Saturday, September 10, 2005

Katrina Encours et Toujours XII

Today "Brownie" was yanked from running field ops atFEMA, although he's still running the whole agency. Also, NPR ran a detailed story chronicling who didwhat last week, which pretty much backed the localofficials against the FEMA drones.

There are signs of quiet plotting going on to changethe "demographics" of the new New Orleans. This isabout as explosive a topic as you could get in NO,especially when considered against the backdrop of thecity's painful reaction to 1970's schoolingdesegregation implementation. As detailed in a T-Pseries last year, desegregation -- or more accurately,the city population's reaction to desegragation --stagnated the city in every way possible. It'sperhaps the single most significant factor responsiblefor New Orleans being outstripped by former equalsHouston and Atlanta.

In detail, white flight initially built JeffersonParish and New Orleans East in the late 70's, and thenmoved on to build Slidell, Mandeville, and Covingtonin the late 80's into the 90's. Meanwhile, it alsoradically changed the formerly Irish/Italian 9th Wardas properties were taken over by African-American NewOrleans. As my childhood barber mentioned when I sawhim again last year: "They chased us out of the 9thward, and then they chased us out of New Orleans East,but we ain't leavin Slidell. We'll stand our groundthere."

Now some folks -- especially white folks -- arethinking about trying to reverse this 1970's legacy. At the same time, some of those poor folks who gotcaught at the Dome and the Convention Center,overwhelmingly African-American, have lost everything,often have a less pleasant recollection of old NewOrleans, are in a bit of shock at the scale of federalcallousness last week, and are feeling quite welcomethis week in other towns. On radio quite a few havesaid that they're not going back -- and when theyrealize how much better other school systems are thanOrleans Parish's schools, that sentiment mightsolidify.

On the other hand, the welcome mat may eventuallyfray. Assuming folks stay, it's interesting tospeculate on the political effect on Texas of tens ofthousands of African-American democratic voters on themost "red" of states. It could be the developmentthat finally removes such characters as Tom DeLay frompower. Unlikely, but interesting. Still, I think most people are going to want toreturn, regardless of ethnicity. For those who wouldlike to change the "demographics," all I would say isthat Jazz didn't come from Metairie or Slidell, andthat the cultural greatness of New Orleans cannot becontinued with only half of its ethnic gumbo.

Leaving race and ethnicity issues aside, let's look atvarious issues in urban redevelopment on the horizon. If NO does emerge from this smaller than before,should the city consolidate? Will the North Shorereturn south of the lake if NO is all brand newhousing stock in a smaller city? If NO does indeedhave something of a blank slate, should it put in abunch of new parks (like in and near the 9th ward)? Should there be a massive new hub cargo/passengerairport in NO East? Should there be a brand newstadium for the Saints, right away? Should there be amassive oak tree planting project, replacing the treesthat are supposedly going to die after being undersludge for a month [recalling that most of the oaksthat we all know and love actually date to a 1950'sbeautification campaign (by Mayor de Lesseps?)]?

Whatever ends up being thought up, I personally hopeit follows certain ground rules, like:

A) Homeowners must not be shafted. I could see a lotof "condemn and bulldoze first, apologize later"events happening while everyone's outside the city.

B) Reconstruction should be done carefully, with localinput at every level. I could just see some businessinterests putting up casinos all over their "blankslate," as Biloxi did in the 80's to recover fromCamille. I could also see developers put massivetracts of ranch houses and McMansions all over their"blank slate". These would be big mistakes.

C) Let's try the pre-fab shotgun houses that wereposted yesterday. They don't seem half bad. Theyshould have hurricane window shutters, roof exithatch, somewhat elevated pilings, and the potentialityfor add-ons later.

D) Yesterday Congress approved 52 billion USD forreconstruction. Sounds great, but it may all gothrough FEMA. Also, one article said the currentmilitary presence is costing an incredible (and notquite believable) 2 billion USD/day. This would meanthat all that money is just going to be spent on theUS Govt paying itself to place soldiers in NO. Ifthat's the case, NO will actually have to do all thereconstruction itself, and nothing will happen.

E) Halliburton et al should be locked out of theprocess altogether. Instead, we there should be BohBros and massive employment schemes for localsinvolved in rebuilding.

F) No part of the city should be trying to keep anyother part of the city out.

Now, for article postings:

1) Eyewitness report:

This article is a first hand account of life in post-apocalyse New Orleans, and how the sheriff's force there literally stopped people from escaping on foot. I saw a CNN account of the exact same thing happening. Not only weren't law authorities helping people to evacuate, they were actually preventing themfrom doing so! The authors of this article arer emegency medical services (EMS) workers from San Francisco who happen to be attending an EMS conference in New Orleans when the hurricane struck. They spent most of the next weektrapped in the city, first by the flooding, then bymartial law.

The real heroes and sheroes of New Orleans September 9, 2005

LARRY BRADSHAW and LORRIE BETH SLONSKY are emergencymedical services (EMS) workers from San Francisco.They were attending an EMS conference in New Orleanswhen Hurricane Katrina struck. They spent most of thenext week trapped by the flooding--and the martial lawcordon around the city. Here, they tell their story.
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TWO DAYS after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans,the Walgreens store at the corner of Royal andIberville Streets in the city’s historic FrenchQuarter remained locked. The dairy display case wasclearly visible through the widows. It was now 48hours without electricity, running water, plumbing,and the milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning tospoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food, water,pampers and prescriptions, and fled the city.

OutsideWalgreens’ windows, residents and tourists grewincreasingly thirsty and hungry. The much-promisedfederal, state and local aid never materialized, andthe windows at Walgreens gave way to the looters. There was an alternative. The cops could have brokenone small window and distributed the nuts, fruitjuices and bottled water in an organized andsystematic manner. But they did not. Instead, theyspent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasingaway the looters.

We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two daysago and arrived home on Saturday. We have yet to seeany of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We arewilling to guess that there were no video images orfront-page pictures of European or affluent whitetourists looting the Walgreens in the French Quarter. We also suspect the media will have been inundatedwith “hero” images of the National Guard, the troopsand police struggling to help the “victims” of thehurricane.

What you will not see, but what wewitnessed, were the real heroes and sheroes of thehurricane relief effort: the working class of NewOrleans. The maintenance workers who used a forklift to carrythe sick and disabled. The engineers who rigged,nurtured and kept the generators running. Theelectricians who improvised thick extension cordsstretching over blocks to share the little electricitywe had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parkinglots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilatorsand spent many hours on end manually forcing air intothe lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive.Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refineryworkers who broke into boat yards, “stealing” boats torescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs inflood waters. Mechanics who helped hotwire any carthat could be found to ferry people out of the city.And the food service workers who scoured thecommercial kitchens, improvising communal meals forhundreds of those stranded. Most of these workers had lost their homes and had notheard from members of their families. Yet they stayedand provided the only infrastructure for the 20percent of New Orleans that was not under water.
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ON DAY Two, there were approximately 500 of us left inthe hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix offoreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselvesand locals who had checked into hotels for safety andshelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family andfriends outside of New Orleans. We were repeatedlytold that all sorts of resources, including theNational Guard and scores of buses, were pouring intothe city. The buses and the other resources must havebeen invisible, because none of us had seen them. We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled ourmoney and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses comeand take us out of the city. Those who didn’t have therequisite $45 each were subsidized by those who didhave extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending thelast 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limitedwater, food and clothes we had. We created a priorityboarding area for the sick, elderly and newbornbabies. We waited late into the night for the“imminent” arrival of the buses. The buses neverarrived. We later learned that the minute they arrivedat the city limits, they were commandeered by themilitary.

