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Archives => Newsday Special: Pass the Ammo, the world's ending => Topic started by: nacho on August 31, 2005, 12:13:48 PM

Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: nacho on August 31, 2005, 12:13:48 PM
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.
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: nacho on August 31, 2005, 01:13:09 PM
Wow.  Raw AP Wire:

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.
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: nacho on August 31, 2005, 01:22:27 PM
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."
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: Tyson on August 31, 2005, 01:25:21 PM
Out of a sci-fi movie, man. Wow.

Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: Tyson on August 31, 2005, 01:29:57 PM
Much of the city is below city level

Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: nacho on August 31, 2005, 01:35:47 PM
LA Times, Tyson, what can you do?
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: Tyson on August 31, 2005, 01:45:40 PM
I'm assuming everyone's just rushing things to the wire and not spending an hour editing stuff because, well, they're competing with the internet these days. Or something.
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: nacho on August 31, 2005, 04:33:49 PM
Now we talk about the dead.

U.S. declares health emergency
New Orleans mayor: Thousands may be dead

(CNN) -- The Bush administration declared a public health emergency for the entire Gulf Coast on Wednesday in an effort to stop the spread of disease in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"We are gravely concerned about the potential for cholera, typhoid and dehydrating diseases that could come as a result of the stagnant water and the conditions," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said Wednesday after announcing the emergency.

He said the declaration would simplify and speed the relief effort.

"We are also erecting a network of up to 40 medical shelters," Leavitt said. "They will have the capacity, collectively, of 10,000 beds, and will be staffed by some 4,000 qualified medical personnel."

Meanwhile, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin reportedly said Wednesday that the storm probably killed thousands of people in his city.

"We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and others dead in attics, The Associated Press quoted Nagin as saying. When asked how many, he reportedly said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."

Nagin and other Louisiana officials had refused to give a casualty count in the past, saying emergency workers were focusing on the rescue effort.

Earlier, an emergency official in Mississippi said the death toll was as high as 110 in that state.

In New Orleans, authorities prepared Wednesday to evacuate about 25,000 refugees who've been stranded since Katrina struck and transport them to the Houston Astrodome. Texas officials offered to open the giant stadium as a shelter for people displaced by the storm.

Most have been staying at the Louisiana Superdome, which was designated as a refuge for people who could not evacuate the city before the storm roared ashore on Monday.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco told CNN Wednesday morning that conditions were deteriorating rapidly at the Superdome, as evacuees sweltered without power for air conditioning and toilets overflowed. (See the video of conditions in the dimmed and damaged stadium -- 3:53)

Electricity was out for more than 2.3 million people in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

Meanwhile, Katrina's effect on oil supplies and gas prices spread nationwide. Katrina forced operators to close more than a tenth of the country's refining capacity and a quarter of its oil production, which sent gasoline prices surging and prompted the White House to tap the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (Watch the video of the energy secretary's comments on capping gas prices -- 4:16)

But some analysts say that gas prices are still likely to climb to more than $4 a gallon. (Full story)

Blanco said that officials were facing enormous challenges as they tried to stabilize the situation in New Orleans. (See the video of water surging into the saturated city -- 1:53)

"We've got an engineering nightmare trying to fill the breach of the levee where the waters are pouring into the city," she said.

The floodwaters also overwhelmed pumping stations that would normally keep the city dry. About 80 percent of the city was flooded with water up to 20 feet deep after the two levees collapsed. (Map)

The Army Corps of Engineers is bringing in heavy, twin-rotored Chinook helicopters to drop 3,000-pound sandbags into the gap, officials said.

Across Lake Pontchartrain, in Slidell, Louisiana, Mayor Ben Morris is among thousands of homeless residents who have been unable to communicate with anyone outside Slidell.

"I really don't know where my wife is or children are," he told CNN's Miles O'Brien. "They left town which, thank God, they did, but there's no way -- our telephones don't work, our cell phones don't work -- so there's no way to talk to the outside world." (Watch video of Slidell's mayor touring his town -- 2:06)

Troops 'cutting their way to the coast'
In Mississippi, where fallen trees blocked many highways, about 3,000 members of the National Guard were "using chainsaws to cut their way in to the coast," said Brad Mayo, a public information officer for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

Eighteen urban search-and-rescue crews made up of FEMA teams and crews from other states are heading to the coastal region, Mayo said, along with 39 medical disaster teams, four veterinary disaster teams and two mental health teams.

Some areas were still inaccessible by road, Mayo said, and crews were using boats to get around.

Wednesday, state officials reopened U.S. Highway 49 from Jackson to Seminary, Mississippi, just north of Hattiesburg. That should help the 1,700 trucks bringing in ice, food, water, fuel and medical supplies to the affected areas. "We're shipping ice in from Memphis," Mayo said.

An emergency official in Jackson told CNN on Wednesday the death toll there is as many as 110.

The official said the confirmed death toll -- deaths certified by a coroner -- stands at 13, but in Harrison County alone officials said they had at least 100 bodies.

In the hardest hit areas in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, emergency officials are setting up M*A*S*H-style hospitals in tents and portable structures to try to help those injured or rescued.

Mayo said the state is asking for doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians from neighboring states for their help. Those who want to assist should contact their state's licensing board, which should then get in touch with Mississippi's board for accreditation.

Other developments

New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport is open and operational for relief flights, but operations will "be very, very restricted air service for the weeks to come," aviation director Roy Williams said. "I would hope that by the November time frame that some level of the traditional hospitality, tourism and business activities that we're known for can be under way."

One of two pipeline companies supplying gasoline to the eastern seaboard of the United States said Wednesday it hopes to be back in partial operation soon. The other pipeline is still waiting for an indication on when electricity to pumps can be restored.

