New Orleans Disaster Plan: Run For The Hills

My own blog is down, thanks to some bad hardware, so you all get a chance to read my latest post before I manage to publish it over there.

New Orleans, La., mayor Ray Nagin has unveiled the city’s new disaster plan. It’s quite a simple plan: Run for the hills, run for your lives.

“There will be no shelter of last resort,” Nagin said. Instead, people unable to flee the city on their own would gather at designated transit points, where public transportation would pick them up and take them away. People will be able to bring their pets, as long as they are in cages.

“Amtrak trains will also be used for evacuation purposes, which we’re really excited about,” Mr Nagin said. — BBC News

Hurricane Katrina killed over 1,300 people across the South and left over 1,000,000 homeless, after levees meant to protect New Orleans failed. Most residents of New Orleans have not returned, and the levees may not be restored before hurricane season begins next month.

Nagin will deliver a State of the City address next week, and faces Mitch Landrieu, currently lieutenant governor of Louisiana, in a run-off election for mayor on May 20.

There’s a very good probability that Nagin will be re-elected, partly due to his giving a State of the City speech right before the run-off election.

But what concerns me is the run like hell plan. New Orleans has already shrunk to less than half its former size. The more people run like hell, the fewer of them who will come back. Perhaps after a few decades, nature will finally make her point and reclaim the city forever. Until then, get yourself another hurricane (the drink) and don’t worry about it. Nagin will tell you when it’s time to run like hell.

  1. Nagin is by no means a sure bet. He’s lost all of the white vote and a significant percentage of the black vote, even with absentee voting and those who traveled in from Houston and elsewhere.

    It’s considered highly likely by Louisianians that Landrieu will win the election, and there’s even talk that Gov. Blanco will appoint Representative Francis “The Fee” Thompson (D-16th District) to replace Landrieu as lieutenant governor, cementing her position in the “good ol’ boy” network.

    Thompson earned the nickname “The Fee” from Conservative talk show host Moon Griffon who maintains that Thompson has never failed to vote in favor of creating or increasing fees.

    Me? I’m pretty sure Nagin’s 15 minutes of fame are nearly over.

  2. I have to concur that Nagin is not necessarily “likely” to win. Landrieu is likely the forerunner in this race. There is an article in the Times-Picayunne covering voter turnout for the primaries at that can give you some idea that the districts that had carried Nagin in the last election had very low turnout rates this time around. The consensus looks more towards the folks that voted for the 3rd and 4th place candidates, Ron Foreman and Rob Cohig respectively, are most likely to turn out and vote for Landrieu instead of Nagin.

    I’m not sure I’m willing to call it as an easy win for our current Lt. Governor, but the chances are looking mightly slim for Nagin at this point, if the opinions of any of the local political pundits (and common word on the street, for that matter) mean anything.

  3. BTW, the less than half of New Orleanians returning figure is somewhat misleading. It helps to understand that unlike many, probably even most, major metropolitan areas in the United States, the official City of New Orleans is entirely encompassed by a single Parish (or county for the rest of you.) That part is not uncommon, but what is uncommon is that Orleans Parish is basically limited in size and does not at all encompass the entire metro area (the suburbs, like Chalmette, Metairie, Kenner and most of the West Bank) and definitely doesn’t include the bedroom communities on the “North Shore” of Lake Ponchartrain. Those areas would all normally be considered part of a typical US “city”, but they tend to get left out of the picture when the national press is talking about the “City of New Orleans” (as opposed to the greater metro New Orleans area.) In that sense, yes the City of New Orleans does have less than half of its residents, but the metro area has really only lost a fraction.

  4. Seeing as Hurricane Season is almost upon us, any prognistications regarding the essential viability of New Orleans to maintain itself seem a bit premature. If the current trend of worsening meteorological events continues, it won’t matter who won what political race down there. Being king of the (political) hill doesn’t mean much when said hill is underwater, a prospect that NOLA may face, once more…

  5. …people unable to flee the city on their own would gather at designated transit points, where public transportation would pick them up and take them away…

    Public transportation? Like… School Buses?

  6. I am just trying to figure out where was this plan before Hurricane Katrina. They had the buses to do that then. If I am not mistaken Amtrak offered help prior to Katrina hitting land, but the gov’t turned them down. This is what gov’t almost always does, put in plans that would help with what just occured not necessarily what will happen next. While I agree that this should help if another flood occurs, where was his leadership and plans prior to Katrina, when we all new it could very easily happen. What a joke!

  7. Disaster plans always come up short. In Florida, there is no effective plan to move millions of people out of harm’s way. Last year, there was gas shortages so that left some people unable to leave even if they had a vehicle. More people keep coming to Florida which puts a strain on the few hurricane shelters that exits. Are more hurricane shelters being built? None that I can see. I am wondering why the insurance companies do not band together and force developers to build more shelters and stronger buildings. I suppose people just like wasting money each year repairing things.

  8. Well, running like Hell is better than “sheltering” people in the middle of the storm, trapping people in the city, No?

  9. All this is nice, but I really cannot see much better than “here’s buses and trains, use them or not” coming from a Libertarian. All shelters do is prolong the agony, as was made very clear at the superdome. TBH, I cannot see more than a useful evacuation plan coming from anyone who isn’t either lying to us or themselves

  10. Re: those school busses. Nagin was not allowed to legally touch those school busses. They belonged to the Orelans Parish School Board, a completely seperate political entity (like most everything down here seems to be.) Besides, all the bus drivers had already evacuated. YOu don’t expect someone wihtout a government sanctioned bus driver license to be allowed to be in one of those things during an emergency, do you? ;)

    As for the evac plan being here before, I don’t know that this plan would have worked before anyway. (Not that I think this one will work either, for that matter.) Too many people to evac. There’s probably a LOT less now and the city may well be able to coordinate this kind of effort. Of course, again, that’s just the city of New Orleans itself and all of this means nothing to the suburbs, like the completely inundated (and majority lower-class white) St. Bernard Parish that saw virtually no press coverage.