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Hurricane Katrina Response - A Photographic Timeline

Free Republic member Wolfstar uses the media's own images to rebut the notion that there was slow federal response to in New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. Here's how he summarizes the photo essay.

The near total evacuation of the major American port city of New Orleans, Louisiana was accomplished between Tuesday afternoon, August 30 and Friday afternoon, September 2, 2005. This evacuation occurred while other search, rescue, relief and evacuation operations were simultaneously being conducted throughout the Gulf Coast between approximately Lafayette, Louisiana, on the west and the Florida panhandle on the east - an area of about 90,000 sq. miles, or the size of the entire nation of Great Britain.

I'd say this amazing achievement is the opposite of slow. I'd say that it's a stunning accomplishment and one that demonstrates superb organization, remarkable logistics flow, and the greatness of the American spirit.

From the following photographic timeline, it should be clear to all reasonable people that the failure of government response occurred before the hurricane hit, and it occurred solely at the local and state level.

It's a long photo essay, best viewed over a high speed internet connection.


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Comments (22)

Incredible photo essay. Wh... (Below threshold)

Incredible photo essay. When it was all happening live, it seemed like the week took an eternity. It is fascinating to see the dates and times and events. I think most have forgotten that the NOLA problems did not exist until Tuesday.

Ok guys, but here's the thi... (Below threshold)
andrew:

Ok guys, but here's the thing I don't get-

I read an article like this one:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0509040369sep04,1,4144825.story?page=1&coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

which says:

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. A good share of its 1,200 sailors could also go ashore to help with the relief effort, but they haven't been asked. The Bataan has been in the stricken region the longest of any military unit, but federal authorities have yet to fully utilize the ship.

and I can't help questioning the assumption that there's an inevitable 3-4 day lag when the federal government is asked to provide emergency relief. In Rumsfeld's press briefing yesterday he alluded to a similar "following of the storm" as defense procedure.

Something doesn't fit.

(I joined the debate with a couple long comments down here http://wizbangblog.com/archives/006994.php )

Andrew, you're right, it do... (Below threshold)
Mary in LA:

Andrew, you're right, it does seem odd, but what I read somewhere (I don't have a link) is that the beds are empty because the medical teams and their equipment are all ashore, treating the injured and ill where they are. If the patients were to be treated on the ship, they'd all have to be evacuated by helicopter -- a slow and dangerous process.

That made sense to me -- hope it helps.

It seems like a poor alloca... (Below threshold)
andrew:

It seems like a poor allocation of resources, anyway.

I understand the point about the medical teams, I guess it must not be possible to bring the ship closer to shore and load it up more efficiently.

But if the ship can actually desalinate 100,000 gallons of water a day, it seems inexcusable that it would be employed.

http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20050906-secdef3862.html has a few interesting passages:

SEC. RUMSFELD: It didn't. The -- as the storm was approaching, the Department of Defense met and discussed the importance of anticipating things that the department could be asked and being prepared to assist the people who do have the responsibility, federal and state and local, and arranging things, actually pre-positioning things before they ever hit.

-----

GEN. MYERS: I think we responded as -- not only was there no delay, I think we anticipated, in most cases, not in all cases, but in most cases, the support that was required, and we were pushing support before we were formally asked for it. And some -- some -- most was needed; some perhaps was not. We're sorting that out right now. We may have more assets, for instance, afloat than we actually require right now, although we require a lot of that afloat capability.
-------

SEC. RUMSFELD: ...
But I think your question's a fair one. The Department of Defense -- just as the Department of Defense does not have lead responsibility with respect to natural disasters, so too, we do not have lead responsibility with respect to attacks within the United States from within the United States, and that would characterize what you posed as a question. And I'm sure that the government will be addressing that question in a serious way, as we all should.

that last comment is the most revealing- my impression is that the DoD was completely prepared (with prepositioned ships like the USS Bataan) but couldn't move without a federal order- from FEMA, I guess, or the president.

There was just a vacuum of leadership, no one knew who was in charge of what.

I was beginning to wonder i... (Below threshold)

I was beginning to wonder if I was the only person who thought the rescue was quite amazing.

Rightwingsparkle,I... (Below threshold)
andrew:

Rightwingsparkle,

I would never denigrate the troops and volunteers doing good work on the ground, but I think the government screwed up far too much to call the rescue "amazing".

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09.html#077206

Here's a few paragraphs from that site:

Arkansas National Guardsman Mikel Brooks stepped through the food service entrance of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Monday, flipped on the light at the end of his machine gun, and started pointing out bodies.

