I need 500 buses, man…

Here is the caption for the AP photo above:

An aerial view of flooded school buses in a lot, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005, in New Orleans, LA. The flood is a result of Hurricane Katrina that passed through the area last Monday.

Here is a segment from the overplayed diatribe that the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, gave yesterday to radio station WWL-AM. The emphasis is mine:

WWL: What do you need right now to get control of this situation?

NAGIN: I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. We ain’t talking about — you know, one of the briefings we had, they were talking about getting public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out here.

I’m like, “You got to be kidding me. This is a national disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans.

That’s — they’re thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal. And I can’t emphasize it enough, man. This is crazy.

I’ve got 15,000 to 20,000 people over at the convention center. It’s bursting at the seams. The poor people in Plaquemines Parish. … We don’t have anything, and we’re sharing with our brothers in Plaquemines Parish.

It’s awful down here, man.

I heard that, then found the photo above, and just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

WHY WEREN’T THOSE BUSES USED MAYOR NAGIN??!!

Update:
I just read about this story:

The first busload of New Orleans refugees to reach the Reliant Astrodome overnight was a group of people who commandeered a school bus in the city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and drove to Houston looking for shelter. [HoustonChronicle.com]

See Mayor… the people could have used those buses themselves…

Another update:
I didn’t think I would have to say that the buses in the photo should have been used BEFORE the hurricane, but apparently I do. Obviously the buses in the photo are useless NOW. Unfortunately, lessons have been learned the hard way, and I can bet that the NEXT time (Yeah, I’m sure there will be a next time after we rebuild) you won’t see any buses in that parking lot.

This photo really pissed me off. I couldn’t believe that a plan was never created to use them for situations like this. While searching for a reason, I found an article posted in November of last year by Shirley Laska of the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology titled “What if Hurricane Ivan had not missed New Orleans?” Here is an excerpt from this amazingly prophetic piece about what occurred when Hurricane Ivan buzzed New Orleans last year:

Residents who did not have personal transportation were unable to evacuate even if they wanted to. Approximately 120,000 residents (51,000 housing units x 2.4 persons/unit) do not have cars. A proposal made after the evacuation for Hurricane Georges to use public transit buses to assist in their evacuation out of the city was not implemented for Ivan. If Ivan had struck New Orleans directly it is estimated that 40-60,000 residents of the area would have perished. (emphasis added)

Read the whole article when you get a moment: What if Hurricane Ivan had not missed New Orleans?

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Coyote Blog calls it a missed opportunity and blames the local government for not using them, saying:

The city declared a mandatory evacuation. Why then did it stick tens of thousands in the Superdome, right in the middle of town, rather than evacuate them with the assets they already owned in quantity?

Some critics are calling it a racist plot. If we rely on Coyote’s Law, the most likely answer is incompetence and stupidity.

Yet ANOTHER update:
Drudge Report just posted the same photo I did on this post and is running the following tagline: WHY DIDN’T YOU DEPLOY THE BUSES DURING THE MANDATORY EVACUATION, MAYOR?…

And then quotes the following from the Louisiana disaster plan, pg 13, para 5 , dated 01/00:

‘The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating’…

This will come back up later if it isn’t addressed by the mass media outlets now…

36 Comments
  1. Anyone could have driven those buses, check out the update. Civilians stole a bus and were the first to show up in Houston! And, do I really need to say that the buses could have been used BEFORE the flood? Obviously they aren’t functional NOW…

    The arguement that people wanted to get out but had no means to get out kind of falls flat when I see photos like this.

  2. Umm… from the level in all of those buses they won’t be running for quite some time, if ever. Besides you’d have to be able to GET to those busses to used them. Nagin needs busses in areas where they can be driven out of the city. Chances are even if one of those buses could run, it would hit water deep enough that it wouldn’t be runnign for long. Hate to say it, but I’ve seen a bit of trashing for our Mayor in some places. Well guess what, you won’t hear it from folks down here. That’s democracy at a local level. Not to mention he actually has been a pretty darned good mayor for a city that has long been abused by corruption and abuse. You won’t find us criticizing him nearly as much as folks outside of here seem to want to.

