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Hurricane Katrina

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Project: Hurricane Katrina
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The population of the New Orleans metro area is 987,695. [CensusScope (.org), 9/15/2005]

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Evacuation Problem

The population of the New Orleans metro area is 1,144,791. [CensusScope (.org), 9/15/2005]

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Evacuation Problem

The population of the New Orleans metro area is 1,303,800. [CensusScope (.org), 9/15/2005]

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Evacuation Problem

The population of the New Orleans metro area is 1,285,270. [CensusScope (.org), 9/15/2005]

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Evacuation Problem

The population of Louisiana’s coastal parishes reaches 2 million, or 46 percent of the state’s entire population. [US Army Corp of Engineers, 11/8/2004, pp. ii] The population of the New Orleans metro area is 1,337,726. [CensusScope (.org), 9/15/2005]

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Evacuation Problem

Governor Mike Foster (R-LA) endorses the Coast 2050 plan (see December 1998) to spend $14 billion over a 20 to 30-year period to rebuild Louisiana’s coastal wetlands as a means of protecting the mainland from the full destructive force of a major hurricane. [Chronicle of Higher Education, 4/26/2002]

Entity Tags: Coast 2050: Toward a Sustainable Coast, Ivor Van Heerden

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Louisiana: State, Flood Risk, Environmental Policies/Programs, Coastal Wetlands

During a FEMA disaster training session, agency officials lists a number of catastrophic disasters that could strike the US soon. The three most likely disasters, the report says, are a hurricane striking New Orleans, a massive earthquake in San Francisco, and a terrorist attack on New York City. The study predicts that as many as 250,000 people would be stranded in New Orleans because of the city’s less-than-adequate evacuation routes and that one-tenth of those who remain (25,000 people), would probably die. [Houston Chronicle, 12/1/2001; New Republic, 9/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Federal: FEMA, Evacuation Problem, Flood Risk, Before Katrina

In a Scientific American article titled “Drowning New Orleans,” journalist Mark Fischetti warns that a “major hurricane could swamp New Orleans under 20 feet of water, killing thousands. Human activities along the Mississippi River have dramatically increased the risk, and now only massive reengineering of southeastern Louisiana can save the city.” [Scientific American, 10/2001]

Entity Tags: Mark Fischetti

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Media, Flood Risk

In “Keeping its head above water: New Orleans faces doomsday scenario,” Houston Chronicle science reporter Eric Berger says New Orleans will be devastated by a major hurricane. According to scientists, “[i]n the face of an approaching storm,… the city’s less-than-adequate evacuation routes would strand 250,000 people or more, and probably kill one of 10 left behind as the city drowned under 20 feet of water. Thousands of refugees could land in Houston. Economically, the toll would be shattering… .” [Houston Chronicle, 12/1/2001]

Entity Tags: Eric Berger

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Media, Flood Risk, Evacuation Problem

Secretary of the Army Mike Parker, a former Mississippi senator, testifies before the Senate Budget Committee and criticizes the Bush administration’s proposal to reduce the Army Corps of Engineer’s fiscal year 2003 budget by 10 percent. According to Parker, the proposed cuts would affect several of the Corps projects including two flood control projects in southeast Louisiana. These two projects, the Yazoo Pumps and the Big Sunflower River Dredging, would be reduced from a combined $9 million in fiscal year 2002 to $565,000 for fiscal year 2003. Parker asserts that the proposed cuts would also force the Corps to cancel $190 million in already-contracted projects and will result in 4,500 lost jobs. His comments to the committee indicate a dissatisfaction with the Bush administration’s priorities. “After being in the administration and dealing with them, I still don’t have warm and fuzzy feelings for them. I’m hoping that OMB (White House Office of Management and Budget) understands we’re at the beginning of the process. If the corps is limited in what it does for the American people, there will be a negative impact.” [Clarion Ledger, 3/7/2002; Washington Post, 3/7/2002; Reuters, 9/1/2005]

Entity Tags: Mike Parker, Big Sunflower River Dredging, US Army Corps of Engineers, Yazoo Pumps

Category Tags: Flood Control Programs, Flood Risk, Federal, Before Katrina, Resource Allocation, Warnings