"Don't step in that blood - it's contaminated," he said. "That one with his arm sticking up in the air, he's an old man."
Then he shined the light on the smaller human figure under the white sheet next to the elderly man.

"That's a kid," he said. "There's another one in the freezer, a 7-year-old with her throat cut."

He moved on, walking quickly through the darkness, pulling his camouflage shirt to his face to screen out the overwhelming odor.
"There's an old woman," he said, pointing to a wheelchair covered by a sheet. "I escorted her in myself. And that old man got bludgeoned to death," he said of the body lying on the floor next to the wheelchair.

Brooks and several other Guardsmen said they had seen between 30 and 40 more bodies in the Convention Center's freezer. "It's not on, but at least you can shut the door," said fellow Guardsman Phillip Thompson.

I don't think we should be congratulating ourselves and our president just yet.

Andrew,With regard... (Below threshold)
Robert Modean:

Andrew,

With regard to the USS Bataan, I agree - I don't actually understand why it's being under utilized either, that's been one of the WTF moments for me this entire time. However regarding the 3-4 day lag, perhaps I can explain a few things.

States are sovereign, the Federal Government, especially the executive branch, has few avenues that it can exercise in violating state sovereignty even in an extreme situation such as Katrina. The declaration of an area as a Federal Disaster Area, like Bush did for the gulf coast areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, neither gives FEMA responsibility for, nor grants it right to take over operations in those areas. Each state's Governor must request Federal assistance pursuant to the Stafford Act.

Also, FEMA doesn't have an army of personnel waiting to be deployed to these areas. As I've said elsewhere the 'M' in FEMA stands for Management, it's what they do. A lot of the FEMA personnel actually working at a disaster site aren't FEMA personnel, their on loan from other Federal agencies or their experienced volunteers that have worked with FEMA or state EMAs before. Right now the entire gulf coast in those three states is crawling with people from DHS, HHS, VA, DOD, NDMS, DMAT, DOJ, EPA, USDA, Federal Law Enforcement, and a whole slew of other alphabet soup groups, all under the guise of FEMA management. That's why allocation of FEMA resources usually occurs after the disaster hits and can take up to four days to occur, they simply don't have the people to deploy prior to the disaster.

I've been ridiculed and attacked for this statement on a number of sites but I'll say it again and keep saying it, having worked for my state's EMA for just over twelve years this is actually the fastest I've ever seen FEMA respond to a disaster, they're been simply light years ahead of where they were 12 years ago. I know it seems ludicrous to say that in the face of this disaster but think about it. FEMA, Local and State EOP guidelines all say the same things, expect Federal assistance to take from 72 to 96 hours, FEMA began deploying teams within 24 hours of the storm passing.

If not for the scope of the disaster, and if only Nagin and Ebbert had actually followed the EOP for SE Louisiana, we'd all be marveling at how well things are going, even with an idiot like Brown in charge.

Robert,Gov. Blanco... (Below threshold)
andrew:

Robert,

Gov. Blanco declared a state of emergency-
http://www.gov.state.la.us/Press_Release_detail.asp?id=976

Pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.35, 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.

That was 8/27. Does that count?

It seems tragic that these unnecessary deaths could not be prevented because of various legal, procedural, and bureaucratic hurdles.

I understand that an emergency is not an excuse to overthrow state sovereignty, but there was some kind of important procedural breakdown which hasn't come to light. Does Governor Blanco bear the bulk of the responsibility for, essentially, not filling out the right forms?

<a href="http://... (Below threshold)
DaraLundy:

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/011585.php

Powerline has an excellent rebuttal to the Bataan affair. They says its nonsense.

No matter how we scapegoat ... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

No matter how we scapegoat now, the cause of this tragedy, apart from a storm which cannot be ridiculed, arrested, sued, impeached, or spat upon, was the repeated abdication of responsible action prior to the storm. I am not referring solely to the DisasterDay minus Day X either. The truly thoughtful investigations should be regarding the lack of adequate infrastructure rather than reflexive excoriation subsequent to catastrophic collapse.

What legislation was passed, tabled, or ignored for the past many decades to prepare for the inevitable? At what levels were these proposals stymied? Who advocated enhancing protections and why were they ignored? What was the public's accounting of these actions or inactions? Did the city and state present opportunity to constituents to finance critical repair? How did the voters respond? If the financing was supported, does auditing expose any corruption that would have sabotaged both resources and extended public support?

The list of questions is endless and, deservedly or not, the tragedy has finally fallen in the lap of the current powers that be. Yes, this was one, big storm; however, it would appear that the real problems occurred after flooding due to levee breach. Prevent that and the vast majority of the media-focused tragedy disappears. Actually, a very large part of the tragedy disappears whether the media emphasizes this particular plight (in NO) or not. So why was the flood control system incapable of preventing or minimizing this universally recognized threat?

