Timeline: How the hurricane crisis unfolded (KATRINA)
- From: "Su'ng M16" <sungm16@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 12 Oct 2005 17:09:26 -0700
Timeline: How the hurricane crisis unfolded
Scientific American: October 2001
"The low-lying Mississippi Delta, which buffers the
city from the gulf, is also rapidly disappearing. A
year from now another 25 to 30 square miles of delta
marsh--an area the size of Manhattan--will have
vanished. An acre disappears every 24 minutes. Each
loss gives a storm surge a clearer path to wash over
the delta and pour into the bowl, trapping one million
people inside and another million in surrounding
communities. Extensive evacuation would be impossible
because the surging water would cut off the few escape
routes. Scientists at Louisiana State University
(L.S.U.), who have modeled hundreds of possible storm
tracks on advanced computers, predict that more than
100,000 people could die... A direct hit is
MAR 01, 2002
FEMA Head Allbaugh testifies before congress:
"Disaster mitigation and prevention activities are
inherently grassroots. These activities involve local
decision-making about zoning, building codes, and
strategy planning to meet a community's unique needs.
It is not the role of the Federal Government to tell a
community what it needs to do to protect its citizens
[...] At the same time we are giving more control to
State and local governments through the Managing State
concept of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and
other initiatives, we are asking that they take a more
appropriate degree of fiscal responsibility to protect
The original intent of Federal disaster assistance is
to supplement State and local response efforts. Many
are concerned that Federal disaster assistance may
have evolved into both an oversized entitlement
program and a disincentive to effective State and
local risk management. Expectations of when the
Federal Government should be involved and the degree
of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an
appropriate level. We must restore the predominant
role of State and local response to most disasters.
Federal assistance needs to supplement, not supplant,
State and local efforts.
Having Federal assistance supplement, not supplant
State and local efforts is, most likely, going to be
one of the more difficult measures aimed at
responsibility and accountability that this
Administration will have to work through.
FEMA is looking at ways to develop meaningful and
objective criteria for disaster declarations that can
be applied consistently. These criteria will not
preclude the President's discretion but will help
States better understand when they can reasonably turn
to the Federal government for assistance and when it
would be more appropriate for the State to handle the
[...] President Bush's compassionate conservatism is a
hallmark of his core philosophy. The President is
promoting faith-based organizations as a way to
achieve compassionate conservatism. Not only does FEMA
work with the faith-based organizations that I
mentioned, but FEMA's Emergency Food and Shelter
Program is the original faith-based initiative and is
a perfect fit with President Bush's new approach to
helping the poor, homeless and disadvantaged. Through
this program, FEMA works with organizations that are
based in the communities where people need help the
Dept. of Homeland Security takes over:In the event of
a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other
large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland
Security will assume primary responsibility on March
1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals
are prepared for any situation. This will entail
providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal
response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a
swift and effective recovery effort. The new
Department will also prioritize the important issue of
citizen preparedness. Educating America's families on
how best to prepare their homes for a disaster and
tips for citizens on how to respond in a crisis will
be given special attention at DHS.
Times-Picayune: 23-27 June 2002
"Another scenario is that some part of the levee would
fail,' Suhayda said. "It's not something that's
expected. But erosion occurs, and as levees broke, the
break will get wider and wider. The water will flow
through the city and stop only when it reaches the
next higher thing. The most continuous barrier is the
south levee, along the river. That's 25 feet high, so
you'll see the water pile up on the river levee."
American RadioWorks September 2002
Walter Maestri is struggling to help New Orleans
prepare. Maestri is the czar of public emergencies in
Jefferson Parish (that's the county that sprawls
across a third of the metropolitan area). He points to
a map of the region on the wall of his command post.
"A couple of days ago," explains Maestri, "We actually
had an exercise where we brought a fictitious Category
Five Hurricane into the metropolitan area... anyone
who was here when that storm came across was gone-it
was body-bag time. We think 40,000 people could lose
their lives in the metropolitan area..."
JUNE 09, 2004
IEM to Lead Development of Hurricane Plan for
Louisiana -- IEM (Innovative Emergency Management)
tasked with " the development of a catastrophic
hurricane disaster plan for Southeast Louisiana and
the City of New Orleans under a more than half a
million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency
July 23, 2004 - 13 Months Before Katrina
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
conducts "Hurricane Pam" exercise to assess results of
a theoretical Category 3 hurricane. It assumes that a
storm with 120-mph winds would force Lake
Pontchartrain's waters over the tops of the New
Orleans' 17.5-foot levees and through a gap in the
levee system would flood major portions of the city
and would damage up to 87 percent of the city's homes.