FEMA publishes a report on the agency’s flood mitigation efforts in Louisiana. In the introduction, FEMA notes the state’s extreme vulnerability to flooding. “In a sense, Louisiana is the flood plain of the nation, Louisiana waterways drain two-thirds of the continental United States. Precipitation in New York, the Dakotas, even Idaho and the Province of Alberta, finds its way to Louisiana’s coastline. Despite massive improvements to reduce the impacts of severe weather in the last 100 years, flooding is a constant threat. The state of Louisiana has more flood insurance claims than any other state in the country.” FEMA’s report also says that Louisiana has more than 18,000 repetitively flooded structures, more than any other state. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 3/5/2002; Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004] A repetitive loss structure is one that has suffered flood damage two or more times over a 10-year period and for which repair costs exceed 25 percent of its market value. [FEMA, 10/22/2004]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Federal: FEMA, Flood Risk, Disaster Mitigation, Before Katrina

The Louisiana Board of Regents approves a $3.7 million grant to fund a five-year study intended to learn more about New Orleans’ hurricane risk. The newly-formed LSU Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes will manage the project. Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center, will serve as the project’s head. The project will consider and evaluate possible hurricane scenarios in an attempt to predict the impact of a hurricane strike, the preparations that should be made to prepare for such a strike, and post-disaster recovery. It will also work with health experts to develop plans for dealing with the anticipated health crisis that would result if the city were to flood. The project will employ the use of the LSU Hurricane Center’s supercomputer, SuperMike, to generate computer-based hurricane path and impact prediction models. “Once complete, the model can be applied to other sites nationally and internationally and to other disasters such as tornadoes, chemical spills, or terrorist attacks,” LSU Research reports. [Advocate (Baton Rouge), 4/21/2002; LSU Research, 12/2004] The project’s progress, however, will be impeded by it limited funds (see April 2002-2005).

Entity Tags: Ivor Van Heerden, LSU Hurricane Center, LSU Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes

Category Tags: Flood Control Programs, Academia/Professional, Public Safety Risk, Flood Risk, Environmental Risk, Recovery, Response, Louisiana: State, Before Katrina

In a memo to FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh, the agency’s inspector general relays concerns over the Bush administration’s proposal to merge FEMA, along with several other agencies, into the newly-constituted new Department of Homeland Security. “There are concerns of FEMA losing its identity as an agency that is quick to respond to all hazards and disasters,” the inspector general writes. [Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004]

Entity Tags: Joseph M. Allbaugh, Federal Emergency Management Agency, US Department of Homeland Security

Category Tags: Federal, Federal: FEMA, FEMA Restructuring, Organization Capacity, Before Katrina

The New Orleans Times Picayune publishes a five-part series, titled “Washing Away,” which examines what will happen when Southern Louisiana takes a direct hit from a major hurricane. Part two of the series, titled the “The Big One,” begins with a stark warning: “It’s a matter of when, not if. Eventually a major hurricane will hit New Orleans head on, instead of being just a close call. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again.” Such a storm, the article reports, “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.” John Clizbe, national vice president for disaster services with the American Red Cross, tells the newspaper that between 25,000 and 100,000 people would die in such a scenario. Another expert, Joseph Suhayda, a Louisiana State University engineer, predicts that that New Orleans’ levee system could fail in such a storm. “It’s not something that’s expected. But erosion occurs, and as levees [break], the break will get wider and wider. The water will flow through the city and stop only when it reaches the next higher thing. The most continuous barrier is the south levee, along the river. That’s 25 feet high, so you’ll see the water pile up on the river levee.” [Times-Picayune, 6/2002; Reuters, 9/2/2005]

Entity Tags: Joseph Suhayda, John Clizbe

Category Tags: Flood Risk, Environmental Risk, Levee Breach/Flooding, Before Katrina

The Brookings Institution publishes a report warning that merging FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security will harm the agency’s capability to respond to natural disasters. “While a merged FEMA might become highly adept at preparing for and responding to terrorism, it would likely become less effective in performing its current mission in case of natural disasters as time, effort and attention are inevitably diverted to other tasks within the larger organization.” [Daalder et al., 7/2002 pdf file; Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004]

Entity Tags: US Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brookings Institution

Category Tags: FEMA Restructuring, Warnings, Organization Capacity, NGOs, Before Katrina

FEMA calls a meeting with New Orleans’s city officials and civic leaders to address the well-known challenge of evacuating the many city residents who do not have cars, and to develop a plan to ensure that “no one [will be] left behind” when a hurricane threatens the city. During the meeting, FEMA officials present a computer simulation showing that a hurricane hitting southeast Louisiana could bring floodwaters all the way to the French Quarter, one of the highest points in the city. The officials also say that detailed surveys and census data reveal that many city residents do not own cars and therefore have no means to evacuate on their own. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Evacuation Problem, Flood Risk, Louisiana: NOLA, NGOs, Federal: FEMA, Before Katrina