  3. Hey, just going by what I see… if you have other information to provide, please do.

    I just heard him screaming that he needs buses to get people out and came across that photo. The Mayor should (Yeah, hindsight is 20/20) have allowed people to drive those buses out of there.

    Well, at least we know he will NEXT time…

  4. I as a lay-man… and not all that smart at that knew that an easy way to evacuate a large group would be to use the Public buses, the school buses and every other form of transportation available. Let’s also think car dealerships… the cars were ruined anyway. What is the need to hoarde the resources?

    Much should have been done both local and federal. I am sorry the people did not do more for themselves. I feel for the children. I feel for the sheep who thought they could depend on their government or their “god” to take care of them.

    Which brings up another gripe…. Catholic charities? Sure as soon as the Pope, and the bishops start chipping in with all the gold and jewels that compliment their “houses”.

    blah…

  5. Is it just me, or arent you supposed to issue permission to use public resources to evacuate BEFORE the storm hits?

    See this:

    Date: 9/1/2005

    Contact:Denise Bottcher or Roderick Hawkins at 225-342-9037

    Governor Blanco Announces Executive Order

    Baton Rouge, LA— Governor Blanco today announced the following Executive Order:

    Executive Order NO. KBB 2005- 31- provides that pursuant to the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act, R.S. 29:721, et seq., grants emergency powers to the governor, where, she has in consultation with school superintendents, utilized public school buses for transportation of Hurricane Katrina evacuees. As you are aware most public school districts will not begin school until Tuesday, September 6th 2005.

  6. There also seems to be PLENTY of cars in front of these flooded houses….seems people might have been
    able to drive those too.

  7. The really sad thing is that the New Orleans school district had the two essentials to using buses for evacuation in place: 1) a system of routes that covers every street in the city and 2)trained bus drivers who knew the routes and were experienced in driving the buses. They might not have gotten all the people out but they would most certainly have evacuated a good percentage of those folks who wanted to get out but could not. Add to this the municipal buses, also with set routes and trained drivers, and a very significant number could have been evacuated. This is so obvious, I don’t know how anyone missed it. I’m afraid Mayor Nagin missed a golden opportunity to save a lot of lives.

  8. Even with mandatory evacuation that is now in effect in New Orleans, approximately 10,000 people remain behind. Forcing people to leave is an act of last resource. Like everyone involved in help relief, I believe taking care of one’s own family comes first and others second. I’m sure the high payed bus drivers would haved jumped at the opportunity to leave their homes and families.

  9. Let’s review before we practice revisionist history … New Orleans was left pretty much unscathed by the hurricane when it came ashore Monday am in Mississippi, making people who fled the city feel pretty dumb …some even came back HOME Monday to sleep in their own beds! The people who stayed looked like they had made the right call in staying put (it is a free country still the last time I checked: ‘mandatory evacuations’ do NOT permit people to be dragged kicking and screaming from their homes and put on school buses to “Wherever” before an event).

    The city flooded in the NIGHT while people were SLEEPING – yes it would have been nice if the mayor (or anyone) had thought to immediately get in those buses the minute the levee started leaking and get them to higher ground around 2 am, but it didn’t happen. The picture you show explains perfectly why Mayor Nagin was crying for help on Tuesday- once those bus yards filled up with water during the night, there was no way for New Orleanians to help themselves anymore. Therefore, they needed help from someone ELSE!? Geez ….

    Of course you can spin that anyway you like, including blaming the victims … Kudos to those who refused to become victims and acted quickly or remained on alert or were provisioned and prepared for this disaster. Now- let’s see a show of hands … how many of YOU have a personal disaster/escape plan and provisions to remain in your house for a week or more without electricity, water, toilets, and transportation? Number two- now imagine you house filled with 8-10 feet of water (or maybe blown completely away and you are trapped in the rubble). Even if you had a plan, would it still WORK? Think about it! There is personal responsibility for yourself, but then we have a civic responsibility to help others as well in this society in a timely fashion.

    Of course, as a biologist, I just watched it all unfold as a perfect example of natural selection through environmental pressure – generally only the strong, healthy and/or intelligent survive!