The Times-Picayune reports that officials expect up to
half the city's residents won't evacuate and that many
will be trapped in attics, on rooftops, and in
makeshift shelters for days.
National Geographic - October 2004
The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a
hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most
dire threats to the nation, up there with a large
earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New
York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens
hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to
its workers is too great.
US News - 18 July 2005
"If a hurricane comes next month," says Ivor van
Heerden, director of Louisiana State University's
Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of
Hurricanes, "New Orleans could no longer exist."
TUESDAY 23 AUGUST 2005
5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - The U.S. National Hurricane
Center (NHC) issues a statement saying that Tropical
Depression Twelve had formed over the southeastern
WEDNESDAY 24 AUGUST 2005
11 am EDT (1500 UTC) - Tropical Depression Twelve is
upgraded to Tropical Storm Katrina.
THURSDAY 25 AUGUST 2005
7 am EDT [1100 UTC] - The FEMA National Response
Coordination Center (NRCC) Red Team was activated
5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Tropical Storm Katrina is
upgraded to become Hurricane Katrina, the fourth
hurricane of the 2005 season.
6:30 pm EDT (2230 UTC) - Katrina makes its first
landfall in Florida as a Category 1 hurricane near
Hallandale Beach on the Dade-Broward county line.
After landfall, instead as going West as forecast,
Katrina jogged hard left (South) almost parallel to
the coastline in densely populated metropolitan Miami.
One man, who had chosen to stay on his boat rather
than stay at one of the nearby hotels which were still
open, was killed. Katrina continued its path through
Coral Gables and southwest Miami, then went southwest
through unpopulated Everglades National Park and
exited the state near the southern tip of mainland
Florida. Despite the course change, only 14 Florida
deaths were attributed to the hurricane, since it was
only a Category 1, with sustained winds of 80 mph.
Katrina destroyed many old large trees in Miami,
pulling some out of the ground by the roots. Hurricane
experts who toured the Kendall/Sunset area after the
storm determined that tornadoes had been spawned out
of the hurricane, but luckily only struck in between
houses, causing no deaths
FRIDAY 26 AUGUST 2005
1 am EDT [0500 UTC] - Maximum sustained winds had
decreased to 70 mph and Katrina had again become a
5 am EDT [0900 UTC] - The eye of Hurricane Katrina was
located just offshore of southwestern Florida over the
Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles north-northeast of Key
West. Maximum sustained winds had again increased to
75 mph and Katrina is once again a category one
Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco declares a state of
emergency for the state of Louisiana.  This
declaration included activation of the state of
Louisiana's emergency response and recovery program
under the command of the director of the state office
of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to
supply emergency support services.
Following the declaration of a state of emergency,
federal troops are deployed to Louisiana to
co-ordinate planning of operations with FEMA
11 pm EDT (1500 UTC) - The National Hurricane Center
forecasts Katrina will strike the town of Buras, east
of New Orleans. The prediction was off by 18 miles,
which is considered within an acceptable range of
SATURDAY 27 AUGUST 2005
5 am EDT (0900 UTC) - Hurricane Katrina reaches
Category 3 intensity.
5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin
calls for a voluntary evacuation of the city.
Governor Blanco requests that President Bush declare a
major disaster for the State of Louisiana in a letter
through FEMA Region VI Director Gary Jones . In the
4-page letter, Blanco makes specific requests under
the Stafford Act for aid (housing, counseling,
unemployment, and Small business funding) as well as
requesting "direct Federal assistance for work and
services to save lives and protect property" (by
removing debris) and agrees to reduced liability
In response to Governor Blanco's request, President
Bush declares a Federal state of emergency in
Louisiana under the authority of the Stafford Act
, which provides a "means of assistance by the
Federal Government to State and local governments in
carrying out their responsibilities to alleviate the
suffering and damage which result from such
disasters...". The emergency declaration provides for
federal assistance and funding  and assigns to the
FEMA federal coordinating officer (FCO), by law, the
responsibility for coordinating relief efforts with
those government bodies and relief agencies which
agree to operate under his advice or direction .
It also provide for military assets and personnell to
be deployed in relief and support operations, although
the Posse Comitatus Act impose strict limitations on
their use in law enforcement which has some
implications for other activities. While Blanco's
request mentions the City of New Orleans in the first
paragraph, , the subsequent declaration  does
not cover the parishes expected to receive the most
damage, like Jefferson Parish and New Orleans (Orleans
Parish). These and other Southeast Louisiana Parishes
were mentioned by name in Blanco's request. See .
