...Of the 160,000 buildings in Louisiana declared "uninhabitable" after Katrina, a majority are in the New Orleans neighborhoods that suffered extensive flooding. Mayor C. Ray Nagin, an African American who worked in the private sector before entering politics, has spelled out plans to reopen every section of the city -- except the Lower Ninth. His director of homeland security, Col. Terry Ebbert, said in an interview that most homes in the Lower Ninth "will not be able to be restored." Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson told the Houston Chronicle he has advised Nagin that "it would be a mistake to rebuild the Ninth Ward."
The mayor himself has spoken ominously about the need for residents to come in, "take a peek," retrieve a few valuables and move on. Historic preservation advocates fear that the city will capitalize on a program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that pays to tear down damaged buildings but not to repair historic private properties.
"There is a built-in incentive to demolish," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "The first instinct after natural disasters is almost always to demolish buildings. It is almost always wrong."
New Orleans, with 20 districts on the National Register of Historic Places covering half the city, has the highest concentration of historic structures in the nation, Moe said. That includes the Lower Ninth's Holy Cross section, with its shotgun houses and gems such as the Jackson Barracks, the Doullut Steamboat Houses and St. Maurice Church...
Yet even some liberal activists, people who have worked to buoy the fortunes of the Lower Ninth, are beginning to talk favorably about clearing it away -- if residents are well compensated and given suitable housing elsewhere.
From "The Steady Buildup to a City's Chaos" comes this Sunday, August 28 news that should give some slight pause to the race-baiters:
Minutes earlier, Blanco had been pulled out to take a call from the president, pressed into service by FEMA's Brown to urge a mandatory evacuation. Blanco told him that's just what the mayor would order.
Nagin also announced that the city had set up 10 refuges of last resort, and promised that public buses would pick up stragglers in a dozen locations to take them to the Superdome and other shelters.
But he never mentioned the numbers that had haunted experts for years, the estimated 100,000 city residents without their own transportation. And he never mentioned that the state's comprehensive disaster plan, written in 2000 and posted on a state Web site, called for buses to take people out of the city once the governor declared a state of emergency.
In reality, Nagin's advisers never intended to follow that plan -- and knew many residents would stay behind. "We always knew we did not have the means to evacuate the city," said Terry Ebbert, the sharp-tongued city director of emergency management...
From "The Steady Buildup to a City's Chaos" comes this Sunday, August 28 news:
At the Superdome, city officials reckoned that 9,000 people had arrived by evening to ride out the storm. FEMA had sent seven trailers full of food and water -- enough, it estimated, to supply two days of food for as many as 22,000 people and three days of water for 30,000. Ebbert said he knew conditions in the Superdome would be "horrible," but Hurricane Pam had predicted a massive federal response within two days, and Ebbert said the city's plan was to "hang in there for 48 hours and wait for the cavalry."
Followed by this from Tuesday, August 30:
FEMA managed to deliver 65,000 meals to the Superdome, but by the end of the day, water was rising so fast that the agency was unable to unload five more truckloads of food and water.
...at least to your reporter.
From the report "No quick fix for New Orleans' breached levees", updated at 11:12 p.m. ET Aug. 30, 2005:
As failing levees allowed the murky waters of Lake Pontchartrain to inundate the streets of New Orleans on Tuesday, one thing was becoming clearer: Staunching the flood tide was not likely to be a quick fix.
Confusion persisted for much of the day over where the levees in the below-sea-level city had been breached and how badly. But as evening fell, the most serious problem continued to be "a large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new 'hurricane proof' Old Hammond Highway bridge," according to the Web site of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Smaller breaches were reported elsewhere.
That also has a good aerial shot of the 17th Street bridge.
According to this:
But by Tuesday [Aug. 30], conditions began to deteriorate when the water began to steadily rise. Water lapped at the edge of the city's historic French Quarter after failed pumps and levees sent water from nearby Lake Pontchartrain coursing through the streets.
"It's a very slow rise, and it will remain so until we plug that breach. I think we can get it stabilized in a few hours," Terry Ebbert, New Orleans' homeland security chief told The Associated Press.
Despite that date on that page, that same quote appears in "Katrina devastation called 'overwhelming'" from 02:33 PM PDT on Tuesday, August 30, 2005.
Now, take a look at Josh's timeline here, which, as you can imagine, has a left-wing bias.
From the other side, there's more on Ebbert here.
There are Ebbert mentions in the articles linked from here and here.
The AP story "Monstrous Hurricane Heads for New Orleans" has a date of Monday, August 29, 2005; 2:50 AM, although what timezone and whether that's accurate is not known. It's also available here under the title "New Orleans flees as Katrina approaches Gulf Coast" and with a date of 8/28/2005 8:02 AM, although I'm pretty sure that's either a mistake or it refers to what used to be at that URL. But, if someone can find exactly when the article was written that would be helpful.
I'm going to try to split it into categories, with the most important item first:
Terry Ebbert, New Orleans director of homeland security, said more than 4,000 National Guardsmen were mobilizing in Memphis and will help police New Orleans streets.