  10. First By the Floods, Then By Martial Law
    Trapped in New Orleans
    By LARRY BRADSHAW
    and LORRIE BETH SLONSKY

    Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreens store at the corner of Royal and Iberville Streets in the city’s historic French Quarter remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing, and the milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat.

    The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers and prescriptions, and fled the city. Outside Walgreens’ windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry. The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized, and the windows at Walgreens gave way to the looters.

    There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices and bottled water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead, they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.

    We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home on Saturday. We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreens in the French Quarter.

    We also suspect the media will have been inundated with “hero” images of the National Guard, the troops and police struggling to help the “victims” of the hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed, were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans.

    The maintenance workers who used a forklift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, “stealing” boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hotwire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the city. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens, improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.

    Most of these workers had lost their homes and had not heard from members of their families. Yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20 percent of New Orleans that was not under water.

    * * *

    ON DAY Two, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter from Katrina.

    Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends outside of New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources, including the National Guard and scores of buses, were pouring into the city. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible, because none of us had seen them.

    We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the city. Those who didn’t have the requisite $45 each were subsidized by those who did have extra money.

    We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and newborn babies. We waited late into the night for the “imminent” arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute they arrived at the city limits, they were commandeered by the military.

    By Day Four, our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously bad. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that “officials” had told us to report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the city, we finally encountered the National Guard.

    The guard members told us we wouldn’t be allowed into the Superdome, as the city’s primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. They further told us that the city’s only other shelter–the convention center–was also descending into chaos and squalor, and that the police weren’t allowing anyone else in.

    Quite naturally, we asked, “If we can’t go to the only two shelters in the city, what was our alternative?” The guards told us that this was our problem–and no, they didn’t have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile “law enforcement.”

    * * *

    WE WALKED to the police command center at Harrah’s on Canal Street and were told the same thing–that we were on our own, and no, they didn’t have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred.

    We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and constitute a highly visible embarrassment to city officials. The police told us that we couldn’t stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp.

    In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge to the south side of the Mississippi, where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the city.

    The crowd cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation, so was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, “I swear to you that the buses are there.”

    We organized ourselves, and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched past the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group, and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news.

    Families immediately grabbed their few belongings, and quickly, our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, as did people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and other people in wheelchairs. We marched the two to three miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm.

    As we approached the bridge, armed sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions.

    As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and the commander’s assurances. The sheriffs informed us that there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

    We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the six-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans, and there would be no Superdomes in their city. These were code words for: if you are poor and Black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River, and you are not getting out of New Orleans.

    * * *

    OUR SMALL group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and, in the end, decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway–on the center divide, between the O’Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned that we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway, and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet-to-be-seen buses.

    All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away–some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the city on foot.

    Meanwhile, the only two city shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery that New Orleans had become.

    Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let’s hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an Army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts.

    Now–secure with these two necessities, food and water–cooperation, community and creativity flowered. We organized a clean-up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom, and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas and other scraps. We even organized a food-recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).

    This was something we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for yourself. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or food for your parents. But when these basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other, working together and constructing a community.

    If the relief organizations had saturated the city with food and water in the first two or three days, the desperation, frustration and ugliness would not have set in.

    Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.

    From a woman with a battery-powered radio, we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the city. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway. The officials responded that they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. “Taking care of us” had an ominous tone to it.

    Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking city) was accurate. Just as dusk set in, a sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces and screamed, “Get off the fucking freeway.” A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

    Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of “victims,” they saw “mob” or “riot.” We felt safety in numbers. Our “we must stay together” attitude was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

    In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of eight people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements, but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.

    The next day, our group of eight walked most of the day, made contact with the New Orleans Fire Department and were eventually airlifted out by an urban search-and-rescue team.

    We were dropped off near the airport and managed to catch a ride with the National Guard. The two young guardsmen apologized for the limited response of the Louisiana guards. They explained that a large section of their unit was in Iraq and that meant they were shorthanded and were unable to complete all the tasks they were assigned.

    * * *

    WE ARRIVED at the airport on the day a massive airlift had begun. The airport had become another Superdome. We eight were caught in a press of humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while George Bush landed briefly at the airport for a photo op. After being evacuated on a Coast Guard cargo plane, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.