By Day Four, our hotels had run out of fuel and water.Sanitation was dangerously bad. As the desperation anddespair increased, street crime as well as waterlevels began to rise. The hotels turned us out andlocked their doors, telling us that “officials” hadtold us to report to the convention center to wait formore buses. As we entered the center of the city, wefinally encountered the National Guard. The guard members told us we wouldn’t be allowed intothe Superdome, as the city’s primary shelter haddescended into a humanitarian and health hellhole.They further told us that the city’s only othershelter--the convention center--was also descendinginto chaos and squalor, and that the police weren’tallowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, “If we can’t go to the onlytwo shelters in the city, what was our alternative?”The guards told us that this was our problem--and no,they didn’t have extra water to give to us. This wouldbe the start of our numerous encounters with callousand hostile “law enforcement.”
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WE WALKED to the police command center at Harrah’s onCanal Street and were told the same thing--that wewere on our own, and no, they didn’t have water togive 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. Wewould be plainly visible to the media and constitute ahighly visible embarrassment to city officials. Thepolice told us that we couldn’t stay. Regardless, webegan to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across thestreet to address our group. He told us he had asolution: we should walk to the PontchartrainExpressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge tothe south side of the Mississippi, where the policehad buses lined up to take us out of the city. The crowd cheered and began to move.

We calledeveryone back and explained to the commander thatthere had been lots of misinformation, so was he surethat there were buses waiting for us. The commanderturned to the crowd and stated emphatically, “I swearto you that the buses are there.” We organized ourselves, and the 200 of us set off forthe bridge with great excitement and hope. As wemarched past the convention center, many locals sawour determined and optimistic group, and asked wherewe were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings, andquickly, our numbers doubled and then doubled again.Babies in strollers now joined us, as did people usingcrutches, elderly clasping walkers and other people inwheelchairs. We marched the two to three miles to thefreeway and up the steep incline to the bridge.

It nowbegan to pour down rain, but it didn’t dampen ourenthusiasm. As we approached the bridge, armed sheriffs formed aline across the foot of the bridge. Before we wereclose enough to speak, they began firing their weaponsover our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in variousdirections. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of usinched forward and managed to engage some of thesheriffs in conversation. We told them of ourconversation with the police commander and thecommander’s assurances. The sheriffs informed us thatthere were no buses waiting. The commander had lied tous to get us to move. We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway,especially as there was little traffic on the six-lanehighway. They responded that the West Bank was notgoing to become New Orleans, and there would be noSuperdomes in their city. These were code words for:if you are poor and Black, you are not crossing theMississippi River, and you are not getting out of NewOrleans.
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OUR SMALL group retreated back down Highway 90 to seekshelter from the rain under an overpass. We debatedour options and, in the end, decided to build anencampment in the middle of the PonchartrainExpressway--on the center divide, between the O’Keefeand Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned that we would bevisible to everyone, we would have some security beingon an elevated freeway, and we could wait and watchfor the arrival of the yet-to-be-seen buses. All day long, we saw other families, individuals andgroups make the same trip up the incline in an attemptto cross the bridge, only to be turned away--somechased away with gunfire, others simply told no,others verbally berated and humiliated.

Thousands ofNew Orleaners were prevented and prohibited fromself-evacuating the city on foot. Meanwhile, the only two city shelters sank furtherinto squalor and disrepair. The only way across thebridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks,buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that couldbe hotwired. All were packed with people trying toescape the misery that New Orleans had become. Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stolea water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let’shear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, anArmy truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on atight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp inshopping carts.

Now--secure with these two necessities, food andwater--cooperation, community and creativity flowered.We organized a clean-up and hung garbage bags from therebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets andcardboard. We designated a storm drain as thebathroom, and the kids built an elaborate enclosurefor privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas and otherscraps. We even organized a food-recycling systemwhere individuals could swap out parts of C-rations(applesauce for babies and candies for kids!). This was something we saw repeatedly in the aftermathof Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find foodor water, it meant looking out for yourself. You hadto do whatever it took to find water for your kids orfood for your parents. But when these basic needs weremet, people began to look out for each other, workingtogether and constructing a community.

If the relief organizations had saturated the citywith food and water in the first two or three days,the desperation, frustration and ugliness would nothave set in. Flush with the necessities, we offered food and waterto passing families and individuals. Many decided tostay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90people. From a woman with a battery-powered radio, we learnedthat the media was talking about us. Up in full viewon the freeway, every relief and news organizationssaw us on their way into the city. Officials werebeing asked what they were going to do about all thosefamilies living up on the freeway. The officialsresponded that 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 thesinking city) was accurate. Just as dusk set in, asheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle,aimed his gun at our faces and screamed, “Get off thefucking freeway.” A helicopter arrived and used thewind from its blades to blow away our flimsystructures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up histruck with our food and water. Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off thefreeway. All the law enforcement agencies appearedthreatened when we congregated into groups of 20 ormore. In every congregation of “victims,” they saw“mob” or “riot.” We felt safety in numbers. Our “wemust stay together” attitude was impossible becausethe agencies would force us into small atomizedgroups. In the pandemonium of having our camp raided anddestroyed, we scattered once again.

Reduced to a smallgroup of eight people, in the dark, we sought refugein an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on CiloStreet. We were hiding from possible criminalelements, but equally and definitely, we were hidingfrom the police and sheriffs with their martial law,curfew and shoot-to-kill policies. The next day, our group of eight walked most of theday, made contact with the New Orleans Fire Departmentand were eventually airlifted out by an urbansearch-and-rescue team. We were dropped off near the airport and managed tocatch a ride with the National Guard. The two youngguardsmen apologized for the limited response of theLouisiana guards. They explained that a large sectionof their unit was in Iraq and that meant they wereshorthanded and were unable to complete all the tasksthey were assigned.
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WE ARRIVED at the airport on the day a massive airlifthad begun. The airport had become another Superdome.We eight were caught in a press of humanity as flightswere delayed for several hours while George Bushlanded briefly at the airport for a photo op.

Afterbeing evacuated on a Coast Guard cargo plane, wearrived in San Antonio, Texas. There, the humiliation and dehumanization of theofficial relief effort continued. We were placed onbuses and driven to a large field where we were forcedto sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses didn’thave air conditioners. In the dark, hundreds of uswere forced to share two filthy overflowingporta-potties. Those who managed to make it out withany possessions (often a few belongings in tatteredplastic bags) were subjected to two differentdog-sniffing searches. Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rationshad been confiscated at the airport--because therations set off the metal detectors. Yet no food hadbeen provided to the men, women, children, elderly anddisabled, as we sat for hours waiting to be “medicallyscreened” to make sure we weren’t carrying anycommunicable diseases.

