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Dooms Day

New Flash From WWLTV

****ALL RESIDENTS ON THE EAST BANK OF ORLEANS AND JEFFERSON [combined population ~1,000,000 ed] REMAINING IN THE METRO AREA ARE BEING TOLD TO EVACUATE AS EFFORTS TO SANDBAG THE LEVEE BREAK HAVE ENDED. THE PUMPS IN THAT AREA ARE EXPECTED TO FAIL SOON AND 9 FEET OF WATER IS EXPECTED IN THE ENTIRE EAST BANK. WITHIN THE NEXT 12-15 HOURS****

Jeff Parish President. Residents will probably be allowed back in town in a week, with identification only, but only to get essentials and clothing. You will then be asked to leave and not come back for one month.

They said it would happen. They were right.


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Comments (11)

Absolutely speechless.... (Below threshold)

Absolutely speechless.

This is heartbreaking.<br /... (Below threshold)
Jim:

This is heartbreaking.

And hurricane season isn't ... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

And hurricane season isn't over. Not trying to be understated... but this is bad - both now and for the foreseeable future. This should be a warning to all metropolitan areas to reassess their civil defenses and strategic planning. It's a tragedy that everyone knew was coming but that too few had the political will to take the conservative (as in cautious) tack. Sadly, we'll see this repeated.

Credit goes to the civil planners and forecasters for at least predicting accurately the path and devastation to be expected. Their diligence, research, and action saved innumerable lives. In such an event as this one, we really need to wave those silver linings.

There's a magic word in the... (Below threshold)
cirby:

There's a magic word in the disaster business.

"Mitigation."

It means that while you still prepare for a disaster, get your responses nailed down ahead of time, and do the recovery when it hits, the best thing you can do is to minimize the problem before it happens.

They needed to do a lot more physical prep ahead of time, including making the levees much, much stronger and making plans to stop some of the things that caused the real issues.

Evacuation was a complete farce for this one. They had no real plans for it, and waited an entire day after everyone else in the world knew something was going to happen before calling for the mandatory evac.

Other types of prep should have been done, too, like creating more evac routes and getting transport ready for those who couldn't travel on their own. One of the aerial shots of New Orleans showed a train yard with dozens of cars just sitting there in the water...


>Evacuation was a complete ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>Evacuation was a complete farce for this one. They had no real plans for it,

cirby- I don't have time to explain it... I plan on a whole series of posts on it when I get a new home... But you are quite wrong.

In 10 seconds or less, this is the 3rd time we've evacuated in ~6 years. LISTEN TO ME THIS IS NO JOKE....

If the local officials had not done and INCREDIBLE job in the evacuation, ~250,000 would had drowned in their cars. NO that is not an exaggeration.

(not trying to be a jerk but) With all due respect you have no clue what you are talking about.

google hurricane georges traffic and get back to me.

Hmmm.Not to detrac... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

Not to detract from this discussion but .... I'm rather wondering if Arabs aren't dancing in the streets again.

Paul:Look forward ... (Below threshold)

Paul:

Look forward to you posts. Here's something, if you haven't seen it already, that might assist in the effort.

From the June 2003 Civil Engineering Magazine article The Creeping Storm:


In 1999 the Corps was authorized by Congress to study the feasibility of various proposals for protecting the city against such devastating storms. An obvious possibility would be to raise the current levees to a height deemed acceptable by an AdCirc analysis. That, however, would also require widening the levees, which may not be possible in many areas because of the proximity of homes. Among other alternatives, Naomi will investigate the possibility of creating an immense wall between Lake Pontchartrain and the gulf to keep water out of the lake during a severe storm. Such a project would involve constructing massive floodgates at the Rigolets and Chef Menteur passes, where storm surge would enter the lake.

According to Naomi, any concerted effort to protect the city from a storm of category 4 or 5 will probably take 30 years to complete. And the feasibility study alone for such an effort will cost as much as $8 million. Even though Congress has authorized the feasibility study, funding has not yet been appropriated. When funds are made available, the study will take about six years to complete. “That’s a lot of time to get the study before Congress,” Naomi admits. “Hopefully we won’t have a major storm before then.”

hurricane georges traffi... (Below threshold)
Phinn:

hurricane georges traffic

I don't have to google it. I was there.

If you didn't leave about 20 hours before landfall, you might as well stay. I had to turn around and go back to my crappy apartment on 9th street and Magazine, or risk sitting on the I-10 parking lot when the storm hit.

NOLA didn't even get hurricane force winds then. And it was still a nightmare -- no power for days, broken windows, contaminated water everywhere, eating my self-imposed ration of one can of room-temperature chili per day and half a gallon of bottled water, waiting for the supplies to arrive.

That was awful, but it was nothing compared to this.

Paul- Comparing th... (Below threshold)
cirby:

Paul-

Comparing the evacuation for Katrina to one of the worst-run evacuations in US history doesn't do much for your point.

If they had done an "incredible" job of planning, it would have started 24 hours earlier, for one.

(As a side note, there has *never* been an "incredible" job of planning any major evacuation, any time in US history. Decent traffic control isn't evacuation planning. When these people left town, did they have specific guidelines about where they should go to seek refuge, other than "west or east"?)

In long-term plans, a few more routes would have been mandatory (and the fact that New Orleans has so few possible evac routes is just one more indictment of the people in charge - see my comment on "mitigation"). Bad highway planning falls right in with bad disaster planning, and *has to be* part of the same process.

Evacuations cost money every time they're called, which is why so many politicians resist them until they're absolutely forced to. Louisiana politicians waited too damned long, by any measure.

As far as the rest of the disaster plan (and an evac plan is only a tiny part of any disaster plan), New Orleans didn't have much of one. Yes, it's the largest disaster in US history, but they have *no* overall control of even their own folks, and it's painfully obvious that nobody's really in charge. They have pathetic communications (someone should have taken some clues from 9/11), no real "standalone" contingencies (far too many people standing around waiting for someone to even talk to them, two days out), and are basically waiting for the Feds to tell them what to do and show up with food and water.

The whole "where are we going to take these people" question is one that a professional emergency manager would have, in nice printed lists, in multiple copies of their citywide disaster plan.

This is Emergency Management 101, but apparently nobody in southern Louisiana ever took the course.

cirby,It looks lik... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

cirby,

It looks like everyone who tried to leave -- left.

The only thing that I could see that could have been done better would have been to utilize city buses to take out those without transportation.

Too many people made the decision to stay or not head to the only shelter the city provided.

mesablue:You're ri... (Below threshold)
cirby:

mesablue:

You're right about the number of people who evacuated before the storm. Most planners assume ten to twenty percent of all residents will stick, no matter what you tell them.

BUT...

Evacuation isn't just a "before the event" activity. You have to make plans for post-disaster evac. In this case, they should have had people remove the city transportation equipment (buses and trucks) to a safe place, to come back in after the roads got cleared enough to travel. This did _not_ happen, since one of the aerial shots was of a hundred school buses sitting with just the tops out of the water.

There was also a big failure in medical and special-needs evacuation. That's a whole different situation, and the individual hospitals are supposed to have plans in place to either get all patients out or to be able to stay indefinitely. At least one of the major hospitals had their generators on the ground floor (that was mentioned on Fox sometime last night). Flood came, power went. Oops. Panicked evac, on the fly.




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