Archives > Newsday Special: Pass the Ammo, the world's ending

Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread

(1/4) > >>

For cut/paste news articles and blogosphere theories saying that Katrina was directed to New Orleans to kill black people. Conversation and yelling about the extermination of the poor and lazy continue in the old thread at:

Storm Cleanup May Be Biggest In U.S. History

By Elizabeth Williamson and Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, August 31, 2005; A01

Charities and the federal government launched what aid agencies predicted could be the longest and costliest relief effort in U.S. history, as workers began arriving last night in states devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and as the U.S. military organized an intensive response by already stretched National Guard and active-duty forces.

The American Red Cross, working in concert with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, called its plan to house and feed tens of thousands of people the biggest response to a single natural disaster in the organization's 124-year history. With deep flooding that may not recede for weeks in areas across three states, charities said that thousands could remain homeless for more than a year and that the rebuilding would probably take even longer.

"This disaster response is going to exceed our response to last year's back-to-back four hurricanes" in Florida, said Red Cross spokeswoman Devorah Goldburg. That effort included serving 16.5 million meals and providing the equivalent of 430,000 nights of shelter. "We're anticipating that Katrina will exceed those numbers."

The needs were as immense as they were varied, ranging from urgent search-and-rescue requests to pressing demands for shelter and clean water, and daunting longer-range challenges that were barely coming into focus last night.

The Air Force, Navy and Army began mobilizing troops and equipment to augment National Guard units, including helicopters with night-search gear and amphibious watercraft with civilian teams for rescuing stranded citizens. The Navy and U.S. Merchant Marine readied five ships in Norfolk and Baltimore: the hospital ship USNS Comfort, as well as helicopter-carrying vessels and ships that can carry landing craft, construction equipment, Humvees, forklifts, food, fuel and water-purification equipment.

The Pentagon yesterday created an unprecedented domestic task force -- headed by a three-star general and based in Mississippi -- to coordinate emergency operations by Guard and active-duty forces across four states. Driving the U.S. military response was the realization of the "sheer magnitude" of the catastrophe once dawn broke, said Michael Kucharek, spokesman for U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs.

The Red Cross had opened more than 200 shelters yesterday in concert with FEMA, which mobilized before the storm when President Bush designated Louisiana and Mississippi disaster areas. That allowed FEMA rescue workers to bring in water, ice and ready-to-eat meals before Katrina hit.

While rescue units pulled stranded residents from floodwater yesterday, a 50-member FEMA team was in Louisiana, making plans to order, buy and move hundreds of thousands of mobile homes into the area. FEMA will reimburse flood victims for rental housing, FEMA spokeswoman Natalie Rule said. The need was made more urgent yesterday when Louisiana officials decided to evacuate the Superdome, a city-designated shelter damaged by wind and flooding and made miserable for its inhabitants by a lack of electricity and clean water.

"We were very well-prepared, but it's not going to be a breeze," Rule said. "This is a very large, large disaster, and it's going to require a lot of teamwork and patience."

The Salvation Army said its relief costs for Katrina will probably exceed the $30 million spent on Florida hurricane relief last year.

The nascent effort was hindered yesterday because flooding rendered so many storm-damaged areas inaccessible.

"We're getting phone calls asking for teams to rescue people still trapped in their homes," especially in New Orleans and the Mississippi cities of Biloxi and Gulfport, said Maj. George Hood, national community relations secretary for the Salvation Army. The charity was feeding and housing storm victims on the perimeters of the disaster. "We have a team 400 or 500 people in Jackson, Mississippi, [waiting for] the green light, but it's the floodwaters holding us back," Hood said. Accurate information about the disaster area was scarce, "because nothing is working," he said.

The Southern Baptist Convention has sent 1,100 volunteers from across the country to the region, organized into 64 mobile units to clear fallen trees, cook and serve meals, and help repair damaged homes.

The church expected to deploy more than 10,000 volunteers to the area in coming weeks. But as of yesterday evening, only about 40 volunteers had reached the outskirts of the flooded area. Roads and bridges were impassable or closed, and for as many as 200 miles outside the disaster area, gasoline supplies had been exhausted by motorists evacuating several days ago or had been damaged by the storm.

At one point, the church's North American headquarters in Alpharetta, Ga., was fielding e-mails requesting help by victims with no other means of communication. In one, a doctor in Mandeville, La., begged for chain saws needed to clear trees and debris from a local hospital.

"I heard a term today I've never heard before: 'cities of refuge,' " said Jim Burton, director of volunteer mobilization in the Southern Baptist Convention's headquarters. "It's just an indication of the large number of homeless and the tremendous strain put on relief organizations to meet these people's needs."

Military officials said the biggest obstacle -- in both the short and long term -- to the relief effort is likely to be devastation of infrastructure, including destroyed roads, washed-out bridges, and flooded and debris-laden airports where planes cannot land.

Such problems could require military assistance to states for many months, said Northern Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Sean Kelly, noting that some Air Force bases are still supporting relief from destruction caused by last year's hurricanes.