This official treatment was in sharp contrast to thewarm, heartfelt reception given to us by ordinaryTexans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes tosomeone who was barefoot. Strangers on the streetoffered us money and toiletries with words of welcome.Throughout, the official relief effort was callous,inept and racist. There was more suffering than needbe. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost

2) How's this for a bitter cartoon?,7371,1566268,00.html

3) More on rebuilding NO without poor people:

4) This article is really funny about what it is liketo drive from the French Quarter to Tipps Uptown atthe moment:

5) This article is about driving through New Orleansfrom the Westbank to towards 9th ward (has a photo ofErnie K-Does place-waterfront):

6) This article is about some of the good andsuccessful people who have lost everything to Katrina

7) I-10 Contracts & Plans:

8) Coastal restoration:

Rebuild our shock absorbers

Louisiana's leaders at home and in Washington, as wellas this newspaper, have been sounding the alarm aboutour coastline for years, begging Congress and the Bushadministration to provide the resources needed toaddress decades of erosion caused by human activity aswell as natural forces. We said the stripping away of our coastal marshlandleft our area naked to the onslaught of hurricanes. Wesaid communities would be battered, oil and gasnetworks would be shut down, and lives would be lost. Today, there is no comfort for us in the phrase, "Wetold you so.''

The price tag for protecting this region was $14billion. Does anyone think that price is too high now?Just last month, however, the Bush administration wasactively fighting even modest efforts to start theflow of money, $540 million over the next four years,provided in the energy bill. Despite White Houseopposition, Congress approved that start. Last month,that seemed like progress. This month, it seems like acruel joke.

The needs of this region after Hurricane Katrina arelegion. We have roads, bridges, levees, utilities andpublic buildings to rebuild, as well as homes,businesses and places of worship. Lives must berebuilt, too, bit by bit. But we must not forget, inthis maelstrom of reconstruction, that our coast needsto be rebuilt, too. The fact that Gov. Kathleen Blanco's team already istalking about how coastal restoration fits into thelarger picture is entirely on target. Our coastalmarshes and barrier islands are Louisiana's shockabsorbers. The fact that they are in pieces surely wasa factor in the degree of damage Katrina did. True,this storm was a brutal monster, a strong Category 4,but scientists have been warning that even lesserevents would be punishing, given the increasingvulnerability of our land to the Gulf of Mexico.

We need our bridges and buildings back, ourlivelihoods and our lives. But we also need ourcoastal wetlands back; we've been losing them for along, long time. We shouldn't have to convince anyoneof that now.

9) Interesting -- Naomi Klein refers to poor NewOrleanians' "right of return." Seems like"Palestinian survivors" is a concept that's going toresonate with some folks in the Smaller Easy.

Let the People Rebuild New Orleans
Naomi Klein

On September 4, six days after Katrina hit, I saw thefirst glimmer of hope. "The people of New Orleans willnot go quietly into the night, scattering across thiscountry to become homeless in countless other citieswhile federal relief funds are funneled intorebuilding casinos, hotels, chemical plants.... Wewill not stand idly by while this disaster is used asan opportunity to replace our homes with newly builtmansions and condos in a gentrified New Orleans." The statement came from Community Labor United, acoalition of low-income groups in New Orleans. It wenton to demand that a committee made up of evacuees"oversee FEMA, the Red Cross and other organizationscollecting resources on behalf of our people.... Weare calling for evacuees from our community toactively participate in the rebuilding of NewOrleans."

It's a radical concept: The $10.5 billion released byCongress and the $500 million raised by privatecharities doesn't actually belong to the reliefagencies or the government; it belongs to the victims.The agencies entrusted with the money should beaccountable to them. Put another way, the peopleBarbara Bush tactfully described as "underprivilegedanyway" just got very rich. Except relief and reconstruction never seem to worklike that. When I was in Sri Lanka six months afterthe tsunami, many survivors told me that thereconstruction was victimizing them all over again.

Acouncil of the country's most prominent businesspeoplehad been put in charge of the process, and they werehanding the coast over to tourist developers at afrantic pace. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of poorfishing people were still stuck in sweltering inlandcamps, patrolled by soldiers with machine guns andentirely dependent on relief agencies for food andwater. They called reconstruction "the secondtsunami." There are already signs that New Orleans evacueescould face a similarly brutal second storm. JimmyReiss, chairman of the New Orleans Business Council,told Newsweek that he has been brainstorming about how"to use this catastrophe as a once-in-an-eonopportunity to change the dynamic." The BusinessCouncil's wish list is well-known: low wages, lowtaxes, more luxury condos and hotels.

Before theflood, this highly profitable vision was alreadydisplacing thousands of poor African-Americans: Whiletheir music and culture was for sale in anincreasingly corporatized French Quarter (where only4.3 percent of residents are black), their housingdevelopments were being torn down. "For white touristsand businesspeople, New Orleans' reputation is 'agreat place to have a vacation but don't leave theFrench Quarter or you'll get shot,'" Jordan Flaherty,a New Orleans-based labor organizer told me the dayafter he left the city by boat. "Now the developershave their big chance to disperse the obstacle togentrification--poor people."

Here's a better idea: New Orleans could bereconstructed by and for the very people mostvictimized by the flood. Schools and hospitals thatwere falling apart before could finally have adequateresources; the rebuilding could create thousands oflocal jobs and provide massive skills training indecent paying industries. Rather than handing over thereconstruction to the same corrupt elite that failedthe city so spectacularly, the effort could be led bygroups like Douglass Community Coalition. Before thehurricane this remarkable assembly of parents,teachers, students and artists was trying toreconstruct the city from the ravages of poverty bytransforming Frederick Douglass Senior High Schoolinto a model of community learning. They have alreadydone the painstaking work of building consensus aroundeducation reform. Now that the funds are flowing,shouldn't they have the tools to rebuild every ailingpublic school in the city?

For a people's reconstruction process to become areality (and to keep more contracts from going toHalliburton), the evacuees must be at the center ofall decision-making. According to Curtis Muhammad ofCommunity Labor United, the disaster's starkest lessonis that African-Americans cannot count on any level ofgovernment to protect them. "We had no caretakers," hesays. That means the community groups that dorepresent African-Americans in Louisiana andMississippi -- many of which lost staff, office spaceand equipment in the flood -- need our support now.

Only a massive injection of cash and volunteers willenable them to do the crucial work of organizingevacuees -- currently scattered through forty-onestates--into a powerful political constituency. Themost pressing question is where evacuees will liveover the next few months. A dangerous consensus isbuilding that they should collect a little charity,apply for a job at the Houston Wal-Mart and move on.Muhammad and CLU, however, are calling for the rightto return: they know that if evacuees are going tohave houses and schools to come back to, many willneed to return to their home states and fight forthem.