The U.S. Navy was dispatching ships to the area, including the USNS Comfort, a floating hospital based in Baltimore, and an amphibious ready group led by the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima.
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: nacho on August 31, 2005, 05:08:45 PM
Bush flies over disaster area

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (CNN) -- President Bush Wednesday viewed the disaster area hit by Hurricane Katrina from aboard Air Force One as he traveled to Washington from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

As the president passed over one Mississippi town, he remarked, "It's totally wiped out."

The president spent 35 minutes looking out the window as the aircraft passed over Louisiana and Mississippi and clearly saw the damaged roof of the New Orleans Superdome and the city's flooded neighborhoods.

Air Force One flew about 2,500 feet over New Orleans and about 1,700 feet over Mississippi, which suffered severe damage from the storm, according to The Associated Press.

"It's devastating. It's got to be doubly devastating on the ground," Bush said.

Besides New Orleans, Air Force One flew over Slidell, Louisiana and Pascagoula and Biloxi, Mississippi.

"There wasn't a whole lot of conversation going on," McClellan told The Associated Press. "I think it's very sobering to see from the air. I think that at some point you're just kind of shaking your head in disbelief to see the destruction that has been done by this hurricane."

"This is a major catastrophe," McClellan told AP earlier. "We are certainly going to do everything from the standpoint of the federal government to make sure the needs are met. This is a time when all Americans need to come together and do all we can to support those in the Gulf state region."

The president cut short his Texas vacation by two days to return to Washington for meetings regarding the hurricane's devastation.

Earlier in the day President Bush held a video conference with with senior government officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and White House Chief of Staff Andy Card. Bush is scheduled to chair a White House task force focused on the recovery efforts this afternoon and is expected to speak about the disaster in the Rose Garden at the White House at 5 p.m. ET.
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: Tyson on August 31, 2005, 06:19:18 PM
It's April 1st, right?

It's totally wiped out.

It's devastating. It's got to be doubly devastating on the ground,

Thank you, Captain Obvious. Now we all understand.
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: nacho on August 31, 2005, 09:26:40 PM
New Orleans Mayor Says Death Toll Possibly in Thousands
Federal Agencies Mobilize, Declare Public Health Emergency

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 31, 2005; 7:27 PM

Federal agencies stepped up relief efforts today in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, mobilizing to evacuate flood refugees from the Superdome in New Orleans, dispatching Navy ships and declaring a public health emergency for the entire Gulf Coast. The mayor of New Orleans said the death toll was at least in the hundreds and possibly in the thousands.

President Bush, addressing the nation from the White House Rose Garden after cutting short his month-long stay at his Texas ranch, warned, "This recovery will take a long time. This recovery will take years."

With floodwater levels in New Orleans apparently stabilizing, federal department heads led by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff earlier announced a series of measures to ramp up the relief effort. The steps included the dispatch of 50 helicopters, a U.S. Navy hospital ship and seven other naval vessels, swift-water rescue teams, a 500-bed mobile hospital and tons of military meals and other supplies.

In addition to National Guard troops already deployed, the Pentagon announced that 10,000 more Guard troops would be sent in the next two days to Louisiana and Mississippi, about 5,000 to each state.

The announcement came amid deteriorating security in New Orleans, where hundreds of looters roamed the streets with apparent impunity and gunfire could be heard in some neighborhoods. Many residents, desperate for food and drinking water, ventured out into murky floodwaters polluted by sewage, trash, fuel and debris from damaged buildings.

President Bush ended his vacation at his ranch near Crawford, Tex., two days early to fly back to Washington on Air Force One, passing over devastated areas on the way. "It's totally wiped out," he told aides at one point after viewing the destruction wrought by Katrina on Monday as it slammed ashore from the Gulf of Mexico with 140-mph winds and torrential rains.

The plane dropped as low as 2,500 feet over New Orleans, affording Bush a view of the Superdome surrounded by floodwaters, then flew over Mississippi, descending to 1,700 feet at one point. According to White House spokesman Scott McClellan, Bush said as he looked at the flooding in New Orleans, "It's devastating. It's got to be doubly devastating on the ground."

Surrounded by members of his Cabinet in the Rose Garden, Bush said, "We are dealing with one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history." He gave a rundown of federal efforts, noting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has deployed more than 50 disaster medical assistance teams and that the Coast Guard has rescued nearly 2,000 people to date, plucking many of them from rooftops with helicopters. He said more than 25 urban search and rescue teams totaling 1,000 personnel have been sent in.

At least 78,000 people are now in shelters, he said.

Bush announced formally that the Department of Energy will loan oil from the federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve to refineries to help alleviate any shortages caused by Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged oil and gas production facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. He said the Environmental Protection Agency also is temporarily waiving clean-air fuel standards nationwide, allowing the sale of larger quantities of gasoline and diesel fuel.

"This will help take some pressure off of gas price," Bush said. But he warned that "our citizens must understand this storm has disrupted the capacity to make gasoline and distribute gasoline."

Bush urged Americans to make private contributions -- in cash -- to the relief effort, noting that "the folks on the Gulf Coast are going to need the help of this country for a long time." He said, "This is going to be a difficult road. The challenges that we face on the ground are unprecedented. But there's no doubt in my mind we're going to succeed."

In time, he said, "New communities will flourish. The great city of New Orleans will be back on its feet. And America will be a stronger place for it."

In New Orleans, where tens of thousands of people remained despite a mandatory evacuation order issued Sunday, Mayor Ray Nagin said Katrina probably killed thousands. No confirmed casualty figures have yet been released for the city or affected parts of Louisiana.

"We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," as well as other people dead in attics, Nagin said, according to the Associated Press. Asked how many dead, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."

In Mississippi, which took a direct hit from Katrina, at least 110 people have been confirmed dead. But state officials have expressed concern that the toll would rise.

More than 1 million people remained without power in Gulf Coast states.

Nagin said that this time, there will be a "total evacuation" of New Orleans. He added, "We have to. The city will not be functional for two or three months."