National Guard officials in the states said the scope of the disaster was stretching the manpower limits of their units, many of which have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two years.

"What brings in the active-duty military is the fact that the disaster has overcome the state response, when the state is getting overwhelmed," Kelly said. Getting power up and running as well as water supplies will also prove major tasks, he said.

The Salvation Army's Hood said the effort will be long and expensive. "Our position is, we stay until all the needs are met, and that will be a long time," he said. "Our typical philosophy is, let's go in, do the work, stay as long as needed and then figure out how to pay for it, and so far the American public has never let us down."

Staff writers Jacqueline Salmon in Little Rock and Michael Laris in Washington contributed to this report.

Wow.  Raw AP Wire:

--- Quote ---Plaquemines Parish

On 29 August, the President of Plaquemines Parish Benny Rousselle issued the following statement: "Do not return to the parish until further notice. There are no public services available and all roads are closed and impassable at this time. Parish President Benny Rousselle has requested that only employees in Drainage, Heavy Equipment, Public Right-of-Way Maintenance and Solid Waste Departments return to the parish if possible" [14].

As of 9:35 a.m. on August 30, Plaquemines Parish is under martial law [15].

Reports from various sources confirm that the southern part of this parish has been "reclaimed" by the Mississippi River.
--- End quote ---

A Grim New Orleans Is Being Abandoned for Now
By Scott Gold and Ellen Barry
Times Staff Writers

8:51 AM PDT, August 31, 2005

NEW ORLEANS — Weary officials wrestled unsuccessfully with emergency repairs to the leaking levee system today as heat, storm-related floodwaters and the shortage of even the most basic supplies for human survival turned this grim city into a nightmare.

Conditions were so poor that officials have ordered everyone out, effectively abandoned New Orleans for the present. Refugees who fled Hurrican Katrina last week were told to stay away and those in city shelters were expected to be taken by bus convoy to the Houston Astrodome since there was no way to care for them here.

The federal government used the Navy to rush emergency supplies to the four Gulf Coast states that were still in shock from Katrina's rampage on Monday. Red Cross officials estimated that as many as 40,000 people were in shelters, though all numbers, including the dead and property losses were tentative and expected to grow.

More than 110 people were killed in Mississippi alone and there were reports of dozens more in Louisiana, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. In addition to being one of the deadliest storms to hit, Katrina will be among the most costly with estimates as high as $26 billion in insurance claims alone. Cleanup and restoration will certainly take months and likely years to bring devastated cities such as Biloxi, Gulfport and New Orleans back to their original shine.

In New Orleans, most efforts were concentrated on repairing two broken levees, city block-sized gaps through which angry waters continue to pour turning the city into a lake.

"The challenge is an engineering nightmare," Gov. Kathleen Blanco said on ABC's "Good Morning America." "The National Guard has been dropping sandbags into it, but it's like dropping it into a black hole."

Much of the city is below city level and the failure of the levees, canals and pumps means that water in the city will continue to rise until it reaches the same level as the waters outside the town. More than 80% of the city is below water and houses and business will be uninhabitable and useless for at least weeks and likely months.

"We are looking at 12 to 16 weeks before people can come in," Mayor Ray Nagin said on ABC's "Good Morning America, "and the other issue that's concerning me is have dead bodies in the water. At some point in time the dead bodies are going to start to create a serious disease issue."

Officials late Tuesday dropped 3,000-pound sandbags from helicopters and hauled dozens of 15-foot concrete barriers to repair one breached levee that once held the waters of Lake Pontchartrain at bay. When that failed, Maj. Gen. Don Riley of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said officials were considering finding a barge to plug the 500-foot hole.

Riley said it could take close to a month to get the water out of the city. If the water rises a few feet higher, it could also wipe out the water system for the whole city, said New Orleans' homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert. The water system has already been seriously compromised with breaks throughout its main water mains.

On Tuesday, officials ordered the Superdome, an ad hoc refugee center for more than 10,000 to be evacuated along with the rest of the city. The sports palace had turned into a scene all too familiar from tragedies around the world: scant food, broken toilets and sweltering eat all inflaming angry and bored evacuees.

"The logistical problems are impossible and we have to evacuate people in shelters," the governor said. "It's becoming untenable. There's no power. It's getting more difficult to get food and water supplies in, just basic essentials."

In Houston, Rusty Cornelius, a county emergency official, told the Associated Press that said at least 25,000 people from New Orleans would travel in a bus convoy to Houston starting Wednesday and would be sheltered at the 40-year-old Astrodome, which is no longer used for professional sporting events.

Relief efforts were gaining momentum this morning with the federal Emergency Management Agency stepping up aid efforts.

President Bush returned to Washington, cutting short his month-long summer vacation by two days. He will conduct an interagency task force meeting at the White House to oversee the expanding federal response to Katrina.

"The president's preference is to manage the response efforts from Washington," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said. "And it's going to require a long and sustained effort on behalf of all federal agencies working closely with state and local officials to help people recover."