There are many years' worth of collective blame to be reviewed apart from the contemporaneous failings of a handful of scapegoats. I reckon there's a herd of 'em that headed for the hills and will receive scant critique. That would be unfair.

I mention this because now we will have hearings to see who gets the blame. I suggest Congress looks in the mirror at their financial reapportionments to review their own culpability and failed leadership while pork gets divvied. Let's see who complains the most at the Federal level. I suggest we investigate their votes first. And let's go back to points in time where the financing would have been allocated and the project completed before jumping to rash conclusions. Money set aside in the past couple of years would not have any impact on the current infrastructure, so historic review mandates more than one election cycle's worth of scouring.

andrew:The Staffor... (Below threshold)

andrew:

The Stafford Act allows an exception to the Posse Commitatus Act; it allows the federal government to send in troops to conduct mandatory evacuations, enforce the law, arrest law breakers and protect relief workers. IF the GOVERNOR asks for that help. As of Friday, 9/2/2005, "Governor" Blanco hadn't. A declaration of emergency apparently isn't enough. And when President Bush pressed her to do so, Mayor Nagin reports that she told the President that she needed twenty-four hours to think about it. Does that answer your question?

andrew:No, that le... (Below threshold)
cirby:

andrew:

No, that letter doesn't count.

What it did, specifically, ask for was money from the Feds ($9 million) and for help removing debris.

This does not, in any shape or form, allow the Feds to come in and take over, or do much of anything except the specific things detailed in the letter.

It does not relinquish control of the Guard. It does not let all of the other Federal departments in or give them any control. It does not even let the Red Cross come in and set up without specific invitation from the state emergency planners.

It does set the stage for further requests, which (for the most part) the government of the state of Louisiana did not make.

Also - the newest Stupid Thing From NO: apparently, the Red Cross was ready to go in to New Orleans a day or so after the hurricane - but the state police kept them out...

More on the 'so-called' fed... (Below threshold)

More on the 'so-called' federal delay can be reviewed at this post which details the National Guard's response.

Re: Anonymous (9/7/2005 @ 8... (Below threshold)

Re: Anonymous (9/7/2005 @ 8:47 PM)

According to one timeline I saw (I forget where; sorry), it would have taken eight years to do the requisite studies, designs, enviromental impact statements, etc., followed by thirty years of actual fully funded, on time and on budget construction. Which means that if we had started it in 1967, it would have been done in time.

Now given the glacial pace that governments (local, state or federal) move at, that timeline doesn't sound at all unlikely to me. Maybe someone with more expertise than me in this field would like to take a whack at it?

RE: fatman's post (Septembe... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: fatman's post (September 7, 2005 09:07 PM)

Yikes! And no, I don't doubt such outrageous timelines exist. Maybe this serves as Exhibit A of why the more libertarian aim to keep the foci of responsibility local.

Let's say that Congressional action remains contentious, intermittent, and incomplete - a not unusual event particularly given their wont for short-term reward. Shouldn't the state prioritize its response? If it is known by the state Senators and Congresspersons that the Feds will not subsidize action (forgetting Federal intervention to impede even local action, e.g. environmental impact studies), don't they have an obligation to press their constituents for locally derived funds via taxation? If a history exists that shows diligent and repeated legislation to prepare the city that is voted down by voters, do the citizens not deserve the bulk of the credit, er blame? (Note to the hysterics - this is NOT blaming the victim. This is getting the government one supports.) Or how about local industry that lobbied against such efforts presuming they did and it can be documented? Should it accept responsibility?

I look at Houston now and recognize the wisdom of Texas' response to Galveston's destruction many storms ago. It seems they have a nice, operational example of what to do. Where has Louisiana been during the past decades? Did they not look at Texas and learn from its early failure? Did Texans recognize that the Federal government was too distant and that acting more locally would be prudent? I guess I just hope they are doing some homework now. Such hard lessons could have been avoided, but sometimes hard lessons are the only ones we learn. Granted, I know sections of Louisiana, as well as the states of Mississippi and Alabama did prepare much more adequately; but this sure seems like a tragecomedy of errors with a long history with lots of actors setting up this particular failure.

I just watched a report tha... (Below threshold)

I just watched a report that, rebuffing the request of the Mayor, the Governor refused to order a mandatory evacuation of NO -- I like the idea they implemented in Newport News Virginia -- when a resident refuses to leave, hand em a magic marker and tell em to put their SSN on their arm so they can be identified if they die.

