I have been blogsurfing the smaller blogs over the past week or so, given that I have a personal blog as well. I stumbled across Iconoclast's Blog. Iconoclast had a superb timeline up. I contacted him and asked him if he would post at Daily Kos. He doesn't have an account, though he reads over here frequently and gave me leave to repost, in total, his timeline.
It's an outstanding timeline through last night and I wanted to share it with everyone here. It really puts things into perspective.
Make the jump.
A Timeline of Hurricane Katrina and the Failures of the US Government to Protect its OwnI've included information from well before Hurricane Katrina to show that FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House knew full well what a large hurricane could do to the city of New Orleans. Additional information and/or corrections that readers may have can be sent to me at email@example.com or left in the comments section. This is a work in progress.
A furthur clarification: I'm not a Democrat and therefore not a Blanco or Nagin apologist. If Blanco and Nagin are to be crucified for their sins, then fine. But they should be the two thieves hung on either side of the asshole Messiah, George W. Bush.
June 23-27, 2002 -- The New Orleans Times-Picayune publishes a series of articles called "Washing Away." The article details the problems with the New Orleans levee system, gives predictions about what would happen to the city during a major hurricane, and provides information on evacuation difficulties and costs of rebuilding. The article states that even a Category 3 storm (Katrina was Category 4) would "would turn the city and the east bank of Jefferson Parish into a lake as much as 30 feet deep, fouled with chemicals and waste from ruined septic systems, businesses and homes. Such a flood could trap hundreds of thousands of people in buildings and in vehicles. At the same time, high winds and tornadoes would tear at everything left standing. Between 25,000 and 100,000 people would die, said John Clizbe, national vice president for disaster services with the American Red Cross. "
Despite this, funding for Army Corps of Engineers projects would be cut in each of the next three years, and in 2003, the Bush Administration eased restrictions on wetland developement south of the city.
September 30, 2002 -- Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) addresses the US Senate about the President's cuts to programs vital to protecting the city of New Orleans. In part, she says, "Because the City of New Orleans is below sea level and surrounded by levees, every drop of rain that lands there must be pumped out. This important job is accomplished by local, State, and Federal agencies working together to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place and working much of this work is done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. However, in the President's budget request submitted to Congress this year, funding for the southeast Louisiana Flood Control Project, (SELA), was cut by an astonishing 50 pecent." The cuts happened anyway.
October 2, 2002 -- Sen. Landrieu again addresses the Senate about Louisiana's need for extra help in preparing for hurricanes -- especially wetland protection and restoration. "We are telling you and begging this Senate and this Congress to recognize benefits Louisiana provides to the Nation. Louisiana is proud of that, but we need extra Federal help to secure this marshland, to help rebuild it, and protect us. If Louisiana does not receive help the wetlands will disappear, and the people of Louisiana will be sitting ducks for future floods and storms," the Senator says.
2003 -- The Department of Homeland Security is estabished. The Department's website states that "in the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility" in order that "emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation." Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of the Department says "We're meeting our goals by reorganizing to better mobilize the people and resources of the Department to make America more secure. "
Joseph Allbaugh, the FEMA director who got the job because he was a top worker in Bush's campaign steps down. Replacing him is Michael Brown, Allbaugh's former college roommate, a man who's previous job experience included a losing run for congress and being fired from International Arabian Horse Association.
July 23, 2004 -- FEMA releases the results of "Hurricane Pam," a hurricane simulation based on a direct landfall of a storm in New Orleans. The simulation stated that a hurricane in New Orleans would result in:
- 30 million cubic yards of debris and 237,000 cubic yards of household hazardous waste
- the need for about 1,000 shelters to be kept open 100 days
- the likely breach of the existing levee system
FEMA and DHS are supposed to come up with a "master plan" for New Orleans based on this study but money ran out and the plan was never produced.
September 14, 2004 -- The Washington Post reports that Walter Maestri, an emergency manager, has 10,000 body bags ready in case a major hurricane ever hits New Orleans. The article says, "If a strong Category 4 storm such as Ivan made a direct hit, he warned, 50,000 people could drown, and this city of Mardi Gras and jazz could cease to exist." The article also talks about the budget cuts that George Bush foisted on the state of Louisiana for provention measures.