He said the Superdome, crammed with 23,000 refugees in deteriorating conditions, "can no longer operate as a shelter of last resort." He estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 people stayed in the city of 485,000 despite the earlier evacuation order and said they would now be evacuated at the rate of 14,000 to 15,000 a day.

As federal and state officials and the American Red Cross made plans to empty the Superdome, sending the bulk of the refugees by bus to the Astrodome in Houston 350 miles away, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was organizing to try to plug two large breaches in floodwalls -- breaks that have allowed water from Lake Pontchartrain to flow into New Orleans, flooding 80 percent of the low-lying city.

Engineers planned to start by using helicopters to drop giant five-ton sandbags into the breaches. Once the floodwalls and levees protecting the city are repaired, the corps will work on pumping out the water, officials said.

In Washington, Chertoff told a news conference this afternoon that "we have had a number of breaches of levees." But he said that "the lake level has begun to decrease to some extent," which may cause some of the floodwater in the city to flow out. "Water may still be coming in, although it may be slowing," Chertoff said.

"We are now positioning the assets necessary to evacuate the Superdome," he said.

In the unusual news conference, attended by several other Cabinet secretaries, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said the Bush administration has declared a public health emergency for the whole Gulf Coast to help combat potential disease outbreaks. He said 10 federal medical shelters are being set up, and that 10 more will be established in the next few days.

Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said emergency supplies including 13.4 million liters of water are being shipped to the area and that the department is "working to restore at least minimum transportation infrastructure in the region," including oil pipelines.

"It's all hands on deck," Assistant Defense Secretary Paul McHale said. He said the Navy is moving eight ships to the area, including the hospital ship Comfort from Baltimore. He said the Comfort will depart Sept. 2 and arrive in the Gulf Coast region Sept. 8, and a 500-bed mobile hospital will likely be sent to the New Orleans area. The Pentagon also expects to provide a fleet of 50 helicopters to help assess damage and move federal relief personnel, McHale said.

Eight Navy SEAL swift-water rescue teams are being sent from California, and as many as 800 military personnel will assist the Red Cross with shelter support, he said. In addition, 11,000 National Guard troops are deployed in and around the affected area under the command of state governors.

Asked about widespread looting, McHale said this was a matter for civilian law enforcement agencies, possibly with National Guard units backing them up under the control of governors.

"In extraordinary circumstances," he said, the president has authority to use active-duty military personnel to restore order. There is no expectation that such deployments will be necessary, McHale said, but "we do have units that are on alert" and are prepared to be dispatched if called upon.

McHale said the National Guard "has a deep enough bench" to be effective, despite large deployments to Iraq. As of this morning, he said, 60 to 65 percent of the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard forces were available for domestic duty, he said, adding, "A very robust capability remains within the affected states."
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: Tyson on August 31, 2005, 11:45:12 PM
A few guys stuck it through on the 10th floor of a high rise in their datacenter and have a blog and webcam feed up:

Very, very interesting.

See? Blogs have an use!

EDIT: That's from DirectNIC which is a floor above the SomethingAwful servers, if you can believe it.
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: nacho on September 01, 2005, 10:40:43 AM
Quote from: Tyson
A few guys stuck it through on the 10th floor of a high rise in their datacenter and have a blog and webcam feed up:

Very, very interesting.

See? Blogs have an use!

EDIT: That's from DirectNIC which is a floor above the SomethingAwful servers, if you can believe it.

Yeah, lots of talk on SA about that.  They were prepared to lose the forums and move over to a backup page... So sort of an hour by hour adventure there.
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: RottingCorpse on September 01, 2005, 02:54:04 PM
Jesus . . .

* * *

Despair, death pervade New Orleans

Some boat rescue operations suspended

Thursday, September 1, 2005; Posted: 1:37 p.m. EDT

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Thousands of people forced from their homes by Hurricane Katrina have crammed into the New Orleans convention center, where they've had no food, no water and no word on when help would come.

And people are dying.

CNN's Chris Lawrence described "many, many" bodies, inside and outside the facility on New Orleans' Riverwalk.

"There are multiple people dying at the convention center," he said. "There was an old woman, dead in a wheelchair with a blanket draped over her, pushed up against a wall. Horrible, horrible conditions.

"We saw a man who went into a seizure, literally dying right in front of us."

People were "being forced to lived like animals," Lawrence said -- surrounded by piles of trash and feces.

He said while he has seen police SWAT teams drive by in armored vehicles, no one has stopped to talk with the refugees.

"People are asking, 'Where are the buses? Where is the plan? Where is the help?" he said.

More people were arriving at the center, walking south along Canal Street. The route north to the Superdome is blocked by chest-deep water.

The convention center was used as a secondary shelter when the Louisiana Superdome was overwhelmed.

As reports indicated a mounting death toll in New Orleans, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said that "we understand there are thousands of dead people" in Louisiana, according to media reports.

Meanwhile, boat rescues in some areas of flooded out New Orleans have been curtailed because of violence, officials said Thursday.

"There are isolated incidents where security has become an issue for our rescue efforts but only isolated incidents. FEMA is not suspending operations," said Natalie Rule of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington.

The Coast Guard also said it is avoiding areas where there are reports of gunfire.

"We're having to hold off going in until we're assured that the areas are safe to transit," said USCG Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Carter. "We're following the lead of FEMA on that."

He added, "We're not shut down. There's a wide area where we're still doing rescues. There's still plenty of people out there."

Evacuation points swamped with people

A Louisiana National Guard official told CNN Thursday morning that between 50,000 and 60,000 people had converged at evacuation points near the Superdome hoping to get on one of the buses out of town.

"It's no longer just evacuees from the Superdome, as citizens who were holed up in high-rise office buildings and hotels saw buses moving into the dome, they realized this is an evacuation point," Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard said.

He said there were reports that several small trash fires were burning around the building and firefighters were having a hard time reaching the area.

