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The Katrina Evacuation: A Phenomenal Success

[Note: I'm leaving this at the top for a while, check for more content below.]

Let me be the first to burst the group think. Yes, you read that headline right. (and no this ain't one of my patented satire pieces) With each passing day it is becoming increasingly clear that the evacuation of New Orleans was a phenomenal success.

To understand how I can say that, the first thing you need to do turn off the 24 hour cable news which is far more interested in "drama" than information.

Stop listening to the "experts" and use your own brain for a minute.

For the last two weeks you've all seen links to various reports on the study done 2 years ago on hurricane preparedness. In case you've miss the multiple times I've linked it, here is the part in question.

That would turn the city and the east bank of Jefferson Parish into a lake as much as 30 feet deep, fouled with chemicals and waste from ruined septic systems, businesses and homes. Such a flood could trap hundreds of thousands of people in buildings and in vehicles. At the same time, high winds and tornadoes would tear at everything left standing. Between 25,000 and 100,000 people would die, said John Clizbe, national vice president for disaster services with the American Red Cross.

The city (proper) and the east bank of Jefferson have a combined population of about a million people. The number that most officials worked with was that 50,000 of them would die if "The Big One" hit.

During Katrina, only Orleans Parish got flooded, not both parishes, but it was commonly accepted that of those 50,000 deaths, the vast majority of them would be in Orleans Parish. As recently as the last 2 days ago, the estimated dead in Orleans was hovering around 10,000. Instead, it looks like the numbers will be far less.

The death toll in Louisiana rose to 154 on Saturday. In Mississippi it was 211. In Jefferson parish, in the western part of the New Orleans metropolitan area, the death toll was 20. In St Bernard parish, east of New Orleans, the toll was 62.

I can't find numbers on Orleans Parish, but so far, the whole state of Louisiana is running behind Mississippi. Granted, Mississippi took the brunt of the storm but they don't have our problems with geography. Assuming these numbers are anywhere close to representative of the final numbers, they show us a phenomenal success story.

Stop for a second and consider the task... We had to move a million people out of harms way in 48 hours... We only have 3 main roads out of town AND we had to wait to move until the people to the south of us got out first. - And as an added bonus, we didn't get to practice this a dozen times. We had a few dress rehearsals like Ivan but none like the size of this evacuation.

Could your home town evacuate (effectively) the whole city with 48 hours notice?

Were the TV images of the Dome horrific? Sure they were, that's what TV does best. Was the evacuation perfect? Nope. But when was the last time you saw anything perfect in life? Judging a one-off evacuation against perfection is folly.

If you step back and look at it realistically, New Orleans did the baseball equivalent of pitching a 1 hitter. The cable newies will focus on the one guy who got on base... Never forget the rest of the game.

The evacuation saved thousands of lives. Period.

And a note for the reading challenged: Read this again if you need to, I did not talk about anyone's respose. I did not talk about anything but the fact that the evacuation clearly saved thousands of lives.. That is a succes in my book. If you want to babble about the Superdome, feel free, you are more than welcome to babble about things you know nothing about. If you want to talk about the busses, feel free to focus on the one guy who got on base and forget the rest of the game... Then send your resume to CNN, Fox and MSNBC, they're looking for people like you.


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Comments (37)

Add to that, the fact that ... (Below threshold)

Add to that, the fact that the response was faster than Andrew and Hugo:

http://reaganitesunite.blogspot.com/


Not only was it a success o... (Below threshold)

Not only was it a success of logistics (getting a million people out of the city in 48 hours) but its a success of NOAA (US weather service). Can you imagine for a second what would have happened 50 years ago? We would not have had the weather radar and satellites to even know about the storm approaching, and would need to rely on the Farmer's Almanac. No one would have evacuated till it was too late...then we could have had deaths in the hundreds of the thousands.

Something to ponder. Maybe when we have good earthquake warning technology we'll be able to prevent death from tsunami's as well, and we'll look back at this past year as if we were in the Stone Age in terms of earthquake warning. (Seems like LA could use this sort of not-yet-invented technology now as well).

>Not only was it a success ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>Not only was it a success of logistics (getting a million people out of the city in 48 hours) but its a success of NOAA (US weather service).

yes yes yes yes yes... I'm about 50 posts behind, this is 5 of them.