September 15, 2004 -- Sen. Landrieu again addresses the Senate, this time talking about the predictions of what a hurricane could do to New Orleans. "We are talking about severe devastation when a category 3 or category 4 or category 5 hurricane pushes that water out of the gulf, out of Lake Ponchartrain into the tremendously populated areas around the gulf coast."
Senator Landrieu concludes by saying, "I hate to say maybe it is going to take the loss thousands of lives on the gulf coast to make this country wake up and realize in what we are under-investing. "
January 26, 2005 -- Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) addresses the House of Representatives and urges Congress to pay attention to New Orleans. "The experience of Southeast Asia should convince us all of the urgent need for congressional action to prevent wide-scale loss of life and economic destruction at home and abroad. Prevention and planning will pay off," he says.
Thursday, Aug 25, 2005 -- Hurricane Katrina first makes landfall in Southern Florida. George Bush, along with other members of the Administration, is on vacation. When asked about his tendency to take long vacations, Bush replies, "I've got a life to live, and will do so."
Later, White House spokesperson David Almacy denies Bush is on vacation at all, claiming the reason that Bush is in Crawford is "due to the renovation of the West Wing of the White House."
Friday, August 26, 2005 -- The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama assistance rom the federal government. This is confirmed by Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, commander, Joint Task Force Katrina, acknowledges in Special Defense Department Briefing held on Sept. 1 . In response to a question by Jamie McIntyre of CNN asking if such a request for help had been made, Honoré replied, "Yes, sir. The process starts, sir, in this particular event, with a request Friday of last week, as the approximate date for defense coordinating offices to be established in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Those were established in those states over Friday and Saturday."
Bush remains on vacation.
Saturday, August 27, 2005 -- Katrina moves toward the Gulf Coast. The storm is considered the sixth most deadly in Florida history. Bush remained in Crawford, using his Saturday radio address to restate his case for the continued occupation of Iraq.
Sunday, August 28, 2005 -- Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco requests Bush declare an expedited major disaster for the state. The document is available in .pdf format and can be read here.
A mandatory evacuation of New Orleans is ordered by Mayor Ray Nagin.
From Crawford, Bush issues a statement saying in part, "We cannot stress enough the danger this hurricane poses to Gulf Coast communities. We will do everything in our power to help the people and the communities affected by this storm." Later, in addition to Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi, the President will issue a declaration of emergency for Alabama, saying "These declarations will allow federal agencies to coordinate all disaster relief efforts with state and local officials."
Monday, August 29, 2005 -- Hurricane Katrina comes ashore just east of Grand Isle, Louisiana, at 6:30 a.m. ET. New Orleans is 80% evacuated, meaning that there are approximately 96,000 people left in the city of 480,000. Bush received a briefing from FEMA director Michael Brown, and left Crawford to fly to Arizona for a speech on Medicare. Considerations began about releasing oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve -- no decision was reached.
Levees are breeched in New Orleans, causing the Lake Pontchartrain to begin pouring into the city. The Times-Picayune reports that Red Cross mobilisation has begun.
FEMA goes into disaster mode to begin preparing to deal with Katrina's aftermath. "I want the folks there on our Gulf Coast to know that the federal government is prepared to help you when the storm passes," the President says.
FEMA director Brown maintains that FEMA has "planned for this kind of disaster for many years because we've always known about New Orleans' situation."
CNN Reports: "The president made sure the federal response would not be delayed by declaring emergencies in Mississippi, Florida and Alabama just hours after a similar declaration for Louisiana. Such declarations make federal aid available to assist with disaster relief, but they are rarely made before a storm even hits." They were made before the storm hit this time.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005 -- Flooding becomes severe in New Orleans, submerging 80% of the city in water deeper than 20ft in some places. Power and sewer are non-functional.
"The situation is untenable," Gov. Kathleen Blanco says. "It's just heartbreaking."