Houston has offered to house about 25,000 people in the Astrodome. San Antonio, Texas, has agreed to take another 25,000 people, officials said Thursday. Schneider said that officials were looking for additional locations.

Widespread looting and random gunfire have been reported across the city. Police told CNN that groups of armed men roamed the streets overnight.

Officers told CNN they lacked manpower and steady communications to properly do their jobs -- and that they needed help to prevent the widespread looting and violence now prevalent in the city.

A police officer working in downtown New Orleans said police were siphoning gas from abandoned vehicles in an effort to keep their squad cars running, CNN's Chris Lawrence reported.

The officer said police are "on their own" for food and water, scrounging up what they can from anybody who is generous enough to give them some -- and that they have no communication whatsoever. Police also told CNN they were removing ammunition from looted gunshops in an effort to get it off the streets.

The head of Acadian Ambulance Service, Richard Zuschlag, said Wednesday that a generator was stolen from his command center and an ambulance was tipped over as his workers tried to evacuate hospitals.

President Bush, in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," said that their should be "zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this."

He promised a rapid federal response to the disaster.

Pentagon officials said Wednesday the governors of Louisiana and Mississippi have ordered the mobilization of an additional 10,000 National Guard troops to provide security and help with hurricane relief.

Mississippi death toll rising

The breadth of the brutality of Hurricane Katrina became clearer as more death toll figures began to filter in from Mississippi's coastal region.

Authorities said at least 185 people died in Monday's Category 4 storm.

In Hancock County alone, Sheriff Eddie Jennings put the death toll at 85, with 60 people dead in Pearlington, 22 in Waveland, two in Bay St. Louis and one body that had washed up on the beach.

In neighboring Harrison County, which is home to Gulfport and Biloxi, authorities reported 100 bodies had been found, an emergency official in the state capital, Jackson, told CNN.

Power out; gas prices rising

Electricity was out for more than 2.3 million people in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

Meanwhile, Katrina's effect on oil supplies and gas prices spread nationwide, prompting the White House to tap the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

News of disruptions in the gas supply sparked runs on stations and a sharp spike in prices, with some drivers in Atlanta, Georgia, facing prices above $5 a gallon.

The operators of two key pipelines that carry fuel out of the region announced Thursday that they were resuming limited operations.

In New Orleans, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was using helicopters to drop 15,000-pound sandbags into breaches in the city's levee system -- the first step in trying to control the flooding that submerged most of the city.

The flow of water into New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain finally abated, Corps officials said. But engineers won't begin trying to pump out the water until the breaches are plugged.
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: Nubbins on September 01, 2005, 03:22:30 PM
Something Awful just went down! :(  That dude's Live Journal that you guy's linked to has some details... and the stories coming from him are more and more harrowing.  Rapid descent into madness.  CNN bloggers are echoing the same.

'A scene of anarchy'
Editor's Note: CNN correspondents report back on what they are seeing in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Living like animals

A dead elderly woman in her wheelchair at the New Orleans Convention Center.  

It's hard to believe this is New Orleans.

We spent the last few hours at the New Orleans Convention Center. There are thousands of people lying in the street.

We saw mothers holding babies, some of them just three, four and five months old, living in horrible conditions. Diapers littered the ground. Feces were on the ground. Sewage was spilled all around.

These people are being forced to live like animals. When you look at the mothers, your heart just breaks.

Some of the images we have gathered are very, very graphic.

We saw dead bodies. People are dying at the center and there is no one to get them. We saw a grandmother in a wheelchair pushed up to the wall and covered with a sheet. Right next to her was another dead body wrapped in a white sheet.

Right in front of us a man went into a seizure on the ground. No one here has medical training. There is nowhere to evacuate these people to.

People have been sitting there without food and water and waiting. They are asking -- "When are the buses coming? When are they coming to help us?"

We just had to say we don't know.

The people tell us that National Guard units have come by as a show of force. They have tossed some military rations out. People are eating potato chips to survive and are looting some of the stores nearby for food and drink. It is not the kind of food these people need.

They are saying, "Don't leave us here to die. We are stuck here. Why can't they send the buses? Are they going to leave us here to die?"

'We have to deal with the living'

Posted: 10:49 a.m. ET
CNN's Rick Sanchez in Metairie, Louisiana

We spent the night at the New Orleans Saints' training facility. It is the encampment for the FEMA officials and National Guard troops who will deploy out to certain areas.

They just deployed a new unit out here from California. They're called swift water operation rescue units. These folks are trained to go in and get people out of the homes that they have been stuck in for days now with water all around.

We were with a unit last night on a boat. We watched as they performed many of these rescues. It's quite a sight to see. Bodies are floating along the flooded road. And I asked them, "What do you do about that?" They said, "There's no time to deal with them now. We have to deal with the living."

See the video of thousands stranded among sewage and bodies on the riverfront -- 2:54

We went off into many communities to see if we could find people. As we were navigating through these narrow areas with power lines and all kinds of obstructions above and below us, we suddenly heard faint screams coming from homes. People were yelling, "Help! Help!"

We found one elderly woman in one home. She told us, "I've been here and I need to get out. Can you get me?" Then she said, "But there are people next door and they have babies, so leave me until morning. Get them out now."

So we contacted the swift water rescue units and they went out there. To our surprise and their surprise there were no fewer than 15 people huddled in their home. We could only hear them. We couldn't see them. We were able to assist and get the right people over there to get them out.

Just like them, there may be literally thousands that need to be rescued. It's a very daunting task for these officials.

Chaos at the convention center

Posted: 10:02 a.m. ET
CNN's Jim Spellman in New Orleans, Louisiana

I don't think I really have the vocabulary for this situation.

We just heard a couple of gunshots go off. There's a building smoldering a block away. People are picking through whatever is left in the stores right now. They are walking the streets because they have nowhere else to go.