These ideas are not without precedent. When MexicoCity was struck by a devastating earthquake in 1985,the state also failed the people: poorly constructedpublic housing crumbled and the army was ready tobulldoze buildings with survivors still trappedinside. A month after the quake 40,000 angry refugeesmarched on the government, refusing to be relocatedout of their neighborhoods and demanding a "DemocraticReconstruction." Not only were 50,000 new dwellingsfor the homeless built in a year; the neighborhoodgroups that grew out of the rubble launched a movementthat is challenging Mexico's traditional power holdersto this day. And the people I met in Sri Lanka have grown tired ofwaiting for the promised relief. Some survivors arenow calling for a People's Planning Commission forPost-Tsunami Recovery. They say the relief agenciesshould answer to them; it's their money, after all.

The idea could take hold in the United States, and itmust. Because there is only one thing that cancompensate the victims of this most human of naturaldisasters, and that is what has been denied themthroughout: power. It will be a long and difficultbattle, but New Orleans' evacuees should draw strengthfrom the knowledge that they are no longer poorpeople; they are rich people who have been temporarilylocked out of their bank accounts.

Those wanting to donate to a people's reconstructioncan make checks out to the Vanguard Public Foundation,383 Rhode Island St., Suite 301, San Francisco, CA94103. Checks should be earmarked "People's HurricaneFund."

10) Jordan on Katrina:

Mourning For New Orleans
by Jordan Flaherty

Its been six days since I left New Orleans, and I missmy home so much. I’m still in a daze, its hard tohold a conversation or to think straight. People askif everyone I know is ok, and I don’t know what tosay. There are so many stories, so many rumors, somany people dispersed around the US. So many of usmay never see each other again. I don’t think any ofus are ok right now.One friend, a teacher, was searching the Astrodomewhile holding up a sign, looking for his formerstudents. Another friend says she fears she’ll neversee New Orleans or her friends from there again. Another friend found temporary comfort with family inHouston and then got kicked out. A lot of friends areworking in shelters, providing assistance, medicalcare, whatever they can. We are already spread acrossso many states, trying to pick up the pieces of ourlives.

I can think of at least thirty people that I have noidea where they are. In some cities it seems likewhen people meet they give out their email address orweblog or friendster or whatever. In New Orleans, alot of us only know each other only by first names. There are so many people I would see at least once aweek that I don’t know how to get in touch with atall. Even cel phones from the New Orleans area codehave been nonfunctioning for most of the last twoweeks.New Orleans is a word of mouth town. The way youwould find out about parties, secondlines, jazzfunerals and other events is from hearing about itfrom friends. I always liked that about New Orleans. In an increasingly disconnected world, New Orleansfelt different, more real and concrete. Now that wearen’t seeing each other regularly, our elaboratecommunication network has broken down.But when people ask I just say, yes, as far as I knoweveryone is ok. I can’t really bring myself to think about it further than that.

Those with the least to begin with are the ones weworry about most now. Families and Friends ofLouisiana’s Incarcerated Children is a grassrootsorganization with a long history of fighting for NewOrleans’ most vulnerable. Since hurricane Katrina,they have been on the front lines of relief, spendingtime in the shelters, helping advocate for therefugees of New Orleans, and trying to find out whathappened to both adults and children who were lockedup while New Orleans flooded.

There has been a lot of media hysteria regarding thosewho were locked in New Orleans’ prisons during thehurricane, stories that make it sound like a Hollywoodaction film where murderers use a disaster to escapeand wreck havoc.This is exactly wrong. The truth is that tales fromthe imprisoned population of New Orleans are among themost heartbreaking stories of the past week. Familiesare still looking for loved ones lost in the system. According to organizers with FFLIC, of approximately240 kids in state custody, as of a couple of days agoonly 6 or 7 parents had been able to track down theirchildren.

According to statistics compiled by the JuvenileJustice Project of Louisiana, at least 78% of NewOrleans’ incarcerated youth were locked up fornonviolent offenses. The detention center in JeffersonParish reports that 96% of the youth held there in2000 were for nonviolent offenses. At least a thirdof youth in prison have been sentenced to three ormore years for nonviolent offenses. In New Orleans,95% of the detained youth in 1999 wereAfrican-American. Louisiana taxpayers spend $96,713to incarcerate a single child, and $4,724 to educate achild in the public schools. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, “thestate of Louisiana has one of the highest rates in thecountry of children living in poverty and children notin school or working. Large numbers of children,especially black children, are suspended from schooleach year, sometimes for the whole year. Approximately1,500 Louisiana children are confined in securecorrectional facilities each year...In response to thequestion,"what would you most like to change here?",virtually every child at all of the facilitiesresponded that they would like the guards to stophitting them and that they would like more food.Children consistently told us that they were hungry.”

Some people have been hurt to hear people of NewOrleans called refugees. This hurts me too, but ithurts me more to feel that we have been treated asrefugees. In a way, the people of New Orleans wererefugees before hurricane Katrina ever came. We wereabandoned by a country that never needed us, unlessthey needed a cheap vacation of strip clubs and bingedrinking and cheap live music. One of the things I love about New Orleans is that italways feels like another country. Now we see that inthe eyes of the federal government we truly areresidents of another country. A poor, black country. Instead of insisting that the displaced of New Orleansare not refugees, we should use this as an opportunityto look at why the idea of US refugees is sodiscomforting.

The transformation of the people of New Orleans intorefugees is a large part of what has captured theimagination of people from around the world,especially those who are refugees themselves. I’vereceived emails from Ghana and Cuba and Peru andLebanon and Palestine. In New York City tonight, a group of artists,initiated by Def Poetry Jam star and Palestinian poetSuheir Hammad, organized a benefit called Refugees ForRefugees. That title beautifully and poignantlycaptures the feelings this man-made tragedy hasgenerated around the world.

In her most recent poem, On Refuge and Language,Suheir writes:I do not wishTo place words in living mouths Or bury the dead dishonorablyI am not deaf to cries escaping sheltersThat citizens are not refugeesRefugees are not AmericansI will not use language One way or another To accommodate my comfortI will not look awayAll I know is thisNo peoples ever choose to claim status of dispossessedNo peoples want pity above compassionNo enslaved peoples ever called themselves slavesWhat do we pledge allegiance to?A government that leaves its old To die of thirst surrounded by waterIs a foreign governmentPeople who are streaming Illiterate into paperwork Have long ago been abandoned I think of coded language And all that words carry on their backsI think of how it is always the poorWho are tagged and boxed with labels Not of their own choosingI think of my grandparentsAnd how some called them refugees Others called them non-existentThey called themselves landlessWhich means homelessBefore the hurricaneNo tents were prepared for the fleeing Because Americans do not live in tentsTents are for Haiti for Bosnia for RwandaRefugees are the rest of the worldThose left to defend their human decencyAgainst conditions the rich keep their animals fromThose who have too many childrenThose who always have open hands and empty belliesThose whose numbers are massiveThose who seek refuge From nature’s currents and man's resourcesThose who are forgotten in the mean timesThose who rememberAhmad from Guinea makes my falafel sandwich and saysSo this is your countryYes Amadou this my countryAnd these my peopleEvacuated as if criminalRescued by neighborsShot by soldiersAdamant they belongThe rest of the world can now seeWhat I have seenDo not look awayThe rest of the world lives here tooIn America

11) Might Katrina have brought about the end of theIraq occupation? Do the math:

Congress takes up new aid packagesFEMA is spending $2 billion daily
By Bill Walsh
Washington bureau

President Bush on Wednesday askedCongress to provide an additional $51.8 billion inrelief and recovery aid to the hurricane-ravaged GulfCoast, and congressional leaders vowed to approve therequest before the week is out.The new emergency spending package comes on top of the$10.5 billion Congress authorized last week - and thebailout is far from over.

