Rick Moran of the blog Rightwing Nuthouse has meticulously charted the timeline for Hurricane Katrina. Rick’s compilation, mainly from news stories in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, is a great service to the nation because it presents the truth facts that often stand in stark contrast to the political spin and distortion that have been reported through the mainstream media and by commentators on various talk shows. You can see the full timeline at: http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2005/09/04/katrina-response-timeline/. Below, CWA’s Janice Crouse summarizes Rick’s detailed account from August 26 through September 2 of the local, state and federal responses to the disaster in New Orleans. Rick is continuing to update the timeline as he gets more complete information. Those who want more can go directly to Rick’s blogsite. Here are the highlights:
Friday, August 26
Local, state and federal disaster officials meet to discuss FEMA Disaster Declaration #1601. Off and on, the group passes around a hand-held device that keeps track of Katrina.
The Mississippi Valley Division of the Army Corps of Engineers activates teams along the Gulf Coast to prepare for a potential response to Hurricane Katrina.
Saturday, August 27
In response to a letter from Gov. Blanco of Louisiana, President Bush orders a state of emergency for Louisiana which authorizes federal emergency management aid and coordination of disaster relief efforts.
The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, and Gov. Blanco held a press conference urging residents to take the storm seriously and telling them that the Superdome was open as a shelter of “last resort” for people with “special needs.”
Mayor Nagin emphasizes that people headed to the Superdome should plan as though they were going camping for 3-4 days bring enough food and drinks and also bring folding chairs or other items for comfort. He warned that no weapons would be allowed.
Spokeswoman Tami Frazier added that citizens should not plan to stay at the Superdome; instead, they should make arrangements to leave the city as soon as possible.
Police superintendent Edward Compass warned looters that they would meet severe and harsh prosecution.
Officials in numerous parishes in New Orleans call for voluntary or mandatory evacuation.
Mayor Nagin orders voluntary evacuation at 5 in the afternoon. Later, he says he is investigating mandatory evacuation mentioning the legal ramifications (potential liability to closed businesses and hotels).
Officials at the National Hurricane Center warn that Katrina will make landfall as a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. Officials stress that “this is the real thing” and that the warnings should be taken very seriously.
Sunday, August 28
In response to Katrina being upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane and information that it is headed straight for New Orleans, a mandatory evacuation order is issued at 9 a.m.
The Superdome is opened at 8 a.m. and people begin to line up for entry.
Mayor Ray Nagin and Gov. Kathleen Blanco hold a press conference, where they describe the hurricane as “catastrophic” and order a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans.
At 11:30 a.m., the President vows to help those affected by the hurricane.
At noon, the city puts into effect the contraflow traffic pattern that allows traffic on both sides of the major highways to exit out of the city.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary announces that units are ready to depart for the disaster area as soon as the situation becomes clear.
By 3 p.m., more than 10,000 people are in the Superdome or lined up to enter. There are two lines one for those with medical problems and one for healthy people.
New Orleans homeland security director Terry Ebbert announces that healthy people are expected to “fend for themselves” although there would be “some water” available.
About 150 National Guard soldiers, New Orleans police and sheriff’s deputies are on duty to patrol the Superdome; they confiscate some weapons.
Officials predict a hot and uncomfortable night with some flooding and loss of power. They are confident that they can care for the tenants with special needs and dismiss worries about the healthy people who, they thought, ought to be worried about whether they will be alive on Tuesday.
At 6 p.m., Mayor Nagin orders curfew for the city.
Louisiana senators send a joint letter to the President they express thanks for his actions and request that he visit as soon as possible.
The Coast Guard closes the ports and waterways into New Orleans. It moves 40 aircraft and 30 boats in position for search and rescue missions.
At 10 p.m., the National Hurricane Center announces that the storm has moved slightly east and is weakening.
About 26,000 people are in the Superdome, where the National Guard delivers three truckloads of water and seven truckloads of MREs (meals ready to eat) enough to feed 15,000 people for three days.
The New Orleans airport (Louis Armstrong Airport) closes late in the night.
Monday, August 29
More than 4,000 National Guard personnel mobilize in Memphis to head to New Orleans to help police the city.
Director Ebbert states his wish that the hurricane would move through before dark so that they can get aerial views to assess the damage. He adds that their first order of business will be lifesaving operations. He anticipates the loss of power in the Superdome and the necessity for moving people out when the temperatures soar to 100 degrees.
At 3 a.m., the National Hurricane Center warns that Katrina is 3 hours away with winds of 150 mph.
Major General Bennett C. Landreneau, head of the Louisiana National Guard, announces that aircraft are placed near the Texas border and are ready to fly behind the storm to assess damage after it passes over New Orleans.
