Sunday, September 11, 2005

katrina timeline -- "christmas is coming"

Today the Washington Post ran a timeline on Katrina, from August 26 thru Bush's arrival in the region on September 2. Some highlights:

-- the Army Corps of engineers couldn't inform the rest of the Federal government that the New Orleans levees had been breached for hours.

-- by Friday August 26, even though FEMA had a Katrina group up and running, one FEMA official said they were wondering why FEMA wasn't "treating this as a bigger emergency? Why aren't we doing anything?"

-- Amtrak on a couple of occasions before and after Katrina hit offered to take hundreds of people out of New Orleans, but said city officials declined.

-- The National Guard contingents in Louisiana and Mississippi had no backup plan for disruptions in communications -- Mississippi had only one satellite phone because the rest are in Iraq.

-- The US military was ready to deploy and help, but for days the only thing FEMA requested were a half-dozen helicopters. Naval vessels with hospital facilities and crews experienced with cleaning up were among the offers of assistance delayed by FEMA inaction.

-- Despite claims that FEMA would send buses to the Superdome to send folks to the Astrodome, Houston waited and waited and waited. The first evacuees showed up at 10:00 PM on Wednesday, "on a school bus commandeered by a resourceful 20-year-old." (Maybe FEMA should hire that guy/gal?)

-- Airlines flew into New Orleans' Louis Armstrong Airport staring on Monday, bringing in supplies and taking out people. But when FEMA took over the airport, they told the airlines that their planes weren't needed -- when there were still THOUSANDS of people waiting in the airport for a way out.

-- Finally, on Friday September 2 DHS boss Chertoff visited Jefferson Parish. He told local emergency manager William Maestri that resources are coming. Maestri said "Yeah, well, Christmas is coming too."

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