

Katrina Regains Hurricane Strength as it Moves Over Gulf of Mexico

By VOA News

26 August 2005

Hurricane Katrina has battered southern Florida with high winds and heavy rain, leaving at least three people dead before moving out over the Gulf of Mexico.

The 11th named storm of this year's Atlantic hurricane season came ashore Thursday between Hallandale Beach and North Miami Beach, packing 130 kilometer-per-hour winds. It knocked down trees, flooded streets and left more than one million people without power.

The U.S. National Weather Service says Katrina temporarily lost some strength early Friday, but regained hurricane status as it moved over the Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters anticipate the storm will turn north in the Gulf as it strengthens and could strike Florida's panhandle in the coming days.


New Orleans Ordered to Evacuate as Hurricane Katrina Approaches

Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- New Orleans residents were ordered to evacuate the city today as Hurricane Katrina, the strongest storm of the Atlantic season, approached the U.S. Gulf Coast with 160 mile-an-hour winds.

Mayor Ray Nagin said only essential personnel and individuals unable to travel can remain in the city of 500,000. He spoke at a press conference. There are 1.3 million people in the greater New Orleans area. Thousands of people already have left the city and other parts of southern Louisiana,

Thirty-three of the state's parishes declared a state of emergency, and mandatory evacuations were in place in parts of at least nine of those, according to the Louisiana State Police Web site.

About 30,000 people evacuated yesterday, and thousands more are leaving southern parts of the state today, state police spokesman, Lieutenant Lawrence McLeary said in a telephone interview from Baton Rouge, the state capital. Oil companies also evacuated workers from Gulf facilities.

Katrina was upgraded to category 5 earlier today, U.S. National Hurricane Center spokesman David Miller said in a telephone interview from Miami. Such storms, with winds greater than 155 miles an hour (249 kph) can tear roofs off homes, blow down all trees and shrubs, and cause flooding. Only three Category Five hurricanes have hit the U.S. since records began.

``Katrina continues not only grow stronger, but it continues to grow larger,'' the city of New Orleans said in a statement posted before Nagin's press conference on its Web site. ``Everyone along the northern Gulf of Mexico needs to take this hurricane very seriously and put action plans into play now.''

Gulf of Mexico

Katrina, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, was over the Gulf of Mexico, about 250 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi river at 7 a.m. local time, according to an advisory posted on the Hurricane Center's Web site. The storm was moving toward the west-northwest at 12 mph, and forecast to make a ``gradual turn'' toward the northwest and north-northwest over the next day.

``We're very concerned about the possible damage to ?New Orleans and to the entire southern region,'' Mark Smith, a spokesman for the Louisiana Security and Emergency Preparedness department said in a telephone interview from Baton Rouge. ``We strongly recommend evacuation from New Orleans,'' he said, adding that it's ``likely'' the evacuation will become mandatory in the city and surrounding areas, an order that would affect 1.3 million people.


A direct hit by Katrina could be devastating to New Orleans, a port in the Mississippi River delta that depends on a series of pumps and levees to keep the city dry. Some neighborhoods lie as much as 20 feet below sea level.

Mandatory evacuations were in force in the whole of St, James, St. Charles, Plaquemines and Assumption parishes, and for parts of Orleans, Jefferson and Lafourche parishes, he said. The police Web site said forced evacuation was also in force in parts of St. Bernard and Terrebonne parishes.

Katrina swept through Florida last week, killing four people and cutting out power for more than a million homes.

A hurricane warning, meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours, was in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the border between Alabama and Florida, according to the advisory. A tropical storm warning and hurricane watch were in place from the state boundary to Destin in Florida, and from Morgan City to Intracoastal City in Louisiana.

Katrina is a ``potentially catastrophic'' storm, the center said. ``Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.'' Hurricane-force winds extended 85 miles from the storm's center, with tropical storm-force winds stretching 185 miles, according to the advisory.

Storm Surge

Coastal storm-surge flooding of as high as 25 feet is possible in areas, with ``dangerous battering waves,'' the center said. Isolated tornadoes are also possible later today in southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle, according to the statement.

Only three category five storms have made U.S. landfall since records began, according to the hurricane center: The Labor Day hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Camille in 1969, and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Andrew, which hit southern Miami-Dade county in August that year, caused $26.5 billion of losses, the costliest hurricane on record.

Oil touched a record $68 a barrel last week in New York on concern Katrina might disrupt supplies from the Gulf of Mexico. Prices fell Friday, when early forecasts of the storm's path had it missing most of the Gulf's production platforms.

The projected path has shifted west since then, making it a greater threat to oil and gas rigs, which are mostly off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas.


Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's second-biggest oil company, evacuated 465 offshore personnel as of Aug. 26 and was to remove another 554, according to the company's Web site. All of Shell's central and eastern Gulf of Mexico facilities were expected to be shut, affecting production of about 420,000 barrels of oil and 1.35 billion cubic feet of gas a day, the company said.

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest oil company, is evacuating workers and has shut daily production of about 3,000 barrels of oil and 50 million cubic feet of gas, spokeswoman Susan Reeves said.

BP Plc has evacuated rigs and platforms in the Gulf as a precaution, spokeswoman Ayana McIntosh-Lee said yesterday. Output hasn't been affected, she said.

Transocean Inc., the world's biggest offshore driller, is evacuating four semi-submersible rigs in the Gulf: the Transocean Amirante, the Falcon 100, the Transocean Marianas and the Deepwater Nautilus, spokesman Guy Cantwell said yesterday.

Two other semi-submersibles and two drill ships have disconnected from their wells and are moving out of the hurricane's path, and two more drill ships are disconnecting and may move if they need to, Cantwell said. The driller has evacuated 289 workers, and expects to evacuate another 193 by the end of the day, he said.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the biggest U.S. oil import terminal, stopped unloading cargoes from tankers at noon New Orleans time yesterday, spokesman Mark Bugg said. The port's onshore facilities, where crude is stored and dispatched to pipelines, may be shut tomorrow, he said.

The port is about 20 miles off the Louisiana coast and handles about 1 million barrels of crude oil a day, or 11 percent of U.S. imports. It consists of mooring buoys, platforms and pipelines. Unloading of a tanker carrying west African crude oil was stopped earlier yesterday, Bugg said.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Alex Morales in London at

Last Updated: August 28, 2005 10:35 EDT

Katrina Heads for Gulf Coast at 160 Mph


Original Caption: Louisiana State Police officers ride toward the French Quarter in New Orleans. One officer described an atmosphere of "nervous energy." (Scott Morgan / Getty Images)

Sunday August 28, 2005 


Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Hurricane Katrina strengthened to a dangerous Category 5 on Sunday with 160 mph sustained wind as residents of south Louisiana jammed freeways in a rush to get out of the way of the powerful storm.

The National Hurricane Center put out a special advisory on the hurricane's gain in strength just before 8 a.m. EDT. The boost came just hours after Katrina reached Category 4, with wind of 145 mph, as it gathered energy from the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico.

``People need to take this very seriously and get to a safe area while they can,'' said State Police Sgt. Frank Coates.

Katrina, blamed for nine deaths in South Florida, was expected to hit the Gulf Coast early Monday and a hurricane warning was in effect from Morgan City to the Alabama-Florida line.

At 8 a.m., Katrina's center was about 250 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, the hurricane center said. It was moving west-northwest at about 12 mph. Hurricane force-wind of at least 74 mph extended up to 85 miles from the center.

The storm had the potential for storm surge flooding of up to 25 feet, topped with even higher waves, as much as 15 inches of rain, and tornadoes.

Hurricanes as powerful as Katrina usually make unpredictable fluctuations in strength, but all the conditions are there for the storm to still be a Category 5 when it hits the coast, said Chris Sisko, a meteorologist at the hurricane center. Even if Katrina weakened slightly, it didn't bode well for New Orleans.

``With them sitting well below sea level, this is a potential set up for a catastrophic event that has never been seen before,'' Sisko said.

New Orleans is especially vulnerable because it sits below sea level, and needs levees and pumps to keep out water.

``I've been here 33 years, and we've always been concerned about New Orleans,'' National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield said before Katrina reached Category 5. ``I had to let the mayor know that this storm has the potential not only to cause large property damage, but large loss of life if people don't make the right decision.''

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin was exploring the idea of ordering a mandatory evacuation. President Bush had already declared a state of emergency in Louisiana.

Katrina formed in the Bahamas and ripped across South Florida on Thursday as a Category 1 storm before moving into the Gulf of Mexico where surface water temperatures were as high as 90 degrees - high-octane fuel for hurricanes.

Nagin said he spoke to a forecaster at the hurricane center who told him that ``this is the storm New Orleans has feared these many years.''

``Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a test. This is the real deal,'' he warned Saturday. ``Board up your homes, make sure you have enough medicine, make sure the car has enough gas. Do all things you normally do for a hurricane but treat this one differently because it is pointed towards New Orleans.''

Making matters worse, at least 100,000 people in the city lack the transportation to get out of town. Nagin said the Superdome might be used as a shelter of last resort for people who have no cars, with city bus pick-up points around New Orleans.

``I know they're saying `Get out of town,' but I don't have any way to get out,'' said Hattie Johns, 74. ``If you don't have no money, you can't go.''

Louisiana and Mississippi made all lanes northbound on interstate highways. Mississippi declared a state of emergency and Alabama offered assistance to its neighbors. Some motels as far inland as Jackson, Miss., 150 miles north of New Orleans, were already booked up.

``We know that we're going to take the brunt of it,'' Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said. ``It does not bode well for southeastern Louisiana.''

Some tourists heeded the warnings and moved up their departures, and lines of tourists waited for cabs on New Orleans' famed Bourbon Street.

``The problem is getting a taxi to the airport. There aren't any,'' Brian Katz, a salesman from New York, said Saturday.

But plenty of people in the French Quarter stayed put, and bars were rocking Saturday night.

``The only dangerous hurricanes so far are the ones we've been drinking,'' said Fred Wilson of San Francisco, as he sipped one of the famous drinks at Pat O'Brien's Bar. ``We can't get out, so we might as well have fun.''

New Orleans' worst hurricane disaster happened 40 years ago, when Hurricane Betsy blasted the Gulf Coast. Flooding approached 20 feet deep in some areas, fishing villages were flattened, and the storm surge left almost half of New Orleans under water and 60,000 residents homeless. Seventy-four people died in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

Katrina is the 11th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1. That's seven more than typically have formed by now in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, the hurricane center said. The season ends Nov. 30.

On the Net:

National Hurricane Center:

New Orleans orders evacuation

Hurricane Katrina's winds nearly 175 mph

Sunday, August 28, 2005; Posted: 10:59 a.m. EDT (14:59 GMT) Image  

This animated satellite image shows Hurricane Katrina approaching the Gulf Coast Sunday morning.

8 a.m. ET Sunday

Position of center:
250 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
Latitude: 25.7 north
Longitude: 87.7 west
Top sustained winds: 160 mph (257 kph)

Source: National Hurricane Center

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared a state of emergency on Sunday and ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city as Hurricane Katrina churned toward the city with maximum sustained winds of nearly 175 mph.

All of Orleans Parish falls under the order except for necessary personnel in government, emergency and some other public service categories.

People who are unable to evacuate were told to immediately report to a designated shelter.

"I wish I had better news for you, but we are facing a storm that most of us have feared," Nagin said. "I do not want to create panic, but I do want the citizens to understand that this is very serious and it's of the highest nature."

Traffic out of the city was bumper to bumper -- but officials said that it was moving.

A shelter has been set up at the Superdome for people who cannot leave the city for medical or other reasons.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast could expect storm surges of up to 25 feet as the Category 5 storm makes landfall early Monday.

Officials fear New Orleans is vulnerable because it sits an average of 6 feet below sea level. (Watch video of how New Orleans reacted to warning)

Nagin said the storm surge would likely topple the levy system that protects the city.

"It has the potential for a large loss of life," said Max Mayfield, director of the NHC. (Watch CNN meteorologist explain storm outlook)

Katrina is blamed for at least seven deaths in Florida, where it made landfall Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane. As much as 18 inches of rain fell in some areas, flooding streets and homes. (See video of the damage floodwaters left in one family's new house)

"The time has come to evacuate," Louisiana National Guard Lt. Col. Pete Schneider told CNN on Sunday. "This is a dangerous, dangerous hurricane, and it poses a huge threat to southeastern Louisiana." (See video from New Orleans, where not all are ready to leave)

At 8 a.m. ET, Katrina was centered about 250 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was moving to the west-northwest at about 12 mph.

NHC forecaster Ed Rappaport said Katrina's strength could fluctuate before it reaches shore but noted the difference between a high Category 4 and a low Category 5 was practically inconsequential.

"There will be extensive to potentially catastrophic damage to many structures ... and inland," he said. "We'll have a lot of trees that are going to come down, perhaps millions of trees. But the first threat is going to be the storm surge. You must get away from the coast now."

By 8:30 a.m. ET, the first bands of rain were falling over southeastern Louisiana.

CNN meteorologist Brad Huffines said the Katrina would come ashore "sometime between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m." Monday.

"The news doesn't get good, unfortunately," he said. "These rain showers will slow down the evacuation process, and that means you need to hit the road quickly, very quickly."

Worst case scenario

In worst case scenarios, most of New Orleans would end up under 15 feet of water, without electricity, clean water and sewage for months. Even pumping the water out could take as long as four months to get started because the massive pumps that would do the job would be underwater.

"People in New Orleans tend to think that the storm we've always planned on would never come," Schneider said. "But people need to heed that warning."

Rappaport cautioned that New Orleans was not the only area threatened -- the storm's hurricane winds spread out as far as 100 miles. As far east as Mobile, Alabama, warned of storm surges reaching 8 to 10 feet.

Hurricane warnings were posted from Morgan City, Louisiana, eastward to the Alabama-Florida state line, including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions, including winds of at least 74 mph, are expected in the warning area within the next 24 hours.

A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch from the Alabama-Florida state line eastward to Destin, Florida, and from west of Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. Another tropical storm warning was issued Sunday from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, west to Cameron, Louisiana, and from Destin, Florida, eastward to Indian Pass, Florida.

A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions, including winds of at least 39 mph, are expected within 24 hours. A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions are possible, usually within 36 hours.

Governors of both Louisiana and Mississippi declared emergencies Friday in anticipation of the strengthening storm.

Robert Latham, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said the state was recommending evacuations along the coast "and even several counties inland." Mandatory evacuations could follow later, he said.

Category 5 is the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. Only three Category 5 hurricanes have made landfall in the United States since records were kept. Those were the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, 1969's Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Andrew, which devastated the Miami area in 1992. Andrew remains the costliest U.S. hurricane on record, with $26.5 billion in losses.

Camille came ashore in Mississippi and killed 256 people.

Oil rig evacuations

Some oil platforms and rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been evacuated.

Six oil companies operating offshore facilities evacuated a total of at least 150 people. Most of those employees were described as "nonessential" to production, and rigs and platforms continued to operate.(Watch the video of drilling crews securing rigs and seeking safety.)

Two companies -- Newfield Exploration and Murphy Exploration -- said they may pull out production workers and shut down some facilities Saturday, depending on the hurricane's path.

At least 12 platforms and nine oil rigs in the Gulf have been evacuated, a small portion of the 953 manned rigs and platforms operating there, according to the Interior Department's Mineral Management Service.

CNN's David Mattingly, Susan Candiotti, Jacqui Jeras and Rob Marciano contributed to this report.

Copyright 2005 CNN. All rights reserved.

'The whole damn city is under water'

Thousands of New Orleans families ordered to flee devastating storm struggle back to find 10ft deep deluge

Jamie Wilson in New Orleans
Tuesday August 30, 2005
The Guardian

Families driven from New Orleans by the impending storm struggled to get back to their houses yesterday, only to find their way blocked by floodwaters covering much of the city's surrounding suburbs.

"It looks to me like the whole damn city is under water," one rescue worker told the Guardian, standing by a flooded freeway close to the city limits.

"That should be flowing the other way," said another, pointing to the 17th Street canal. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin said there had been reports of more than 20 buildings collapsing in the city, while offshore at least two oil rigs were adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. The weather knocked out power to about 1.3 million people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and analysts estimated the damage could top $26bn (£14.4bn).

Residents were asked to stay away from New Orleans and the state governor Kathleen Blanco said she had ordered police to block re-entry routes to all but emergency workers.

Ivor van Heerden, director of the Centre for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes in Baton Rouge, told CNN that people should stay away from the city for at least a week. "If you came back, you would be coming literally to a wilderness," he said.

"If your house is gone, it's gone. If you come back in a day or a week, it's not going to make any difference."

But by 4pm local time dozens of cars were parked next to the flood waters, with passengers trying to find a way to get back into the city. Rain had died down but strong gusts still whipped the residents gazing towards the New Orleans skyline across the floodwaters to the south-east.

"Man, I have never seen anything like this before," said Ken Porter, 46, who was trying to make his way back to his home along the lake shore. "I was just a kid when [Hurricane] Betsy came through but that wasn't anything as bad as this. It's going to be days before this water gets out of here."

Many had been driven to return home because of the impossibility of finding accommodation elsewhere. Tomesha Carter, 35, had been with her husband, Bruce, 32, and children Bryce, five, and Bruce, 18 months, on the road for 24 hours. "We left here yesterday and we drove for nine hours. We got as far as Orange in Texas but we weren't able to get a hotel room anywhere.

"We slept in the truck last night but we didn't know what to do, so we thought we had to head back here."

Felix Saland, 39, a truck driver from the St Bernard district, said: "I've never seen it this bad."