Mayor Ray Nagin gives a highly reported interview to WLL radio. He says, "I don't want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city. And then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can't even count.
Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country." He concludes, "they don't have a clue what's going on down here."
Bush visits Coronado, California to give a speech against the backdrop of the USS Ronald Reagan. His handlers, knowing that the ship was the venue where Mr. Bush gave his ill-fated "Mission Accomplished" speech in 2003 make sure that the ship stays off-camera. Bush's speech is about Iraq and the need for troops to secure Iraq's oilfields. Meanwhile, the US proves unable to secure its own oilfields in Louisiana. He is presented with a guitar afterword by country singer Mark Willis.
Bush decides finally to return to Washington, D.C.
Also on this day, Bush joins Senator John McCain in a small celebration of McCain's 69th birthday. They have cake.
Cable news shows pictures of the USS Bataan steaming through the gulf to provide aid. The ship would not be allowed to do anything in New Orleans for days, however, despite having plans in place because the President didn't give any orders for them. The BBC would learn this on September 4th (see that day for details).
Volunteer firefighters from Houston with expertise in oil infrastructure are turned away because FEMA isn't in control of the city. They aren't allowed into the city, but they aren't allowed to go to any other stricken area either because their expertise is "needed most in New Orleans." FEMA officials tell the firefighters, "You can wait if you wish, but don't expect any change anytime soon. Or you can go home."
Wednesday, August 31, 2005 -- Bush flies back to D.C. and holds a press conference. He claims to have been updated by DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.
Mayor Nagin tells the press that there are many dead in the city. When asked how many, he replies, "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."
An estimated 15,000-25,000 people are stranded in the Superdome. The stadium has been without power or sewer for days and has had part of its roof torn away. An estimated 50,000-100,000 people are estimated to still be in the city. Overflow refugees going to the Superdome are sent to the Morial Convention Center. Another estimated 7,000-20,000 people will come to be there without supervision, food, or water.
Army engineers fail to plug the breaches in the levee system using sandbags.
The Times-Picayune reports that the few Guardsmen in New Orleans were quickly overwhelmed by evacuees. From the article: "Such a breakdown did not bode well for other evacuees. As the afternoon wore on, hope faded, replaced by anger."
Thursday, September 1, 2005 -- Rather than direct the U.S. military to immediately assist the thousands of people without food or water in the city center, Bush assured the nation that expected gasoline shortages would be temporary and that his father and former President Clinton were ready to pass the tin can to ensure private-sector support for rebuilding New Orleans.
On "Good Morning, America," Bush says that there is no difference between people taking foot and water and people looting non-essential merchandise. He says there should be "zero tolerance" for both types. He also states, "There is a lot of help coming."
Residents of St. Bernard parish put the lie to Bush's words. When told that help was on the way, Polly Boudreaux of St. Bernard says, "We are not seeing it. We need help.''
Six days after the declaration of a state of emergency in Louisiana, only 2,800 National Guardsmen are in New Orleans.
Condoleeza Rice, the Secretary of State is seen in New York buying a pair of $7,000 dollar shoes. She is booed at a showing of Monty Python's "Spam-a-lot" and accosted by a New Yorker who reportedly says, "How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!"
Dick Cheney remains on vacation in Wyoming.
Congress passes an emergency bill authorising $10.5 billion -- a fraction of both the estimated cost of aid and recovery and less than the US spends in two months in Iraq.
Caravans that had just begun taking some refugees to Houston were canceled for unknown reason, CNN reports. A "renegade" bus, driven by an 18-year-old manages to get to the Astrodome before any of the government-coordinated buses. The young man took the bus, loaded it with people and left.
The mayor of Baton Rouge is forced to close the city to evacuees.
Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House, insinuates that New Orleans isn't worth rebuilding. He later retracts the statement, saying that he was "just asking the questions everyone is asking."
The Oakwood mall is burned by looters.
Times-Picayune reporter Gordon Russell describes the scene at the Superdome and Morial Convention Center: "There was no crowd control. People were swarming. It was a near riot situation. The authorities have got to get some military down here to get control of the situation."