Joshua Bolten, director ofthe Office of Management and Budget, said he expectedthe administration to ask Congress for more money in a"few weeks," when the current round of financing runsdry."My expectation is we will need to have substantiallymore," Bolten said. "This at least puts everyone onvery solid footing."Most of the money will go to the Federal EmergencyManagement Agency, which is in charge of the reliefand recovery operation, and about half will be spenton direct payment to victims, temporary housing,unemployment insurance and damage assessments ofhomes.

Last week, FEMA was spending about $500 millionper day, a figure that shot up to $2 billion dailyduring the weekend, as the agency signed contracts forwork and ramped up its efforts.In the latest aid package, the Department of Defensewill receive $1.5 billion and the Army Corps ofEngineers, which is responsible for the leveessurrounding New Orleans, will get $400 million.Lawmakers threw out a variety of figures for the totalcost of the relief and recovery operation, none morethan educated guesses as the flood waters have yet tobe cleared out of New Orleans.

Senate Budget ChairmanJudd Gregg, R-N.H., said $200 billion was notunrealistic. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid,D-N.V., said the total cost could end up being $150billion.Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, urged Congresson Wednesday to spend $100 billion just on New Orleansand another $125 billion on other areas in Louisiana,Mississippi and Alabama damaged in the storm."We cannot ask for piecemeal requests," he said. "Wemust move swiftly to restore the economy of the regionand to improve the existence of hundreds of thousandsof Americans whose lives have been overturned in thepast ten days."

A critical question for the three states hardest hitby the storm - Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama - ishow long the federal government will continue to pickup the tab. At the request of the governors from thethree states, President Bush waived federal rules thatrequire state and local governments to pick up 25percent of post-disaster costs. The U.S. Treasury willfoot the relief and recovery bill for 60 days afterthe storm hit the Gulf Coast. Asked whether thatdeadline will be extended, a Bush administrationofficial said it is too early to say.For the time being, Washington seems only too happy tounderwrite the effort.

With the devastation fromKatrina still fresh, Congress and the Bushadministration appear unconcerned about the mountingfederal budget deficit as they pursue a carte blancheapproach to repairing the hurricane damage.Bolten said that the fiscal 2006 budget deficit willbe greater than the $333 billion expected shortfall inthe current fiscal year. But Bolten said he is"confident" that Bush's promise to slice the deficitto $260 billion by 2009 is still realistic.Already, however, Katrina spending is leaving somelegislative casualties in its wake.

ARepublican-backed plan to scrap the estate tax hasbeen put on hold indefinitely. Hopes to extend taxcuts made in 2003 are fading. Lawmakers said that theyare now looking at tax cuts aimed specifically helpinghurricane victims.A bipartisan group of senators also urgedcongressional leaders to scrap plans to cutentitlement programs, including Medicaid, food stamps,housing and education."

At a time when millions are displaced and seekingfederal and state assistance, we believe it isinappropriate to move forward," the senators wrote toSenate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley,R-Iowa.Paying for disaster relief has been Congress' mosttangible response to Katrina since the hurricane hitAug. 29, but it is not the only one. Because Congressreturned to session this week, dozens of bills havebeen offered to speed the recovery and cut throughbureaucratic red tape that has slowed rescues andemergency relief.House Republican leaders Wednesday said they wouldpush legislation to help displaced residents get theirSocial Security checks and other forms of publicassistance. The House wants to free students from loanrepayment obligations if they were forced to withdrawfrom college because of the hurricane and increase theamount available for flood insurance claims. FEMA isable to borrow $1.5 billion for the program, a figureexpected to be dwarfed by the tens of thousands ofclaims from metropolitan New Orleans alone.

12) Chris Rose on those who are staying behind:

The last, hard core hunker down in surreal city

They're telling the people they have to go. They'regoing door to door with rifles now. They came to our little hovel on Laurel Street Uptown- a dozen heavily-armed members of the CaliforniaNational Guard - they pounded on our door and wantedto know who we were.We told them we were the newspaper, the Big CityDaily. I admit, it doesn't look like the newsrooms yousee on TV. I suppose if we wore shirts, we'd look moreprofessional.The Guard moved on, next door, next block. They're telling people they have to go.It won't be easy.

The people who stayed here haveweathered 10 days of unfathomable stench and fear andif they haven't left yet, it seems unlikely thatthey're going to be willing now.In a strange way, life just goes on for the remaining.In the dark and fetid Winn-Dixie on Tchoupitoulas, anold woman I passed in the pet food aisle was wearing ahouse frock and puffy slippers and she just looked atme as she pushed her cart by and said: "How you doin',baby?"Like it's just another afternoon making groceries.

I love the way strangers call you baby in this town.Outside the store, there's an old guy who parks hisold groaning car by the front door from sunup tosundown. There are extension cords running from histrunk into the store, which still has power - don'task me how; I have no idea - and he watches TV in hisfront seat and drinks juice.That is what he does, all day, every day.At this point, I just can't see this guy leaving. Idon't imagine he has anyplace else in the world butthis.

A young guy walked up and said to him: "I hear you cancharge your cell phone here?" and the old guy said"Yes, indeedy," and walked him into the store andshowed him a plug that still had juice.

And life goes on. Down on St. Claude Avenue, a tribeof survivors has blossomed at Kajun's Pub where,incredibly, they have cold beer and cigarettes and astereo playing Elvis and you'd think everything was instandard operating procedure but it is not: TheSaturday night karaoke has been indefinitelysuspended.

The people here have a touch of Mad Max syndrome;they're using an old blue Cadillac for errands andwhen
parts fall off of it - and many parts have fallenoff - they just throw them in the trunk.Melvin, a bar owner from down the block, had the thingup for sale for $895, but he'll probably take the bestoffer now.Melvin's Bar and Kajun's Pub have pooled theirinventories to stay in business."We've blended our fortunes together," said ReneedePnthieux, a bartender at Melvin's. "We carriedeverything we could down here, and we'll make theaccounting later. What else are you gonna do? In caseyou haven't heard, Budweiser ain't delivering."

A guy with a long goatee and multiple tattoos wascovering a couple of aluminum foil pans of lasagna andcarrying them up to the roof to cook them in the sunon the hot slate shingles.Joann Guidos, the proprietor at Kajun's, called outfor a game of bourre and they all dumped their moneyon a table and sat down and let the cards and liquorflow.A National Guard truck pulled up and asked if theywere ready to leave yet. Two guys standing out on thesidewalk in the company of pit bulls said: "Hell no."DePonthiux said: "We're the last fort on the edge ofthe wilderness. My family's been in exile for 300years; this ain't s---."