Right now, I'm a few blocks away from the New Orleans Convention Center area. We drove through there earlier, and it was unbelievable. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people spent the night sleeping on the street, on the sidewalk, on the median.

The convention center is a place that people were told to go to because it would be safe. In fact, it is a scene of anarchy.

There is absolutely nobody in control. There is no National Guard, no police, no information to be had.

The convention center is next to the Mississippi River. Many people who are sleeping there feel that a boat is going to come and get them. Or they think a bus is going to come. But no buses have come. No boats have come. They think water is going come. No water has come. And they have no food.

As we drove by, people screamed out to us -- "Do you have water? Do you have food? Do you have any information for us?"

We had none of those.

Probably the most disturbing thing is that people at the convention center are starting to pass away and there is simply nothing to do with their bodies. There is nowhere to put them. There is no one who can do anything with them. This is making everybody very, very upset.
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: nacho on September 02, 2005, 12:20:58 AM
A City of Despair and Lawlessness
Thousands Stranded in New Orleans; Troops Pour In

By Sam Coates and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 2, 2005; A01

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 1 -- Federal and local authorities struggled Thursday to regain control of this ruined and lawless city, where tens of thousands of desperate refugees remained stranded with little hope of rescue and rapidly diminishing supplies of food and drinking water.

The chaos that has gripped New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina showed signs Thursday of spreading to Baton Rouge and along the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast, as weary refugees continued their slow and confused exodus to higher ground. Fresh waves of National Guard troops began pouring into the region in an attempt to quell the unrest, but large swaths of New Orleans and other sodden areas remained essentially ungoverned.

By the end of the day, the American Red Cross announced that its hurricane shelters were full, with an estimated 76,000 refugees at facilities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arkansas. The official death toll in Mississippi climbed above 100, and Louisiana officials repeated warnings that thousands could be dead in New Orleans. The Energy Department said about 1.8 million customers remained without power due to Katrina.

Those left behind in the Crescent City, including many with diabetes and other worsening health conditions, clung to rooftops, gathered on overpasses and bridges, and huddled on islands of dry ground, waiting for help that never came. Parents carried small children and grown children carried their elderly parents through the flotsam. Corpses floated in fetid waters and laid amid the crowds of refugees. Helicopters airlifted hundreds of seriously ill patients to a makeshift field hospital at the city's airport.

At the storm-damaged Superdome, faltering efforts to transport as many as 23,000 refugees to the Astrodome in Houston were temporarily halted after a gunshot was reportedly fired at a military helicopter. Authorities continued to struggle with incidents of looting, carjackings and other violence.

The deepening crisis prompted urgent pleas for help from local officials and residents, many of whom pointedly criticized the federal government for what they said was a meager and slow response.

"This is a desperate SOS," New Orleans's beleaguered mayor, Ray Nagin, said at one point in the day.

In Washington, President Bush and his aides said the government acted as quickly as possible and announced a range of stepped-up response plans, including promises of thousands of extra troops and billions of dollars for recovery and rebuilding efforts. Congress returned early from its summer recess to consider emergency legislation for immediate aid. Late Thursday night, the Senate approved $10.5 billion in assistance, and the House will meet on Friday.

Bush urged Americans to curb gasoline consumption to ease the impact of refineries crippled by the storm. He also warned Gulf Coast residents, including those searching for water and food, not to break into businesses or commit other crimes during the crisis.

"There ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this," Bush said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"If people need water and food, we're going to do everything we can to get them water and food," Bush added. "It's very important for the citizens in all affected areas to take personal responsibility and assume a kind of a civic sense of responsibility so that the situation doesn't get out of hand, so people don't exploit the vulnerable."

The calls for calm came amid increasing signs of unrest among those who remain stranded in New Orleans. Continued engineering difficulties have kept 80 percent of the city flooded for more than three days.

Late Thursday, a team of local contractors hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began driving steel pilings into the 700-foot breach in the 17th Street Canal levee, the principal source of floodwaters in Katrina's aftermath. State officials said the breach will be closed by Saturday, enabling engineers to start draining the city dry -- if the pumps can be put in working order. Corps officials apparently scrapped earlier plans to bring in sandbags and other items by barge or helicopter.

One of the most squalid and desperate situations unfolded at the city's fetid Ernest M. Morial Convention Center, where thousands had assembled over the preceding two days but which, as of Thursday evening, still had no visible government presence. A half-dozen buses arrived at one point to take a small number of refugees, but none had come since, according to the stranded residents and tourists.

The center itself, dark and powerless, was rank with sewage and trash, and was avoided by most of the crowd, who milled around outside. As many as seven corpses laid out in the open around wailing babies and other refugees, according to witnesses and news reports, including one dead man covered in a blue tarp in the middle of a street.

Desperate refugees at one point broke into the center's food-service area to retrieve water and other goods, and the crowds have been roiled by fights and at least one gunshot, according to interviews. Some food rations finally arrived Thursday, dropped by helicopter.

With no buses in sight earlier Thursday, Nagin gave the refugees permission to march across a nearby bridge to dry ground in search of aid. The mayor also issued a plea for help on CNN: "Right now, we are out of resources at the convention center and don't anticipate enough buses. We need buses. Currently, the convention center is unsanitary and unsafe, and we're running out of supplies."

Later in the day, thousands remained at the center while hundreds more wandered roadways, looking for a way out. Some were lucky enough to be picked up by National Guard trucks.

"This is a horrible tragedy and an unconscionable way to treat human beings," said Davonna Good, of Sacramento, who spent two days at the convention center site.

Throughout the ravaged city, frustrated residents complained that no one seemed to be in charge.

"We've been trying to get out," said Cornelius Washington as he walked along a highway overpass near the Superdome. "No one is giving the who, what, where, why and when. When they give us information, it's about what they're not going to do."