>Can you imagine for a second what would have happened 50 years ago? We would not have had the weather radar and satellites to even know about the storm approaching, and would need to rely on the Farmer's Almanac. No one would have evacuated till it was too late...then we could have had deaths in the hundreds of the thousands.

If you wnat to write this up as a guest post, let me know... it needs to be said loudly, I'm just busy.

It's still Bush's fault!!!!... (Below threshold)
Drew:

It's still Bush's fault!!!!

The sad truth is that this ... (Below threshold)
Lew Clark:

The sad truth is that this will not be the story in people’s minds. The Dems, with malice aforethought, made up lies to make Bush look bad. The MSM was not as conspiratorial, just going with “if it bleeds it leads”. But both succeeded in spreading totally false propaganda. A year from now, if the average citizen is asked, they will believe, 10,000 to 100,000 died in NO. 50,000 perished in the storm because Bush didn’t drive a bus in to pick them up. The other 50,000 died of starvation in 48 hours. (a physical impossibility). When Bush’s thugs finally arrived, it was to rob the dead bodies and give the money to Halliburton.

No story has ever convinced... (Below threshold)

No story has ever convinced me of media bias as this one has. A week later is anyone but Fox reporting the Red Cross story of why they didn't bring the water and food in the first few days?

Major Garrett broke this story and every single news outlet ignored it. When they thought it was soley FEMA's fault they were trembling with rage. Now, it's not even a story.

I have completely lost faith in all news organizations except for Fox News.

I agree completely (almost)... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

I agree completely (almost). I STILL can’t understand what people are complaining about. Sure, there were a few problems, but overall, the evacuation was a great success.

Really, what was so bad about the Superdome? It was billed as the shelter of last resort, and I think it lived up that quite well. Of course, the conditions were miserable, and people had to spend a couple days there without food, bathrooms, AC, etc. A few people apparently died there. But realistically speaking, losing 5-10 people out of the 20-30 thousand that survived there seems like a great success to me. This was basically a triage operation in the midst of an unprecedented disaster, not a Saint’s game.

And when the Superdome was filled to capacity, and the rescuers started moving people to the over passes, more cries of outrage were heard. But, again, what was so bad about that? People needed to get to higher ground, and that’s hard to come by in NOLA. Sure, it would have been nice if they had a roof over their heads, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And again, from what I could see, it worked. They were all eventually saved.

Now I can’t address what happened at the convention center, because there don’t seem to be many reports on whatever happened to the folks that sought shelter there. But I suspect that they were eventually rescued too.

But I also think NOLA was a bit lucky in the way the floodwaters hit. I don’t recall any predictions beforehand where the failures of the levees might occur a day or so AFTER the hurricane. I suspect the way this all actually played out contributed greatly to the number of survivors.

Most of the doomsday scenarios had the city flooding rapidly, in conjunction with the storm surge. That didn’t happen. It occurred after the storm was well past, and it happened more as a slow trickle. This actually allowed many people who had not evacuated earlier to escape the encroaching floodwaters at a leisurely walking pace. This also contributed to the scenes of mass concentration of survivors/evacuees, that played so poorly (or well?) on TV.

Of course, this delay also helped lead to the appearance of the supposed “slow response”. There was about a 12 hour period after the storm passed, where most everyone thought NOLA escaped again. And then there was another 12-24 hours as the floodwaters slowly rose throughout the city. It seems to me that the powers that be (Police, firemen, guardsmen, whatever), did the right thing, and focused on getting people to higher ground as this was all unfolding.

I live in Baytown, about 30... (Below threshold)

I live in Baytown, about 30 miles to the East of Houston so I get the "local" news and earlier today there was a woman who was moaning and groaning about having to stand in line to wait for the $2,000 FEMA relief, and complaining that OMG it took TWO days to get food stamps. I just couldn't believe it. I know it's a good thing I wasn't the one interviewing her because I'd of had a few things to say she probably wouldn't of liked. I think the job that's been done to date has been absolutely spectacular when you consider all the logistics. Of course living in a hurricane prone area and having survived Alicia I might have a better understanding of what some of those are, but I'm sick to death of hearing and reading about what a failure it's been when just the opposite is true.

I know, I pointed this out ... (Below threshold)

I know, I pointed this out in Jay's post earlier (the one with steve j. acting like joser)

Not only was it a succes... (Below threshold)

Not only was it a success of logistics (getting a million people out of the city in 48 hours) but its a success of NOAA (US weather service).

[jumping up and down, red in the face]

No no no no no no no no no no no no!!!