The photographic timeline l... (Below threshold)
Herman:

The photographic timeline left out a telling photo showing that Bush would do Marie Antoinette proud:

First, we must be aware that on
Sunday, August 28, 2005, 26,000 refugees huddled in the Superdome with no more than two days worth of food and water.

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/breakingtp/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_Times-Picayune/archives/2005_08.html#074657

Bush’s response would come the very next day!

Monday, August 28, 2005:
LET THEM EAT CAKE! (Check out the photo below!!)

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/images/20050829-5_p082905pm-0125-515h.html

Fatman, before you allege t... (Below threshold)
Herman:

Fatman, before you allege that the governor did not request help, you should do some research first.
(Since it's not nice to say things about the governor that aren't true)

Let me help:

http://gov.louisiana.gov/Disaster%20Relief%20Request.pdf

Posts like Herman's above u... (Below threshold)
JD:

Posts like Herman's above used to drive me insane. They would make my blood pressure go through the roof. Now, when I read that kind of drivel, I think to myself, "What a sad little man". I think Herman makes a fine useful idiot.

Andrew (and Herman),<... (Below threshold)
Robert Modean:

Andrew (and Herman),

There's not much more that I can add to what the others have already said, except that Re: Gov. Blanco's declaration of a state of emergency, isn't sufficient. If you read the Stafford Act you'll see that it requires the state's Governor to specify what Federal assistance they require and restricts FEMA's response to exactly that assistance. For the Feds to step in and take over without the State's OK would violate the Posse Commitatus Act of 1878. Of course there are exceptions to that, specifically the Insurrection Act (Title 10 USC, Sections 331-335) has been mentioned, but it can also be waived in cases involving nuclear materials (Title 18 USC, Section 831), attacks on U.S. soil involving chemical or biological weapons (Title 10 USC, Section 382), and in assisting states with drug interdiction (Title 10 USC, Sections 371-381).

Per the Stafford Act, for the President to federalize the proclaimed federal disaster areas and put FEMA in direct control with all Local, State, and Federal assets reporting to them, the Governor of the state of Louisiana must REQUEST the Federal government to assume that control. See, back in the 1980s when FEMA was created by President Reagan, a lot of people on both the right and the left complained that the agency was a sinister plot to create an extra-legal Army that answered only to the Executive Branch. The Stafford Act of 1988 was drafted specifically to eliminated that possibility by severely curtailing FEMA's powers. Hence FEMA can't do jack without explicit by-your-leaves in advance from state governments.

While I agree it does seem tragic that there have been a lot of unnecessary deaths that could have been prevented by forgoing these legal, procedural, and bureaucratic hurdles, think of this - FEMA is a recent creation. They'd dealt with Hurricane Camille and hundreds of other disasters without a FEMA there to pick up the peices, that's one reason why it's not unreasonable to expect the State and Local authorities to be able to do so for up to 96 hours now.

RE: Herman's post (Septembe... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

RE: Herman's post (September 7, 2005 10:33 PM)

I think you have misinterpreted fatman's point. He wrote:

"The Stafford Act allows an exception to the Posse Commitatus Act; it allows the federal government to send in troops to conduct mandatory evacuations, enforce the law, arrest law breakers and protect relief workers. IF the GOVERNOR asks for that help."

This is not economic aid presented whenever someone gets a hangnail. Financial aid is particularly autonomic when a hurricane is on the way and it isn't economic allocations that have contributed to this morass. fatman was referring to the needed boots on the ground... something that Blanco was reluctant to request or assign to higher authority.

As I read that FEMA document, I see a request for economic assistance and not men - a significant difference given the observed problems and dearth of manpower to control chaos. She was anticipating standard fare of expenses from evacuation, housing assistance, loans, and debris removal. It doesn't appear she was anticipating the humanitarian chaos or the force required to mitigate it. She certainly wasn't asking for the intervention of other National Guardsmen or the military to visit the state. It was abundantly clear that the focus of that request was to seek reimbursement for evacuation facilitated by the state's various law enforcement agencies, for money to everyone tasked to rebuild, and the removal of debris. Anything else drawn from that document is mere projection of what one wishes she had included.

fatman's point remains valid.

Oh, and one slight correcti... (Below threshold)
Robert Modean:

Oh, and one slight correction to my post above - Reagan didn't actually create FEMA, Peanut created it in 1979. However Reagan is considered the real "father" of FEMA by most of us since he took an agency that was little more than an attempt to organize a group of disaprate Federal agencies and departments into something actually capable of managing Federal resources in the event of a massive disaster. Of course that scared the hell out of people in the 80's so they drafted the Stafford Act to gut FEMA's authority.




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