Amid signs of growing lawlessness, with looters roaming the city with impunity, heavily armed state and local police made a show of force in some places. Police in body armor and carrying shotguns and assault rifles were posted in the French Quarter and other parts of downtown to keep order.

Angry crowds have repeatedly shot at rescue services. Pilots with a private rescue service were fired on when they tried to air-drop supplies at Kenner Memorial Hospital Wednesday evening.

"There was 75 to 100 people surrounding the helipad and several of them had guns," said Richard Zuschlag, chief executive and chairman of Acadian Ambulance Services. "The pilot became concerned that that was an unsafe environment to land in and so he went on to anther location."

Zuschlag said his company, with 25 civilian choppers, rescued 500 patients from New Orleans hospitals Thursday. He said that an estimated 1,500 remained at three more medical facilities and that rescue operations were being severely hampered by security issues.

"Both mornings, we have tried to go to Charity Hospital by boat and each time we have been shot at, so we determined it wasn't safe. The doctor there has 500 people inside his hospital and he is going berserk."

Ninety miles away in Baton Rouge, officials scrambled to accommodate hundreds of thousands of refugees predicted to make their way to Louisiana's capital. Police have implemented a 10 p.m. curfew for fuel purchases, and there have been reports of attempted carjackings at gas stations. Officials are struggling with widespread power outages and water shortages from the storm.

In Texas, officials announced they could accommodate as many as 75,000 refugees from Katrina, including thousands being bused to Houston from New Orleans's Superdome and others to be housed in Dallas and San Antonio.

At a briefing for reporters, Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, commander of a hastily formed military unit called Task Force Katrina, said National Guard forces -- now numbering 4,700 in Louisiana and 2,700 in Mississippi -- will be strengthened to a combined 24,000 over the next three days. Eventually, 30,000 troops should be in the region, officials said.

A total of about 7,200 active-duty forces have been dispatched, most of them Navy personnel aboard seven ships. Early Thursday, yesterday, the Pentagon announced that among the ships would be an aircraft carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman, to serve as a floating command center for relief operations. Additional assets that defense officials said might be sent include field hospitals, reconnaissance aircraft and more evacuation vehicles.

But it is Guard troops who are central to law enforcement aspects of the relief effort because of legal constraints on active-duty forces performing such functions. By late Thursday, the number of Guard forces in Louisiana and Mississippi was due to top 13,000. Another 12,000 were expected by the weekend.

But among those complaining about the pace of National Guard efforts was a top Salvation Army official, Maj. Dalton Cunningham. He warned that some staff members and refugees still trapped by floodwaters in the organization's building in New Orleans could die if the timetable for rescuing them did not change.

Cunningham said a Guard representative told the group Thursday afternoon that it could be days before they would evacuate the 200 or so people stranded in the Salvation Army building on South Claiborne Avenue.

"They said they're doing it by quadrant and we'll just have to take a number and get in line," Cunningham said. "They are there without food. Some were on dialysis and needed medical attention. . . . Their lives are threatened. I'm not even sure they'll be alive when we get there."
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: nacho on September 02, 2005, 12:31:00 AM
Displacement Of Historic Proportions

By David Von Drehle and Jacqueline Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 2, 2005; A01

The largest sudden displacement of Americans since the Civil War reverberated across the country from its starting point in New Orleans yesterday, as more than half a million people uprooted by Hurricane Katrina sought shelter, sustenance and the semblance of new lives.

Storm refugees overwhelmed the state of Louisiana and poured into cities from coast to coast, crowding sports arenas, convention centers, schools, churches and the homes of friends, relatives and even strangers. Red Cross officials reported that every shelter in a seven-state region was already full -- 76,000 people in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. Hundreds of miles from New Orleans, hotels were jammed or quickly filling.

Rich and poor alike, they found themselves starting over. The former began buying new houses and leasing new office space. The latter waited in lines for a bar of soap or a peanut butter sandwich.

Katrina has scattered more than twice as many people as the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, and unmoored more people in a few days than fled the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. Estimating from Census data, roughly 150,000 of the displaced lived below the poverty line even before they lost everything. Far more than 50,000 of them are past retirement age.

Cities and hamlets, charities and individuals, stepped up to help. In Washington, District officials made plans to open a shelter in the D.C. Armory, and 415 retired veterans were moved from the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Miss. to a similar facility here.

"The biggest issue we're faced with is handling the volume of people," said Margaret O'Brien Molina, a spokesman for the Southwest region of the American Red Cross. "Just identifying their needs is so complex."

In Baton Rouge and other Louisiana cities, the influx was dangerously straining services, officials warned. Armed guards were stationed at food distribution sites, and Baton Rouge police chief Jeff LeDuff said the city's hospitals might have to be barricaded to prevent desperate storm victims from continuing to swamp emergency rooms. The city's sanitation system is overloaded, garbage collection has soared, gasoline is scarce.

"Instead of water flooding in, we've got people flooding in," said Mike Walker of the East Baton Rouge Parish Council. "The levee of people broke."

Where to go? What to do? They needed food, water, medicine, beds, showers, toilets, clothing, jobs, schools, friends, diversions. Where to begin?

For many of the impoverished refugees from the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, the first step into the future led to a strip mall near the Astrodome, which transformed into a bazaar of free ham sandwiches, water, diapers, baby formula and other supplies brought by volunteers.

Gaynell Warden, 46, stood in her pajamas , 350 miles from home -- make that former home. For now and the knowable future she lives in a new town of 25,000 comprised of cots in an old stadium. "My son is missing. I don't know if he's dead or alive," she said.

Allen Porter, 18, sat in a hotel lobby in Hot Springs, Ark., 530 miles from his former home. His parents were out looking for a condominium while their son tried to sort out the confused picture that had seemed so clear and glittering just days before. Senior year, top of his class at Jesuit High in New Orleans, Porter was a bit annoyed when his mother insisted on evacuating. He packed his iPod, "Wuthering Heights," and his applications to places like Princeton, Yale and Virginia. Now his high school was reportedly under 13 feet of water, deep enough to drown his transcripts, and his khaki-clad buddies were scattered to the winds.