    There, the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief effort continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large field where we were forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses didn’t have air conditioners. In the dark, hundreds of us were forced to share two filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who managed to make it out with any possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic bags) were subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.

    Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been confiscated at the airport–because the rations set off the metal detectors. Yet no food had been provided to the men, women, children, elderly and disabled, as we sat for hours waiting to be “medically screened” to make sure we weren’t carrying any communicable diseases.

    This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heartfelt reception given to us by ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome.

    Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept and racist. There was more suffering than need be. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.

    LARRY BRADSHAW and LORRIE BETH SLONSKY are emergency medical services (EMS) workers from San Francisco. They were attending an EMS conference in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck. They spent most of the next week trapped by the flooding–and the martial law cordon around the city.

  11. June 2004: The Army Corps of Engineers budget for levee construction in New
    Orleans is slashed. Jefferson Parish emergency management chiefs Walter
    Maestri comments: “It appears that the money has been moved in the
    president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I
    suppose that’s the price we pay.”

    June 2005: Funding for the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of
    Engineers is cut by a record $71.2 million. One of the hardest-hit areas is
    the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which was created after
    the May 1995 flood to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany
    parishes.

    August 2005: While New Orleans is undergoing a slow motion catastrophe, Bush
    mugs for the cameras, cuts a cake for John McCain, plays the guitar for Mark
    Wills, delivers an address about V-J day, and continues with his vacation.
    When he finally gets around to acknowledging the scope of the unfolding
    disaster, he delivers only a photo op on Air Force One and a flat,
    defensive, laundry list speech in the Rose Garden.

    A crony with no relevant experience was installed as head of FEMA.
    Mitigation budgets for New Orleans were slashed even though it was known to
    be one of the top three risks in the country. FEMA was deliberately
    downsized as part of the Bush administration’s conservative agenda to reduce
    the role of government. After DHS was created, FEMA’s preparation and
    planning functions were taken away.

    Actions have consequences. No one could predict that a hurricane the size
    of Katrina would hit this year, but the slow federal response when it did
    happen was no accident. It was the result of four years of deliberate
    Republican policy and budget choices that favor ideology and partisan
    loyalty at the expense of operational competence. It’s the Bush
    administration in a nutshell.

    Henry Breitrose
    Professor of Communication
    Department of Communication
    Stanford University
    Stanford, California USA 94305-2050
    +650-723-4700

  12. All of the people who evacuated when they were supposed to are now left homeless, scattered around the country in various hotels that they are paying for out of their own pockets or with family members. Meanwhile, the stubborn, hard-headed ones who decided to disobey the mandatory evacuation are being rewarded with luxury accomodations and designer clothing. That’s ridiculous. I don’t feel very sorry for those able-bodied individuals who complain that they didn’t have a car, either. Boo freakin hoo. You had legs and at least 24 hours. If a stage 5 hurricane was bearing down on my house, I would have WALKED as far inland as I could get.

  13. TRUTH is the politians UNDERREACTED, they never thought that a Cat-5 would do so much damage and they did not know the extent of the damage until after the storm passed. It was NOT rasist or biasied reaction it was misjudgment on their part. They made a mistake, dem or rep. they screwed up by not expecting a storm to do so much damage.
    Those who chose to stay and not evacuate it was their choice, not the state goverments choice.
    When you live in a glass house, do not throw rocks: Therefore when you live 15 feet below sea level you do not dig a bomb shelter against hurricanes.

  14. I can’t believe some of the comments here. The buses you refer to in the photo were obviously useless. Prior to the levy being breached, the need for them was not realized. The reason most of the people who were not evacuated did not leave is because they had no way to leave. They were the poor, the homeless, etc., etc. Most could not leave if they wanted to. The levies were rated to a Cat-3. Yes, this was a Cat-5, but remember, it took a turn to the right before hitting shore, and in fact, the winds at New Orleans were only that of a Cat-2 hurricane. Yet, the levy broke. And this WAS expected, and discussed, and planned for. But the Bush administration refused to fund the strengthening of those levies. Meanwhile, the National Guard is busy in a useless war in Iraq, which the Bush Administration started by lying to the American public. What a mess. What a disaster. And most of the fault clearly lies in the White House. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/04/opinion/04rich.html?incamp=article_popular

    And also, see: http://www.crisispapers.org/essays-w/getitnow.htm

  15. Unless you were here in the thick of it, grew up here, you are so mistaken it ain’t funny. Those busses would not have done a dam think before the storm. It would not have made an iota of difference. The Mayor and Govenor, from the point of view of all the natives here I’ve spoken to did a hell of a great job.