Gov. Blanco deputises out-of-state law officers to help take control of the city.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, says that 1,500 people have gathered on the Chalmette ferry landing awaiting evacuation, possibly by ferry, to Algiers. He makes a plea for those refugees to receive food and water estimating that about 100 are dead, possibly from dehydration.
Friday, September 2, 2005 -- National Guardsmen finally start arriving in New Orleans in increased numbers, though chaos still rules most of the city.
Bush visits the Gulf for a photo-opportunity and tells people that things will be made right -- especially for Trent Lott. Bush says, in a tone-deaf attempt to brighten the mood, that "Out of the rubble of [Sen.] Trent Lott's house--he's lost his entire house--there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." Insert your own mint julep joke here.
Brown gives an interview and states, "We've provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day." The Times-Picayune replies, "Lies don't get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President," in an editorial directed toward Bush.
Laura Bush admits that response hasn't been up to par, saying, "I think that is a serious, serious problem."
U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, issues a statement: "I join with Senator Mary Landrieu in calling for the President to immediately create and appoint a Cabinet level official to oversee the national response to tragedies like the one we're experiencing right now in South Louisiana. I can't say this too many times or too loudly - people are dying, desperately needed relief isn't getting to all the places it is needed, the current system is not working - what more proof do we need? I will lead the effort in the U.S. House to see that this gets done, and I will do all I can to support Senator Landrieu's efforts in the U.S. Senate."
Melancon furthur states: "I thank the President for his visit today, but it was more show than substance. Frankly, we needed action days ago."
Gov. Blanco requests that the 3000 members of Louisiana's National Guard in Iraq (plus their equipement) be sent home. Bush will eventually allow 300 to return.
The Forest Service offers planes to be used in putting out fires in the city. The Department of Homeland Security doesn't give them authorisation to fly.
Jefferson Parish Emergency Preparedness Director Walter Maestri (the guywith all the body bags) says that the Federal Emergency Management Agency reneged on a promise to begin relieving county emergency preparedness staffers 48 hours after Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans metropolitan area. "We had been told we would be on our own for 48 hours," Maestri says. "Prepare to survive and in 48 hours the cavalry would arrive."
Saturday, September 3, 2005 -- Evacuations finally reach a steady state.
FEMA refuses to let the Red Cross deliver food. "The Homeland Security Department has requested and continues to request that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans," says Renita Hosler, spokeswoman for the Red Cross, and continues, "Right now access is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities. We have been at the table every single day [asking for access]. We cannot get into New Orleans against their orders." Southern Baptist elements inside the Red Cross try to spin the situation to FEMA's advantage, instead keeping to the GOP party line: "the task is too big, the people should have left, the local officials are clueless." This will be repeated over and over by the feds in coming days.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff gives a clue into his own cluelessness when he tells reporters "The city of Louisiana is underwater."
Bill Clinton, commenting on Hastert's "bulldoze the place" remarks says that he's glad that the two weren't in the same room because, "I'm afraid I would have assaulted him."
On his weekly radio address, Bush says, "we will not allow bureaucracy to get in the way of saving lives." Many would argue that he already had.
The Louisiana Black Caucus calls on the government to open military bases that had been closed in Louisiana to evacuees. There is no response.
Sen. Landrieu criticizes FEMA, saying, "I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims - far more efficiently than buses - FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency."
Landrieu goes on to tell about apparent faked levee reconstruction efforts at a Bush photo-op: "Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast - black and white, rich and poor, young and old - deserve far better from their national government,"
Sunday, September 4, 2005 -- The BBC interviews Lieutenant Commander Sean Kelly of the United States Northern Command. The Northern Command, based in Colorado, is directly responsible for giving material aid to the relief agencies after a disaster. They have millions of MRE's, millions of litres of water, search and rescue helicopters, all staged throughout the area, including the U.S.S. Bataan literally FOLLOWING the Hurricane, waiting for the aftermath, absolutely poised to attack the problem. Commander Kelly: "We were ready for the storm when it hit Florida because, as you remember, it crossed the bottom part of Florida, and then we were planning, you know, once it was pointed towards the Gulf Coast."