"It could get lonely over time," he mused via the Internet.

Porter was probably wise to take the long view, because the few lessons available in upheaval of this scale suggest that the metropolis flung apart by the hurricane may still be in pieces years from now. More than 300,000 Japanese were left homeless by the Kobe earthquake in 1995 and some were still in makeshift camps three years later. Closer to home, the sudden influx of125,000 Cubans in the 1980 Mariel boatlift was only partially absorbed by families and volunteers across the country; some of the refugees remained in camps into the late 1980s.

Herbert McKnight, 44, had no intention of waiting for New Orleans to be restored. "The way I'm looking at it, I don't have a job and I don't have a home," he said in Houston, where he and 20 members of his extended family were among the tens of thousands of displaced people occupying virtually all of the city's 55,000 hotel rooms. An accountant, McKnight said he was desperate to find work and move into an apartment in Houston.

Mostly, though, it was a matter of coping with the here and now.

Internet bulletin boards buzzed with offers of spare bedrooms and pleas for volunteers. "I have 11 family members arriving," a harried host in Maryland began, and "a rental property in Capitol Heights, MD to put them in. . . . However, it is currently undergoing renovations and is not quite habitable yet . . . I need donations."

And: "I am in Kewanee, IL. a small rural community in Illinois. . . . I can fit 2-4 comfortably . . . 6-8 in a squashed condition."

School boards in state after state dropped their normal admission rules to make room for more than 100,000 school-age children from New Orleans and other storm-wrecked communities. Colleges and universities offered to reopen their rolls to take in some 50,000 displaced students.

But for some of the hardest-hit evacuees, such concerns seemed light years away. Those who were not moved to the Astrodome fanned out across Louisiana, swelling cities and towns to the bursting point and sorely testing the capacities of their neighbors.

In Sorrento, approximately 50 miles northwest of New Orleans, there was "looting everywhere, all over the place. There is chaos everywhere right now," said Police Chief Earl Theriot. "There's a bunch of fights. All our shelters are full. The gas rationing is getting out of hand."

Theriot spent part of his day dealing with the death of an elderly woman on a bus full of nursing home patients who were traveling without any attendants or medical personnel.

Up the road in Alexandria, where the sometimes surly storm-tossed were being housed in an abandoned Wal-Mart, police chief Daren Coutee issued a plea for authorities in New Orleans to search each evacuee for weapons before sending them along.

In Baton Rouge, city officials said that 20,000 refugees are being housed in official shelters, but they believe that's just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands more are thought to be staying in private homes, hotels and other facilities. And they are braced for more.

Rep. Richard H. Baker (R-La.) said he planned to ask for temporary housing facilities from the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security and private companies and realtor groups. "Portable barracks, mobile homes, vacant commercial structures -- whatever can house people in humane conditions," he said yesterday.

More than 800 people are currently sleeping on blow-up beds on a gymnasium floor at Louisiana State University-Shreveport, where their living quarters aren't much larger than an average car. All of their belongings -- perhaps some clothes, toiletries and an old a photo album -- are stacked by the beds. There's no other space for storage. Beds are crammed in like puzzle pieces, covering nearly every bit of the hardwood floor.

Some residents plan to live in the gymnasium for at least the next month.

"When my family first came here, I was like 'No way. I'm not staying at a shelter. I'm not going in,' " said Latrice Alexander, 35, who fled here from New Orleans on Sunday. "I sat in the parking lot for like an hour and refused to come in, and now this place is basically home.

"It's tough. When you want to shower, there's usually a line of 10 people in front of you. There's never anything to do. You get up. You eat. You take a walk. Then you come back to your little bed."

The scene is repeated in towns and cities across thousands of square miles.

By mid-day yesterday, more than 1,000 refugees had found Starkville, a university town in northeastern Mississippi, according to Duane Tucker, disaster chairman for the local Red Cross chapter. "All the hotels in town are full, we've got people staying with relatives, and about 40 people from New Orleans living in a church shelter." And the problem is likely to worsen as middle-class families in hotels run out of money.

"I can't see the end," Tucker said.

A major city, thrown to the winds. No one spared. Not the prosperous DeLongs, a Garden District family of lawyers and university administrators now dispersed from Texas to the District. And not the huddled masses in the Astrodome, suffering from dehydration, diarrhea, malnutrition and other problems.

In Houston, Harris County Chief Administrator Robert Eckels hoped that the Astrodome would not be a city for long. "This is not a place you want to be living for months with that kind of crowd. We want these folks to move on." Still, plans are being hatched to open a school there. And Walker, the Baton Rouge council member, is predicting that his city of 217,000 could double in size as refugees come to realize that "they have no place to go back to for years."

"This is not a one-day or a one-year crisis. This is changing people's lives," said Baker, whose district includes Baton Rouge. "This is a societal problem of a magnitude that America has never seen."
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: Tyson on September 02, 2005, 01:52:51 AM


The following is the result of an interview I just conducted via cell phone with a New Orleans citizen stranded at the Convention Center. I don't know what kind of garbage you're hearing in the mainstream media or in the press conferences from the city and state officials, but here is the truth:

"Bigfoot" is a bar manager and DJ on Bourbon Street, and is a local personality and icon in the city. He is a lifelong resident of the city, born and raised. He rode out the storm itself in the Iberville Projects because he knew he would be above any flood waters. Here is his story as told to me moments ago. I took notes while he talked and then I asked some questions:

Three days ago, police and national guard troops told citizens to head toward the Crescent City Connection Bridge to await transportation out of the area. The citizens trekked over to the Convention Center and waited for the buses which they were told would take them to Houston or Alabama or somewhere else, out of this area.

It's been 3 days, and the buses have yet to appear.