He had slept in a car-wash the previous night after driving as far as Mississippi without being able to find a place to stay. "I have got no idea what we're going to be able to do," he said. "From the look of it it's going to be a few days before we can even think of going home."

Asked how much of the city was under water, police officer WC Johnson said: "All of it." In places, he had seen floodwaters up to 10ft.

Hurricane Katrina was billed as a biblical storm as it roared towards New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico, and it prompted an exodus of biblical proportions.

Residents piled into cars, trucks and trains as well as aeroplanes, before howling winds and driving rain shut the airport.

For most of the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Katrina, their fate was an endless caravan of vehicles crawling at a snail's pace through Baton Rouge, Louisiana's capital, about 80 miles west of New Orleans - a traditional staging post for people fleeing hurricanes.

Along Interstate 10, the main route west, hotels were packed all the way to Houston, Texas, more than 300 miles away.

As winds roared into Baton Rouge yesterday, an estimated 3,000 people were sheltering in the city's emergency facilities. Tens of thousands more were staying with relatives and friends in the town.

A steady stream of people were arriving yesterday morning at the emergency evacuation centre set up at Tara high school on the outskirts of Baton Rouge. But it was already full to bursting. "There's nothing we can do," said Steve Jaros, a Red Cross volunteer at the shelter. "We're full, so we just have to send them farther on up the road.

The evacuation was not without casualties. Three New Orleans nursing home residents died on Sunday after being taken by bus to a Baton Rouge church.


Hundreds cling to roofs as Katrina hits New Orleans
By Francis Harris in Washington and Catherine Elsworth in Houston
(Filed: 30/08/2005)

Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans yesterday with 140mph winds, razing buildings and spewing millions of gallons of floodwater into its streets.

Emergency officials reported that hundreds of people had been forced on to the roofs of houses in the east of the city with emergency services unable to reach them because of the storm conditions.

One trapped resident, Chris Robinson, said over his mobile telephone: "I'm not doing too good right now. The water's rising pretty fast. Tell someone to come get me please. I want to live."

A woman was seen leaning from a third floor window with water lapping below. "We got three kids in here," she said. "Can you help us?"

The city's mayor, Ray Nagin, ordered 1.3 million residents out of the city on Sunday. But at least 100,000 were thought to have stayed behind to brave the storm.

Mr Nagin described significant flooding. "I've gotten reports that there's already water coming over some of the levee systems," he said.

President George W Bush asked Americans to pray for their fellow citizens and declared the states of Mississippi and Louisiana disaster areas, opening the way to federal aid. "Our Gulf coast is being hit and it's being hit hard," he said.

Savage winds wiped out some smaller buildings. Elsewhere, thousands of windows exploded, sending glass shards through the air. Skyscrapers in the business district looked badly hit.

Electricity supplies failed and residents sweating in the thick heat of a Southern summer were told not to drink tap water. At least 750,000 people in Louisiana suffered power cuts, and utilities said it would take up to a month to restore supplies.

Katrina ripped open large holes in the roof of the Superdome, a football stadium that had become a "shelter of last resort" for 10,000 people. Water cascaded in, but officials said the 250ft-high structure would not collapse.

At least three British tourists were among those seeking refuge inside. Several hundred Britons were estimated to be in New Orleans and surrounding areas as the hurricane approached.

Much of the city, including the famed French Quarter with its colonial-era buildings and wrought ironwork, is below sea level. A system of levees (dykes) keeps out the water.

But at least some dams failed, causing water from rivers and lakes to pour into New Orleans. Emergency officials said the situation was bad, but could have been worse.

Looters, some accompanied by their children, smashed their way into shops and made off with shopping carts filled with stolen goods.

Other towns in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were also seriously damaged. Residents there too found themselves beyond the reach of help at the height of the storm.

So did a group of aquarium dolphins moved to the town of Gulfport. Their fate was unknown. They were last seen in a hotel swimming pool, but the storm left the town of 70,000 people under 10ft of water. In some coastal districts, yachts were picked up by the force of the storm and propelled into apartment buildings.

  29 August 2005: 1.4m ordered to flee as Hurricane Katrina roars towards New Orleans

27 August 2005: Miami is battered and bruised by 'stealth' hurricane


Louisiana evacuees told to stay put

One expert says New Orleans residents would face 'wilderness'

Monday, August 29, 2005; Posted: 9:35 p.m. EDT

(CNN) -- Louisiana officials Monday urged the hundreds of thousands of people in the state who fled Hurricane Katrina to stay where they are.

"It's too dangerous to come home," Gov. Kathleen Blanco said at a late afternoon news conference in Baton Rouge.

"The roads are flooded, the power is out, the phones are down and many trees are down. So chances are, if you tried to come in, you wouldn't be able to get your vehicle in. ...

"Please, I'm begging for patience," she said. "We are working hard to get you home, but not until it is safe."

The governor said she had ordered state police to block re-entry routes to all but emergency workers.

A public health expert said New Orleans residents who return to their homes would face "a wilderness" without power and drinking water that will be infested with poisonous snakes and fire ants. (Watch surging floodwaters almost swallow houses)

"We would really encourage people not to come back for at least a week," said Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center and director of the Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes in Baton Rouge.

Van Heerden ticked off the problems anyone returning to the city would find: "no sewage, no drinking water, contamination, threat of rapid increase in mosquitoes, roads are impassible, downed power lines everywhere, trees, debris from houses in the roads, no way to go shopping, no gas."

The water also has dislodged fire ants and thousands of snakes -- including poisonous water moccasins -- from their homes.

"If you came back, you would be coming literally to a wilderness," he said. "Stay where you are, be comfortable; nothing's going to change. If your house is gone, it's gone. If you come back in a day or a week, it's not going to make any difference."

The storm passed just east of New Orleans, straining the system of levees and pumping stations that protect the low-lying city, about 70 percent of which is below sea level. (Full story)

The governor said the full extent of the damage in southeast Louisiana remains unknown because it is still too dangerous for emergency teams to get to some areas.

Power is down and phones are out across the region, and authorities have not been able to put aircraft up to survey the devastation, she said.

Extensive damage from wind and water has been reported in Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. Tammany and Washington parishes, Blanco said.

There are "lots and lots of folks whose homes are no longer habitable -- roofs off, in some cases totally destroyed, and these people are now phoning in and asking to be rescued," Van Heerden said.

More than 50 people in the New Orleans area were rescued from flooded neighborhoods, according to a spokesman for the state's Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness agency.

Lt. Kevin Cowan said the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries sent 30 boats to the hardest-hit parts of the metro area, the city's 9th Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish.

Two dozen more boats were sent to hard-hit areas south of the Superdome and six were sent to Metairie, in Jefferson Parish, to carry out nursing home residents, he said.

Water levels could be "anywhere from two feet to 10 feet" in those areas, Cowan said.

Other rescue efforts were going on in St. Tammany Parish, along the Mississippi state line, he said.

Van Heerden said some places in New Orleans have 8 or 9 feet of standing water and that he had been told that low pressure in the city's water supply means "they've got leaks."

He said he has received reports that the same areas of the city that flooded when Hurricane Betsy nearly landed a direct hit on New Orleans in 1965 have been flooded again, only more so.

Still, the impact of Katrina could have been far worse.

"Our biggest fear was that the storm would keep going west [while in the Gulf], which would have caused the catastrophic flooding of New Orleans," Van Heerden said.

"Very fortunately, the storm moved to the east and also dropped in strength a little. This was just enough to make that fairly large difference in the surge, so we did not have huge areas of New Orleans flooded."

Appearing at the news conference with Blanco, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown, said President Bush would sign a federal disaster declaration for Louisiana.

"My guarantee to you is that FEMA will stay here as long as we are needed to help you in every way possible that we can help you," he said.


Governor: Everyone Must Leave New Orleans

By BRETT MARTEL, Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS - Army engineers struggled without success to plug New Orleans' breached levees with sandbags, and the governor said Wednesday the situation was worsening and there was no choice but to abandon the flooded city.

"The challenge is an engineering nightmare," Gov. Kathleen Blanco said on ABC's "Good Morning America." "The National Guard has been dropping sandbags into it, but it's like dropping it into a black hole."

As the waters continued to rise in New Orleans, four Navy ships raced toward the Gulf Coast with drinking water and other emergency supplies, and Red Cross workers from across the country converged on the devastated region. The Red Cross reported it had about 40,000 people in 200 shelters across the area.

Officials said the death toll from Hurricane Katrina had reached at least 110 in Mississippi, while Louisiana put aside the counting of the dead to concentrate on rescuing the living, many of whom were still trapped on rooftops and in attics.

Blanco acknowledged that looting was a severe problem but said that officials had to focus on survivors. "We don't like looters one bit, but first and foremost is search and rescue," she said.

To repair one of the levees holding back Lake Pontchartrain, officials late Tuesday dropped 3,000-pound sandbags from helicopters and hauled dozens of 15-foot concrete barriers into the breach. Maj. Gen. Don Riley of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said officials also had a more audacious plan: finding a barge to plug the 500-foot hole.

Riley said it could take close to a month to get the water out of the city. If the water rises a few feet higher, it could also wipe out the water system for the whole city, said New Orleans' homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert.

Blanco said she wanted the Superdome — which had become a shelter of last resort for about 20,000 people — evacuated within two days, though was still unclear where the people would go. The air conditioning inside the Superdome was out, the toilets were broken, and tempers were rising in the sweltering heat. "Conditions are degenerating rapidly," she said. "It's a very, very desperate situation."

The Fedreral Emergency Management Agency was considering puttiing people on cruise ships , in tent cities, mobile home parks. and so-called floatinf dormitories - boats the boats the agency uses to house its own employees.

A helicopter view of the devastation over Louisiana and Mississippi revealed people standing on black rooftops, baking in the sunshine while waiting for rescue boats.

"I can only imagine that this is what Hiroshima looked like 60 years ago," said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour after touring the destruction by air Tuesday.

All day long, rescuers in boats and helicopters plucked bedraggled flood refugees from rooftops and attics. Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu said 3,000 people have been rescued by boat and air, some placed shivering and wet into helicopter baskets. They were brought by the truckload into shelters, some in wheelchairs and some carrying babies, with stories of survival and of those who didn't make it.

"Oh my God, it was hell," said Kioka Williams, who had to hack through the ceiling of the beauty shop where she worked as floodwaters rose in New Orleans' low-lying Ninth Ward. "We were screaming, hollering, flashing lights. It was complete chaos."

Looting broke out in some New Orleans neighborhoods, prompting authorities to send more than 70 additional officers and an armed personnel carrier into the city. One police officer was shot in the head by a looter but was expected to recover, authorities said.

On New Orleans' Canal Street, dozens of looters ripped open the steel gates on clothing and jewelry stores and grabbed merchandise. In Biloxi, Miss., people picked through casino slot machines for coins and ransacked other businesses. In some cases, the looting was in full view of police and National Guardsmen.

Officials said it was simply too early to estimate a death toll. One Mississippi county alone said it had suffered at least 100 deaths, and officials are "very, very worried that this is going to go a lot higher," said Joe Spraggins, civil defense director for Harrison County, home to Biloxi and Gulfport. In neighboring Jackson County, officials said at least 10 deaths were blamed on the storm.

Several of dead in Harrison County were from a beachfront apartment building that collapsed under a 25-foot wall of water as Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast with 145-mph winds Monday. Louisiana officials said many were feared dead there, too, making Katrina one of the most punishing storms to hit the United States in decades.

Blanco asked residents to spend Wednesday in prayer.

"That would be the best thing to calm our spirits and thank our Lord that we are survivors," she said. "Slowly, gradually, we will recover; we will survive; we will rebuild."

Across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, more than 1 million residents remained without electricity, some without clean drinking water. Officials said it could be weeks, if not months, before most evacuees will be able to return.

Emergency medical teams from across the country were sent into the region and

President Bush cut short his Texas vacation Tuesday to return to Washington to focus on the storm damage.

Federal Emergency Management Agency director Mike Brown warned that structural damage to homes, diseases from animal carcasses and chemicals in floodwaters made it unsafe for residents to come home anytime soon. The sweltering city of 480,000 had no drinkable water, and the electricity could be out for weeks.

Katrina, which was downgraded to a tropical depression, packed winds around 30 mph as it moved through the Ohio Valley early Wednesday, with the potential to dump 8 inches of rain and spin off deadly tornadoes.

The remnants of Katrina spawned bands of storms and tornadoes across Georgia that caused at least two deaths, multiple injuries and leveled dozens of buildings. A tornado damaged 13 homes near Marshall, Va.


Associated Press reporters Holbrook Mohr, Mary Foster, Allen G. Breed, Adam Nossiter and Jay Reeves contributed to this report.


There will be a "total evacuation of the city. We have to. The city will not be functional for two or three months," Nagin said.

Most of those storm refugees - 15,000 to 20,000 people - were in the Superdome, which had become hot and stuffy, with broken toilets and nowhere for anyone to bathe. "It can no longer operate as a shelter of last resort," the mayor said.

Nagin estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people remained in New Orleans, a city of nearly half a million people. He said 14,000 to 15,000 a day could be evacuated.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, began mounting one of the largest search-and-rescue operations in U.S. history, sending four Navy ships to the Gulf Coast with drinking water and other emergency supplies, along with the hospital ship USNS Comfort, search helicopters and elite SEAL water-rescue teams. American Red Cross workers from across the country converged on the devastated region in the agency's biggest-ever relief operation.

Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast on Monday just east of New Orleans with howling, 145-mile wind. The death toll has reached at least 110 in Mississippi alone. But the full magnitude of the disaster had been unclear for days; Louisiana has been putting aside the counting of the dead to concentrate on rescuing the living, many of whom were still trapped on rooftops and in attics.

  Quotes on the Devastation  
man carries dog through flood
Eric Gay, AP
''What I'm supposed to do? Sit with the body until you get somebody?''

-- Evelyn Turner, left, who was having trouble getting officials to retrieve the body of her husband, who had suffered from lung cancer and died when oxygen ran out
Sources: AP, AP/NBC, CNN

If the mayor's estimate holds true, it would make Katrina the nation's deadliest hurricane since 1900, when a storm in Galveston, Texas, killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people. The death toll in the San Francisco earthquake and the resulting fire has been put at anywhere from about 500 to 6,000.

A full day after the Big Easy thought it had escaped Katrina's full fury, two levees broke and spilled water into the streets Tuesday, swamping an estimated 80 percent of the bowl-shaped, below-sea-level city, inundating miles and miles of homes and rendering much of New Orleans uninhabitable for weeks or months.

"We are looking at 12 to 16 weeks before people can come in," Nagin said on ABC's "Good Morning America, "and the other issue that's concerning me is we have dead bodies in the water. At some point in time the dead bodies are going to start to create a serious disease issue."

With the streets awash and looters brazenly cleaning out stores, authorities planned to move at least 25,000 of the New Orleans' storm refugees to the Houston Astrodome, 350 miles away, in a vast, two-day convoy of some 475 buses.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco said the situation was desperate and there was no choice but to clear out.

"The logistical problems are impossible and we have to evacuate people in shelters," the governor said. "It's becoming untenable. There's no power. It's getting more difficult to get food and water supplies in, just basic essentials."

Around midday, officials with the state and the Army Corps of Engineers said the water levels between the city and Lake Pontchartrain had equalized, and water had stopped rising in New Orleans, and even appeared to be falling, at least in some places. But the danger was far from over.

The Army Corps of Engineers said it planned to use heavy-duty Chinook helicopters to drop 20,000-pound sandbags Wednesday into the 500-foot gap in the failed floodwall. But the agency said it was having trouble getting the sandbags and dozens of 15-foot highway barriers to the site because the city's waterways were blocked by loose barges, boats and large debris.

Officials said they were also looking at a more audacious plan: finding a barge to plug the 500-foot hole.

"The challenge is an engineering nightmare," the governor said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

As the sense of desperation deepened in New Orleans, hundreds of people wandered up and down Interstate 10, pushing shopping carts, laundry racks, anything they could find to carry their belongings. Dozens of fishermen from up to 200 miles away floated in on caravans of boats to pull residents out of flooded neighborhoods.

On some of the few roads that were still passable, people waved at passing cars with empty water jugs, begging for relief. Hundreds of people appeared to have spent the night on a crippled highway.

In one east New Orleans neighborhood, refugees were loaded onto the backs of moving vans like cattle, and in one case emergency workers with a sledgehammer and an ax broke open the back of a mail truck and used it to ferry sick and elderly residents.

Police officers were asking residents to give up any guns they had before they boarded buses and trucks because police desperately needed the firepower: Some officers who had been stranded on the roof of a motel said they were being shot at overnight.

The sweltering city of 480,000 people - an estimated 80 percent of whom obeyed orders to evacuate as Katrina closed in over the weekend - had no drinkable water, the electricity could be out for weeks, and looters were ransacking stores around town.

Sections of Interstate 10, the only major freeway leading into New Orleans from the east, lay shattered, dozens of huge slabs of concrete floating in the floodwaters. I-10 is the only route for commercial trucking across southern Louisiana.

In addition to the Houston Astrodome solution, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was considering putting people on cruise ships, in tent cities, mobile home parks, and so-called floating dormitories - boats the agency uses to house its own employees.

A helicopter view of the devastation over Louisiana and Mississippi revealed people standing on black rooftops, baking in the sunshine while waiting for rescue boats.

"I can only imagine that this is what Hiroshima looked like 60 years ago," said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour after touring the destruction by air Tuesday.