I just don't see these people leaving.Uptown, on what was once a shady street, a tribe isliving in a beautiful home owned by a guy namedPeanut. There is a seaplane in his driveway, a bassboat in the front yard and generators running thepower.Let's just say they were prepared.All the men wear pistols in visible holsters. They'vegot the only manicured lawn in the city. What else isthere to do all afternoon, really?Christine Paternostro is a member of this tribe andshe is an out-of-work hair stylist from Supercuts in acity where no one shaves or bathes. Not many prospectsfor her at this point."Everyone will need a haircut when this is over," Ioffered.

While members of this tribe stood talking on theirstreet, a woman came running out of the house,yelling: "Y'all, come quick. We on WWL! We on WWL!"Everyone ran in the house and watched a segment abouthow people are surviving in the city. And these guysare doing just that. (Although I think the airplane inthe driveway is a little over the top.)As I was leaving, the WWL woman said to me: "Are youstaying for dinner?"I was not, but I asked what they were having. "Tunasteaks," she said. "Grilled."If and when they rebuild this city and we all get tocome home, I want to live near people like this. Ijust can't imagine them ever leaving.They make me wonder if I ever could.

To contact Chris Rose, e-mail,or call (504) 352-2535.

13) Bodies in the Pumps?:,1280,-5266565,00.html

Corpses, Guns Found in New Orleans Homes
Friday September 9, 2005 4:16 PM
Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Soldiers and police confiscatedguns from homeowners as they went house to house,trying to clear the shattered city of holdouts becauseof the danger of disease and fire. Police on Fridayalso marked homes with corpses inside, with plans toreturn later. As many as 10,000 people were believed to bestubbornly staying put in the city, despite Katrina'sfilthy, corpse-strewn floodwaters and orders fromMayor Ray Nagin earlier this week to leave or beremoved by force. By midmorning, though, there were noimmediate reports of anyone being taken out forcibly,police said. Police are ``not going to do that until we absolutelyhave to. We really don't want to do that at all,''Deputy Chief Warren Riley said. Some residents who had previously refused to leave -whether because they wanted to protect their homesfrom looters, they did not want to leave their petsbehind, or they simply feared the unknown - are nowchanging their minds and asking to be rescued, policesaid. ``They realize they're not going to this awfulsituation like the Superdome or the ConventionCenter,'' Riley said. ``As days go by, it seems lessand less likely that we'll have to force anyone.'' He added: ``I don't know of any incidents where peopleare being belligerent.'' Some residents said they left under extreme pressure. ``They were all insisting that I had to leave myhome,'' said Shelia Dalferes, who said she had 15minutes to pack before she and her husband wereevacuated. ``The implication was there with theirplastic handcuffs on their belt. Who wants to go outlike that?'' Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jason Rule said hiscrew pulled 18 people from their homes Thursday. Hesaid some of the holdouts did not want to leave unlessthey could take their pets. ``It's getting to the point where they're delirious,''Rule said. ``A couple of them don't know who theywere. They think the water will go down in a fewdays.'' Police and soldiers also seized numerous guns for fearof confrontations with jittery residents who havearmed themselves against looters. ``No one will be able to be armed. We are going totake all the weapons,'' Riley said. On Thursday, in the city's well-to-do Lower GardenDistrict, a neighborhood with many antebellummansions, members of the Oklahoma National Guardseized weapons from the inhabitants of one home. Thosewho were armed were handcuffed and briefly detainedbefore being let go. ``Walking up and down these streets, you don't want tothink about the stuff that you're going to have to do,if somebody's pops out around a corner,'' said one ofthe Guardsmen, Chris Montgomery. The floodwaters are slowly receding, but the task ofgathering rotting corpses and clearing debris iscertain to take months. Police went door-to-doorchecking for bodies or anyone in need of rescue.Houses where corpses were found were marked so thatauthorities could go back later. The mayor has said the death toll in New Orleans alonecould be 10,000, and state officials have ordered25,000 body bags. At two collection sites, federal mortuary teamsgathered information that might help identify thebodies, such as where they were found. Personaleffects were also being logged. At a temporary morgue set up in nearby St. Gabriel,where 67 bodies had been collected by Thursday, theremains were being photographed and forensic workershoped to use dental X-rays, fingerprints and DNA toidentify them. Dr. Bryan Patucci, coroner of St. Bernard Parish, saidit may be impossible to identify all the victims untilauthorities compile a final list of missing people. Decaying corpses in the floodwaters could poseproblems for engineers who are desperately trying topump the city dry. While 37 of the 174 pumps in theNew Orleans area were working and 17 portable pumpswere in place Thursday, officials said the mammothundertaking could be complicated by corpses gettingclogged in the pumps. ``It's got a huge focus of our attention right now,''said John Rickey of the Army Corps of Engineers.``Those remains are people's loved ones.'' Some 400,000 homes in the city were still withoutpower, with no immediate prospect of getting it back.And fires continued to be a problem. At least 11blazes burned across the city Thursday. Threebuildings were destroyed at historically black DillardUniversity. Also Thursday, Congress rushed through an additional$51.8 billion for Katrina relief, and President Bushpledged to make it ``easy and simple as possible'' foruprooted storm victims to collect food stamps andother government benefits. To counter criticism of the slow federal response tothe disaster, Vice President Dick Cheney toured partsof the ravaged Gulf Coast, claiming significantprogress but acknowledging immense obstacles remainedto a full recovery. Meanwhile, Democrats threatened to boycott the namingof a panel that Republican leaders are proposing toinvestigate the administration's readiness andresponse to the storm. Senate Democratic leader HarryReid said it was like a baseball pitcher calling ``hisown balls and strikes.'' Democrats have urged the appointment of an independentpanel like the Sept. 11 commission.

14) A week in MS:

A week in the ruins of Mississippi
By Leslie Williams
Staff writer

Bay St. Louis. Ms. - I had planned to ride outHurricane Katrina in a schoolhouse-turned shelterabout seven miles north of Pass Christian. When, onthe day before landfall, police advised that thebuilding - DeLisle Elementary - was no longer on thelist of approved shelters, I cast about for analternative bse of operations. Not unlike the little pigs of fairy-tale fame fleeingthe I'll-blow-your-house-down wolf, I join familymembers - including my mother, retreating from herhome in Bay St. Louis, and a sister with her threechildren from Diamondhead - at the house built by mybrother, Thyrone, with invaluable help from an uncle.The house, barley north of Interstate 10, is a solid,spacious, one-story structure, and my brother, likeour late father, is a man of action during and afternatural disasters.