Although obviously he has no exact count, he estimates more than 10,000 people are packed into and around and outside the convention center still waiting for the buses. They had no food, no water, and no medicine for the last three days, until today, when the National Guard drove over the bridge above them, and tossed out supplies over the side crashing down to the ground below. Much of the supplies were destroyed from the drop. Many people tried to catch the supplies to protect them before they hit the ground. Some offered to walk all the way around up the bridge and bring the supplies down, but any attempt to approach the police or national guard resulted in weapons being aimed at them.

There are many infants and elderly people among them, as well as many people who were injured jumping out of windows to escape flood water and the like -- all of them in dire straights.

Any attempt to flag down police results in being told to get away at gunpoint. Hour after hour they watch buses pass by filled with people from other areas. Tensions are very high, and there has been at least one murder and several fights. 8 or 9 dead people have been stored in a freezer in the area, and 2 of these dead people are kids.

The people are so desperate that they're doing anything they can think of to impress the authorities enough to bring some buses. These things include standing in single file lines with the eldery in front, women and children next; sweeping up the area and cleaning the windows and anything else that would show the people are not barbarians.

The buses never stop.

Before the supplies were pitched off the bridge today, people had to break into buildings in the area to try to find food and water for their families. There was not enough. This spurred many families to break into cars to try to escape the city. There was no police response to the auto thefts until the mob reached the rich area -- Saulet Condos -- once they tried to get cars from there... well then the whole swat teams began showing up with rifles pointed. Snipers got on the roof and told people to get back.

He reports that the conditions are horrendous. Heat, mosquitoes and utter misery. The smell, he says, is "horrific."

He says it's the slowest mandatory evacuation ever, and he wants to know why they were told to go to the Convention Center area in the first place; furthermore, he reports that many of them with cell phones have contacts willing to come rescue them, but people are not being allowed through to pick them up.

I have "Bigfoot"'s phone number and will gladly give it to any city or state official who would like to tell him how everything is under control.
Title: Cassander's Glassbottom Boat Companion Thread
Post by: nacho on September 02, 2005, 10:51:51 AM
Fires, violence, Astrodome closed.

Fifth Day of Disaster Begins With Fire
President Bush Says Relief Operations "Are Not Acceptable"

By Peter Slevin, Fred Barbash and Daniela Deane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 2, 2005; 9:48 AM

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 2 -- A spectacular looking fire, apparently in a warehouse, lit up the New Orleans riverfront a few miles south of the French Quarter Friday morning setting off a round of what turned out to be unfounded media speculation about possible "toxic clouds" and prompting a plea from a local official for an end to the rampant rumor mongering that has hit the city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

While the fire glowed in the sky and then spread a giant plume of smoke upriver, Walter Maestri, head of emergency management for Jefferson County, came on talk radio four hours after the explosions and said "it was not the major incident we thought it was."

Several hours later, President Bush headed to the devastated region to survey the damage. As he was leaving the White House, Bush told reporters that he believes the relief operations so far "are not acceptable."

But he said he wanted to "assure the people of the affected areas and the people of this country that we'll deploy the assets necessary and get the situation under control."

New Orleans was swept all night by unconfirmed reports of gunshots and random violence, spread on talk shows, TV and the Internet, with no one in authority appearing to know anything one way or the other.

The situation prompted a plea from Maestri Friday morning.

"There are a myriad of rumors out there," he said on WWL talk radio. "Everybody knows that this and that is happening. Everybody is hearing this and that. We don't know. We've got to stop dealing with rumors. We're afraid of the dark right now and everything's dark. Please, all citizens of Jefferson Parish, we're not holding anything back. What we know, we're sharing."

Jefferson Parish is just west of New Orleans on the Mississippi.

Other officials appeared distraught and confused.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin came on a local talk show and in a rambling interview -- that was replayed over and over through the night -- cursed and yelled and ultimately dissolved in tears.

"Get off your asses and let's do something," he said at one point.

"I'm at the point now where it don't matter," he said. "People are dying. They don't have homes. They don't have jobs. The city of New Orleans will never be the same."

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D), interviewed this morning, said she had heard about the reports on a TV station Web site of about 100 people dying while waiting to be rescued in the Chalmette area of the city but she was not able to confirm any of that information. "Miles, I cannot confirm that for you," she told CNN's Miles O'Brien. "Anything can happen and it has. . . . I don't even know what today is."

Michael Brown, the head of the Federal Emergency Management, made the rounds of the morning talk shows and was grilled aggressively about the situation. "By Sunday, I'll have 30,000 National Guard troops . . . We're securing the city," he said on NBC's "Today" program. "We're going to fix the problem and stop that lawlessness. . . . It's a growing and continuing disaster. . . . I think we'll start seeing major improvements over the next several days."

Meanwhile, after accepting more than 11,000 Hurricane Katrina refugees, wire services reported that Houston's Astrodome was full and had been closed to any new arrivals of refugees.

TV images of the Astrodome showed row after row of cots, covering the entire floor of the huge facility. From above, it looked like old pictures of Civil War field hospitals.

"We've actually reached capacity for the safety and comfort of the people inside there," American Red Cross spokeswoman Dana Allen told the Associated Press. She said people were "packed pretty tight" on the floor of the Astrodome.

Buses that continued to arrive were being sent on to other shelters in the area and as far away as Huntsville, about an hour north of Houston.

To the extent there was confirmable news, it was coming not from authorities but from national TV networks, which showed footage of a large fire at Chartres Street along the Mississippi River at about 5 a.m. EDT.

Chris Lawrence of CNN reported on the fire from a rooftop on a police station, where he said officers were "barricaded" because of people "shooting at the station.

"It's very hard to tell [what's happening]," he said. "The Fire Department can't get near the building without a police escort."

The New Orleans airport, meanwhile, was being converted into a major military staging point for the arrival of supplies and troops.