All day long, rescuers in boats and helicopters plucked bedraggled flood refugees from rooftops and attics. Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu said 3,000 people have been rescued by boat and air, some placed shivering and wet into helicopter baskets. They were brought by the truckload into shelters, some in wheelchairs and some carrying babies, with stories of survival and of those who didn't make it.

"Oh my God, it was hell," said Kioka Williams, who had to hack through the ceiling of the beauty shop where she worked as floodwaters rose in New Orleans' low-lying Ninth Ward. "We were screaming, hollering, flashing lights. It was complete chaos."

Looting broke out in some New Orleans neighborhoods, prompting authorities to send more than 70 additional officers and an armed personnel carrier into the city. One police officer was shot in the head by a looter but was expected to recover, authorities said.

A giant new Wal-Mart in New Orleans was looted, and the entire gun collection was taken, The Times-Picayune newspaper reported. "There are gangs of armed men in the city moving around the city," said Ebbert, the city's homeland security chief.

The governor acknowledged that looting was a severe problem but said that officials had to focus on survivors. "We don't like looters one bit, but first and foremost is search and rescue," she said.

In Washington, the Bush administration decided to release crude oil from federal petroleum reserves to help refiners whose supply was disrupted by Katrina. The announcement helped push oil prices lower.

Associated Press reporters Holbrook Mohr, Mary Foster, Allen G. Breed, Adam Nossiter and Jay Reeves contributed to this report.

08-31-05 15:43 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.


Stormfront: New Orleans, Mississippi bear brunt

Katrina wreaks havoc

Posted online: Tuesday, August 30, 2005 at 0314 hours IST

NEW ORLEANS, AUGUST 29: Hurricane Katrina pounded parts of Louisiana and Mississippi when it came ashore on Monday, propelling winds and sheets of rain into the Gulf Coast region’s cities and towns.

In New Orleans, perilously below sea level and already surrounded on three sides by water, a swell breached a levee, one of the network that normally protects the bowl-shaped city from flooding. An economically devastated area of the eastern side of the city was inundated.
Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard said there had been hundred of reports, not yet confirmed, about levees being overtaken or floodwaters reaching over the roofs of houses. Water levels are expected to reach about eight feet, but officials say drinking water may already be contaminated.

The storm also ripped off a chunk of the roof of the New Orleans Superdome, where as many as 10,000 people had taken shelter. ‘‘Right now the Superdome is not in any serious danger,’’ Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said at a news briefing in Baton Rouge. ‘‘But that could change at any moment as we go on.’’

The Governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, said in a news conference today that the state had suffered a ‘‘grievous blow’’ on the coast, and that its Highway 90 had ‘‘essentially been destroyed’’. He said that as soon as the winds allow, search and rescue operations would begin although there were no reports of any casualties directly resulting from the hurricane.

The National Hurricane Centre said the centre of the hurricane was 35 miles northeast of New Orleans and about 45 miles southwest of Biloxi, Mississippi. Maximum sustained winds were near 125 miles per hour, making it a Category 3 hurricane, having weakened only hours earlier from a Category 5, the highest on the Sapir scale. Meanwhile, the threat of tornados developed over parts of southern and eastern Mississippi, southern and central Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle, the Hurricane Centre said.

President George W. Bush has declared a state of emergency for the Gulf Coast, a move that cleared the way for immediate federal aid.

In New Orleans, many restaurants and stores in the French Quarter were shuttered, and hotels, almost all fully booked, struggled to accommodate visitors whose flights had been canceled. Most of New Orleans’ 480,000 residents had already evacuated the city, paralysing traffic along major highways from just after daybreak on Sunday and into the evening. —NYT

Conditions deteriorate in Katrina's wake

Water still rising in New Orleans; death toll at least 120

Wednesday, August 31, 2005; Posted: 11:12 a.m. EDT (15:12 GMT)
Harrison County sheriff's deputy Ray Wescovich walks through debris Tuesday in Biloxi, Mississippi.


NN) -- Rescuers and residents along the Gulf Coast struggled Wednesday to cope with the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina, as New Orleans faced a horrifying trio of challenges -- rising water, stranded people and a refugee situation that is getting worse by the hour.

The death toll from the storm is estimated to be at least 120, but officials expect it to be much higher.

In Mississippi alone, the death toll was as high as 110, an emergency official told CNN.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco told CNN Wednesday morning that officials were facing enormous challenges as they tried to stabilize the situation in New Orleans, where floodwaters continued to rise.

"We've got an engineering nightmare trying to fill the breach of the levee where the waters are pouring into the city," she said. (See the video of water surging into the saturated city -- 1:53 )

The floodwaters also overwhelmed pumping stations that would normally keep the city dry. About 80 percent of the city was flooded with water up to 20 feet deep after the two levees collapsed. (Map)

The Army Corps of Engineers is bringing in heavy, twin-rotored Chinook helicopters to drop 3,000-pound sandbags into the gap, officials said.

Blanco said that conditions were deteriorating rapidly at the Louisiana Superdome -- the refuge of last resort for thousands of people who could not evacuate the city. (See the video of conditions in the dimmed and damaged stadium -- 3:53)

Authorities have taken hundreds of people rescued from roofs and attics to the cavernous stadium, which had overflowing toilets, no water and no power to air condition the sweltering building.

The rising water compounded the problem, making it difficult to get supplies to the building.

An emergency management official in Houston, Texas, said plans are in the works to take at least 25,000 refugees -- mostly from the Superdome -- and shelter them in the Astrodome.

Mayor: 'We've had our hands full'

A New Orleans police officer told CNN Tuesday night that that three shootings, widespread looting and a number of attempted carjackings had been reported

National Guard troops moved into the downtown business district, and state police squads backed by SWAT teams were sent in to scatter looters and restore order, authorities said late Tuesday. (Full story)

CNN's John Zarrella said that one man told him that he was driven out of his neighborhood because of the looting.

"I ran with my family for our lives," Zarrella quoted the man as saying.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin told CNN Wednesday that communication was a problem for authorities trying to coordinate the relief efforts -- cell phone service was down, e-mail wasn't working and most of their radio systems had dead batteries.

He said that the city was practically cut off, saying that bridges leading into the city were destroyed and that a key interstate was more like a "jigsaw puzzle," missing large slabs of concrete.

"We evacuated probably close to a million people in the metropolitan area (before the storm), but there was still a couple hundred thousand still here," he said.

"So all of the resources initially were focused on rescue, and we have rescued thousands of people that are trapped in attics and on roofs.

"That was the main priority with getting people out, with the challenge of rescue, rising waters. Then we've had looting. We've had our hands full."

Nagin expressed anger Tuesday night about the lack of coordination but said that officials were working to correct the problem Wednesday morning. (Full story)

He said that at least 30 buildings had collapsed but that no attempt had been made to determine a death toll.

"There are dead bodies floating in some of the water," Nagin said Tuesday. "The rescuers would basically push them aside as they were trying to save individuals."

Across Lake Pontchartrain, in Slidell, Louisiana, police Capt. Rob Callahan said there were about 100,000 fish on the ground in his neighborhood, which is about four miles inland.

Callahan said he checked on his 80-year-old, blind neighbor, who apparently was able to get out after riding out the storm.

He said his own house was a complete loss, but he was able to save his children's pet box turtles, which was their biggest concern.

Mayor Ben Morris is among thousands of homeless residents who have been unable to communicate with anyone outside Slidell.

"I really don't know where my wife is or children are," he told CNN's Miles O'Brien. "They left town which, thank God, they did, but there's no way -- our telephones don't work, our cell phones don't work -- so there's no way to talk to the outside world."

Worse than Camille

In Mississippi, Gov. Haley Barbour compared the devastation to a nuclear blast Tuesday after touring the coast.

"I can only imagine that this is what Hiroshima looked like 60 years ago," he said.

Katrina destroyed "every one" of the casinos that brought $500,000 per day in revenues to state coffers, Barbour said. (See aerial video of the aftermath -- 3:02)

"There were 10- and 20-block areas where there was nothing -- not one home standing," he said.

He said that only a few roads were passable and that most were covered with several feet of debris.

Katrina has inflicted more damage to Mississippi beach towns than did Hurricane Camille, and its death toll is likely to be higher, Barbour said Tuesday. (Full story)

An emergency official in Jackson told CNN on Wednesday the death toll there is as many as 110.

The official said the confirmed death toll -- deaths certified by a coroner -- stands at 13, but in Harrison County alone officials said they had at least 100 bodies.

Camille killed 143 people when it struck the state's coastal counties in 1969 and a total of 256 after it swept inland.

"There are structures after structures that survived Camille with minor damage that are not there any more," Barbour said.

In the small town of Bay St. Louis, search-and-rescue crews painted black marks on homes known to contain bodies, so they could find them again when refrigerated trucks are able to remove the corpses.

Jason Green, of the Harrison County Coroner's Office, said funeral homes in Gulfport had received 26 bodies since the storm hit.

He said residents returning to the homes they had fled are calling to report finding bodies or taking them to funeral homes.

In Biloxi, up to 30 people are believed to have been killed when an apartment complex on the beach collapsed in the storm.

Other developments

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said the White House will tap the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help ease concerns about the disaster's effect on the nation's fuel supplies. Katrina on U.S. oil production and refinery capabilities may be worse than initial reports estimated and could lead to a national gas crisis in the short-term, analysts warned Tuesday. (Full story)

  • Consumers can expect retail gas prices to rise to $4 a gallon in the near future, Ben Brockwell, director of pricing at the Oil Price Information Service, said Wednesday. "There's no question gas will hit $4 a gallon," he said. "The question is how high will it go and how long will it last?"
  • One of two pipeline companies supplying gasoline to the eastern seaboard of the United States said Wednesday it hopes to be back in partial operation soon. The other pipeline is still waiting for an indication on when electricity to pumps can be restored.
  • The U.S. Navy was dispatching ships to the area, including the SNS Comfort, a floating hospital based in Baltimore, and an amphibious ready group led by the aircraft carrier USS Iwo Jima.
  • Louisiana Gov. Blanco declared Wednesday a day of prayer. "As we face the devastation wrought by Katrina, as we search for those in need, as we comfort those in pain and as we begin the long task of rebuilding, we turn to God for strength, hope and comfort.




Published on: September 11, 2001
The surge of a Category 5 storm could put New Orleans under 18 ft. of water.

They don't bury the dead in New Orleans. The highest point in the city is only 6 ft. above sea level, which makes for watery graves. Fearful that rotting corpses caused epidemics, the city limited ground burials in 1830. Mausoleums built on soggy cemetery grounds became the final resting place for generations. Beyond providing a macabre tourist attraction, these "cities of the dead" serve as a reminder of the Big Easy's vulnerability to flooding. The reason water rushes into graves is because New Orleans sits atop a delta made of unconsolidated material that has washed down the Mississippi River.

Think of the city as a chin jutting out, waiting for a one-two punch from Mother Nature. The first blow comes from the sky. Hurricanes plying the Gulf of Mexico push massive domes of water (storm surges) ahead of their swirling winds. After the surges hit, the second blow strikes from below. The same swampy delta ground that necessitates above-ground burials leaves water from the storm surge with no place to go but up.

The fact that New Orleans has not already sunk is a matter of luck. If slightly different paths had been followed by Hurricanes Camille, which struck in August 1969, Andrew in August 1992 or George in September 1998, today we might need scuba gear to tour the French Quarter.

"In New Orleans, you 

never get above sea level, so you're always going to be isolated during a strong hurricane," says Kay Wilkins of the southeast Louisiana chapter of the American Red Cross.

During a strong hurricane, the city could be inundated with water blocking all streets in and out for days, leaving people stranded without electricity and access to clean drinking water. Many also could die because the city has few buildings that could withstand the sustained 96- to 100-mph winds and 6- to 8-ft. storm surges of a Category 2 hurricane. Moving to higher elevations would be just as dangerous as staying on low ground. Had Camille, a Category 5 storm, made landfall at New Orleans, instead of losing her punch before arriving, her winds would have blown twice as hard and her storm surge would have been three times as high.

Yet knowing all this, area residents have made their potential problem worse. "Over the past 30 years, the coastal region impacted by Camille has changed dramatically. Coastal erosion combined with soaring commercial and residential development in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have all combined to significantly increase the vulnerability of the area," says Sandy Ward Eslinger, of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Coastal Services Center in Charleston, S.C.

Early Warning
Emergency planners believe that it is a foregone conclusion that the Big Easy someday will be hit by a scouring storm surge. And, given the tremendous amount of coastal-area development, this watery "big one" will produce a staggering amount of damage. Yet, this doesn't necessarily mean that there will be a massive loss of lives.

The key is a new emergency warning system developed by Gregory Stone, a professor at Louisiana State University (LSU). It is called WAVCIS, which stands for wave-current surge information system. Within 30 minutes to an hour after raw data is collected from monitoring stations in the Gulf, an assessment of storm-surge damage would be available to emergency planners. Disaster relief agencies then would be able to mobilize resources--rescue personnel, the Red Cross, and so forth.

The $4.5 million WAVCIS project, which is now coming on line, will fill a major void in the Louisiana storm warning system, which was practically nonexistent compared to those of other Gulf Coast states. A system of 20 "weather buoys" along the U.S. coastline serves as a warning system for the Gulf of Mexico. However, the buoys are not distributed evenly and Louisiana falls into one of the gaps. From the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Louisiana-Texas border, there are no buoys. Only one buoy serves Louisiana, and it is 62 miles east of the Mississippi River and more than 300 miles to the south. So it's a bit like predicting the weather in Boston when your thermometer is in Philadelphia. The other buoys are near the coastlines of Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and several hundred miles out into the Gulf.

Stable Platforms
One reason that WAVCIS will be more accurate is that its sensors are attached to offshore oil platforms. The older, floating buoys ride up and down with the waves and often can't give accurate pictures of wave heights and storm surges. Stable platforms mean that the sensors can be placed above and below the water, allowing more precise measurements. Data from each of the 13 stations, five of which are now on line, is transmitted to LSU, where it'll be interpreted and sent to emergency planners centers, via the Internet.

"With this new system [WAVCIS], we get to see real information on storm surge and we can feed that into our models and come up with real data," says Mike Brown, assistant director of the New Orleans emergency management office.

Because large areas would have to be evacuated, false alarms could be harmful to the economy. Stone sees it as a reasonable tradeoff.

"It's better to have that frustration than the loss of life. The potential loss of life in Louisiana could be catastrophic because there is just nowhere to go."

Superdome evacuation halted amid gunfire

9/1/2005, 6:30 a.m. PT
The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The evacuation of the Superdome was suspended Thursday after shots were reported fired at a military helicopter and arson fires broke out outside the arena. No injuries were immediately reported.

The scene at the Superdome became increasingly chaotic, with thousands of people rushing from nearby hotels and other buildings, hoping to climb onto the buses taking evacuees from the arena, officials said. Paramedics became increasingly alarmed by the sight of people with guns.

Richard Zeuschlag, chief of the ambulance service that was handling the evacuation of sick and injured people from the Superdome, said it was suspending operations "until they gain control of the Superdome."

Shots were fired at a military helicopter over the Superdome before daybreak, he said.

He said the National Guard told him that it was sending 100 military police officers to restore order.

"That's not enough," said Zeuschlag, whose Acadian Ambulance is based in Lafayette. "We need a thousand."

Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard said the military — which was handling the evacuation of the able-bodied from the Superdome — had suspended operations, too, because fires set outside the arena were preventing buses from getting close enough to pick up people.

Tens of thousands of people started rushing out of other buildings when they saw buses pulling up and hoped to get on, he said. But the immediate focus was on evacuating people from the Superdome, and the other refugees were left to mill around.

Zeuschlag said paramedics were calling him and crying for help because they were so scared of people with guns at the Superdome. He also said that during the night, when a medical evacuation helicopter tried to land at a hospital in the outlying town of Kenner, the pilot reported 100 people were on the landing pad, some with guns.

"He was frightened and would not land," Zeuschlag.

Earlier Thursday, the first busload of survivors had arrived at the Houston Astrodome, where air conditioning, cots, food and showers awaited them.

"We are going to do everything we can to make people comfortable," Red Cross spokeswoman Margaret O'Brien-Molina said. "Places have to be found for these people. Many of these people may never be able to rebuild."

Astrodome officials said they would accept only the 25,000 people stranded at the Superdome — a rule that was tested when a school bus arrived from New Orleans filled with families with children seeking shelter.

At first, Astrodome officials said the refugees couldn't come in, but then allowed them to enter for food and water. Another school bus also was allowed in.

The Astrodome is far from a hotel, but it was a step above the dank, sweltering Superdome, where the floodwaters were rising, the air conditioning was out, the ceiling leaked, trash piled up and toilets were broken.

Harris County Judge Robert Eckels said the 40-year-old Astrodome is "not suited well" for such a large crowd long-term, but officials are prepared to house the displaced as long as possible. New Orleans officials said residents may not be able to return for months.

The Astrodome's schedule has been cleared through December. The dome is used on occasion for corporate parties and hospitality events, but hasn't been used for professional sports in years.

In New Orleans, the refugees had lined up for the first buses, some inching along in wheelchairs, some carrying babies. Almost everyone carried a plastic bag or bundled bedspread holding the few possessions they had left. Many had no idea where they were heading.

"We tried to find out. We're pretty much adrift right now," said Cyril Ellisworth, 46. "We're pretty much adrift in life. They tell us to line up and go, and we just line up and go."