Landreneau also announces that search and rescue operations would be coordinated by the National Guard in cooperation with the Wildlife and Fisheries Department and the Coast Guard. Landreneau also says that high-water vehicles are on standby at the Jackson Barracks ready to head into the city.
Ebbert says that rescue priority will be for those stranded in their homes or those hospitalized.
Hurricane Katrina, at Category 4, strikes New Orleans at 8 a.m. winds at 150 mph and the accompanying storm surge is 18 feet high.
FEMA director Michael Brown says that medical teams, rescue squads and groups stationed in a semicircle around the city are ready to distribute food and water. He says that the evacuation is moving forward smoothly “just as it was planned in exercises a year ago.”
The 17th Street levee breaks, flooding about 20 percent of the city.
Brown arrives at the State Office of Emergency Preparedness in Baton Rouge at 11 a.m. (just three hours after the hurricane hit New Orleans).
Residents are warned at 1:30 p.m. that drinking water has to be boiled.
At 1:45 p.m., President Bush declares Louisiana and Mississippi “major disaster areas.”
Shortly afterwards, the Times-Picayune reports “widespread” looting. Even in the rain and storm-force winds, men and women from teens to mid-40s are seen carting off boxes of clothing and shoes from one store.
By 2 p.m., more than 100 calls are received by the Office of Emergency Preparedness.
By 3 p.m., President Bush says that federal assets and resources will be deployed to help those affected by the hurricane.
By 3 p.m., Director Ebbert announces that everyone who had wanted to get out is out and that many of those who didn’t get out would not survive. He said 100 boats were ready to begin search and rescue immediately after the hurricane passes over the city.
By 5 p.m., reports indicate that hundreds of people are trapped by flood waters.
By 6:50 p.m., reports come about increased looting.
Search and rescue teams work all night to bring people to safety.
Landreneau announces that by dawn there will be more than 200 boats in the water (an increase of 120 over Monday) and Texas will be sending another 50 boats.
The American Red Cross announces that it expects the largest recovery operation ever with 750-1,000 personnel already at work and another 2,000 expected over the next few days. The Red Cross announces that three large mobile kitchens will prepare 500,000 meals per day; another 40 shelters will be opened statewide to house 32,000 people. More will be available.
Mayor Nagin announces that FEMA has asked for a list of needs and that he plans to give them quite a long one!
Tuesday, August 30
Officials are baffled that the water continues to rise; they can’t explain why.
Director Landenreau announces that 350 boats are in the water searching for trapped residents and that 60 more boats are on the way from Texas. Special needs patients 500 of them are to be moved out of the Superdome by the end of the day.BR>Midmorning: Four people have died at the Superdome, three are sick and one has committed suicide. Two jails are being emptied of prisoners.
President Bush issues a statement on Katrina’s devastation.
The additional ships and helicopters requested by FEMA begin to move into New Orleans.
The Times-Picayune evacuates its building and moves to Houma.
A Pentagon spokesman issues a statement saying that 60 percent of the National Guard units of each state are available 6,500 troops in Louisiana, 7,000 in Mississippi, 10,000 in Alabama, and 8,200 in Florida.
At 4:30 p.m. officials ask anyone with boats to help in the rescue effort.
The Times-Picayune reveals that police and firefighters are joining in the looting.
When a local WalMart announces over local radio that it will be distributing provisions to stranded citizens, it turns into mass looting and bedlam erupts people (including police) cart out food, supplies, jewelry, computers and television sets.
Director Ebbert announces that crews are repairing the 17th Street levee, but there are conflicting reports about exactly when the repairing began.
Hospital evacuation is begun and rescue operations continue. Gov. Blanco emphasizes that search and rescue remain the top priorities, but that supplies are being delivered to hospitals and the Superdome.
People are sent to the cavernous New Orleans Convention Center for food and water, but when they arrive there are few police and no provisions. It ends up being chaos as the evacuees greatly outnumber the staff and guardsmen on duty there.
At 5:50 p.m., President Bush cuts short his vacation and heads to Washington.
Summary for Tuesday (less than 24 hours after the hurricane hit):
- FEMA sends in 23 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams.
- Seven Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces and two Incident Support Teams are sent in three more are preparing to deploy.
- FEMA is moving supplies and equipment to the hardest hit areas (water, ice, meals, supplies, generators, tents and tarps).
- The Department of Transportation sends out more than 390 trucks with millions of meals ready to eat, millions of liters of water, tarps, millions of pounds of ice, mobile homes, generators, containers of disaster supplies, and forklifts to flood-damaged areas. DOT has helicopters and a plane assisting delivery of essential supplies.
- The National Guard personnel (7,500 troops on state active duty) from four of the most heavily impacted states are providing support (generators, medical services, shelters) as well as providing additional law enforcement capacity.