NOAA is not the US weather service!

The National Weather Service is an agency of NOAA. It is the most visible agency of NOAA. It gets so much better press (despite being, you know, the people we make fun of when there's three feet of "partly cloudy" on the driveway) that NOAA wants to hitchhike on NWS's publicity by forcing it to call itself "NOAA's National Weather Service."

My wife works for the NWS. While the Service is dealing with aftermath-related support for the people and agencies in the damage area, with many of its own offices damaged and many of its personnel working extra shifts despite flood losses of their own, do you know what NOAA is doing?

Sorry, Jameel -- you just happened to inadvertantly push one of my hot buttons.

I agree that overall that t... (Below threshold)
FrankR:

I agree that overall that the evacuation was a success for a large majority of the people in New Orleans. I also think that lots of poor people were not moved into safe areas, but were seen standing in their own feces for days. I also think that better organization by a few "heros" inside of these structures could have averted this problem. People from third world countries know you dont shit where you sleep.
I really don't know if all roads out of the city were really blocked by local police, as some have stated. lack of adequate communication equipment between the first responders, and a lack of food and water in-place in the Superdome and Convention Center are contributing factors to the problems in both areas. Instead of complaining, most people helped each other.
This was, however, not newsworthy. The soda straw that the camera was focused through only records anything that can show us how truly horrible this administration is. There are plenty of heros in the evacuation, unfortunately, there are a few who are not, and the voters will remember why 250+ buses were not used to move people out, or why the red cross and salvation army were not allowed to move supplies in

>NOAA is not the US weather... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>NOAA is not the US weather service!

ok point taken

McGehee: OK - just do a se... (Below threshold)

McGehee: OK - just do a search and replace on NOAA with NWS. For the record; NWS (and McGehee's wife) did a superb job in predicting the severity of this storm, which saved HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of lives!

We're proud of them! (and your wife :-)

I question the premise that... (Below threshold)

I question the premise that "1 million" people were evacuated in "48 hours."

Hundreds of thousands were not even attempted to be evacuated. Instead, they were told to go to the Superdome or other shelters. Some did, some didn't. Many rode the storm out in their homes.

Going to the Superdome is not "evacuating" it is "sheltering."

No attempt was made by the city to "evacuate" the city.

People were told to get out on their own, or get to the Superdome. The city made no actual evacuation efforts (such as putting people on buses and sending them to, say, the Cajun Dome in Lafayette).

And yes, if you told me I had 48 hours to get out of Boston by at least 200 miles ahead of a natural disaster, I'd have no problem accomplishing that on my own with no help from the city. And if you told me all 8 lanes of the Interstate were going west, I could do that in about 3 hours.

Because I have a car.

Telling people to leave is not the same as "evacuating" them.

Paul,If you're rig... (Below threshold)
jc:

Paul,

If you're right, and you very well may be, it still seems to me like the rescue of people in the convention center and superdome was just in the nick of time. True, my sole source of information aside from blogs was Fox News, but it sure seemed like a whole lot of people were starting to pass out from dehydration when help finally showed up, and had help showed up 24 hours later the rate of death would have ramped up drastically in that time. My perception is that this was a fourth quarter last play field goal for the win but next time we should do better.

You know, this is what I've... (Below threshold)
Robert Modean:

You know, this is what I've been trying to say all along and it's what makes it soooo frustrating when guys like Andrew won't listen to those of us who have actually done disaster relief work. I've been lampooned and called a Republican shill because just days after the hurricane hit I was pointing out how quickly FEMA and the Administration responded. I've taken tons of abuse and a damn near gotten into real trouble at work because I won't shut up and let people slam FEMA and Bush for the failures of the Mayor and Governor, and the unreasonable expectations of the media. I wasn't even going to read or post on anything Katrina related again after last week, but I spent the weekend helping to setup computers at a communications center to assist evacuees in registering for benefits, and after talking to the folks who'll be helping them out I've decided that I'd be letting them down if I let Andrew and the other naysayers get their way. Well as KOS once said, screw'em.

OK, I'm gonna ask the naggi... (Below threshold)
Lew Clark:

OK, I'm gonna ask the nagging question I've had since day one. In the perfect world, everyone in New Orleans would have been evacuated before the storm hit.
BUT, before the storm hit, it was just one of many many potential hurricane hits. Most do not hit where predicted. The earlier the prediction, the more that is the case. They changed the storm track a number of times the week before it hit. So, not until 48 hours out did they 'target" New Orleans, with a 50% chance they were still wrong.