The Astrodome's new residents will be issued passes that will allow them to leave and return as they please, something that wasn't permitted in New Orleans. Organizers also plan to find ways to help the refugees contact relatives. ___

Associated Press writers Wendy Benjaminson in Baton Rouge, La., and Pam Easton in Houston contributed to this report.


Anger and Unrest Mount in Desperate New Orleans


NEW ORLEANS (Sept. 1, 2005) - 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.

Anger mounted across the ruined city, with thousands of storm victims increasingly hungry, desperate and tired of waiting for buses to take them out.

"We are out here like pure animals. We don't have help," the Rev. Issac Clark, 68, said outside the New Orleans Convention Center, where corpses lay in the open and the and other evacuees complained that they were dropped off and given nothing - no food, no water, no medicine.

About 15,000 to 20,000 people who had taken shelter at the convention center to await buses grew increasingly hostile. Police Chief Eddie Compass said he sent in 88 officers to quell the situation at the building, but they were quickly beaten back by an angry mob.

"We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten," Compass said. "Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon."

In hopes of defusing the unrest at the convention center, Mayor Ray Nagin gave the refugees permission to march across a bridge to the city's unflooded west bank for whatever relief they can find. But the bedlam at the appeared to make leaving difficult.

National Guardsmen poured in to help restore order and put a stop to the looting, carjackings and gunfire that have gripped New Orleans in the days since Hurricane Katrina plunged much of the city under water.

In a statement to CNN, Nagin said: "This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the convention center and don't anticipate enough buses. We need buses. Currently the convention center is unsanitary and unsafe and we're running our of supplies."

In Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the government is sending in 1,400 National Guardsmen a day to help stop looting and other lawlessness in New Orleans. Already, 2,800 National Guardsmen are in the city, he said.

But across the flooded-out city, the rescuers themselves came under attack from storm victims.

"Hospitals are trying to evacuate," said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesan, spokesman at the city emergency operations center. "At every one of them, there are reports that as the helicopters come in people are shooting at them. There are people just taking potshots at police and at helicopters, telling them, `You better come get my family."'

Some Federal Emergency Management rescue operations were suspended in areas where gunfire has broken out, Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said in Washington. "In areas where our employees have been determined to potentially be in danger, we have pulled back," he said.

A National Guard military policeman was shot in the leg as he and a man scuffled for the MP's rifle, police Capt. Ernie Demmo said. The man was arrested.

"These are good people. These are just scared people," Demmo said.

Outside the Convention Center, the sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement. Thousands of storm refugees had been assembling outside for days, waiting for buses that did not come.

At least seven bodies were scattered outside, and hungry people broke through the steel doors to a food service entrance and began pushing out pallets of water and juice and whatever else they could find.

An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered with a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.

"I don't treat my dog like that," 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair. "I buried my dog." He added: "You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can't get them down here."

The street outside the center, above the floodwaters, smelled of urine and feces, and was choked with dirty diapers, old bottles and garbage.

"They've been teasing us with buses for four days," Edwards said.

People chanted, "Help, help!" as reporters and photographers walked through. The crowd got angry when journalists tried to photograph one of the bodies, and covered it over with a blanket. A woman, screaming, went on the front steps of the convention center and led the crowd in reciting the 23rd Psalm.

John Murray, 52, said: "It's like they're punishing us."

The Superdome, where some 25,000 people were being evacuated by bus to the Houston Astrodome, descended into chaos as well.

Huge crowds, hoping to finally escape the stifling confines of the stadium, jammed the main concourse outside the dome, spilling out over the ramp to the Hyatt hotel next door - a seething sea of tense, unhappy, people packed shoulder-to-shoulder up to the barricades where heavily armed National Guardsmen stood.

At the front of the line, heavily armed policemen and guardsmen stood watch and handed out water as tense and exhausted crowds struggled onto buses. At the back end of the line, people jammed against police barricades in the rain. Luggage, bags of clothes, pillows, blankets were strewn in the puddles.

Many people had dogs and they cannot take them on the bus. A police officer took one from a little boy, who cried until he vomited. "Snowball, snowball," he cried. The policeman told a reporter he didn't know what would happen to the dog.

Fights broke out. A fire erupted in a trash chute inside the dome, but a National Guard commander said it did not affect the evacuation. After a traffic jam kept buses from arriving at the Superdome for nearly four hours, a near-riot broke out in the scramble to get on the buses that finally did show up.

Col. Henry Whitehorn, head of state police, said authorities are working on establishing a temporary jail to hold people accused of looting and other crimes. "These individuals will not take control of the city of New Orleans," he said.

The first of hundreds of busloads of people evacuated from the Superdome arrived early Thursday at their new temporary home - another sports arena, the Houston Astrodome, 350 miles away.

But the ambulance service in charge of taking the sick and injured from the Superdome suspended flights after a shot was reported fired at a military helicopter. Richard Zuschlag, chief of Acadian Ambulance, said it was too dangerous for his pilots.

The military, which was overseeing the removal of the able-bodied by buses, continued the ground evacuation without interruption, said National Guard Lt. Col. Pete Schneider. The government had no immediate confirmation of whether a military helicopter was fired on.

Terry Ebbert, head of the city's emergency operations, warned that the slow evacuation at the Superdome had become an "incredibly explosive situation," and he bitterly complained that FEMA was not offering enough help.

"This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace," he said. "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."

In Texas, the governor's office said Texas has agreed to take in an additional 25,000 refugees from Katrina and plans to house them in San Antonio, though exactly where has not been determined.

In Washington, the White House said President Bush will tour the devastated Gulf Coast region on Friday and has asked his father and former President Clinton to lead a private fund-raising campaign for victims.

The president urged a crackdown on the lawlessness.

"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this - whether it be looting, or price gouging at the gasoline pump, or taking advantage of charitable giving or insurance fraud," Bush said. "And I've made that clear to our attorney general. The citizens ought to be working together."

On Wednesday, Mayor Ray Nagin offered the most startling estimate yet of the magnitude of the disaster: Asked how many people died in New Orleans, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands." The death toll has already reached at least 126 in Mississippi.

If the estimate proves correct, it would make Katrina the worst natural disaster in the United States since at least the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, which was blamed for anywhere from about 500 to 6,000 deaths. Katrina would also be the nation's deadliest hurricane since 1900, when a storm in Galveston, Texas, killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people.

Nagin called for a total evacuation of New Orleans, saying the city had become uninhabitable for the 50,000 to 100,000 who remained behind after the city of nearly a half-million people was ordered cleared out over the weekend.

The mayor said that it will be two or three months before the city is functioning again and that people would not be allowed back into their homes for at least a month or two.

"We need an effort of 9-11 proportions," former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, now president of the Urban League, said on NBC's "Today" show.

"A great American city is fighting for its life," he added. "We must rebuild New Orleans, the city that gave us jazz, and music, and multiculturalism."

Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu toured the stricken areas said rescued people begged him to pass information to their families. His pocket was full of scraps of paper on which he had scribbled down their phone numbers.

When he got a working phone in the early morning hours Thursday, he contacted a woman whose father had been rescued and told her: "Your daddy's alive, and he said to tell you he loves you."

"She just started crying. She said, 'I thought he was dead,"' he said.

Associated Press reporters Holbrook Mohr, Mary Foster, Robert Tanner, Cain Burdeau, Jay Reeves and Brett Martel contributed to this report.

09-01-05 16:55 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. 

Bush vows to step up Katrina aid
President George W Bush in Mobile, Alabama, with officials
President Bush has promised to help rebuild the devastated areas
President George Bush has conceded the initial response to Hurricane Katrina was "not acceptable" but has said every effort is being made to save lives.

Heavily-armed National Guardsmen have begun pouring into New Orleans, where thousands remain stranded without food or water amid rising lawlessness.

A large military convoy carrying aid also entered the city on Friday.

Visiting the region, Mr Bush said order would be restored and New Orleans would emerge from its "darkest days".

"My attitude is, if it's not going exactly right, we're going to make it go exactly right. If there's problems, then we'll address the problems," Mr Bush said.
We were spared the storm's fury but are now having to deal with the refugees and the misery - it's almost unbelievable what's happening
Jena, Louisiana

"Every life is precious and so we are going to spend a lot of time saving lives, whether it be in New Orleans or on the coast of Mississippi. We have a responsibility to help clean up this mess."

Speaking in Mobile, Alabama, Mr Bush said a $10.5bn (£5.7bn) emergency aid approved by the Senate was "just a small down-payment" on the cost of helping people rebuild.

He went on to visit Biloxi, on the Mississippi coast, where he comforted a woman who wept as she described how she had lost everything.

Four days after the hurricane struck, the scale of the casualties is still not known.

However one senator from Louisiana, David Vitter, has predicted the death toll could climb above 10,000 in Louisiana alone.
Troops in New Orleans
Thousands of extra troops have begun pouring into New Orleans

Senator Vitter said he did not base his estimate on any official toll.

The head of the New Orleans emergency operations has described the relief effort as a national disgrace.

And Mayor Ray Nagin has angrily denounced the level of outside help the city has received. "People are dying here," he said.

Army engineers have said it will take anything from 36 to 80 days to pump the flood waters from the city.

Meanwhile airlines have begun providing relief flights, bringing in supplies and flying out with people from New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport at a rate of four an hour.

Most of the flights will take refugees to Texas, which is providing emergency shelter for 75,000 survivors in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.

'Shoot to kill'

Clouds of acrid, black smoke have been drifting over New Orleans following a series of huge blasts along the Mississippi riverfront, apparently at a chemical plant.

The incidents in the already crippled city came after Louisiana's governor said 300 "battle-tested" National Guardsmen were being sent to quell the unrest.

"They have M-16s and are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will," Kathleen Blanco said.

Washington pledged a further 4,200 guardsmen in coming days and said 3,000 army soldiers may also be sent to the city, where violence has disrupted relief efforts.

The deployment came as thousands were finally taken from the Louisiana Superdome, where up to 20,000 have been corralled amid heat and squalor since Katrina struck.

Heavily-armed soldiers flanked a large convoy of National Guard trucks as it arrived at the nearby convention centre with desperately needed supplies of food and water.

The BBC's Matt Frei, in New Orleans, says conditions in the convention centre, where up to 20,000 people are stranded, are the most wretched he has seen anywhere, including crises in the Third World.

"You've got an entire nursing home evacuated five days ago - people in wheelchairs sitting there and slowly dying," he says.
Lawlessness in New Orleans

The situation has been made worse by a lack of trust between the mainly poor, African-American population left behind in New Orleans and the predominately white police force, our correspondent adds.

Up to 60,000 people could still be stranded in the city, the US coastguard says.

Looting has swept the city as people made homeless by the flooding have grown increasingly desperate.

There have also been outbreaks of shootings and carjackings and reports of rapes.

The federal emergency agency was trying to work "under conditions of urban warfare", director Michael Brown said.

The muddy floodwaters are now toxic with fuel, battery acid, rubbish and raw sewage.

According to the White House, about 90,000 sq miles (234,000 sq km) have been affected by the hurricane.

Superdome Evacuations Temporarily Halted
Sep 03 9:56 AM US/Eastern


Buses taking Hurricane Katrina victims far from the squalor of the Superdome stopped rolling early Saturday. As many as 5,000 people remained in the stadium and could be there until Sunday, according to the Texas Air National Guard.

Officials had hoped to evacuate the last of the crowd before dawn Saturday. Guard members said they were told only that the buses had stopped coming and to shut down the area where the vehicles were being loaded.

"We were rolling," Capt. Jean Clark said. "If the buses had kept coming, we would have this whole place cleaned out already or pretty close to it."

Those left behind early Saturday were orderly, sitting down after hearing news that evacuations were temporarily stalled.

Guard members reported that the massive evacuation operation for the most part had gone smoothly Friday, coming after days of uncertainty, violence and despair.

Capt. John Pollard of the Texas Air Force National Guard said 20,000 people were in the dome when evacuation efforts began. That number swelled as people poured into the Superdome because they believed it was the best place to get a ride out of town.

He estimated Saturday morning that between 2,000 and 5,000 people were left at the Superdome. But it remained a mystery why the buses stopped coming to pick up refugees and shuttle them away.

Tina Miller, 47, had no shoes and cried with relief and exhaustion as she left the Superdome and walked toward a bus. "I never thought I'd make it. Oh, God, I thought I'd die in there. I've never been through anything this awful."

The arena's second-story concourse looked like a dump, with more than a foot of trash except in the occasional area where people were working to keep things as tidy as possible.

Bathrooms had no lights, making people afraid to enter, and the stench from backed-up toilets inside killed any inclination toward bravery.

"When we have to go to the bathroom we just get a box. That's all you can do now," said Sandra Jones of eastern New Orleans.

Her newborn baby was running a fever, and all the small children in her area had rashes, she said.

"This was the worst night of my life. We were really scared. We're getting no help. I know the military police are trying. But they're outnumbered," Jones said.

At one point Friday, the evacuation was interrupted briefly when school buses pulled up so some 700 guests and employees from the Hyatt Hotel could move to the head of the evacuation line _ much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the Superdome since last Sunday.

"How does this work? They (are) clean, they are dry, they get out ahead of us?" exclaimed Howard Blue, 22, who tried to get in their line. The National Guard blocked him as other guardsmen helped the well-dressed guests with their luggage.

The 700 had been trapped in the hotel, near the Superdome, but conditions were considerably cleaner, even without running water, than the unsanitary crush inside the dome. The Hyatt was severely damaged by the storm. Every pane of glass on the riverside wall was blown out.

Mayor Ray Nagin has used the hotel as a base since it sits across the street from city hall, and there were reports the hotel was cleared with priority to make room for police, firefighters and other officials.

Conditions in the Superdome remained unbearable even as the crowd shrank after buses ferried thousands to Houston a day earlier. Much of the medical staff that had been working in the "special needs" arena had been evacuated.

Dr. Kenneth Stephens Sr., head of the medical operations, said he was told they would be moved to help in other medical areas.

Those who wanted food were waiting in line for hours to get it, said Becky Larue, of Des Moines, Iowa.

Larue and her husband arrived in the area last week for a vacation but their hotel soon told them they had to leave and directed them to the Superdome. No directions were provided, she said.

"I'm really scared. I think people are going into a survival mode. I look for people to start injuring themselves just to get out of here," she said.

Larue said she was down to her last blood pressure pill and had no idea of when they'll get out or where to get help.

James LeFlere, 56, was trying to remain optimistic.

"They're going to get us out of here. It's just hard to hang on at this point," he said.

Janice Singleton, a worker at the Superdome, said she got stuck in the stadium when the storm hit. She said she was robbed of everything she had with her, including her shoes.

"They tore that dome apart," she said sadly. "They tore it down. They taking everything out of there they can take."

Then she said, "I don't want to go to no Astrodome. I've been domed almost to death."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Kanye West Rips Bush During NBC Concert

Sep 3, 6:08 AM (ET)

(AP) Kanye West performs on ABC's "Good Morning America" concert series at New York's Lincoln Center on ...
Full Image

 It began, fittingly enough, with jazz from New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis. But "A Concert for Hurricane Relief," a heartfelt and dignified benefit aired on NBC and other networks Friday night, took an unexpected turn thanks to the outspoken rapper Kanye West.

Appearing two-thirds through the program, he claimed "George Bush doesn't care about black people" and said America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."

The show, simulcast from New York on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and Pax, was aired live to the East Coast, enabling the Grammy-winning rapper's outburst to go out uncensored.

There was a several-second tape delay, but the person in charge "was instructed to listen for a curse word, and didn't realize (West) had gone off-script," said NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks.

(AP) Rapper Kanye West talks on his cellphone as he arrives at the 4th annual BET Awards, Tuesday, June...
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West's comment about the president was cut from NBC's West Coast airing, which showed three hours later on tape.

The host was NBC News' Matt Lauer, who invited viewers to contribute to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by phone or on the Web. Some 18 presenters performed musical numbers or gave information on the tragedy's huge scope.

Louisiana native Tim McGraw teared up as he told Lauer, "I know the citizens that weren't affected by this directly are gonna stand up and do good things for people." He sang two songs, then became the first of the evening's stars to sign a Gibson Les Paul Special guitar to be auditioned online.

Faith Hill, a Mississippi native, sang "There Will Come a Time," with the inspiring lyrics, "The darkness will be gone, the weak shall be strong. Hold on to your faith."

New Orleans son Aaron Neville performed Randy Newman's soulful "Louisiana 1927" with the memorable chorus, "they're trying to wash us away, they're trying to wash us away."

New York governor George Pataki presented the Red Cross with a check for $2.5 million and promised, "This great state will do far more."

"In terms of property damage," said actress Hilary Swank, "the estimate is at least $26 billion in insured losses and perhaps twice that in uninsured losses over a 90,000-square-mile area - approximately the size of Kansas."

Other speakers included Lindsay Lohan, Eric LaSalle, Glenn Close, Richard Gere, John Goodman and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Comedian Mike Myers was paired with West for a 90-second segment that began with Myers speaking of Katrina's devastation. Then, to Myers' evident surprise, West began a rant by saying, "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food."

While allowing that "the Red Cross is doing everything they can," West - who delivered an emotional outburst at the American Music Awards after he was snubbed for an award - declared that government authorities are intentionally dragging their feet on aid to the Gulf Coast. Without getting specific, he added, "They've given them permission to go down and shoot us."

After he stated, "George Bush doesn't care about black people," the camera cut away to comedian Chris Tucker.

Concluding the hour a few minutes later, Lauer noted that "emotions in this country right now are running very high. Sometimes that emotion is translated into inspiration, sometimes into criticism. We've heard some of that tonight. But it's still part of the American way of life."