“The City in a Bowl,” a PBS “NOW With Bill Moyers” program, explores what could happen to New Orleans if it were struck by a major hurricane. The program explains that the shield against damage provided by the area’s wetlands “is breaking apart.… Scientists say if this shield keeps crumbling over the next few decades, then it won’t take a giant storm to cause a disaster. A much weaker, more common kind of hurricane could devastate New Orleans.” Walter Maestri, emergency management director in Jefferson Parish, envisions a scenario where New Orleans “completely fills. And we’ve now got the entire community underwater some 20, 30 feet underwater. Everything is lost.” Jay Combe of the US Army Corps of Engineers says he has been assembling a doomsday manual for such a crisis. He suggests that if a big hurricane hits new Orleans, “I think of a terrible disaster. I think of 100,000 [deaths], and that’s just my guess.” The segment concludes, “If a monster storm strikes New Orleans, this city might never come back.” [PBS, 9/2/2002] The content of this segment will be repackaged and broadcast on National Public Radio later this month. [National Public Radio, 9/2002]

Entity Tags: Jay Combe, Walter Maestri

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Flood Risk

Speaking before her colleagues in the Senate, Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) warns that a Category 4 hurricane could wreak massive destruction on Southern Louisiana. She urges Congress to provide sufficient funding for Southern Louisiana flood control projects to mitigate this danger. “I must take this opportunity to bring to light what is at stake when a hurricane or storm takes aim on the Louisiana coast. Not only is the safety, lives and property of Louisiana residents at risk the nation’s critical energy infrastructure and energy supply as well as crucial conservation measures are in danger. Tropical Storm Isidore should serve as a wake-up call to the federal government, which must do more to protect the nation’s resources in Louisiana. 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 US 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 percent (see 2001-Early 2004). The SELA flood control project is a smart investment. By investing in these flood control projects, we could prevent the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars that will otherwise be spent in federal flood insurance claims and other disaster assistance programs. Fortunately, the Senate Appropriations Committee understands this investment and has approved an increase for this project, which will allow the construction already underway to continue. However, this is not enough. I urge the administration to rethink its priorities and to include sufficient funding for the SELA project in its budget request for fiscal year 2004.… Louisiana’s rapidly eroding wetlands are invaluable in absorbing the surge of storm events like [Hurricane] Isidore. Without them, one can only imagine the damage a hurricane could wreak on South Louisiana and the nation’s energy infrastructure.” [US Congress, 9/30/2002, pp. S9562]

Entity Tags: Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, US Army Corps of Engineers, Mary L. Landrieu

Category Tags: Warnings, Flood Risk, Federal, Before Katrina

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La) urges Congress to protect and rebuild Louisiana wetlands, which would buffer the impact of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans. She also informs her colleagues of the need to improve the region’s transportation infrastructure so residents would be able to safely flee the city in case of a hurricane. “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.… While we are making progress, we have a long way to go. So whether it is at the energy conference, where I hope we will have a positive outcome, or in the new transportation bill where we can talk about the highways and evacuation routes in south Louisiana and the Gulf South need our attention. Not only do they serve as economic highways that are really necessary for commerce to flourish, but, as you know, when the hurricanes come, it is the only way for people to flee the storm. We don’t have trains, as people do in the Northeast, to get out of harm’s way. All we have in Louisiana are highways dangerously crowded with automobiles and pickup trucks. We need to make sure people can get north to higher ground…” [US Congress, 10/2/2002, pp. S9834]

Entity Tags: Mary L. Landrieu

Category Tags: Warnings, Flood Risk, Evacuation Problem, Federal, Before Katrina, Coastal Wetlands