So, the day before landfall, you bus everyone left in New Orleans out of there at gunpoint.

To where?

I'm proud of my State, Texas, that has taken in more evacuees than all other States combined. I even did my own little volunteer part in Dallas. But that was about people whose homes had been destroyed. As big hearted as Texans are, it would have been another story if we were asked to provide shelter, food, water, and clothes for 70,000 pepole fleeing a possible hurricane hit. Should we be expected to do that every couple of weeks as another hurricane approaches the U.S. Coast. Because, I must confess, we're doing nothing to prepare for Ophilia evacuees from the Carolinas.

I cut the Louisianna governor and New Orleans Mayor no more slack than others. But when the storm was bearing down on them, they knew they had already blown it. They had no long term preparations to go with their plan. There should have been designated shelters in schools, businesses, warehouses, govt facilities, etc. across the State of Louisanna and neighboring States with a process, not just a plan, to get food, water, and supplies in there. To the best of my knowledge, there was none.

So even if the "magic bus ride" had occured before the storm, it would have been a ride to nowhere.

Paul is more knowledgable of New Orleans than I, maybe he can correct me, if there actually was somewhere for these people to go before the storm.

The thing you have to reali... (Below threshold)

The thing you have to realize is that disaster evacuation is not pre-disaster only.

A real evacuation plan requires that you evacuate as many as reasonable before the incident, then evacuate the rest of them as needed.

The first part was okay (well, except for the special-needs population, which was apparently abandoned in place), because most folks left by their own resources. The second part was an unmitigated (in the true sense of the word) failure, because the people in charge of managing the resources didn't actually manage them. Therefore, we had a lack of transportation (and no matter what some people say, you can easily get folks to drive the buses and stuff out of the city for you if you give them some cash - witness the "deadhead" Amtrak train that also left empty).

Even without the evac considerations, they're going to have to replace or refurbish those buses, at a cost of thousands per vehicle.

>Hundreds of thousands were... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>Hundreds of thousands were not even attempted to be evacuated. Instead, they were told to go to the Superdome or other shelters.

Excuse me? The number is up for debate but there was between 10,000 and 40,000 at the Dome and convention center. Versus 1 million????

Please get both some facts and some perspective.

Lew, I suppose they could p... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Lew, I suppose they could put them in Baton Rouge somewhere... I dunno, go get the NOLA evac plan that was so widely linked. I know they were supposed to use those busses, but you're right, I have no idea where they were supposed to drive them to.

Paul:There were betw... (Below threshold)

Paul:
There were between 10,000 to 30,000 at the Dome and Convention Center at any given time. They completely emptied the Dome a couple of times, but there were a whole bunch of new ones there the next day. I've heard that over 50,000 were directly evacuated by bus from the Superdome alone.

A lot of other folks either got transport afterwards from other sources (like stolen school buses), or got rides at the highway next to the Dome, not to mention the two thousand plus who were coptered off their roofs or saved by boat.

Total publicly-funded post-hurricane evacuations (bus, copter, boat) are going to end up well over 70,000. Or about seven round trips by Nagin's Motor Pool with only 20 people per school bus.

Cirby:So what if t... (Below threshold)
jmaster:

Cirby:

So what if they did evacuate the Super Dome 2 or 3 times?

At least they were evacuating living people, and not dead ones.

That counts as a success in my book.

NWS did a superb job in ... (Below threshold)

NWS did a superb job in predicting the severity of this storm, which saved HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of lives!

That they did.

We're proud of them!

That we are. Thanks, Jameel. ;-)

death toll is 154 in Louisi... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

death toll is 154 in Louisiana... let's hope it doesn't go much higher as we might end up being worse than France after a hot summer.

Not for nuthin, but uhhh --... (Below threshold)
coldheartedrightwingsonofabitch:

Not for nuthin, but uhhh --- where have all the moonbats gone on this issue? I'd have expected to endure the usual acerbic twit calling us all racist wackos for expressing such an opinion. Maybe they're all too busy cooking and housekeeping for the evacuees they've taken in.

. . . and the sky is green,... (Below threshold)

. . . and the sky is green, the grass is blue, the earth is flat and the moon is made of cheese.

Fucking pathetic winguts. S... (Below threshold)
Ivor the Engine Driver:

Fucking pathetic winguts. Semi-human at best.