Then the entire ensemble performed "When the Saints Go Marching In."

In a statement, NBC said, "Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks.

"It would be most unfortunate," the statement continued, "if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person's opinion."

Friday's program was the first of several TV benefits planned through next weekend.

NBC and the five other major commercial broadcast networks, along with PBS, plan to unite next Friday for a special. The same night, BET will air a benefit. And on Saturday, Sept. 10, the MTV networks will air a special.


more at

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Today's 100+ bush headlines: Selected from around the world by the editors of Bush Watch
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Opinion:  The Story of the Hurricane Cowboy Who Fiddled While New Orleans Drowned, Amanda Lang
Why did Bush vacation - cut wood, clear brush, bike, and read -- for days while the world watched Katrina develop, then slam as a category 4 hurricane into the Gulf Coast? Just as he did on September 11, 2001, he froze. They don't have cable or telephones in Crawford? The unfolding catastrophe has Bush leadership skills, or lack thereof, written all over it. He treats his own citizens with the same contempt and callousness as he does the Iraqi civilians - as "collateral damage." If a category 4 hurricane is not a "bomb" dropping on American soil, what is? Bush remained on vacation one whole day after Katrina hit, WAITING FOR WHAT? The federal government was 'missing in action' and has failed its citizens abysmally. And Congress... where the hell are they? They rushed back to Washington over night for one woman's feeding tube, but can't seem to find the way back for a destructive hurricane that most likely killed thousands. Are these Americans too poor or not expounding the right religion to garner attention the Trade Tower victims received? They all sat and watched this train wreck, now they are screwing up the rescue and salvage, probably busy searching for the 'scapegoat' du jour. Did the Bush administration and Congress want to create a situation where they could declare martial law? Looks like it. New Orleans has become a war zone. Martial law declared. Since when is a policy of "you loot, we shoot" appropriate for people just trying to survive until help arrives? THEY ARE DYING.

New Orleans Quotes: 

"I'm satisfied with the response." --George W. Bush at NO Airport..."The results are not acceptable." --

G.W. Bush earlier in the day... "We're going to help these communities rebuild....Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter.) --

Bush During Disaster Tour...{"...................................."} --Dick Cheney..."No one has thought enough of us to even bring us a cup of water....Several bodies lie scattered around. Edwards pointed to an elderly lady dead in a wheelchair and said, "I don't treat my dog like that." He says he buried his dog." --

Man Outside NO Convention Center..."They don't have a clue what's going on down here....They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn - excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed," 

New Orleans Mayor Nagin...Instead of helping people left desperate in the wake of Katrina's wrath, [the inactive U.S. Custom's three] Blackhawks actually were slated to transport a CNN news crew to take video shots of those people." --

a former regional Internal Affairs supervisor for U.S. Customs...."I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." 

--George W. Bush 9/1/05..."The storm surge most likely will topple our levee system" 

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin 8/28/05..."No one can say they didn't see it [the breach of the levees] coming." --

Newhouse New Service..."Bush slashed levee reinforcement funding "down to a trickle," and New Orleans is in a Democratic Party state." --

Jerry Politex..."A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource." --

Conservative NH Union Leader..."It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed." --GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert..."An Act of God destroyed a wicked city." 

--Christianist Repent America director Michael Marcavage..."Take a close look at the people you see wandering, devastated, around New Orleans: they are predominantly black and poor." 

--NYT Columnist David Brooks...The people remaining in New Orleans "who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city....the federal government did not even know about the Convention Center people until today." 

--Bush FEMA director Michael Brown...To help in rescue efforts, "donate cash [to Pat Robertson's] Operation Blessing." 

--FEMA website..."Since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal." 

--NYT Editorial We're Listening: Dr. John's "Gumbo" (Atco) the very best!

Connecting the Dots
Katrina: Another Deliberate 9-11?
by Lisa Guliani & Victor Thorn   

 Was New Orleans' Hurricane Katrina disaster another deliberately created "spike" event in the same vein as the Oklahoma City Bombing and NYC's 9-11? Quite a bit of information is starting to point in that direction. Some of the indicators are:

Could Katrina have been redirected to intentionally strike New Orleans? In other words, was this city strategically targeted because of its oil refining capabilities, thus providing the perfect excuse to drive gas prices to astronomical heights? Such a scenario was eerily outlined in a recent made-for-TV movie entitled Oil Storm, which even had the event coincidentally taking place during Labor Day weekend, 2005 --- only a one week difference from the actual event.

If the weather modification angle is too conspiratorial for you, how do we explain pending congressional legislation S 517, which was introduced on March 3, 2005 by Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison? This bill, which will be voted on in October, 2005, is specifically entitled The Weather Modification and Research Technology Transfer Authorization Act of 2005. Its purpose is to "develop and implement a comprehensive and coordinated national weather modification policy, along with a national cooperative federal and state program of weather modification research and development." In addition, the term "weather modification" means: changing or controlling, or attempting to change/control by artificial methods the natural development of atmospheric cloud forms or precipitation forms which occur in the troposphere."

This legislation will legally allow our government to manipulate weather systems and not be punished as criminal for doing so. This point is important, for the United Nations outlawed such practices on December 10, 1976 under UN General Assembly Resolution 31/72. Yet, it has long been believed that forces within our own government and
military have been engaging in activities such as weather modification and warfare via HAARP, EMF, microwave radiation, chemtrails, and other technologies. Also, the Air Force issued an ominously titled research report in August, 1996: Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025.

Worse, what if the levees surrounding New Orleans were deliberately sabotaged? Radio talk show host Alex Merklinger (Mysteries of the Mind) stated on September 2, 2005 that he had received the following report:

"Eyewitness accounts from at least 25 people - who are fearful for their lives because they  are talking – saw people blowing up the New Orleans levees after the main storm had subsided. That was to allow the water to flow in."

Also, famed author and researcher Eustace Mullins told us that these levees in question were extremely strong, and that it would take something akin to an atomic bomb to destroy them.

As stated earlier, there have been a variety of accounts suggesting that this storm followed an unlikely path to New Orleans. In addition, how do we explain water temperatures being substantially hotter than they should have been? Was the water cooked by EMF, microwave radiation, pulse technology, or some other energy source to redirect the hurricane? For more information on the manipulation of weather systems, see the work of Professor James McCanney, and also information on scalar technology. (Katrina and Weather Manipulation)

Furthermore, we know that land in New Orleans is very highly prized due to the fact that it serves as the primary hub for most of our country's oil refineries. But, in recent years, real estate values have depreciated, and some say this is indicative of the city's 70% black population, many of whom live in urban blighted shacks and shanties. Could this catastrophic storm be nothing more than an exercise in urban renewal outlined under the United Nation's Agenda 21 where those in lower socio-economic brackets are evacuated, then not allowed to return in the future? This would enable speculators to move in and reclaim that treasured land. Thus, the refugees are forced to leave their homes under the guise of a natural disaster, similar to what happened to the Japanese people when the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (See chapter 37 of The New World Order Exposed)

Finally, could all of the above explain our federal government's delayed response to urgent pleas for assistance – a scenario which is strangely reminiscent of our military's stand-down on the morning of 9-11? Then, like a knight in shining armor, President George Bush and the National Guard both arrived five days later. And, by the way, President Bush was on vacation when the Asian tsunami hit in December 2004, and he was on vacation with Katrina. Plus, in the crucial weeks leading up to 9-11, Bush was yet again on vacation in Crawford, Texas. Coincidence? Maybe, but please remember this vital quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt: "In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happened, you can bet it was planned that way."

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New Orleans Begins a Search for Its Dead; Violence Persists

Published: September 5, 2005

Troops patrolled the streets, rescuers hunted for stragglers and New Orleans looked like a wrecked ghost town yesterday as the evacuation of the city neared completion and the authorities turned to the grim task of collecting bodies in a ghastly landscape awash in numberless corpses.

Stanley Patrick, a rescue volunteer, shouted for survivors on Sunday in a flooded New Orleans house. The owner's body was found in the bedroom.

Storm and Crisis
Photographs from a devastated region.
Photographs From Last Week

Retracing the Storm
Faced with a massive disaster, everything fell apart in New Orleans. (Related Article)
Damage in New Orleans
Satellite Images

  Interview With New Orleans Mayor
Mayor C. Ray Nagin's radio interview.

THE SCENE Rescuers' frustrations mounted in New Orleans as people who remained in their homes refused to leave.
Roadblocks for Medical Aid

THE FALLOUT Officials escalated their criticism over who was to blame for the problems plaguing the initial response.
The Political Response

ECONOMIC DIVIDE The tales of two families displaced by the disaster expose a chasm between haves and have-nots.

THE POLICE After suicides and desertions, New Orleans is offering officers paid vacations.

HOW TO HELP A partial list of relief organizations and other information on the Web.

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

New Orleans police officers, some having to wear regular clothes because they had no clean uniforms, patrolled Sunday from the back of a pickup truck.

In a city riven by violence for a week, there was yet another shootout yesterday. Contractors for the Army Corps of Engineers came under fire as they crossed a bridge to work on a levee, and police escorts shot back, killing three assailants outright and a fourth in a later gunfight, the police said, adding that a fifth suspect had been wounded and captured. There was no explanation for it, only the numbing facts.

The larger picture of death was just as murky. No one could say how many had died in the hurricane or were waiting to be rescued after the city's levees burst. One morgue at the St. Gabriel Prison near New Orleans was expecting 1,000 to 2,000 bodies. Hundreds were missing in nearby Chalmette. In Baton Rouge, state officials said the official Louisiana death toll stood at 59, but most said that thousands was a more realistic figure. More than 125 were known dead in Mississippi.

"I think it's evident it's in the thousands," Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, told CNN on Sunday.

Seven days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the New Orleans known as America's vibrant capital of jazz and gala Mardi Gras celebrations was gone. In its place was a partly submerged city of abandoned homes and ruined businesses, of bodies in attics or floating in deserted streets, of misery that had driven most of its nearly 500,000 residents into a diaspora of biblical proportions.

As the effects of the crisis spread across the nation, 20 states have opened their shelters, homes and schools to the refugees. But moving the population of New Orleans to other parts of the country has created overcrowding and strains. In Texas, where nearly half the refugees are jamming stadiums, civic centers and hotels, Gov. Rick Perry said the state's capacity was almost exhausted. Thousands of people were also arriving at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas.

In Baton Rouge, at two places, hundreds of people, many carrying umbrellas to protect them from the scorching heat, were lined up for hours waiting for emergency food stamps and other public assistance.

There were no quick solutions. Making New Orleans habitable again was expected to take many months, even a year.

Meanwhile, there were holdouts in the city, unknown numbers of people who refused to go. They were being urged to leave for their own safety. Officials warned of an impossible future in a destroyed city without food, water, power or other necessities, only the specter of cholera, typhoid or mosquitoes carrying malaria or the West Nile virus.

As helicopter and boat crews searched flooded neighborhoods for survivors yesterday and officials focused for the first time on finding, collecting and counting the dead, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, warned that Americans must brace for some gruesome sights in the days ahead.

"We need to prepare the country for what's coming," Mr. Chertoff said on the "Fox News Sunday" television program. "We are going to uncover people who died hiding in the houses, maybe got caught in the floods. It is going to be as ugly a scene as you can imagine."

Stung by critics who say its sluggish response compounded the suffering and cost lives, the Bush administration rolled out a public relations offensive yesterday. Mr. Chertoff visited the Sunday television talk shows to give status reports and defend the government's response.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld went to the stricken states yesterday to assess the damage and pledge relief, and President Bush planned another visit to Louisiana and Mississippi today. He flew over the area on Wednesday as he returned to Washington from a vacation at his Texas ranch, and made an inspection tour on Friday.

The administration's problems in the crisis seemed to crystallize in a dramatic appearance on the NBC program "Meet the Press" by Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish near New Orleans. Sobbing, he told of an emergency management official receiving phone calls from his mother, who, trapped in a nursing home, pleaded day after day for rescue. Assured by federal officials, the man promised her repeatedly that help was on the way.

"Every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?' " Mr. Broussard said. "And he said, 'Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you.' Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday. And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night."

Mr. Broussard angrily denounced the country's leadership. "We have been abandoned by our own country," he said. "It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now."

Congress, returning from a summer recess, is widely expected to undertake investigations into the causes of and reaction to the crisis, and even some Republicans warned that the government's response, widely viewed as slow and ineffectual, could further undermine Mr. Bush's authority at a time when he is lagging in the polls, endangering his Congressional agenda.

Dave Martin/Associated Press

A makeshift tomb in New Orleans conceals a body that had been lying on the sidewalk for days. President Bush has defended the federal response to the hurricane but said the results of the effort were "unacceptable."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld greeted military and rescue officials on Sunday at a medical facility at the New Orleans international airport.

In New Orleans, thousands of National Guard and active duty troops as well as federal marshals finally appeared to be in control of streets where looters and hooligans had run wild for days last week, unchecked by overwhelmed police officers who were focused on saving lives, not property, in the chaotic city. Fires had burned unchecked by overwhelmed firefighters.

The crisis put enormous pressure on many police officers and firefighters, pressure some could not withstand. P. Edwin Compass III, the New Orleans police superintendent, said on Saturday that 200 of the 1,500 members of his force had walked off the job and that two others had committed suicide. He said yesterday that the city had offered to send all members of the police and fire departments and their families on vacations to Las Vegas.

"When you go through something this devastating and traumatic, you've got to do something dramatic to jump-start the healing process," Mr. Compass said.

The notion of a vacation in the midst of disaster struck some as unusual. But officials likened it to an R&R break for combat troops. Military reinforcements, who arrived in the thousands over the weekend, will take over the search and rescue work temporarily, though New Orleans officials said they would remain in charge.

"We haven't turned over control of the city," said Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans. "We're going to leave a skeleton force - about 20 percent of the department - for leadership and liaison with the troops while we get some rest."

During the buildup of troops in recent days, federal, state and local officials have given often wildly disparate figures for military personnel on the ground or on the way. Mr. Bush on Saturday said there were more than 21,000 National Guard troops in Louisiana and Mississippi and 4,000 active duty forces to assist them. He ordered 7,000 more troops into New Orleans.

Colonel Ebbert put the number in the city at 1,000. Yesterday, Brig. Gen. Michael P. Fleming of the National Guard in Baton Rouge said there were 16,000 guardsmen in Louisiana.

The deployment of the troops, whatever their numbers, the arrival of tons of food and other supplies, and progress in closing the breached levees added to a sense of momentum in the stricken city over the weekend. So did stepped-up evacuation efforts. The Louisiana Superdome and the New Orleans convention center, which had become fetid and dangerous refuges for as many as 50,000, were virtually emptied. Hotels, hospitals and other shelters were also evacuated.

Though the number of the dead was still unknown, a few details could be gleaned about the tragedy. Officials said nine bodies came from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, where emergency workers had set up a triage unit. Of a group of 11 bodies from the Superdome, officials said, many were ailing patients on ventilators.

New Orleans remained a city in crisis. There was still no power except that provided by generators, almost nowhere to buy food or water, no reliable transportation or communications systems, no effective firefighting forces.

There were thousands of people awaiting flights out at the airport. Officials said 3,000 to 5,000 people had been treated at the unit, and that only 200 remained. The airport director, Roy Williams, said 30 people had died, some of them elderly.

Other problems developed. Even as the city population dwindled, hundreds of new arrivals were reported to be entering from outlying towns, stragglers who had been unable to escape from their hometowns in the past week and who believed their surest way out could be found with the buses, trains and planes evacuating New Orleans.

There was no way to tell how many New Orleans residents remained in the city. Many were believed hiding in homes or apartments. Rescue teams in helicopters searched flooded neighborhoods and went out in boats and on foot to press a house-to-house search for holdouts yesterday. One helicopter crashed, but no one was injured. Many residents were found and evacuated, but what Mr. Chertoff called a significant number refused to go.

Police officers and troops entered the New Orleans convention center Saturday night. The building was nearly empty after a huge evacuation effort.

Clorestine Haney and her daughter Charlestine, 6, received meals from the National Guard at the Convention Center in New Orleans.

"That is not a reasonable alternative," he said on "Fox News Sunday." "We are not going to be able to have people sitting in houses in the city of New Orleans for weeks and months while we de-water and clean the city."

People like Frank Asevado III, a 37-year-old mechanic, and Travis Latapie, 44, a shrimp fisherman, both from St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans, complained bitterly in interviews of being abandoned by the government after the waters engulfed their community. They told of using their boats for several days to save 300 friends and neighbors, plucking them from floodwaters and the roofs of homes and cars.

"We never see no Coast Guard, no nothing," Mr. Latapie said.

Mr. Asevado added, "The government didn't do jack."

Aid from around the country continued to move toward the stricken region. New York City, which dispatched 100 city buses and 172 police officers to New Orleans on Saturday, decided yesterday to send 150 more officers and 300 firefighters today. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg noted that Louisiana had been among the many states that helped New York after Sept. 11.

"We understand that we have an obligation, and we're happy to do it," the mayor said.

In the midst of misery in New Orleans, there were lingering signs of a fading vivacity. About two dozen people gathered in the French Quarter for an annual Labor Day gay celebration, the Decadence Parade. Matt Menold, 23, a street musician wearing a sombrero and a guitar, explained: "It's New Orleans, man. We're going to celebrate."

But the tragedy of New Orleans was more vividly represented in the Garden District, a business area dotted with antique shops. At the corner of Jackson Avenue and Magazine Street, a woman's body had been on the sidewalk since Wednesday. People had covered her with blankets and plastic, and by yesterday a small wall of bricks had been erected around the corpse to hold down a tarpaulin to cloak her.