A coalition of governmental agencies, elected officials, environmental organizations, and community groups launch a campaign to increase public awareness about Louisiana’s disappearing coastal wetlands. The campaign—backed with a $3 million grant from Shell Oil, one of the campaign’s partners—is called “America’s Wetland.” The impact of the wetlands’ disappearance on Louisiana’s coastal ecology has been the focus of environmentalists and scientists for years. And scientists have also been warning that the loss of the state’s coastal wetlands and barrier islands has made coastal population centers such as New Orleans increasingly susceptible to hurricane-generated storm surges that could cause massive flooding. What’s unique about this program is that it stresses how the loss of wetlands will impact the oil industry and national economy. The campaign argues that coastal erosion is threatening the oil companies’ network of oil and natural gas rigs, pipelines, and refineries throughout the region. Losing this infrastructure would result in higher oil prices. Furthermore, the state’s fisheries—which make up 30 percent of the nation’s total annual catch—are also vulnerable. “The coast is really about money, aside from the ecological value of it,” explains outgoing Republican Governor Mike Foster, who played a major role in the campaign’s formation. [Associated Press, 6/6/2004; Americas Wetlands, 9/21/2005]

Entity Tags: Royal Dutch/Shell, State of Louisiana

Category Tags: Before Katrina, NGOs, Federal, Louisiana: State, Private Sector, Coastal Wetlands, Flood Risk

After FEMA is incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security (see March 1, 2003), veteran FEMA employees complain of a massive “brain drain.” FEMA “has gone downhill within the department, drained of resources and leadership,” I.M. “Mac” Destler, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, will tell the Washington Post shortly after the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster. At least one veteran FEMA staff member, Pleasant Mann, complains on the record about the changes FEMA is undergoing (see Mid-September 2004). [Washington Post, 9/9/2005] Local officials complain that FEMA’s new focus on terrorism threatens other necessary prevention programs. “With the creation of Homeland Security, [natural disaster prevention programs] have taken a backseat,” says Walter Maestri, emergency management director in Jefferson Parish. “To us, it is pretty obvious which is the greater threat. One is maybe, the other is when.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/8/2004]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael D. Brown, US Department of Homeland Security

Category Tags: FEMA Restructuring, Organization Capacity, Resource Allocation, Federal: FEMA, Louisiana: SELA, Before Katrina, Academia/Professional

Ivor van Heerden, director of the LSU Center for the Study of the Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes, presents the preliminary findings of a five-year study (see (April 2002)) of the hurricane risk to New Orleans at a special meeting held in the district headquarters of the US Army Corps of Engineers. The preliminary findings indicate that a third of the city’s residents would not evacuate in the event of a major hurricane. Of those who do attempt evacuation, many would get stuck in traffic despite plans to use both sides of the highway. The draft findings also indicate that a major hurricane strike on New Orleans would submerge certain parts of the city under as much as 22 feet of water polluted by a mix of oil, gasoline, and other toxic substances released from myriad storage tanks, cars, trucks, flooded homes, stores, and industrial sites during the storm. Wind would cause damage to most buildings, possibly destroying half of them. To mitigate the risk of such a disaster, Van Heerden recommends that federal and state officials revisit two previously rejected proposals to restore the Louisiana coastal wetlands. One of these proposals, which would reroute the Mississippi River to the east of New Orleans, into Breton Sound, had been blocked by shipping interests. The other proposal that should be reconsidered contemplated construction of a barrier wall along the Interstate 10 twin span bridge between eastern New Orleans and the adjacent city of Slidell to reduce the amount of a hurricane storm surge entering the Lake Pontchartrain. [Times-Picayune, 11/22/2003]

Entity Tags: Ivor Van Heerden, LSU Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes

Category Tags: Academia/Professional, Federal, Evacuation Problem, Before Katrina

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issues a report, which states: “Human activity, directly or indirectly, has caused 1,500 square miles of natural coastal barriers to be eroded in the past 50 years. Human activity has clearly been a significant factor in coastal Louisiana land losses, along with subsidence, saltwater intrusion, storm events, barrier island degradation, and relative sea level changes.” It warns that “New Orleans and surrounding areas [will] now experience the full force of hurricanes, including storm surges that top levee systems and cause severe flooding as well as high winds.” [Guardian, 9/1/2005]

Entity Tags: American Society of Civil Engineers

Category Tags: Warnings, Flood Risk, NGOs, Before Katrina

The General Accounting Office releases a report, titled “Reserve Forces: Observations on Recent National Guard Use in Overseas and Homeland Missions and Future Challenges,” which warns that the nationwide diversion of National Guard troops to Iraq could have a significant negative impact on the Guard’s ability to respond to domestic emergencies. “[There are] urgent personnel and equipment shortages in units that have not yet been deployed,” the report says. “[E]quipment and personnel may not be available to the states when they are needed because they have been deployed overseas. Moreover, the Guard may have difficulty ensuring that each state has access to units with key specialized capabilities—such as engineering or medical assets—needed for homeland security and other domestic missions.… [U]nless DOD, Congress, and the states work closely to address these challenges, Guard units may continue to experience a high pace of operations and declining readiness that could affect their ability to meet future requirements both at home and overseas.” [General Accounting Office, 4/29/2004 pdf file; Associated Press, 5/13/2004]

Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, US Congress, National Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Warnings, Organization Capacity, Federal, Louisiana: State, Before Katrina

The Associated Press reports that disaster management experts and National Guard officials are concerned that the diversion of National Guard Troops to Iraq has severely degraded the Guard’s ability to effectively respond to domestic emergencies, such as natural disasters. The newswire reports that “[m]ore Guard members are deployed now than have been since the Korean War, about a quarter of the 460,000 nationwide.” Chris Reynolds, a battalion fire chief in Tampa, Fla. and instructor of disaster management at American Military University, says the Guard’s more frequent and longer overseas deployments “absolutely” affect states’ ability to respond to emergencies. The significance of the massive deployment goes beyond the sheer number troops that are missing, he explains, what’s so worrisome is that many of the reservists who have been sent to Iraq work in public safety and emergency response. “It’s the tenure and experience that’s missing, and you can’t simply fill the hole with someone,” Reynolds says. [Associated Press, 5/13/2004]

Entity Tags: National Guard, Chris Reynolds

Category Tags: Resource Allocation, Organization Capacity, Before Katrina

Consistent with its strategy to outsource disaster management functions (see Summer 2004), FEMA solicits bids for a contract to develop a hurricane disaster management plan for Southeastern Louisiana. FEMA’s “Scope of Work” for the contract demonstrates that it is acutely aware of the region’s vulnerability to hurricanes, and of the inadequacy of current plans to manage a major hurricane effectively. According to the document, FEMA and the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness “believe that the gravity of the situation calls for an extraordinary level of advance planning to improve government readiness to respond effectively to such an event.” FEMA describes the catastrophe that will result when a hurricane strikes Southeastern Louisiana. For example, FEMA writes that “the emergency management community has long feared the occurrence of a catastrophic disaster” that would cause “unprecedented levels of damage, casualties, dislocation, and disruption that would have nationwide consequences and jeopardize national security.” It cites “various hurricane studies” predicting that “a slow-moving Category 3 or almost any Category 4 or 5 hurricane approaching Southeast Louisiana from the south could severely damage the heavily populated southeast portion of the state creating a catastrophe with which the State would not be able to cope without massive help from neighboring states and the Federal Government.” FEMA also expressly recognizes that “existing plans, policies, procedures and resources” are inadequate to effectively manage such a “mega-disaster.” The work specified in the contract, awarded to Innovative Emergency Management (IEM) in early June (see June 3, 2004), is to be performed in three stages. During Stage I, scheduled for completion between May 19 and September 30, 2004, IEM will conduct a simulation exercise featuring a “catastrophic hurricane striking southeastern Louisiana” for local, state, and FEMA emergency officials. (FEMA will pay IEM $518,284 for this stage (see July 19-23, 2004)) IEM completes this stage when it conducts the “Hurricane Pam” exercise in July 2004 (see July 19-23, 2004). During Stage 2, IEM will develop a “full catastrophic hurricane disaster plan.” FEMA allocates $199,969 for this stage, which is to be completed between September 23, 2004 and September 30, 2005 (see September 23, 2004). The status of Stage 2 is currently unclear. [Department of Homeland Security, 2004 pdf file; Department of Homeland Security, 2004 pdf file; US Congress, 9/9/2005] IEM apparently provides FEMA with a draft document titled “Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Functional Plan,” in August 2004. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/6/2004 pdf file] The Times-Picayune will identify a later 109-page draft, dated September 20, 2004 [Times-Picayune, 9/9/2005] [Times-Picayune, 9/9/2005] , and the Chicago Tribune will report that as Hurricane Katrina bears down on Louisiana during the evening of August 28, 2005, emergency officials are working from a functional plan, based on the 2004 Hurricane Pam exercise, that is only a few months old. The third stage relates to earthquake planning for the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) in the Central United States. [US Congress, 9/9/2005; Chicago Tribune, 9/11/2005] The Scope of Work specifies that the contractor must plan for the following conditions:
bullet “Over one million people would evacuate from New Orleans. Evacuees would crowd shelters throughout Louisiana and adjacent states.” [Department of Homeland Security, 2004 pdf file]
bullet “Hurricane surge would block highways and trap 300,000 to 350,000 persons in flooded areas. Storm surge of over 18 feet would overflow flood-protection levees on the Lake Pontchartrain side of New Orleans. Storm surge combined with heavy rain could leave much of New Orleans under 14 to 17 feet of water. More than 200 square miles of urban areas would be flooded.” [Department of Homeland Security, 2004 pdf file]
bullet “It could take weeks to ‘de-water’ (drain) New Orleans: Inundated pumping stations and damaged pump motors would be inoperable. Flood-protection levees would prevent drainage of floodwater. Breaching the levees would be a complicated and politically sensitive problem: The Corps of Engineers may have to use barges or helicopters to haul earthmoving equipment to open several hundred feet of levee.” [Department of Homeland Security, 2004 pdf file]
bullet “Rescue operations would be difficult because much of the area would be reachable only by helicopters and boats.” [Department of Homeland Security, 2004 pdf file]
bullet “Hospitals would be overcrowded with special-needs patients. Backup generators would run out of fuel or fail before patients could be moved elsewhere.” [Department of Homeland Security, 2004 pdf file]
bullet “The New Orleans area would be without electric power, food, potable water, medicine, or transportation for an extended time period.” [Department of Homeland Security, 2004 pdf file]
bullet “Damaged chemical plants and industries could spill hazardous materials.” [Department of Homeland Security, 2004 pdf file]
bullet “Standing water and disease could threaten public health.” [Department of Homeland Security, 2004 pdf file]
bullet “There would be severe economic repercussions for the state and region.” [Department of Homeland Security, 2004 pdf file]
bullet “Outside responders and resources, including the Federal response personnel and materials, would have difficulty entering and working in the affected area.” [Department of Homeland Security, 2004 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Flood Risk, Organization Capacity, Environmental Risk, Evacuation Problem, Public Safety Risk, Response Level, Federal: FEMA, Evacuation, Response, Shelter, Before Katrina, Disaster Preparedness