- At 6:30 p.m., Mayor Nagin reports that repairs on the 17th Street canal are failing which means that floodwaters will rise again (up to 12-15 feet more in some places) and will result in 80 percent of the city being underwater, overwhelming the pump and shutting it down.
- By 8:10 p.m., the Times-Picayune reports that there is citywide looting some people are even leaving the Superdome to go looting. It is, according to one official, “like Sodom and Gomorrah.”
- Reports around 9 p.m. indicate that the Army Corps of Engineers is working frantically to repair the 17th Street levee with a convoy of trucks on the way carrying over 100 concrete barriers weighing 15,000 pounds each.
- At approximately the same time, the State Attorney General’s office denies that martial law has been declared, but an hour later, the Times-Picayune reports that 40 additional state troopers are on the way to help stop the 28-hour-long looting spree.
- At 10:15 p.m., Gov. Blanco calls for evacuation of the Superdome, calling the situation “desperate” and “degenerating rapidly.”
Wednesday, August 31
Gov. Blanco calls for a total evacuation of the city of New Orleans, telling Good Morning America that buses, boats, helicopters and anything else that is necessary will be used to get people out of the city within two days.
The governor also asks the President to send federal troops for law enforcement support.
At 10 a.m., the Texas governor’s office (Gov. Rick Perry) says that Texas will put up refugees at the Astrodome in Houston.
A convoy of 475 buses begins loading passengers for the trip to the Astrodome, which has been cleared to house evacuees through December.
Mark Smith, a Louisiana Department of Homeland Security spokesman, says 3,000 Louisiana National Guard members are helping with the rescue effort and that more guard troops are on their way from other states. The main focus Wednesday morning is to evacuate patients from hospitals and to evacuate the Superdome, where conditions are deteriorating for the estimated 15,000 people sheltered there.
Gov. Blanco declares that she “will not tolerate” the bad behavior of the shooters and looters. Later in the afternoon, she announces that evacuation will begin that evening, with nearly 500 vehicles available to transport evacuees.
Blanco’s spokesperson, Denise Bottcher, announces that resources will be shifted so that the Army can help with rescue efforts and the National Guard can concentrate on restoring law and order.
Officials admit that the New Orleans operation is “one of the largest, if not the largest” evacuation in the nation’s history.
By 1:40 p.m., officials announce that Lake Pontchatrain has receded by two feet and that stabilized the floodwaters, keeping them from rising, in New Orleans.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt declares a Public Health Emergency in New Orleans and announces that 40 emergency medical shelters would be providing care for victims of the hurricane 10,000 beds for the region with 4,000 medical personnel.
Gov. Blanco issues an Executive Order to allow the National Guard to use school buses to expedite evacuation; it is unclear whether she means the buses that are underwater in the widely disseminated photos.
Thursday, September 1
By noon, evacuees from the Superdome begin arriving in Houston 70 bus- loads, and officials begin considering using trains and boats as well.
At 4:30 p.m., the newspaper reports that the Coast Guard has rescued 3,000 stranded victims from the city.
In an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, President Bush calls for “zero tolerance” for looters or price gougers.
Workers continue to have problems in trying to repair the 17th Street levee.
Officials at the state Department of Transportation and Development report that they are trying to raise bridges that are blocking barges that are loaded with relief supplies.
In the afternoon, it is announced that more National Guard troops are on the way 7,500 soldiers from around the country. President Bush agrees to have the federal government pick up the entire tab for relief efforts.
Gov. Blanco announces that less than 2,400 people remain at the Superdome.BR>The Defense Department announces the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to the Gulf region.
Officials begin evacuating Charity and University Hospitals, but shots are fired at the helicopters evacuating patients.
After two days of anarchy (some reports compared New Orleans to a Third World war zone), officials begin to get control of the city.
Mayor Nagin, in a very emotional some describe as out-of-control live radio interview, complains about federal relief efforts and blames the looting on the fact that city resources are going into saving people rather than on maintaining law and order.
Friday, September 2
In the early morning, 20 deputies and six emergency medical technicians from Loudoun County, Virginia, are turned away because, it is reported, “neither FEMA nor the Louisiana authorities [are] willing to act on the request from Jefferson Parish.”
A Louisiana state senator urgently asks Friday morning for gasoline and buses to ferry victims to safety, under deteriorating conditions since Hurricane Katrina struck the city four days previously. She stresses that the immediate need for buses far exceeds the immediate need for money.
The Coast Guard announces the rescue of more than 4,000 victims of the hurricane and flood.
President Bush visits New Orleans, taking a helicopter tour with Mayor Nagin.
In an interview with CNN on 9/5, Mayor Nagin says that Gov. Blanco resisted a request from the federal government to nationalize the relief effort when meeting with President Bush aboard Air Force One. Blanco is reported to have asked for 24 hours to “think about it.”