On it, someone had spray-painted a cross and an epitaph: "Here lies Vera. God help us."

Reporting for this article was contributed by Jeremy Alford, Sewell Chan and Michael Luo from Baton Rouge, La., and John DeSantis, Christopher Drew and Joseph B. Treaster from New Orleans.


September 05, 2005 update

finally the public is waking up to who FEMA and their straw boss Home Land Security really are ... their role was not to save New Orleans or the gulf coast residents ... their task was to depopulate the area along with ethnic cleansing ... the same issue that occurred in florida last year ... and i think this was just the first of numerous upcoming attacks on US cities ... orchestrated and carried out by the IMF CIA crew (these are your real terrorists) ... there is no doubt in my mind that the New Orleans levees were blasted out when it was clear that New Orleans had survived Katrina which was a completely manipulated storm ... i reported this as soon as the news came out that the levees went on tuesday morning ... there are now reports of people witnessing the levees explosions ... FEMA and their thugs had all monday night to prepare and plan the flooding from all sides ... FEMA certainly was not there to help the people ... as i said before ... there was no way all these levees blew out all at the same time completely inundating the city from all sides ... reminiscent of the demolition of the twin towers at 911 ... the bushes, the clintons, the IMF and the world's big shots along with their merry band of mafia scum all have to go NOW !!! get a clue america ... its time to take your country back while there is still something left ... with the pattern that has emerged it would appear that chicago might be their next target with possibly a bio chem "terror" attack ... with the maximum stress placed on the midwest and maximum ethnic cleansing 

how can you help get this message out ?? tell the people in the news media to read this page and get their heads out of the sand ... they have failed the american public by catering to these corrupt politicians and their cronies ... they print what they are told to print ... in a free society the press has to be the front line and they have failed the public as much as any government agency ... how many of them even know that a hurricane can be manipulated ... something people who follow my work have known about for at least 10 years ... how many of them have a clue who is really pulling the strings in this country ??? how many of them will stand up to their bosses under threat of being fired to tell the truth in the press and see that the top people in this country are removed from power ??? NOW !!! ... with the multi billion dollar news media in "the land of the free and the home of the brave" ... why are tens of thousands of people coming to my little home page to try to get some semblance of the truth ??? what is wrong with this picture ??? !!! even if the news media started getting a clue ... i am sure they would find a way to "blend" it and spin it so you would never recognize it by the time they got done with it ... jim mccanney


Documents show how disaster agency delayed

September 9, 2005
Members of the South Carolina game warden patrols on a boat during a rescue mission in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans

Members of the South Carolina game warden patrols on a boat during a rescue mission in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans
Photo: Reuters

New Orleans: Controversy surrounding the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its dilatory response to the Hurricane Katrina crisis has escalated after documents surfaced showing that its director, Michael Brown, hesitated five hours after the storm hit before acting.

He then sent off a memo to his boss, Michael Chertoff, the head of the Homeland Security Department, suggesting 1000 agency workers should be sent in after another 48-hour wait, apparently for training purposes.

One of their tasks, Mr Brown wrote, would be to "convey a positive image" about the Government's response.

The details surfaced as President George Bush asked Congress for an additional $US51.8 billion ($67.5 billion) for hurricane relief efforts, with the Government starting to hand out $US2000 debit cards for displaced Gulf Coast residents to spend on essentials.

So far, he said, more than 319,000 people have registered and are eligible for the cards.

The flow of money came as the White House continued to defend the federal response to Katrina, though its spokesman, Scott McClellan, steered clear of issuing the traditional statement of confidence in Mr Chertoff and Mr Brown, both of whom are Bush appointees.

Mr Brown and his deputy, Patrick Rhode, had little or no experience of emergency management before they arrived at the agency. Mr Brown organised horse shows and Mr Rhode worked on Mr Bush's election campaign.

The Guardian

Disaster agency chief to be fall-guy for federal failure

By Rupert Cornwell

Published: 08 September 2005

Michael Brown, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, looks set to be the first head to roll in Washington after Hurricane Katrina, as Democrats and Republicans alike attack his performance.

The Associated Press has unearthed documents showing that Mr Brown waited hours after the storm struck before proposing to Michael Chertoff, his direct superior and head of the Department of Homeland Security, that 1,000 extra staff be sent. Part of their task, the memo said, would be to "convey a positive image" of how the government was handling the disaster. In fact, by common consent, the Government completely botched its reponse to the situation. Mr Brown was among several top officials, among them Mr Chertoff, who were assailed by lawmakers at a closed-door session on Capitol Hill on Tuesday evening.

His resignation has been publicly demanded by Senator Hillary Clinton and the House minority leader Nancy Pelosi - not to mention The Times-Picayune newspaper of New Orleans, which has called for the entire Fema management to be sacked.

Thus far the White House has avoided criticising Mr Brown. But its new-found silence about him speaks volumes - especially after last week's effusive praise from President George Bush: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," Mr Bush declared.

Mr Bush is loyal to appointees. But leaks against Mr Brown, about a lack of qualifications for the job - suspected of orginating in the White House, suggest he is being lined up as designated fall guy, in an attempt to save the necks of those higher up.

Cheney visits disaster zone as feuding intensifies

By Rupert Cornwell

Published: 09 September 2005

The US Vice-President, Dick Cheney, went to Mississippi and Louisiana to defend the Bush administration's handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster but, if anything, political feuding intensified in the capital over who should take the blame for the botched initial response.

Defending "the folks who are getting it right," Mr Cheney said the victims "deserve the support of all of us," as he inspected damage in the shattered Mississippi city of Gulfport along with the Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and the embattled Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

"I've got some very good people with me today," Mr Cheney said, pointing to Mr Chertoff, whose department is in charge of relief efforts.

Mr Chertoff has been bitterly criticised by Republicans as well as Democrats, but Mr Cheney expressed both his own and President George Bush's "enormous confidence" in him.

As of yesterday, the official death toll from Katrina stood at 294, but the final figure will probably to run into the thousands, or higher as receding flood waters yield the truth. The cost of the storm is put at between $100bn (£55bn) and $200bn. But in political Washington the focus is already shifting to apportioning blame.

Republican Congressional leaders announced plans to set up a rare joint committee of the House and Senate to investigate what happened, and report back by 15 February. But Dem-ocrats immediately resisted, fearing a stitch-up designed to shield the White House from blame.

Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, attacked the idea of "a Republican-controlled Congress investigating a Republican administration." Mr Reid prefers the alternative proposed by Senator Hillary Clinton of a blue-riband independent commission drawn equally from both parties. But Republicans fired back at Ms Clinton, accusing her of grandstanding ahead of a presidential bid in 2008.

Democrats have been emboldened - and Republicans alarmed - by the public verdict on Mr Bush's performance. A new CBS poll has found that 65 per cent of Americans believe he was too slow to respond and 58 per cent disapproved of his handling of the aftermath.

Normally, public opinion here rallies behind a President in a national emergency. But the contrast between today and September 2001, when the country was united in its support for him after the terrorist attacks, could not be starker.

A separate CNN/USA Today poll suggests 42 per cent feel Mr Bush has done a "bad" or "terrible" job, compared with 35 per cent who rate his performance "good" or "great". Overwhelmingly Republicans back Mr Bush, while two-thirds of Democrats are critical, another illustration of the partisan division.

Congress is preparing to approve Mr Bush's latest request of $51.8bn for relief. The government is spending $2bn a day, as it starts to allocate major clean-up and rebuilding contracts.



Sept 5, 2005

Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreen's store at the corner of Royal and Iberville streets remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers, and prescriptions and fled the City. Outside Walgreen's windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry.

The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized and the windows at Walgreen's gave way to the looters. There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and
distributed the nuts, fruit juices, and bottle water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.

We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home yesterday (Saturday). We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreen's in the French Quarter.

We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero" images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the "victims" of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed, were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing" boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded. Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that was not under water.

On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for
safety and shelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends outside of New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources including the National Guard and
scores of buses were pouring in to the City. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible because none of us had seen them.

We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited late into the night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived at the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.

By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the City, we finally encountered the National Guard.

The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the City's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told us that the City's only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our alternative?" The guards told us that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and
hostile "law enforcement".

We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay.

Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the City. The crowd cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, "I swear to you that the buses are there."

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched past the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain
Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.

All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot.

Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.

Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts.

Now secure with the two necessities, food and water; cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized a clean up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).

This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other, working together and constructing a community.

If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and the ugliness would not have set in. Flush with the necessities, we
offered food and water to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.

From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the City. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water. Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway
on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.

The next days, our group of 8 walked most of the day, made contact with New Orleans Fire Department and were eventually airlifted out by an urban search and rescue team. We were dropped off near the airport and managed to catch a ride with the National Guard. The two young guardsmen apologized for the limited response of the Louisiana guards. They explained that a large section of their unit was in Iraq and that meant they were shorthanded and were unable to complete all the tasks they were assigned.

We arrived at the airport on the day a massive airlift had begun. The airport had become another Superdome. We 8 were caught in a press of humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while George Bush landed briefly at the airport for a photo op. After being evacuated on a coast guard cargo plane, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.

There the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief effort continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large field where we were forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses did not have air-conditioners. In the dark, hundreds if us were forced to share two filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who managed to make it out with any possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic bags) we were subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.

Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been confiscated at the airport because the rations set off the metal detectors. Yet, no food had been provided to the men, women, children,
elderly, disabled as they sat for hours waiting to be "medically screened" to make sure we were not carrying any communicable diseases.

This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heart-felt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome. Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist. There was more suffering than need be. Lives were lost that
did not need to be lost.

Lyn H. Lofland
Research Professor
Department of Sociology University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, California 95616 USA
Telephone: 530-756-8699/752-1585
FAX: 530-752-0783

This is a forward from another group.  It is important because it is a record of events by someone who lives there and was watching it all unfold.

The following timeline illustrating the sequence of events during the Katrina crisis might help to dispel some of the disinformation that has been circulating about it.  Note that Louisiana Governor Katherine Blanco declared a state of emergency on Friday, August 26, and on that same day all five Gulf Coast states requested assistance from the Pentagon (although as events unfolded Texas did not need it). 

By the way, I was here in Baton Rouge when Blanco declared that state of emergency on the 26th, and heard her issue her request to Bush to declare a Federal state of emergency on the 27th.  So I find it particularly annoying to see the sort of, well, lies circulating that deny what I know to be facts from personal experience.

The governor of Louisiana, mayor of New Orleans, and police commissioner of New Orleans have performed admirably under conditions that are absolutely unprecedented.  Attempts to impugn this performance constitute the lowest level of politicking imaginable.


Visit the web site to leave your comments.

Friday, August 26

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

"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


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]

"We're facing the storm most of us have feared," said Nagin. "This is going to be an unprecedented event." [Times-Picayune]

4PM 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]


Monday, August 29

8AM 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: "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." [White House]


11AM” 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]

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]

11:30AM 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]

2PM  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]

9PM  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

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]



Wednesday, August 31
TENS OF THOUSANDS TRAPPED IN SUPERDOME; CONDITIONS DETERIORATE: "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."" [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/05]

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]

"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]

5PM  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]

8:00PM  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]

9PM  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
8AM  BUSH CLAIMS NO ONE EXPECTED LEVEES TO BREAK: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." [Washington Post]

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  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  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: "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." [CNN]

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  BUSH PRAISES MICHAEL BROWN: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." [White House, 9/2/05]

10 AM  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 were 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]

3PM  BUSH "SATISFIED WITH THE RESPONSE": "I am satisfied with the response. I am not satisfied with all the results." [AP]

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 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]


September 08, 2005 posting ... waking up to reality ... it is now clear that new orleans was swept clean of its inhabitants to make way for a new mega port to be built by Halliburton for the rich / the $$$$ that clinton and bush senior were soliciting the day after the levees were breached ... and most of the moneys that sympathetic citizens of the USA and world are contributing will not go to the poor displaced people ...but to build the new IMF mega port and luxury area for the ultra rich ... saturday before the hurricane ever made land fall your little prince geeee dubya signed an executive order giving FEMA complete control over the area ... what is everyone complaining about ... michael brown did his job perfectly ... he cordoned off the city and proceeded with whatever was necessary to secure and clear new orleans and the surrounding area for the upcoming super port ... jim mccanney


Police Begin Seizing Guns of Civilians
Ruptured New Orleans Levee had help failing
By: Hal Turner
September 9, 2005 - 3:36 PM EDT

New Orleans, LA -- Divers inspecting the ruptured levee walls surrounding New Orleans found something that piqued their interest: Burn marks on underwater debris chunks from the broken levee wall !

One diver, a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, saw the burn marks and knew immediately what caused them.  He secreted a small chunk of the cement inside his diving suit and later arranged for it to be sent to trusted military friends at a The U.S. Army Forensic Laboratory at Fort Gillem, Georgia for testing.

According to well placed sources, a military forensic specialist determined the burn marks on the cement chunks did, in fact, come from high  explosives.  The source, speaking on condition of anonymity said "We found traces of boron-enhanced fluoronitramino explosives as well as PBXN-111.  This would indicate at least two separate types of explosive devices."

The levee ruptures in New Orleans did not take place during Hurricane Katrina, but rather a day after the hurricane struck.  Several residents of New Orleans and many Emergency Workers reported hearing what sounded like large, muffled explosions from the area of the levee, but those were initially discounted as gas explosions from homes with leaking gas lines.

If these allegations prove true, the ruptured levee which flooded New Orleans was a deliberate act of mass destruction perpetrated by someone with access to military-grade UNDERWATER high explosives.

More details as they become available . . .

Red Tape
    By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

    Wednesday 14 September 2005

New allegations highlight the bureaucratic fumbles that delayed vital help for hurricane-hit New Orleans

    The Bush administration is continuing to face heavy criticism over the sluggish response of federal agencies, principally the departments of Homeland Security and Defense, to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

    New allegations continue to surface that offers of personnel and material assistance to New Orleans and other areas affected by the storm were held up by bureaucratic red tape. There are also indications that a proposed congressional investigation into government responses to the disaster could itself become bogged down in jurisdictional wrangles and partisan infighting.

    One example of the criticisms that are still continuing to surface regarding the Bush administration's slow response to the damage wrought by Katrina comes from Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico and former secretary of Energy under Bill Clinton. Richardson told NEWSWEEK that on Monday, the day Katrina hit New Orleans, he immediately authorized his state National Guard commander to dispatch 400 New Mexico guardsmen to the disaster area to help out Louisiana state forces. But according to a state official, a hold-up at the Pentagon meant that the New Mexico guardsmen did not actually fly to Louisiana until Friday morning, four days after Richardson authorized them to go.

    Richardson said that when he asked his guard commander to explain the delay, he was told the New Mexico troops were not being allowed to travel to the region because of "federal paperwork," which the National Guard bureau at the Pentagon insisted had to be completed. According to Richardson, this paperwork included various authorizations and certifications as well as "transportation waivers." "I remember saying to [the New Mexico guard commander] it's going to be too late" by the time state guardsmen reached the disaster scene, Richardson recalled.

    An aide to the governor said that military officials later explained that the troops were not allowed to move until they had been assigned a specific mission to pursue once they got to the disaster region, and the mission assignment did not come through from the Pentagon until late Thursday. A spokesman for the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon said the bureau worked "as quickly as possible" to move troops to the disaster area as part of "an orderly process."

    National Guard troops from other states were not the only would-be rescue and recovery officials whose movement to the disaster scene appears to have been impeded by bureaucratic fumbling. According to a knowledgeable federal source, dozens of officers from one of the Homeland Security Department's own bureaus were also inexplicably delayed in being transported to the region. According to the source, investigators working for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the plainclothes detective division of Homeland Security also known as ICE, were also put on standby to fly to the Gulf Coast within hours of the hurricane making landfall. However, the orders for the ICE agents to move to the region did not come from Homeland Security headquarters until a couple of days passed, leaving investigators puzzled about the reason for the delay.

    Late last week, Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown was removed from his temporary appointment as top federal official on the scene of the disaster. On Monday, amid questions about his qualifications for the post-he had previously been a "commissioner" of the International Arabian Horse Association and had no background in emergency management-Brown resigned as FEMA chief and from his position as Homeland Security undersecretary. In a public appearance Tuesday, President Bush acknowledged the faltering response by authorities to Katrina and said: "To the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility."

    Additional questions are being raised, however, as to whether Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who is supposed to be the president's chief adviser on responses to both natural disasters and man-made catastrophes like terror attacks, was also slow in responding to the multiple crises caused by Katrina. According to a report today by the Knight Ridder newspaper chain, under an order issued by President Bush in 2003, Chertoff, as Homeland Security chief, was in charge of managing the national response to a natural catastrophe. But Knight Ridder cited an internal government memo that indicated that Chertoff did not designate Brown as the Principal Federal Official on the disaster scene until Tuesday, Aug. 30, about 36 hours after the hurricane hit Mississippi and Louisiana. Knight Ridder also suggested that the memo implied Chertoff might have been "confused about his lead role in disaster response."