    Where was Washington for the past decade when we keep saying we need resources to build levees the right way? When we need evacuation route improvement? They always veto us and sweep us aside. These busses are NOT the whole story. This is a peice of crap story that is not true. Come down here to my home in the water and I’ll show you the truth. I grew up here, I’m in the thick of it, and you guys want to bash the people to acted FIRST? Fuck all of you!

  16. This one’s a “no brainer”. The mayor and the governor were there to enjoy the trappings of their office. No more, no less. They are following in the Clinton’s tradition of self-aggrandizement. They will never be the ones to make the tough decisions because they are spineless, gutless cowards.

  17. First of all – Ben Balser – I am sorry that you personally had to endure this horrible tradegy. I feel for you, your family and your entire community.

    Secondly – I am married to an Army Ranger and we are pretty well prepared for any type of disaster. 3 safes full of guns, months and months worth of contained water and MRE’s, emergency blankets, batteries, flash lights, etc. Countless items from the military – you name it, we have it. HOWEVER, we also have a 3 year old daughter which in my opinion changes the game entirely. We think we’re prepared for an emergency and we’ve done everything in our power to become so. But in the heat of the moment, when everything has gone awry, no one has a plan. If you’ve never been in that situation, how would you know what to do? And even if you have been in that situation – things could change the second time around.

    What’s done is done and there’s no sense in pointing fingers and saying that this and that should have happened. Nobody can act during such chaos in a way that everyone would appreciate.

    Yeah, it’s a bummer that the mayor couldn’t get the busses out, yeah it sucks that the car dealers didn’t give out cars…but everyone tends to look out for number 1 first in situations like that…and when number 1 is ok, then they’ll turn to number 2…and in this particular situation when it was time to turn to number 2, all hell had already broken loose. Levies had broke, homes and cars had flooded, people had died.

    You can’t turn back time…so instead of focusing on what should have been…focus on what still can be.

  18. http://tiadaily.com/php-bin/news/showArticle.php?id=1026

    excelent article that explains why the event unfolded as it did.

    In reguards to comment number 15. True to your word the Bush administration didn’t fund the reinforcement of those levees. But neither did Clinton, Bush sr, Regan, or any other president dating back to their contruction in the 60’s. Also looking back on they key points of both the mayor and govenors campaign platforms, neither of them has any mention whatsoever of levee reconstruction. It comes down to what the city was known best for, gambling! And they lost! Blaming one man is a ridiclious display of logic.

    In times of disaster people with morals and ethics band together to overcome whatever obsticles they may face, not seize the opportunity to rape, loot, and murder.

  19. “Louisiana Officials Could Lose the Katrina Blame Game”

    In response to Stanford Professer Henry Breitrose –
    I will give you the FEMA Director was an incompetent political hack and should have never been hired.

    BUT – as for the diatribe against Republicans and blaming Bush, which is all the Left can do these days, it appears the true culprit for the whole levee disaster was the Orleans Levee Board, which bragged it would have the levees completing their circle of protection by 1999.

    By 1998, Louisiana’s state government had a $2 billion construction budget, but less than one tenth of one percent of that — $1.98 million — was dedicated to levee improvements in the New Orleans area.

    No new state money had been allocated to the area’s hurricane protection projects as of October of 2002, leaving the available 65 percent federal matching funds for such construction untouched.

    This is all contained with a story posted below:

    http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.asp?Page=\Nation\archive\200509\NAT20050907a.html

    Yeah, I know; it’s all part of the vast Right-Wing conspiracy.