A new computer model developed by the National Weather Service suggests that most areas inside and outside the levees in New Orleans and vicinity would be flooded if a slow-moving Category 2 hurricane were to make landfall at New Orleans. Under certain conditions, even a Category 1 could submerge the city in as much as 9 feet of water, the model predicts. The model, named SLOSH, an acronym for Sea, Lake and Overland Surge from Hurricanes, factors in the effects of Louisiana’s eroding coastline. [Times-Picayune, 6/25/2004]

Entity Tags: National Weather Service

Category Tags: Flood Risk, Federal, Before Katrina

Pleasant Mann, a 16-year FEMA veteran who heads the agency’s government employee union, writes a letter to Congress describing how FEMA has changed under the Bush administration. “Over the past three-and-one-half years, FEMA has gone from being a model agency to being one where funds are being misspent, employee morale has fallen, and our nation’s emergency management capability is being eroded,” he writes. “Our professional staff [members] are being systematically replaced by politically connected novices and contractors.” [Independent Weekly, 9/22/2004]

Entity Tags: Pleasant Mann, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Bush administration (43)

Category Tags: FEMA Restructuring, Federal, Federal: FEMA, Organization Capacity, Political Patronage, Before Katrina

FEMA sponsors a 5-day exercise rehearsing for a mock storm, named “Pam,” that destroys over half a million buildings in New Orleans and forces the evacuation of a million residents. The drill is conducted by Innovative Emergency Management (IEM). [Associated Press, 7/24/2004; Times-Picayune, 7/24/2004; Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005] It is attended by about 250 emergency officials and involves more than 40 federal, state, and local agencies, as well as volunteer organizations. As part of the scenario, about 200,000 people fail to heed evacuation orders. Pam slams directly into New Orleans bringing 120 mph winds, 20 inches of rain, 14 tornadoes, and a massive storm surge that overtops levees flooding the city with 20 feet of water containing a toxic mix of corpses, chemicals, and human waste. Eighty percent of the city’s buildings are damaged. Survivors crawl to the rooftops to wait for help, but rescue workers are impeded by impassable roads. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 7/23/2004; Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005; New York Times, 9/1/2005; MSNBC, 9/2/2005; Associated Press, 9/9/2005] The flooding results in a massive number of casualties and leaves large portions of southeast Louisiana uninhabitable for more than a year. [Associated Press, 9/9/2005] At the conclusion of the exercise, Ron Castleman, regional director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, states: “We made great progress this week in our preparedness efforts. Disaster response teams developed action plans in critical areas such as search and rescue, medical care, sheltering, temporary housing, school restoration and debris management. These plans are essential for quick response to a hurricane but will also help in other emergencies.” [Reuters, 9/2/2005] As a result of the exercise, officials come to realize how difficult it will be to evacuate the city’s population in the event of a real hurricane. They expect that only a third of the population will be able leave before the storm hits, in part due to the fact that up to 100,000 residents live in households without a car. When asked how many people might die in such a storm, FEMA spokesman David Passey hesitates before stating, “We would see casualties not seen in the United States in the last century.” [Times-Picayune, 7/20/2004] In December 2004, a 412-page draft report summarizing the exercise will be completed with detailed predictions of what the government should expect in the event that a major hurricane strikes New Orleans.