Saturday night, National Hurricane Center director Max
Mayfield briefed leadership on Katrina. According to
the St Petersburg State Times , this included
President Bush, Governors of Louisiana and Mississipi,
and the Mayor of New Orleans.
SUNDAY 28 AUGUST 2005
12:40 am CDT (0540 UTC) - Hurricane Katrina reaches
Category 4 intensity.
7 am CDT (1200 UTC) - Hurricane Katrina reaches
Category 5 intensity.
9:30 am CDT (1430 UTC) - President Bush calls Governor
Blanco, says he is "very concerned about the storm's
impact", and urges Blanco and Nagin to order a
Hurricane Katrina gains strength over the Gulf of
Mexico - having already battered the state of Florida.
Fears grow for New Orleans, which sits some 6ft (2m)
below sea level.
Mayor Ray Nagin orders the mandatory evacuation of the
city after the storm becomes a maximum-strength
Category Five hurricane.
Motorways are jammed as people obey the order to
Some of those unable or unwilling to leave spend the
night in shelters - including the Superdome stadium.
MONDAY 29 AUGUST 2005
Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf coast, wreaking havoc
in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Many areas of New Orleans are flooded and winds of
more than 100mph (160km/h) tear off part of the roof
of the Superdome stadium where some 9,000 people are
Power lines are cut, trees felled, shops wrecked and
cars hurled across streets strewn with shattered
There are reports that some of the city's flood
defences have been breached.
TUESDAY 30 AUGUST 2005
The scale of the devastation caused by Hurricane
Katrina and the subsequent flooding becomes clearer.
About 80% of the low-lying city is under water.
Helicopters and boats are picking up survivors
stranded on rooftops across the area - many are to
spend several more days there.
Rescuers are said to be pushing aside the dead bodies
floating in the water, as they try to reach survivors.
With some of the city's flood defences breached, the
situation is getting more desperate as waters continue
Hundreds of people are feared dead along the
WEDNESDAY 31 AUGUST 2005
Mayor Ray Nagin says the hurricane has killed
hundreds, possibly thousands. He orders the full
evacuation of the city - up to 100,000 residents are
still said to be there.
Many try to battle their way through the water to the
city's Superdome stadium in search of refuge. Tens of
thousands of people end up there, but conditions
inside the stadium are deteriorating fast.
Armed police try to impose a form of martial law to
stem looting - while some looters are stealing
non-essential goods, others are simply trying to find
food and water.
Cutting short a holiday in Texas to take charge of the
federal recovery effort, President Bush says the
government is dealing with one of the worst natural
disasters in US history.
The government declares a public health emergency
along the whole of the Gulf coast, to speed up the
delivery of food, water and fuel to the region. It is
announced that extra troops are also being sent.
THURSDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2005
New Orleans descends into anarchy, with reports of
looting, shootings, carjackings and rapes. The local
police force is ordered to focus its efforts on
Buses and helicopters begin to take the most
vulnerable out of the Superdome stadium - some will go
to the Louisiana state capital, Baton Rouge, others to
the Astrodome stadium in Houston, Texas.
Shots reportedly fired at a helicopter airlifting
people from the stadium slow down the evacuation
Anger mounts over the delay in getting aid to people
in New Orleans and what is seen as an inadequate
response from the federal government.
FRIDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 2005
The relief effort in New Orleans is stepped up.
Evacuations continue as military convoys arrive with
supplies of food, medicine and water.
Extra National Guard units are brought into New
Orleans to tackle the looting and general lawlessness
which has spread across the city.
It is still not known how many people have died as a
consequence of Katrina, but a Republican Senator in
Louisiana, David Vitter, says the number could reach
Tens of thousands of people are still stranded - some
of them are still waiting to be rescued from rooftops
of houses surrounded by water.
Meanwhile, President Bush promises long-term help for
reconstruction during a visit to affected areas,
having acknowledged that the initial response had not
been acceptable. Congress approves a $10.5bn emergency
SATURDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 2005
What is described as the largest airlift operation in
US history gets under way.
More than 10,000 people are removed from New Orleans -
the Superdome stadium and the city's convention centre
are cleared. Evacuees recount scenes of violence,
including rapes and murders at the shelters.
Relief workers open a mortuary and begin collecting
corpses, many of which have been floating in the
flooded streets of New Orleans for days.
Meanwhile, amid mounting political pressure, President
George Bush announces the deployment of thousands more
front-line troops into the areas devastated by
In a national televised address, he acknowledges that
many "citizens simply are not getting the help they
need, especially in New Orleans".
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