    JN

  20. As to the water being too deep to drive the busses, the cars with a much lower profile all got out BEFORE the storm hit. Why not deploy the busses to where you know people live without the means or transport to get out, and offer it as a freebie. You save the busses, and the people save their lives.

    The main lesson to take away is that the recovery and loss of life can be minimized if we make sure that EVERYONE has an opportunity to get out as soon as possible, preferably before the storm. Each person outside the path of destruction is one less person to rescue with a helicopter, provide emergency medical care for, feed, provide clean water to, protect from looters and fires, etc., and NONE of those services need be provided in polluted areas without power in a flood. I blame the mayor, the state, and the feds for not realizing this.

  21. Sorry, I read even more and can’t resist the urge to comment on the Corp of Engineers getting cut by $71 MILLION. Why am I not surprised? When NO needs a levy, they don’t get it. When Atlanta needs $ from the feds for an airport expansion, they don’t get it, or $3 BILLION to repair sewers, they don’t get it. BUT, when Boston needs to move 5 miles of road underground, they get $25 BILLION in federal funds. When Chicago needs to expand their airport, (while Mayor Dailey illegally closes another airport), they get $15 BILLION in federal funds. Neither Chicago nor Boston is exactly a hotbed of Republicans, BTW. Bottom line: if you are poor, Southern or both, the feds (Republicans or Democrats) will stick it to you. LA and MS receive much less in federal help and get back less in programs than they pay in taxes. NE states and California are just the opposite. This has been the case since Reconstruction, and this time NO paid the price.

  22. I heard that the Mayor and Governer never have a problem getting 500 busses to the poorest sectionc of town to drive them to the voting booths to vote and get hot dog and coke. Don’t blame the feds when those two did nothing!!!

  23. > The people who stayed looked like they had made
    > the right call in staying put (it is a free
    > country still the last time I
    > checked: ‘mandatory evacuations’ do NOT permit
    > people to be dragged kicking and screaming from
    > their homes and put on school buses
    > to “Wherever” before an event).

    100% correct. However, if you live 15 feet below sea level and refuse to leave when a CAT 4/5 hurricane is bearing down on you, you are personally responsible for ending up 15 feet underwater when you exercise your freedom to ignore a mandatory evacuation and ride out the storm in your own home. The mayor should have used those busses pictured above to evacuate people that wanted to leave BEFORE the storm hit, and those that willingly chose to stay are personally responsible for whatever hand fate dealt them in the wake of Katrina.

    Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think these days, living in a free country does not in any way absolve yourself of personal responsibility.

  24. I’d like to disagree with commentor Mowrey’s assertion that the “blue” (my term, not his) states receive much less in federal help and get back less in programs than they pay in taxes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cosidering that the majority of federal expenditures are in the military area (y’all know entitlement programs are under 20% of the overall budget…right?), and the bases and contractors are in the south, south west and west coast. The arguement doesn’t fly. Also the state of WY & the combined mountain west have less population than the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, NY. If you recall the Victory maps of the past two presidential campaigns, you know what I mean.
    Charity begins at home. If this is what happens with a hurricane, I’m sure not sleeping beeter knowing that any/all layers of ‘Gubberment” are ready for the suitcase atomic weapon, no matter which party is in charge….
    This whole blame thing is an “exsorcist” headspin.
    Let’s cast out the devil(s), however they can be defined, not marvel at their tricks!

    Love thy neighbor as thyself…..G-d bless us, everyone!

  25. “In reguards to comment number 15. True to your word the Bush administration didn’t fund the reinforcement of those levees. But neither did Clinton, Bush sr, Regan, or any other president dating back to their contruction in the 60’s. Also looking back on they key points of both the mayor and govenors campaign platforms, neither of them has any mention whatsoever of levee reconstruction. It comes down to what the city was known best for, gambling! And they lost! Blaming one man is a ridiclious display of logic.”

    The truth of the matter is that after being told about the potential for flood conditions in Lousiana and NO, Clinton ordered a study and found that help was needed. He ordered a 10 year project (in 1995) to fix it. the army corps of engineers began the project that year.

    Plain in simple our government failed. If it were a terrorist strike on our soil again, they also would have failed. The Prsident declare the area a Federal Diseaster area days prior to the storm hitting. There is no excuse for the federal government not to have been ready.