15) Katrina reconstruction. There was a great onetoday on NPR:

Alarm sounded too late as N.O. swampedSlow response left city. in lurch
By John McQuaid
Staff writer

Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans with a doubleblow when it made landfall Aug. 29. First, storm surgewaters from the east rapidly swamped St. BernardParish and eastern New Orleans before the eye of thestorm had passed the city about 9 a.m. Within hours,surge waters collapsed city canal floodwalls and beganto "fill the bowl," while top officials continued tooperate for a full day under the mistaken belief thatthe danger had passed.A rough reconstruction of the flooding based onanecdotal accounts, interviews and computer modelingshows that the huge scale of the overlapping floods -one fast, one slow - should have been clear to someofficials by mid-afternoon Monday, when cityrepresentatives confirmed that the 17th Street Canalfloodwall had been breached. At that point areas to the east were submerged fromthe earlier flooding, trapping thousands, whilegradually rising waters stretched from the Lakefrontacross to Mid-City and almost to the Central BusinessDistrict.Federal officials have referred to the levee breachesas a separate and much later event from the floodingto the east, and said that they were unaware of thegravity of the problem until Tuesday, suggestingvaluable response time was lost."It was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the factthat there was no possibility of plugging the (17thStreet Canal) gap and that essentially the lake wasgoing to start to drain into the city. I think thatsecond catastrophe really caught everybody bysurprise," Homeland Security Secretary MichaelChertoff said Sunday, adding that he thought thebreach had occurred Monday night or Tuesday morning.By that time, flooding from at least one of the twobreached canals already had been under way all dayMonday, evidence shows.Even on Tuesday, as still-rising waters covered mostof New Orleans, FEMA official Bill Lokey sounded areassuring note in a Baton Rouge briefing. "I don't want to alarm everybody that, you know, NewOrleans is filling up like a bowl," Lokey said."That's just not happening."Once a levee or floodwall is breached by a hurricanestorm surge, engineers say, it often widens and cannotquickly be sealed. Storm surge waters in LakePontchartrain may take a day or more to subside, sothey keep pouring into the city - most of which liesbelow sea level - until the levels inside and outsidethe levee are equal.Experts familiar with the hurricane risks in the NewOrleans area said they were stunned that no one hadconveyed the information about the breaches or madeclear to upper-level officials the grave risk theyposed, or made an effort to warn residents about thethreat after storm winds subsided Monday afternoon."I'm shocked. I don't understand why the responsewasn't instantaneous," said Louisiana State Universitygeology professor Greg Stone, who studies coastalstorm surge dynamics. "They should have been monitoring this and informedpeople all the way to the top, (and) then they shouldhave warned people," said Ivor Van Heerden, who usescomputer models at the LSU Hurricane Center to studystorm surges and provided officials in the LouisianaOffice of Emergency Preparedness headquarters withdata indicating the potential for flooding that couldresult from Katrina.The storm approached the coast early Monday, theeasterly winds from its northern quadrant pumping arising surge into the marshy Lake Borgne area east ofSt. Bernard. There, two hurricane levees come togetherinto a large V-shape. Storm surge researchers say thatpoint acts as a giant funnel: Water pouring into theconfined area rises up - perhaps as much as 20 feet inthis case - and is funneled between the levees all theway into New Orleans.The water likely topped the levees along the northside adjacent to eastern New Orleans, which averageonly 14 or 15 feet, according to the Army Corps ofEngineers' New Orleans project manager Al Naomi.The surge reached the Industrial Canal before dawn andquickly overflowed on both sides, the canal lockmasterreported to the Corps. At some point not longafterward, Corps officials believe a barge broke looseand crashed through the floodwall, opening a breachthat accelerated flooding into the Lower Ninth Wardand St. Bernard Parish.The floodwaters moved quickly. By around 8 a.m., authorities reported rising water onboth sides of the Industrial Canal, in St. Bernard andeastern New Orleans. The Coast Guard reported sightingresidents on rooftops in the Upper Ninth Ward. "Wateris inundating everywhere," in St. Bernard, ParishCouncil Chairman Joey DiFatta said. At 9 a.m., there was 6 to 8 feet of water in the Lower9th Ward, state officials said. Less than two hourslater, most of St. Bernard was a lake 10 feet deep."We know people were up in the attics hollering forhelp," state Sen. Walter Boasso, R-Arabi, said thatmorning. By 11 a.m., water was covering Interstate 10at a low point near the high-rise over the IndustrialCanal.Sometime Monday morning, the 17th Street Canal leveeburst when storm surge waters pressed against it andpossibly topped it, Corps officials said. Col. RichardP. Wagenaar, the corps's site commander at 17thStreet, told The Washington Post that a police officercalled him Monday morning to tell him about it. Hetold the Post he couldn't get to the site.Naomi said he thinks the breach occurred in the mid-or late-morning after the hurricane's eye had passedeast of the city. By that time, north winds would havepushed storm surge water in Lake Pontchartrain southagainst the hurricane levees and into the canals. Thenthe wind shifted to the west."As I remember it the worst of the storm had passedwhen we got word the floodwall had collapsed," hesaid. "It could have been when we were experiencingwesterly winds in the aftermath of the storm, whichwould have been pushing water against it."Naomi and other Corps officials say they think thewater in the canal topped the levee on the OrleansParish side, weakening its structure on the interiorside and causing its collapse. However, Van Heerdensaid he does not believe the water was high enough inthe lake to top the 14-foot wall and that the pressurecaused a "catastrophic structural failure."It's unclear when floodwalls in the London Avenuecanal were breached, but Naomi said it may have beenabout the same time.Once the floodwalls failed, water - then at about 8feet or higher in the lake - began to pour into NewOrleans from the west, beginning the full-scalenightmare emergency managers and other officials mostfeared. At 10 a.m., reporters from The Times-Picayunesaw water rising over I-10 where it dips beneath therailway trestle south and east of the canal.Naomi said that he thinks Corps officials hadcommunicated the information about the breaches to theBaton Rouge Office of Emergency Preparedness "It was disseminated. It went to our OEP in BatonRouge, to the state, FEMA, the Corps," Naomi said."The people in the field knew it. The people here (inCorps offices) in Louisiana and Mississippi knew it. Idon't know how communication worked in thoseagencies."Officials at the OEP could not be reached for comment.New Orleans officials were also aware of the 17thStreet Canal breach and publicly confirmed it at 2p.m. Around the same time, The Times-Picayune reported4 feet of water in one Lakeview neighborhood.An hour later, Terry Ebbert, head of New Orleans'emergency operations, listed Treme and Lakeview asamong the areas hardest hit by the flooding. Ebbertsaid there would be casualties because many peoplewere calling emergency workers saying they weretrapped on rooftops, in trees and attics. In somecases, he said, authorities lost contact with peoplepleading for help.As the day wore on, the flood crept east and south andmade its way across the city, penetrating neighborhoodafter neighborhood. At 3 p.m. Times-Picayune reporters found it wasknee-deep under the Jefferson Davis overpass nearXavier University. A Mid-City couple stranded theresaid their home was surrounded by 5 feet of water. Anhour later, the I-10 dip under the railroad overpasswas under 15 feet of water.George Saucier, the CEO of Lindy Boggs Medical Centersouth of City Park, told The Times-Picayune that waterfrom the 17th Street breach had flowed into Bayou St.John and overflowed its banks, then followed streetslike sluices on its way south, where it was startingto flood the hospital's basement.By late afternoon, people stranded on I-10 near theIndustrial Canal could see residents on rooftopsstretching across Lower 9th Ward. As night fell Monday, many outside of New Orleansbreathed a sigh of relief believing the city had beenlargely spared the worse. But thousands were strandedfrom the Lower Ninth Ward, across St. Bernard andsouth to the east bank of Plaquemines Parish. Andwaters continued to rise overnight throughout centralNew Orleans. By dawn, they stretched all the way fromeast to west and into Uptown, and were coursingthrough the Central Business District. As TVhelicopters flew over the city and beamed out picturesof the flooding, the extent of the catastrophe wasclear.That flooding would complicate evacuation efforts inNew Orleans for days.