The moral of the story, col... (Below threshold)

The moral of the story, coldheartedrightwingsonofabitch, is never to mention them. Like well-trained housepets, they come when called.

Hmmm, very interesting. Pr... (Below threshold)
theorajones:

Hmmm, very interesting. President "we'll keep you safe"'s stragegy is to basically yell out, "hurricane a'coming! Every man for himself," and then head off to California to play air guitar.

And you think this is a good thing.

Tell me, how many babies have to unnecessarily die of dehydration in the superdome before it's a tragedy? What if it were your baby?

And please tell me how anyone is supposed to feel safe in the President's ability to handle a terrorist attack. What if, instead of a hurricane in New Orleans, this had been a terrorist bombing of a nuclear power plant in Westchester? Does anyone have any faith in the government's ability to deal with that crisis--to evacuate people who are trapped, to get medical supplies to people, to give them information on what they can do to take care of themselves--when it so totally botched a crisis it knew had been coming for years and which gave 3 days' notice?

Hey, I agree all things con... (Below threshold)

Hey, I agree all things considered the evacuation and sheltering of people in advance of the storm went pretty well. The average evacuation is about 60% according to Nagin, and I think the Pam simulation suggested 64% evacuation. They got 80% out, and took care of thousands others who could not leave.

The failure is in the speed of recovery, remediation of aftermath problems, and care for those who remained. That, in fact, is FEMA's job--and they blew it like they didn't even know there was a hurricane.

Yes, it's almost a miracle ... (Below threshold)
fracas_futile:

Yes, it's almost a miracle that 80%+ folks made it to a safe place before the levees broke.

Now, why did it take until Friday for the Army helicopters droppping food/water and medevacing the sick to show up?

FEMA did a heckuva job! A ... (Below threshold)
jerry:

FEMA did a heckuva job! A Wiz bang job!

It amazes me how many readi... (Below threshold)
Soul:

It amazes me how many reading challenged there are here! Paul is saying that the EVACUATION of NO, PRIOR TO THE STORM, went well. All you wingnuts need to read the post again. All you 'leftists' need to read the post again. WTF is wrong with all of you???

"The failure is in the spee... (Below threshold)
Soul:

"The failure is in the speed of recovery, remediation of aftermath problems, and care for those who remained. That, in fact, is FEMA's job--and they blew it like they didn't even know there was a hurricane."
Exactly! It must have been all those 'air-waves' getting in the way.....

Brownie got shit-canned. N... (Below threshold)
rickygee:

Brownie got shit-canned. Nuff said.

The plan, as I understand i... (Below threshold)
A Hermit:

The plan, as I understand it, was to evacuate as many as possible (which went pretty well) and have those who couldn't get out shelter at the Dome, where it was FEMA's responsibility to provede food, water and buses. Which they failed to do for four days.

As for this: "Really, what was so bad about the Superdome?"

You''re one of those people who thinks chaining someone to the ceiling for days and beating them to death isn't "really" torture, right?

In your article you speak a... (Below threshold)
kitatonic:

In your article you speak as if the major news networks were hyping the storm to make it a dramatic affair when in reality it was handled quite efficiently. Im a little shocked! Are you aware that the news networks wont even show dead bodies? Saying that Fox is sensationalizing the storm and therefore helping the Dems is even more ridiculous. Do you know nothing about Fox? About its Republican owners who wont air negative Bush ads, and forced its networks to play an anti-kerry ad the week of the election? Who forces local news agencies to accept pre-recorded conservative news stories from Fox's central news office and splice them in on the nightly news to pass it off as local opinion? im just wondering how you could possibly justify labeling the major U.S. news networks as taking the liberal stance of sensationalizing the storm to make the GOP look bad.
Try sifting through the internet to find the stories by survivors detailing how they were prevented from leaving after the storm hit, kept indoors and away from facilities that should have been helping them because the cops didnt want to deal with the 'cockroaches' (black people) crawling all over everything. or the politician who diverted trucks and a helicopter from early relief efforts to go grab some of the stuff from his mansion. or the black guy who was shot and killed for trying to get some cops in a cop car to help a woman who was being raped right at that moment just a block away. and no, you cannot seperate the cops in louisiana and the locals from the way the storm was handled. this was the handling of the storm at its most intimate level. a model of success? i dont think so.
all im saying is, look a little deeper.
sheesh...




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