    Senior Homeland Security officials insisted to NEWSWEEK that Knight Ridder's reporters had misread Chertoff's Aug. 30 memo and that the newspaper story contained "significant inaccuracies." According to the department's version, on Saturday, Aug. 27, before the hurricane reached the Gulf Coast, President Bush had signed an order declaring the storm an "incident of national significance," thereby formally triggering the "national response plan," a governmentwide scheme for dealing with any kind of national catastrophe that the Bush administration prepared in response to the 9/11 attacks. According to officials, Chertoff's Aug. 30 memo was only a reminder to other agencies that the president had triggered the plan several days earlier. Officials also said that Knight Ridder had misinterpreted the memo when they suggested that Chertoff might have been confused about his role as the leader of government responses to the disaster. The officials said that when Chertoff's memo talked about his department's role in "assisting" in responding to Katrina-rather than leading the response to the storm-the memo was only referring to the department's role in "assisting" a White House Task Force that had been set up to consider long-term plans for helping areas affected by Katrina to recover and rebuild after the storm.

    Aides to Chertoff said that the Homeland Security secretary has been concerned for some time that the department's assorted and far-flung components did not always work well together to respond urgently to crises, and that Chertoff declared a few weeks before Katrina that one of his priorities was trying to get various agencies in his own department to work together more efficiently.

    Even before it gets under way, a congressional investigation that is supposed to examine how and where government responses to Katrina failed also seems to be beset by jurisdictional and political squabbles. Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican from Long Island who is in line to become next chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and, hence, a major player in any legislative-branch inquiry, said that several potential obstacles face congressional leaders as they try to set up their investigation.

    For a start, King said, Democrats have vowed to boycott the investigation entirely. In a statement last week, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi demanded an independent 9/11-style commission be set up to investigate the response to Katrina and said that she would not appoint any Democrats to serve on the Senate-House Katrina inquiry that the GOP leadership says it is going to set up. "The partisan proposal that Republican leaders outlined yesterday is completely unacceptable. House Democrats will not participate in a sham that is just the latest example of congressional Republicans being the foxes guarding the president's hen house," Pelosi complained.

    Republican infighting could also hamper any inquiry. King noted that while the House Homeland Security Committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security, its agencies, and any actions or preparations it might make relating to man-made catastrophes like terror attacks, the House Transportation Committee, headed by Rep. Don Young, has jurisdiction over natural disasters. Hence, there is a possibility of jockeying between the two committees over control of the Katrina investigation, if it ever gets going. King said that as he understands it, what GOP leaders want to do is to set up a joint inquiry committee, like the panels that examined the Iran-contra affair and 9/11 background. But in this case, the Senate end of the committee would hold hearings under Senate chairmanship with some House members present, and the House members of the committee would do likewise. King said House GOP leaders have indicated they would like any congressional investigation to be completed-and to produce its final report-by Feb. 15 of next year, which doesn't leave much time for the infighting that is currently bogging the down the whole process.


New Orleans Relives Flooding Nightmare

NEW ORLEANS (Sept. 23, 2005) - Hurricane Rita's wind and rain breached one of New Orleans' battered levees Friday and sent water gushing into the already-devastated Ninth Ward just days after the impoverished neighborhood was pumped dry.

The water streamed through gaps at least 100 feet wide and was soon waist-deep on a nearby street. It began covering buckled homes, piles of rubble and mud-caked cars that Katrina had swamped with up to 20 feet of water nearly a month ago.

There was no immediate indication that the rest of New Orleans was in danger from the new flooding in the Ninth Ward, a particularly low-lying part of the city that has been largely abandoned. Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers said other levees appeared secure, including those breached during Katrina.

The flooding was the first blow to fall on the ravaged city from Rita.

"Our worst fears came true," said Maj. Barry Guidry, a National Guardsman on duty at the broken levee. "We have three significant breaches in the levee and the water is rising rapidly."

Refugees from the misery-stricken neighborhood learned of the crisis with despair.

"It's like looking at a murder," Quentrell Jefferson said as he watched the news at a church in Lafayette, 125 miles west of New Orleans. "The first time is bad. After that, you numb up."

The water poured over and through sandbags, gravel and soil that had been used to temporarily patch breaks in the Industrial Canal levee, said Dan Hitchings, a spokesman with the Corps of Engineers. Around midafternoon, he said the water did not appear to be rising anymore.

He said that the Corps could not immediately reach the spot to repair it, but that pumps would be turned on to help remove the water.

Col. Richard Wagenaar, Corps of Engineers district chief in New Orleans, said the overtopping of the levees would set back repairs at least three weeks. He said, nevertheless, June is still the target for getting the levees back to pre-Katrina levels.

The breach came as Rita began lashing the Gulf Coast with rain and wind and up to 500,000 people in southwestern Louisiana headed north on jammed roads. State police said flooding in coastal Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes forced street closings by midday.

Rita was expected to come ashore early Saturday somewhere near the Texas-Louisiana line. There were fears it would stall, dumping as much as 25 inches of rain.

Forecasters said the hurricane could bring 3 to 5 inches of rain to New Orleans - dangerously close to the 6 inches Army engineers say could overwhelm the patched levees. Another fear was that a strong storm surge would push water through the walls.

Because of the approaching storm, authorities called off the search for bodies, and Katrina's death toll across the Gulf Coast stood at 1,078, including 841 in Louisiana.

A mandatory evacuation order was in effect for the part of New Orleans on the east bank of the Mississippi, including the Ninth Ward. A spokeswoman for Mayor Ray Nagin said officials believed the neighborhood had been cleared of residents.

Just to the east, St. Bernard Parish - heavily flooded by Katrina - water from the new breach was threatening from one side and a storm surge along a bayou was lapping at the top of a levee on the other.

Mark Madary, a St. Bernard Parish councilman, said houses that were under 12 feet of water after Katrina would probably get an additional 3 feet. He accused the Army Corps of Engineers of not rebuilding the levee properly.

"Everybody's home's been crushed, and let's hope their dreams aren't," he said.

Associated Press writers Michelle Roberts and Mary Foster in New Orleans, Julia Silverman in Lafayette, La., and Doug Simpson in Baton Rouge, La., contributed to this report.

09-23-05 15:07 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.


September 26, 2005 posting ... wowww ... you really need hip boots out there these days folks ... THERE HAS BEEN A RECENT SURGE OF MISINFORMATION REGARDING WEATHER CONTROL ... THERE IS A NEW GROUP OF IMPOSTER "WEATHER CONTROL EXPERTS" INCLUDING A CLOWN NAMED SCOTT STEVENS BEING PROMOTED ON THE AIR WAVES ... scott recently became a paid disinformation front but he won't say who gave him the "lucrative offer" that allowed him to quit his job as a local weather man on a small time local evening news show to become the latest expert on the complex and detailed world of black op's weather control physics ... they find these people with no real history or background in a field then promote them to spread misinformation ... how does someone that only began a tiny web site in october 2004 (the internic registration of his web site) rise to be an "expert" on national TV/radio with Bill O'Reilly, Alex Jones, Joyce Riley and others (don't they screen their guests for credentials ???) ... when i talked to scott last spring he knew nothing of the history of weather modification other than some trivia he collected from a few other web sites that he had visited and he knew nothing about complex physics systems ... how does someone like this get catapulted to national prominence as an "expert" on a topic as complex and under national security cover as the topic of weather manipulation ???... it gives a new meaning to the phrase "yesterday i couldn't even spell UNGINEER ... and now i are one" ) 

... YOU HAVE BEEN HEARING A GROWING LIST OF IMPOSTERS ON MAJOR NEWS MEDIA AND THE "ALTERNATIVE RADIO SHOWS" WHO ARE TRYING TO DIVERT THE TRUE STORY REGARDING WEATHER MANIPULATION ... the major talk show networks and hosts are trying desperately to replace my decades long research on weather and weather manipulation ... the most important of which was my weather work with the russian atmospheric scientists at Novosibirsk back in the 1990's ... the powder puff talk show hosts are prompted by their handlers to fill the air waves with a fraction of the truth and post this substitute news only to divert the real stories and issues (and then try to sell you something with endless commercials) ... the term "scalar weapons" is a mythical term invented to divert the real topic and make ridiculous claims like katrina and rita were products of the yokahama momma japanese mafia using russian scalar weather control technology ... PURE GARBAGE  ... the USA has been subverted from within ... the weather is being manipulating WITH USA BUILT AND OPERATED LASER SATELLITES ... (yes ... built and operated right here in the good ole USA) ... jim mccanney

Mayor of New Orleans Announces Layoffs

By AMY FORLITI, Associated Press Writer
October 4, 2005

NEW ORLEANS - Mayor Ray Nagin said Tuesday the city is laying off as many as 3,000 employees — or about half its workforce — because of the financial damage inflicted on New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

Nagin announced with "great sadness" that he had been unable to find the money to keep the workers on the payroll.

He said only non-essential workers will be laid off and that no firefighters or police will be among those let go.

"I wish I didn't have to do this. I wish we had the money, the resources to keep these people," Nagin said. "The problem we have is we have no revenue streams."

Nagin described the layoffs as "pretty permanent" and said that the city will work with the

Federal Emergency Management Agency to notify municipal employees who fled the city in the aftermath of Katrina, which struck about a month ago.

The mayor said the move will save about $5 million to $8 million of the city's monthly payroll of $20 million. The layoffs will take place over the next two weeks.

"We talked to local banks and other financial institutions and we are just not able to put together the financing necessary to continue to maintain City Hall's staffing at its current levels," the mayor said.

Meanwhile, former

President Clinton met with dozens of New Orleans-area evacuees staying at a shelter in Baton Rouge's convention center. And officials ended their door-to-door sweep for corpses in Louisiana with the death toll Tuesday at 972 — far fewer than the 10,000 the mayor had feared at one point. Mississippi's Katrina death toll was 221.

A company hired by the state to remove bodies will remain on call if any others are found.

Clinton, working with former

President Bush to raise money for victims, shook hands and chatted with the evacuees, some of whom have been sleeping on cots in the Rivercenter's vast concrete hall for more than a month and complained of lack of showers, clean clothes, privacy and medical care.

"My concern is to listen to you ... and learn the best way to spend this money we've got," Clinton said.

Robert Warner, 51, of New Orleans said he and others have struggled to get private housing set up through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We've been mired in the bureaucratic red tape since Day One," he said.



 (NEW ORLEANS, September 27, 2005 ) -- On Sept. 1, with desperate Hurricane  Katrina evacuees crammed into the convention center, Police Chief Eddie Compass reported: "We have individuals who are getting raped;  we have individuals who are getting beaten."

 Five days later, he told Oprah Winfrey that babies were being raped. On the same show, Mayor Ray Nagin warned: "They have people standing out there, have been in that frickin' Superdome for five days  watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping  people."

 The ugliest reports -- children with slit throats, women dragged off and raped, corpses piling up in the basement -- soon became a
 searing image of post-Katrina New Orleans.

 The stories were told by residents trapped inside the Superdome and convention center and were repeated by public officials. Many news organizations, including The Associated Press, carried the witness accounts and official pronouncements, and in some cases later repeated the claims as fact, without attribution.

 But now, a month after the chaos subsided, police are re-examining the reports and finding that many of them have little or no basis in fact. They have no official reports of rape and no eyewitnesses to sexual assault. The state Department of Health and Hospitals counted 10 dead at the Superdome and four at the convention center. Only two of those are believed to have been murdered. One of those victims -- found at the Superdome -- appears to have been killed elsewhere before being brought to the stadium, said Bob Johannessen, the agency spokesman.

 "It was a chaotic time for the city. Now that we've had a chance to reflect back on that situation, we're able to say right now that  things were not the way they appeared," said police Capt. Marlon  Defillo. Sally Forman, a spokeswoman for Nagin, said the mayor was  relying on others for his information about conditions at the  evacuation sites. "He was listening to officials, trusting that information they were providing was accurate," she said. To be sure, conditions at both sites were chaotic. Water was rising around the Superdome, home to 20,000 evacuees. Toilets were backing up, garbage was rotting, fights were breaking out. Food was in short supply at the convention center, where about 19,000 people took shelter from the rising waters. The temperature was climbing. The elderly and very young were desperate for food, water and medicine. Police said  they saw muzzle flashes at the convention center, and a National Guard member was shot in the leg when an evacuee tried to take his  gun.

 A week after the floodwaters poured into the city, an Arkansas National Guardsman told The Times-Picayune of New Orleans that soldiers had discovered 30 to 40 bodies inside a freezer in the convention center's food area. Guardsman Mikel Brooks told the newspaper that some of the dead appeared to have met violent ends, including "a 7-year-old with her throat cut." When the convention center was swept, however, no such pile of bodies was found. Lt. Col. Jacques Thibodeaux of the Louisiana National Guard said reports of violence at the Superdome and the convention center were overblown. He was head of security at the Superdome and led the 1,000 military police and infantrymen who went in to secure the center on Sept. 2. "The incidents were highly exaggerated" -- the result of fear and hopelessness, he said. "For the amount of the people in the situation, it was a very stable environment." 

 Thibodeaux said his guard unit received no reports of rape. Bill Waldron, a homicide detective from Florida in New Orleans for a  murder trial, was stuck in the convention center until Sept. 1. He said he saw a couple of fights between young men, but "no murders, no rapes." He said that he did see people dying, but that those deaths were most likely a result of the heat and lack of  water. "People were wanting just some type of authority to come in and say, `Hey, this is what's going to happen,"' Waldron said. "People were scared." New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan said officials at the morgue in St. Gabriel have identified  four apparent homicide victims from the city. All were shot and all were adults. Police arrested one person on suspicion of attempted sexual assault but received no official reports of rape.

 Judy Benitez, executive director of the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault, cautioned that it might be too soon to say whether there really were rapes at the evacuation sites. Because the evacuees and any perpetrators have been scattered across the country by Katrina, and now Hurricane Rita, victims may come forward later, she said.

"It is extremely difficult to get good statistics about rape under  normal circumstances, and these are certainly not normal  circumstances," she said. Bill Ellis, a folklorist at Pennsylvania  State University, said rumors in an environment like that at the  evacuation centers are to be expected, given the frightening circumstances and paucity of authoritative information.

 "Rumors become improvised news. You become your own anchorman," he  said. The chaos also seemed to affect some reporters and editors,  said Kelly McBride, who teaches ethics to journalists at the Poynter Institute, a journalism research and education center in St. Petersburg, Fla. "You get so hung up as a reporter on what the big picture is that you use generalizations that become untrue," McBride said. --The Associated Press

Bulldozers to sweep New Orleans homes away

Residents fighting mass demolition project of hurricane-ravaged houses

Image: St. Bernard Parish destruction
Remnants of homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina are seen in St. Bernard Parish, La. on Dec. 17, 2005. The government plans a large-scale demolition project in the area to knock down ruined houses.
Gerald Herbert / AP file
By Manuel Roig-Franzia
The Washington Post
Updated: 1:56 a.m. ET Dec. 24, 2005

CHALMETTE, La. - Ronnie Nunez bought the weird pink house in the Battleground Subdivision to entice his daughter and baby granddaughter to come back to Louisiana from out of state. But they didn’t stay with him long.

He thought he’d patch up his marriage there. That didn’t work either.

The house is a bad renovator’s jigsaw puzzle, with three roofs stitched together and an inexplicable interior bay window connecting separate wings. To tell the truth, he never much liked the place.

A bulldozer is likely to arrive before the new year to scrape away Nunez’s house, the first demolition in one of the first large-scale government bulldozing projects in the New Orleans area since Hurricane Katrina’s Aug. 29 assault. Someone told Nunez that Katrina means “cleansing,” and though he never bothered to look it up, he decided to believe it. The bulldozer will be his personal cleansing agent.

“I have a chance to start over,” Nunez, a 61-year-old trucker and former Marine with a penchant for mirrored sunglasses, said one recent cloudy afternoon. “I said, ‘Here I am. Take me down.’”

Bulldozing, with its crushing note of finality, is an approach heavy with emotions in post-hurricane Louisiana. It is so emotional that “No Bulldozing” campaigns are being waged to save the sodden homes in parts of New Orleans, where several thousand houses may be demolished soon. The battle over bulldozing is most fervent in neighborhoods such as the predominantly black Lower Ninth Ward, where skeptical residents fear that their communities will not be rebuilt.

Overwhelming number of homes ruined
But here in suburban, working-class, mostly white St. Bernard Parish, where the destruction was so complete that just 10 of 25,000 houses are inhabitable, there is a headlong rush to the wrecking ball. More than 300 houses have been tagged for a mass demolition project that will begin in the coming weeks, as soon as a monumental tangle of paperwork is unraveled. Yet that’s just the start in a parish where the water rose so high— 17 feet in some parts— that nearly every house is considered a candidate to be knocked down.

Oil refinery workers and fishermen and suburban commuters line up each day, offering their stucco and brick and wood frames to be pulverized. Parish officials that aren’t involved in demolition have grown so tired of interruptions that they post signs on their office doors to divert people who want the local government to wipe away their homes.

Requests by homeowners who want to memorialize their houses’ final moments on videotape are piling up. The homeowners’ enthusiasm is bolstered by assurances that they will be allowed to rebuild, a contrast with the situation just upriver in New Orleans, where leaders of the city’s rebuilding commission have discussed abandoning parts of the city that suffered the worst flooding.

St. Bernard Parish— known simply as “da parish” in Louisiana because of its inhabitants’ syllable-blurring, Brooklynesque accents— lives in the shadow of the irresistible charm of New Orleans. The parish touches the New Orleans line at the Lower Ninth Ward. The parish— industrial to the east and marshy to the west— always felt like “the bastard stepchild” of New Orleans, said Parish Council member Joey Difatta, who lives in one of hundreds of trailers clustered around the St. Bernard government complex.