16) This is not good:,1280,-5266591,00.html

In Poll, Most Say Abandon Flooded Areas
Friday September 9, 2005 4:31
PMAP Photo LADM115
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - More than half the people in thiscountry say the flooded areas of New Orleans lyingbelow sea level should be abandoned and rebuilt onhigher ground. An AP-Ipsos poll found that 54 percent of Americanswant the vast sections of New Orleans that wereflooded by Hurricane Katrina moved to a saferlocation. About 80 percent of the city was flooded atthe height of the disaster. The city, home to about484,000 people, sits six feet below sea level onaverage. The fate of the flood-prone areas of the city is anopen question. The aid pricetag already runs tens ofbillions of dollars. In the days since the hurricane,House Speaker Dennis Hastert has questioned whetherthe worst-flooded areas should be rebuilt. The skepticism about restoring New Orleans below sealevel comes as the public mood has darkened after oneof the nation's worst natural disasters. Those mostlikely to say that low-lying areas of New Orleansshould not be rebuilt are whites over 45 years of ageand Republican women. ``There's a lot of history, but the fact remains thatit remains below sea level,'' said Kate Rehfus, aRepublican from Fort Thomas, Ky., who loves NewOrleans for its blues, beignets and Cafe Du Mondecoffee. ``It wouldn't be the same by any means, but ifit could be done, that would be best. This would neverhappen again.'' Members of New Orleans City Council are vowing torebuild the city - a task that would cost billions ofdollars. The city has a long history and a richtradition of distinctive jazz, matchless cuisine andMardi Gras. The Big Easy is a magnet for tourists, with more than10 million visiting in 2004, spending almost $5billion, according to the New Orleans Convention andVisitors Bureau. More than four in 10 of the Americans polled said theywant the city rebuilt where it is and the leveesstrengthened. Some New Orleans residents were angry about anysuggestion that their beloved city should not berebuilt as it is. ``How many of those people have been to New Orleans?''said Alec Phoenix, a New Orleans resident who iscurrently in Los Angeles. ``To say the city should beabandoned because it's below sea level is anirresponsible statement.'' Joyce Jones, a retiree from Modesto, Calif., said:``If the levees were built stronger, they should putit back the way it is. We're a nation of lots ofsmarts. Those Corps of Engineers can do just aboutanything.'' The nation's pessimism after Katrina is reflected inthe two-thirds, 65 percent, who say the country isheaded down the wrong track - compared with 59 percentwho said that last month. President Bush's job approval was at 39 percent, thefirst time it has dipped below 40 percent sinceAP-Ipsos began measuring public approval of Bush inDecember 2003. Just over half, 52 percent, disapprove of Bush'shandling of hurricane relief. Blacks were especially upset with Bush; 78 percent ofblacks blamed the president for the poor response,compared to 49 percent of whites. Two-thirds in the poll said state and localgovernments deserve much of the blame for theresponse. The rapid rise in gas prices past $3 per gallon mayhave played a role in Bush's 39 percent job approval.Seven in 10 said they disapprove of Bush's handling ofgas prices. Despite their gloomy mood, people are donating tohurricane victims at record levels. Almost two-thirdsin the poll say they have already given money - withabout $600 million donated so far, according to groupsthat monitor donations. The poll of 1,002 adults was conducted by Ipsos, aninternational polling firm, from Sept. 6-8 and has amargin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentagepoints.

17) Boston Globe editorial:

Dry run for Katrina
September 7, 2005

BEFORE THERE was Hurricane Katrina, there wasHurricane Pam. You won't find it on any of the listsof storms that have struck in the past. Pam was a 2004simulation exercise with federal, state, and localofficials to estimate the impact of a major hurricaneon New Orleans. It predicted that the levees would beswamped. One million people from the area would beevacuated in time, but 300,000 or so residents, mostlythe poor without transportation, would be left behind.Pam was the alarm bell that should have alerted theBush administration that its preference for tax cutsand defense spending over necessary domestic projectscould have disastrous consequences. One governmentofficial who rang the alarm, Assistant Secretary ofthe Army Michael Parker, was fired for accusing theBush administration of shortchanging the Corps ofEngineers, the agency responsible for the levees inNew Orleans. Parker, a former Republican congressmanfrom Mississippi, was an unlikely martyr to the causeof big government.But from Washington's failure to maintain the leveesto its long-term neglect of the wetlands and barrierislands that protect the Gulf Coast, Katrina hasproven that much of government is like keeping a roofin good repair: You pay now or you pay much morelater. This time, the price was in lives as well.Looking back at ''Hurricane Pam" is also usefulbecause it shreds the defense for the federalgovernment's poor response made by both President Bushand Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff thatno one foresaw the cataclysm that struck last week.The New Orleans newspaper the Times-Picayune publisheda series in 2002 on the danger posed to the city bythe failure to strengthen the levee system and thelong-term degradation of the coast's natural defenses.A 2001 article in Scientific American by MarkFischetti also predicted the city's flooding.As planning exercises go, Pam was inadequate.Participants' suggestion for helping those left behindwas that members of churches locate fellow congregantswithout cars and help them escape. This couldcertainly have helped but would not have solved theevacuation problem entirely. Nor was it ever followedthrough.Planners should have insisted that local or federalgovernment ensure there were sufficient busesidentified beforehand and organized to go intoneighborhoods and help residents escape. Churches willundoubtedly have a role in helping Katrina's victims.But only public officials whose views of government'srole have been stunted by decades of antigovernmenthectoring could have failed to see that a safe, swiftevacuation was a job for government, not God.

18) On local evacuation plans and all that:

The Absolute Failure of State and Local OfficialsFacing A Hurricane:
Hurricane Ivan by ArchPundit [Subscribe]
Wed Sep 7th, 2005 at 23:38:58 PDT(From the diaries -- kos)

This is cross posted at ArchPundit, though thisversion is slightly updated. Two pieces of information have become famous inwingnut circles over the last few days, but they arequoted out of context and completely miss the theextent of the preparation the City of New Orleans wasundertaking for a hurricane such as Katrina. The first piece of information the Right Wing NoiseMachine is trying to argue is that the City of NewOrleans didn't follow its hurricane plan as containedin the The City of New Orleans Comprehensive EmergencyManagement Plan Annex I: Hurricanes.

Original Document:

The second piece of information is that the City ofNew Orleans had no plan for sheltering its citizenswho did not have their own transportation with whichto flee with portions of this article from theTimes-Picayune from July 24th:

19) These eleven congressmen, Republican conservativesall, voted against the $51 billion package ( H.R. 3673) for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Remember their names:
Rep. Joe Barton - TX
Jeff Flake - AZ
Virginia Foxx - NC
Scott Garrett - NJ
John Hostettler - IN
Steve King - IA
Butch Otter - ID
Ron Paul - TX
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Lynn Westmoreland - GA

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