The Gulf is home to more than one-quarter of the nation's domestic oil production and fears for that industry have helped drive oil and gasoline futures to record levels. Eight refineries were shut down due to Katrina — half of them producing gasoline.

To calm jittery markets, the Bush administration announced it will release oil from federal petroleum reserves to help refiners affected by Hurricane Katrina. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman made the announcement of the expected move this morning in Washington.

The loans from the reserve are designed to give refineries a temporary supply of crude oil. But it was unclear where the oil would be refined into products like gasoline and how soon gasoline prices would drop. Many experts still believe gasoline prices will continue to increase through the holiday weekend and could pass $3 a gallon for regular.

In some areas of Los Angeles, premium unleaded is already more than $3 a gallon.

Rescuers continued to comb wreckage and rooftops today looking for survivors. Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu said on Tuesday that 3,000 people have been rescued by boat and air, some placed shivering and wet into helicopter baskets. They were brought by the truckload into shelters, some in wheelchairs and some carrying babies, with stories of survival and of those who didn't make it.

"Oh my God, it was hell," said Kioka Williams, who had to hack through the ceiling of the beauty shop where she worked as floodwaters rose in New Orleans' low-lying Ninth Ward. "We were screaming, hollering, flashing lights. It was complete chaos."

Specialized divers and search and rescue units from across California were flown to the Gulf Coast at the request of Federal Emergency Management Agency officials. The teams were headed first for Lafayette, La., but were expected to fan out to the hardest-hit areas.

The teams included boat operators, divers, paramedics and rescue officials from fire departments in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, Oakland, Menlo Park and Sacramento.

Katrina's winds ripped into Mississippi's coastal communities, flinging boats onto dry land, sending walls of muddy seawater six miles inland and reducing motels, casinos and docks to mounds of debris.

Rescue teams poked through the crumbled red bricks of Biloxi's Quiet Water Beach apartments, where bodies were still being recovered. The beachfront complex had 100 units, and officials were unsure how many people had taken refuge inside.

Joy Schovest, 55, was in the complex with her boyfriend, Joe Calvin, when the water began rising. They stayed despite a mandatory evacuation order.

"The water got higher and higher," she said, breaking into tears. "It pushed all the doors open and we swam out. We grabbed a lady and pulled her out the window, and then we swam with the current. It was terrifying. You should have seen the cars floating around us. We had to push them away when we were trying to swim."

One storm victim who identified himself to television station WKRG in Mobile, Ala., as Harvey Jackson stood shaking in front of the rubble mounds, clinging to his two children. His voice breaking in despair, Jackson said he was searching for his missing wife, Tonette, who had disappeared as his house split in half.

"I tried to hold her tight as I could, but she couldn't hold on," Jackson said. "She told me, 'You can't hold me. Take care of the kids and the grandkids.' I'm lost. It's all I have."

For every heart-rending tale of lives destroyed, there were more accounts of tragedy averted.

After Katrina barreled past New Orleans on Monday, Oliver Thomas spent the strangest day of his life on a friend's fishing boat. Thomas saw people clinging to the support beams on the bottom of the interstate. He saw the corpse of a man dressed in a track suit floating past in the muck near Elysian Fields.

But the image that stayed with him was a woman in a red robe who yelled from an open window across the flooded interstate as his boat receded: "You're leaving me!"

All around New Orleans, looters were breaking into stores and filling up sacks on Tuesday. Outside the Garden District, five men broke into a Walgreens drugstore, opened boxes of trash bags and filled up with all the merchandise they could carry.

They calmly hoisted the bags into the back of pickups and, in plain view, drove away.

At a drugstore on the fringes of the French Quarter, there were orderly lines to loot. At least a dozen people, some with shopping carts, waited to enter the store.

"I just took what I need," said Marie Brown, 36, as she waded though water carrying a sack of items spirited from the drugstore — two umbrellas, a bottle of shampoo and a package of cookies.

"When I left my house, I didn't have time to take anything, that's how fast the water is rising. Everyone you see out here, they're just trying to survive," she said.

On some corners, police and National Guard troops ignored the looters, more concerned with rescue missions.

But elsewhere, police cracked down. They swept through Canal Street, a wide, dry boulevard on the edge of the French Quarter, taking back stores and restaurants already picked over by bands of looters. Police ordered away dozens of people at gunpoint. "They will stay there through the night and through the rest of this, or until the water forces them out," police Lt. Michael Cahn said.

Tensions rose as night settled in. One police officer was reported shot, but officials declined to discuss the incident. Looters and police taunted each other on Canal Street.

"You want to steal something now?" shouted one police officer who toted a large shotgun.

As Juanita Carruth, 26, paraded by, carrying her 8-month-old daughter on her shoulders, another armed officer snapped at her to move faster.

"I'm sorry," Carruth said, crying. "I can't go any faster. I don't know if I can go on. I am not worried about me — I am just worried about my baby."

Out of a sci-fi movie, man. Wow.


--- Quote ---Much of the city is below city level
--- End quote ---



[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version