Residents still bristle because St. Bernard was intentionally flooded during the Great Mississippi River flood of 1927 when the aristocrats in New Orleans dynamited a levee to save the city. “There’s a lot of malice that went with it,” Difatta said. “We know we were sacrificed for the sake of New Orleans.” More recently, St. Bernard gained a measure of infamy during Katrina because more than 30 elderly people died after allegedly being abandoned in the St. Rita’s nursing home there.

Parish settled by the French
The parish was settled in the early 1700s by the French, who produced indigo used to make blue dye, and were followed late in the century by Isleos, immigrants from the Canary Islands who flocked there when Spain ruled Louisiana. The Isleos’ descendants fill the parish now with names such as Fernandez and Perez and Rodriguez, though some of the pronunciations have taken on their own special “da parish” tenor. Here, Ruiz is “RUE-ez.”

Nunez’s family came from Portugal. An older cousin— Sammy Nunez— was once one of the most powerful members of the Louisiana legislature before being defeated after brazenly handing out casino campaign donations on the Senate floor. But Ronnie Nunez rose from a hardscrabble background. His father was a master barge pilot, whose skill with heavy loads was blunted by his affection for the bottle.

Nunez thought the pink house at 2707 Jackson Blvd. would be the perfect place to reinvent his life five years ago. There was enough room for him to live in one wing and for his wife of 33 years, Beverley Nunez, to live in the other when they weren’t getting along, which was often. He kept his side dark, with thick curtains. “I like dark,” he said.

The neighborhood is modest but historic, lined by graceful live oaks planted as part of a Works Progress Administration project during the Great Depression. It took its name, the Battleground Subdivision, because part of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812 was fought there. The developer was the towering figure of modern St. Bernard history, an all-powerful sheriff named Joseph Meraux who was “a despot, but an enlightened despot” with progressive ideas and a love of education, according to parish historian Bill Hyland.

Nunez’s house in Meraux’s subdivision is a wasteland now, a nasty repository for soggy pink insulation and overturned tables. He offered it to the parish as a guinea pig for its demolition project, helping officials determine exactly how long it will take to scrape away a house and how much it will cost— probably about $5,000 per house, reimbursable by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, parish officials say.

Katrina’s ‘Superman’
Nunez was too busy after Katrina— earning the nickname “Superman” because he set up a camp for the displaced on a levee, subsisted on cans of tuna and shrimp from the Bumble Bee plant and made supply runs in his big rig— to bother with any salvage work at his house.

“Y’all’s problem is that y’all try to do everything legally,” he said he told officials. “Just tell me what y’all need and get out of the way.”

While he flitted around the parish, mold crept over the walls of his house and infused his record collection with a musty grime. His wife’s room became a fashion warehouse turned upside down. “Look at this,” he said, pointing at a lumpy pile. “Eighty-four purses and 200 pairs of shoes. Never could buy one of anything.”

In the living room, he paused to marvel at a delicate curio cabinet, miraculously upright without a crack in its glass panels. He won't bother to save it. He wants everything to go. Still, he can't help but find something hopeful in its survival. Inside, he said, were shelves of figurines. Noah's Ark on one shelf and on the other, a row of angels.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company
Multiple Layers of Contractors Drive Up Cost of Katrina Cleanup
    By Joby Warrick
    The Washington Post

    Monday 20 March 2006

    New Orleans - How many contractors does it take to haul a pile of tree branches? If it's government work, at least four: a contractor, his subcontractor, the subcontractor's subcontractor, and finally, the local man with a truck and chainsaw.

    If the job is patching a leaking roof, the answer may be five contractors, or even six. At the bottom tier is a Spanish-speaking crew earning less than 10 cents for every square foot of blue tarp installed. At the top, the prime contractor bills the government 15 times as much for the same job.

    For the thousands of contractors in the Katrina recovery business, this is the way the system works - a system that federal officials say is the same after every major disaster but that local government officials, watchdog groups and the contractors themselves say is one reason that costs for the hurricane cleanup continue to swell.

    "If this is 'normal,' we have a serious problem in this country," said Benny Rousselle, president of Plaquemines Parish, a hurricane-ravaged district downriver from New Orleans. "The federal government ought to be embarrassed about what is happening. If local governments tried to run things this way, we'd be run out of town."

    Federal agencies in charge of Katrina cleanup have been repeatedly criticized for lapses in managing the legions of contractors who perform tasks ranging from delivering ice to rebuilding schools. Last Thursday, Congress's independent auditor, the Government Accountability Office, said inadequate oversight had cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, by allowing contractors to build shelters in the wrong places or to purchase supplies that were not needed.

    But each week, many more millions are paid to contractors who get a cut of the profits from a job performed by someone else. In instances reviewed by The Washington Post, the difference between the job's actual price and the fee charged to taxpayers ranged from 40 percent to as high as 1,700 percent.

    Consider the task of cleaning up storm debris. Just after the hurricane, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded contracts for removing 62 million cubic yards of debris to four companies: Ashbritt Inc., Ceres Environmental Services Inc., Environmental Chemical Corp. and Phillips and Jordan Inc.

    Each of the four contracts was authorized for a maximum of $500 million. Corps officials have declined to reveal specific payment rates, citing a court decision barring such disclosures. But local officials and businesspeople knowledgeable about the contracts say the companies are paid $28 to $30 a cubic yard.

    Below the first tier, the arrangements vary. But in a typical case in Louisiana's Jefferson Parish, top contractor Ceres occupied the first rung, followed by three layers of smaller companies: Loupe Construction Co., then a company based in Reserve, La., which hired another subcontractor called McGee, which hired Troy Hebert, a hauler from New Iberia, La. Hebert, who is also a member of the state legislature, says his pay ranged from $10 to $6 for each cubic yard of debris.

    "Every time it passes through another layer, $4 or $5 is taken off the top," Hebert said. "These others are taking out money, and some of them aren't doing anything."

    Defenders of the multi-tiered system say it is a normal and even necessary part of doing business in the aftermath of a major disaster. The prime contracts are usually awarded by FEMA or other government agencies well in advance, so relief services can be brought in quickly after the crisis eases. These companies often must expand rapidly to meet the need, and they do so by subcontracting work to other firms.

    The two federal agencies that administer most disaster-related contracts, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers, say the system benefits small and local companies that do not have the resources to bid for large federal contracts. At the top end, prime contractors must be large enough to carry the heavy insurance burdens and administrative requirements of overseeing thousands of workers dispersed across a wide area, agency officials say. They also note that contractors have a legal right to hire subcontractors as they need them.

    "Our purview of a contract goes to the prime contractor only," said Jean Todd, a Corps contracting officer.

    But watchdog groups that monitor federal contracting say Katrina has taken the contract tiering system to a new extreme, wasting tax dollars while often cheating companies at the low end of the contracting ladder. In some cases, the groups say, companies in the top and middle rungs contribute little more than shuffling paperwork from one tier to the next.

    "It's trickle-down contracting: You're paying a cut at every level, and it makes the final cost exponentially more expensive than it needs to be," said Keith Ashdown of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. "And in almost every case, the local people who really need to be making the money are at the bottom of these upside-down pyramid schemes."

    The gap is particularly large for roof repairs. Four large companies won Army Corps contracts to cover damaged roofs with blue plastic tarp, under a program known as "Operation Blue Roof." The rate paid to the prime contractors ranged from $1.50 to $1.75 per square foot of tarp installed, documents show.

    The prime contractors' rate is nearly as much as local roofers charge to install a roof of asphalt shingles, according to two roofing executives who requested anonymity because they feared losing their contracts. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the contractor heap, four to five rungs lower, some crews are being paid less than 10 cents per square foot, the officials said.

    At least the prime contractors for roofing and debris removal owned equipment that could be immediately applied to the job at hand. In the world of Katrina contracting, this has not always been the case.

     For example, one company hired as an ice vendor owns no ice-making equipment. Landstar Systems Inc., a $2 billion Florida company placed in charge of the bus evacuation of New Orleans, is a transportation broker that specializes in trucking and has no buses of its own. In 2002, the company was awarded a $100 million contract to provide emergency transportation services for the federal government during major disasters. The contract, which is administered by the Federal Aviation Administration, was expanded in the fall to a maximum $400 million. Landstar declined a request for an interview.

    Thousands of New Orleanians had been stranded in the Superdome for more than 48 hours by the time FEMA issued the first order for a bus evacuation early on the morning of Aug. 31. The order was passed to Landstar, which then turned to other companies to locate buses, according to an official chronology prepared by the Department of Transportation. Landstar hired Carey International Inc., of Washington, which then hired the BusBank, of Chicago, and Transportation Management Systems of Columbia, Md. Bus Bank and TMS called private charter-bus companies - some from as far away as California and Washington state - asking them to send buses and drivers to New Orleans.

    More than 1,100 buses eventually responded, some arriving four days later, after traveling hundreds of miles. Daily earnings averaged about $700 per bus, according to bus company owners. Landstar's daily earnings were nearly $1,200 per bus, government records show.

    "A lot of that money is going to brokers who didn't have to do anything," said Jeff Polzien, owner of Red Carpet Charters, an Oklahoma bus company that sent coaches to New Orleans as a fourth-tier subcontractor.

    Lower pay is hardly the worst problem subcontractors face. With many tiers to navigate, money trickles down slowly, delaying payment by weeks and months, and frequently imposing hardships on the smallest firms.

    Several bus company owners said they were still owed tens of thousands of dollars for work they did in the fall. For some, the delays have been ruinous.

    Thomas Paige, owner of Coast to Coast Bus Line of Dillon, S.C., laid off staff, and two of his four buses were repossessed by creditors after payment for his New Orleans work fell behind by three months.

    "I went to New Orleans to help people - and hopefully to help myself - but now I feel like I've dug a ditch and fallen into it," Paige said. "If I would have known what I know now, I never would have gotten involved. It's just not worth it."


In Attics and Rubble, More Bodies and Questions
By SHAILA DEWAN, The New York Times

NEW ORLEANS (April 11) - When August Blanchard returned to New Orleans from Pennsylvania in late December, his mother was still missing. Family members, scattered across the country, had been calling hospitals, the Red Cross and missing persons hot lines, hoping she had been rescued.

But Mr. Blanchard, 26, had a bad feeling. Twice, he drove past the pale green house on Reynes Street in the Lower Ninth Ward, where he and his mother, Charlene Blanchard, 45, had lived, yet he could not bring himself to enter.

It was not until Feb. 25 that one of Mr. Blanchard's uncles nudged the front door open with his foot and spied Ms. Blanchard's hand. Dressed in her nightgown and robe, she lay under a moldering sofa. With her was a red velvet bedspread that her daughter had given her and a huge teddy bear.

The bodies of storm victims are still being discovered in New Orleans — in March alone there were nine, along with one skull. Skeletonized or half-eaten by animals, with leathery, hardened skin or missing limbs, the bodies are lodged in piles of rubble, dangling from rafters or lying face down, arms outstretched on parlor floors. Many of them, like Ms. Blanchard, were overlooked in initial searches.

A landlord in the Lakeview section put a "for sale" sign outside a house, unaware that his tenant's body was in the attic. Two weeks ago, searchers in the Lower Ninth Ward found a girl, believed to be about 6, wearing a blue backpack. Nearby, they found part of a man who the authorities believe might have been trying to save her.

[On Friday, contractors found a body in the attic of a home in the Gentilly neighborhood that had been searched twice before, officials said.]

In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, there were grotesque images of bodies left in plain sight. Officials in Louisiana recovered more than 1,200 bodies, but the process, hamstrung by money shortages and red tape, never really ended.

In the Lower Ninth Ward, where unstable houses make searching dangerous, a plan to use cadaver dogs alongside demolition crews was delayed by lawsuits and community protests against the bulldozing. In the rest of the city, the absence of neighbors and social networks meant that some residents languished and died unnoticed. Many of the families of the missing were far from home, rendered helpless by distance and preoccupied with their own survival.

Now, as the city is beginning to rebuild in earnest, those families still wait, agonizing over loved ones who are unseen, unburied but unforgotten.

"We never reached out to anyone to tell our story, because there's no ending to our story," said Wanda Jackson, 40, whose family is still waiting for word of her 6-year-old nephew, swept away by floodwaters as his mother clung to his 3-year-old brother. "Because we haven't found our deceased. Being honest with you, in my opinion, they forgot about us."

She continued, "They did not build nothing on 9/11 until they were sure that the damn dust was not human dust; so how you go on and build things in our city?"

In October and November, the special operations team of the New Orleans Fire Department searched the Lower Ninth Ward for remains until they ran out of overtime money.

Half a dozen officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency rebuffed requests to pay the bill, said Chief Steve Glynn, the team commander. When reporters inquired, FEMA officials said the required paperwork had not been filed.

During that period, if someone called to ask that a specific location be checked for a body, Chief Glynn said, there was no one to send. The Blanchards were not the only family left to find a loved one on their own.

Others had no family to find them. The name of Joseph Naylor, 54, was posted on Hurricane Katrina message boards by a friend, J. T. Beebe, who said in an interview that Mr. Naylor had no relatives except maybe an estranged cousin. Mr. Naylor was found in his attic on March 5.

Anita Dazet, who lives on a street that had little flooding, said she had been back home for five months before she thought to check on her neighbor, Lydia Matthews, whom Ms. Dazet described as mentally ill, and found her dead. Ms. Dazet said she had assumed that the same church that regularly left meals on the porch for Ms. Matthews had helped her evacuate.

Ms. Blanchard, too, was described by family members as mentally ill, but able to care for herself. When family members urged her to evacuate before the hurricane, she refused. "She would get violent if you tried to make her leave," said Shirley Blanchard, a sister.

In February, FEMA agreed to pay for the search for bodies to resume, and on March 2 the agency's special operations team was able to begin a systematic check of the 1,700 structures in the Lower Ninth Ward, the site of the city's worst destruction.

It is tedious, hot work. Each team of firefighters works with one or two dogs trained to find human remains. If the dogs sense a body, the workers lift heavy furniture, dig through stinking mud, or pull down ceiling tiles to find it.

Often, the search is fruitless — in part because of Hurricane Rita, which flooded the area again two weeks after Hurricane Katrina. Many who had perished in the first storm were washed away, leaving behind only the smell of death.

According to a fluorescent orange scrawl on Ms. Blanchard's house, a search was conducted in September by the New Orleans police. Many bodies were overlooked during initial searches, partly because houses were structurally unsound or, with their contents in heaps, impossible to walk through. A thorough check might have required hacking through a collapsed roof or moving a small mountain of debris.

This time around, no one wants to miss anything. On a recent day, firefighters spotted a gallon-size pickle jar in an exposed attic, suggesting that someone had tried to weather the storm there. Because the house could not be entered safely, a piece of heavy equipment called an excavator was summoned to dismantle it. But the firefighters found nothing.

And finding a body is just the first step. Of the 14 bodies found since mid-February, none have been definitively identified and released for burial, partly because FEMA closed a $17 million morgue built to handle the dead from Hurricane Katrina. The morgue was used for eight weeks, and agency officials said there was no longer enough volume to justify keeping it open.

FEMA declined to allow the New Orleans coroner, whose own office and morgue were ruined in the storm, to continue to use the autopsy site.

For now, newly found bodies are stored in a refrigerated truck in Baton Rouge, La. The coroner, Dr. Frank Minyard, says a temporary office will be ready in about a week.

To Geneva Celestine, Ms. Blanchard's mother, who was on the front porch of the house when her body was discovered, not being able to bury her daughter is only the latest in an exhausting series of horrors.

"It's awful," she said by telephone from Pennsylvania. "To go there and find your own child, something they're supposed to be doing. Something they've got paid to do. And you see the mark on the house. It's really sad."

Early on, families were so angered by delays in releasing bodies that a few picketed the morgue. But although there is no longer a morgue to picket, the jurisdictional squabbling that contributed to the delays has not ended. Dr. Minyard's state counterpart, Dr. Louis Cataldie, said he had a mobile morgue and could take DNA samples immediately if Dr. Minyard would allow it.

"We have a very good idea who some of those people are," Dr. Cataldie said. "If we could get DNA, we could confirm it very quickly."

Bringing that kind of resolution to families is what motivates the searchers, who spend days in the desolate landscape of chest-high weeds and houses popped open like packing crates. Searching a single structure can take half a day.

Mickey Bourgeois, a search team member, recalled an incident when the team was told where to look for a mother and a baby. They found only the woman, he said.

"When something like that happens," he said, "you can't talk the guys into leaving until everything's out of the house."

Happy Blitt contributed research from New Yorkfor this article.



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MIAMI (Reuters) - While Florida tallied the devastation from Hurricane Charley ... The five-day forecast issued by the US National Hurricane Center put Earl ...

The island's government declared a hurricane warning -- up from a hurricane ... Five storms have reached named status this hurricane season in the Atlantic, ...

Hurricane Charley may well be merely a prelude. Yet early damage reports show that ... The early lessons of Hurricane Charley speak to this unendurable ... -


New York Airport Disaster
Much of the north and south forks are entirely under water during a category 3 hurricane. A category 4 hurricane inundates the entire towns of: Amityville, ... -

The next 15 to 20 years should resemble a stretch of hurricane bombardment from the late ... The National Hurricane Conference brings together forecasters, ... -

The Great Hurricane of 1938 - The Long Island Express ... The immediate affect of this powerful hurricane was to decimate many Long Island communities in ...

THE WINTER OF 2002/2003

Global Warming - Early Warning Signs. National Hurricane Center ... Space Weather -
Current. Tropical Weather Maps for Hurricane Season. Weather and Climate ...