So, what happened to those troops? Under whose command were they? Presumably the state of Tennessee, but you never know.
The head of Jefferson Parish, which includes major suburbs and juts all the way to the storm-vulnerable coast, said some residents who stayed would be fortunate to survive. "I'm expecting that some people who are die-hards will die hard," said parish council President Aaron Broussard.
Mayor Ray Nagin said he believed 80 percent of the city's 480,000 residents had heeded an unprecedented mandatory evacuation as Katrina threatened to become the most powerful storm ever to slam the city... Nagin said he expected the pumping system to fail during the height of the storm. The mayor said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was standing by to get the system running, but water levels must fall first. "We are facing a storm that most of us have long feared," he said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event."
The Louisiana Superdome, normally home of professional football's Saints, became the shelter of last resort Sunday for thousands of the area's poor, homeless and frail. Among those who lined up for blocks as National Guardsmen searched them for guns, knives and drugs were residents who hobbled to safety on crutches, canes and stretchers.
(Remember when the "liberals" were complaining about those searches? Oh, those were the days.)
Holding their breath:
By early Monday, there was little more anyone could do but hope. City streets were empty and bars were closed as gusts up to 55 mph were felt. Landfall of the eye was expected around 8 a.m. at Grand Isle, about 60 miles south of New Orleans.
The first devastating effects of the storm were felt in New Orleans around 8AM CDT.
What might happen:
By 1 a.m. EDT, Katrina's eye was 170 miles south-southeast of New Orleans. A hurricane warning was in effect for the north-central Gulf Coast from Morgan City, La., to the Alabama-Florida line. The storm held a potential surge of 18 to 28 feet that would easily top New Orleans' hurricane protection levees, as well as bigger waves and as much as 15 inches of rain... For years, forecasters have warned of the nightmare scenario a big storm could bring to New Orleans, a bowl of a city that's up to 10 feet below sea level in spots and dependent on a network of levees, canals and pumps to keep dry from the Mississippi River on one side, Lake Pontchartrain on the other. ...The fear is that flooding could overrun the levees and turn New Orleans into a toxic lake filled with chemicals and petroleum from refineries, as well as waste from ruined septic systems.
Major highways in New Orleans cleared out late Sunday after more than 24 hours of jammed traffic as people headed inland. At the peak of the evacuation, 18,000 people an hour were streaming out of southeastern Louisiana, state police said... On inland highways in Louisiana and Mississippi, heavy traffic remained the rule into the night as the last evacuees tried to reach safety. In Orange, Texas, Janie Johnson of the American Red Cross described it as a "river of headlights."
In Washington, D.C., the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it has been advised that the Waterford nuclear plant about 20 miles west of New Orleans has been shut down as a precautionary measure.
Evacuation orders also were posted all along the Mississippi coast, and the area's casinos, built on barges, were closed early Saturday. Bands of wind-whipped rain increased Sunday night and roads in some low areas were beginning to flood... Alabama officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for low-lying coastal areas. Mobile Mayor Michael C. Dow said flooding could be worse than the 9-foot surge that soaked downtown during Hurricane Georges in 1998. Residents of several barrier islands in the western Florida Panhandle were also urged to evacuate.
Could someone kindly look through this long NYT article and dig out the juicy bits? I stopped when I got to the second paragraph:
Ms. Blanco burst into the state's emergency center in Baton Rouge. "Does anybody in this building know anything about buses?" she recalled crying out.
UPDATE: This story is now called "Breakdowns Marked Path From Hurricane to Anarchy".
Here's some text from Page 2:
Colonel Ebbert decided to make the Superdome the city's lone shelter, assuming the city would only have to shelter people in the arena for 48 hours, until the storm passed or the federal government came and rescued people.
As early as Friday, Aug. 26, as Hurricane Katrina moved across the Gulf of Mexico, officials in the watch center at FEMA headquarters in Washington discussed the need for buses.
Someone said, "We should be getting buses and getting people out of there," recalled Leo V. Bosner, an emergency management specialist with 26 years at FEMA and president of an employees' union. Others nodded in agreement, he said.
"We could all see it coming, like a guided missile," Mr. Bosner said of the storm. "We, as staff members at the agency, felt helpless. We knew that major steps needed to be taken fast, but, for whatever reasons, they were not taken."
HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) -- Rather than fight a lawsuit by CNN, the federal government abandoned its effort Saturday to prevent the media from reporting on the recovery of the dead in New Orleans.
Joint Task Force Katrina "has no plans to bar, impede or prevent news media from their news gathering and reporting activities in connection with the deceased Hurricane Katrina victim recovery efforts," said Col. Christian E. deGraff, representing the task force.
U.S. District Court Judge Keith Ellison issued a temporary restraining order Friday against a "zero access" policy announced earlier in the day by Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who is overseeing the federal relief effort in the city, and Terry Ebbert, the city's homeland security director...
That's a TRO; the judge might grant a permanent injunction later.