Then they did nothing. They waited. Why? Because, in the words of Commander Kelly, "we have to wait until the President authorizes us to do so. The laws of the United States say that the military can't just act in this fashion, we have to wait for the President to give us permission."
The Bush spin team began trying to shift the blame in aid failure to state and local officials. Bush began changing his tone in speeches -- where before he had joked about getting wasted in New Orleans as a young man, now he seemed to be listening to the advice of smarter people and remaining serious.
Gov. Blanco, on her way to Houston to visit evacuees learns of Bush's impending return to Louisiana from news reports. Bush's people hadn't informed her. Perhpas Bush was upset at Blanco for hiring Clinton-era FEMA director James Lee Witt to help oversee the recovery.
Becoming the second person in two days to threaten bodily harm against a top Republican, Senator Mary Landrieu says that if Bush keeps blaming state and local officials for the fed's screw-ups that she will have to "punch him. Literally."
In perhaps his worst chosen string of words yet, Bush tells the people of Louisiana that they are going to get a "tidal wave of compassion.''
Dr. Max Mayfield director of the National Hurricane Center says that officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, including FEMA Director Mike Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, listened in on electronic briefings given by his staff in advance of Hurricane Katrina slamming Louisiana and Mississippi and were advised of the storm's potential deadly effects. Mayfield goes on to say: "We were briefing them way before landfall. It's not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped."
Monday, September 5, 2005 -- Barbara Bush, former first lady, tells NPR's "Marketplace" program that many of the evacuees were lucky because they were winding up in Texas. She continues, "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."
Bill Clinton, who had at first swallowed the Bush line about "not pointing fingers," now says in an interview with CNN, "Our government failed those people in the beginning, and I take it now there is no dispute about it."
September 6, 2005 -- As the death toll mounts, more evidence arises that not all deaths happened because of the Hurricane. Arkansas National Guardsmen Mikel Brooks looks at bodies stacked in the Convention Center -- the one that federal officials claimed not know about for days -- and says, "That's a kid," and then, "There's another one in the freezer, a 7-year-old with her throat cut." Brooks also talked of bodies that had been bludgeoned to death.
Right wing anti-abortion group "Columbia Christians for Life" -- who earlier found the shape of a fetus in Katrina Weather Channel pics, now release this asinine and heartless statement: "God is not mocked. We reap what we sow ... The city of New Orleans has sown innocent bloodshed and violence in the womb for years and years and has now reaped bloodshed and violence on her streets. May the people in the city of New Orleans be broken by God's Holy Law, receive, by God's grace, his gift of faith ... and receive his great salvation through Christ alone, repenting of their sins, and receiving Jesus Christ (Yahshua Messiah) as their Lord and Savior. Hallelu-Yah ! Then, may New Orleans be delivered from her many sins!" These are the sort of people that the evangelical Bush administration is allied with.
September 7, 2005 -- Investigations are announced by both the White House and Congress. The White House puts Dick Cheney in charge of assessing "what went wrong and what went right."
The aircraft carrier Iwo Jima enters the Gulf of Mexico to help with aid efforts.
Susan Collins, a Republican on the Senate governmental affairs committee, says, "Government at all levels failed. It is difficult to understand the lack of preparedness and the ineffective initial response to a disaster that had been predicted for years, and for which specific, dire warnings had been given for days."
Bush rejects aid offered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The aid includes 2 mobile hospital units, 120 rescue and first aid experts and 50 tons of food. This comes after Bush rejected Fidel Castro's offer of doctors and medicine.
Bush uses firefighters who had mobilised for the relief effort as props for a photo op. "As specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas."
The London Guardian reports that FEMA Director Brown waited until after the storm struck the Gulf Coast to ask DHS Secretary Chertoff to send aid workers. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to ``convey a positive image'' about the government's response for victims.
Last update: 9-7-05
IMO, this guy deserves some kind of award for pulling this all together. I hope this was helpful to everyone.