    We have military helicopters that could have dropped supplies to those poor (not being economic) people immediately after the worst was over and it ws safe. This would have assisted those living in the worst conitions you could imagine and provided time for on hand aid to arrive.

    That one man you would like not to receive the blame holds a responsibility to protect the welfare of the citizens of the US and he failed. In private industry when a CEO of a company hires individuals who through their incompetence causes the harm, death or destruction of anothers property that person is held responsible.

    That person can be held criminally and civilly responsible. Our elected leaders, of any party, should also be accoutable for their decisions.

  26. Fed UP said –

    “That person can be held criminally and civilly responsible. Our elected leaders, of any party, should also be accoutable for their decisions.”

    I couldn’t agree more. We must keep our government accountable for their actions. If we don’t, then we all risk the chance of having these tragedies to continually occur.

    To me, that’s unacceptable.

  27. If all those busses had been used to evacuate the people of NO, they wouldn’t have been flooded. That means FRMA wouldn’t need to buy the city a new fleet of buses. Saving a few people wouldn cost the city millions in federal money. Normally buses are purchased with local taxes, this way they get to share the burden with every taxpayer in America. I’ll bet you thought mayor Nagin was dumb, yeah, dumb as a fox.

  28. FEMA’s primarily responsibility is to co-ordinate resources within local,state, and the federal government. Usually the Mayor would have submitted a list of needed items to FEMA who would have arranged for the county (who actually owned them) to release them to the Mayor. FEMA’s failure to co-ordinate anything before the storm is appalling. It is easy to blame everything on the Mayor, and there is alot of blame to go around. But let’s wait until the facts are out before we blame Nagin only.

  29. First off, this problem goes back several years before Katrina ever started to stir in the Atlantic. The local and state government opted to not reinforce the dike system which they knew would not stand up to anything more than a catagory three hurricane in the first place. Secondly, it wasnt the hurricane directly that turned the city into a lake, it was the backlash of the storm surge, after the hurricane had moved through. Why, see the first sentence.
    Thirdly, the trash talking mayor who openly thwarts Bush and “this administration” couldnt even impliment step one of an emmense evacuation procedure.
    I may be just a dumb electrician but even I can see when a man who hasnt done his job and got caught is trying to blame someone else for his shortcomings.
    I do feel for the poeple who suffered loss of any kind in this catastrophy but I think it childish at best to sit around and place blame where none is deserved.
    P.S.
    Shawn Penn can say what he wants about Bush but I bet old G.W. would have put the drain plug in the boat before he went out to rescue others.

  30. Ron,

    I am glad that you are able to see a man that has not done his job. Please read the following:

    Those leeves were the responsibility of the Federal Government. May I direct your attention to the Army Corp of Engineering primary goal:

    Water Resources (WR)
    >Within available resources, provide the water resources infrastructure to enhance the Nation’s economic well being.
    – WR1: Anticipate, identify, and address the water resource infrastructure
    problems and development opportunities of the Nations and its major
    river basins (e.g. Navigation, flood and coastal storm damage reduction,
    hydropower, recreation facilities, water supply, etc.).

    The Civil Works Program receives Federal funding through the annual Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act.

    N.O. is the 3rd largest port in the states, responsible for the shipping of .5 of this countries export in corn and .33 of the soy. It also recieves 100billion tons of cargo into the U.S.. That makes it important to the economic well being of this country.

  31. C’mon – here you all are either defending or accusing the people responsible for what has happened. IT’S ALL OVER WITH!!! YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE PAST – DON’T YOU GET IT?

    GET OFF OF YOUR ASSES, QUIT COMPLAINING, AND HELP…NOT BLAME. I BET ONLY 1 IN EVER 15-20 PEOPLE HERE HAVE ACTUALLY DONE ANYTHING TO HELP THE POOR PEOPLE STRANDED WITHOUT HOMES. THEY’RE OVER THERE TRYING TO FIND WAYS TO FEED THEIR CHILDREN WHILE YOU’RE ALL SITTING IN YOUR WARM HOMES, BITCHING ON SOME STUPID WEBSITE.

    GET REAL….