Predictions - Flood waters would surge over levees, creating “a catastrophic mass casualty/mass evacuation” and leaving drainage pumps crippled for up to six months. “It will take over one year to re-enter areas most heavily impacted,” the report predicts. More than 600,000 houses and 6,000 businesses would be affected, and more than two-thirds of them would be destroyed. Almost a quarter-million children would have no school. “All 40 medical facilities in the impacted area [would be] isolated and useless.” Casualties would be staggering: 61,290 deaths, 187,862 injured, and 196,395 ill. A half million people would be made homeless by the storm. Storm “refugees” would be housed at college campuses, military barracks, hotels, travel trailers, recreational vehicles, private homes, cottages, churches, Boy Scout camps, and cruise ships. [Associated Press, 9/9/2005]
Recommendations - “Federal support must be provided in a timely manner to save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate severe damage. This may require mobilizing and deploying assets before they are requested via normal (National Response Plan) protocols.” [Associated Press, 9/9/2005]
Top officials briefed - Ivor van Heerden, the Louisiana State University hurricane researcher who ran the exercise, reports that a “White House staffer was briefed on the exercise,” and thus, “there is now a far greater awareness in the federal government about the consequences of storm surges.” [Louisiana State University, 2005] After the Hurricane Katrina Disaster, van Heerden will recall in an interview with MSNBC that the federal government didn’t take the exercise seriously. “Those FEMA officials wouldn’t listen to me. Those Corps of Engineers people giggled in the back of the room when we tried to present information.” When Heerden recommended that tent cities be prepared for displaced residents, “their response… was: ‘Americans don’t live in tents’ and that was about it.” [MSNBC, 9/2/2005]
Follow-up - Another exercise is scheduled the following year, but it’s cancelled when its funding is cut (see 2005).

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Ivor Van Heerden, Ron Castleman

Category Tags: Disaster Preparedness, Federal: FEMA, Louisiana: State, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Private Sector, Outsourcing, Flood Risk, Environmental Risk, Evacuation Problem, Sheltering, Before Katrina

Hurricane Ivan approaches the Southern Gulf Coast. Residents of New Orleans have been urged to leave the city, but its evacuation routes are “spectacularly clogged, and authorities [acknowledge] that hundreds of thousands of residents [will] not get out in time.” [Dallas Morning News, 9/14/2004; Washington Post, 9/15/2004] Terry Tullier, director of emergency preparedness for the city of New Orleans, explains to the Associated Press. “There is no plan that exists that will keep this logjam from occurring.” [Associated Press, 9/13/2004] Notwithstanding, approximately 600,000 residents will successfully flee the city, [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/8/2004] though for some the trip takes as long as ten hours. [US News and World Report, 7/18/2005] Ivan will make landfall east of Louisiana near Gulf Shores, Alabama, sparing the city of New Orleans from a catastrophe. [Washington Post, 9/15/2004] Hurricane researchers will hope that the close call will convince the federal government of the need to fund flood control and wetland restoration projects in Southern Louisiana. “Ivan was a real wake-up call. We have to take Ivan’s near-miss to get the federal government to fast-track some of these restoration projects,” says Ivor van Heerden, the deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/8/2004]

Entity Tags: Ivor Van Heerden, Hurricane Ivan

Category Tags: Evacuation Problem, Federal, Federal: FEMA, Louisiana: NOLA, Louisiana: SELA, Louisiana: State, Before Katrina

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) warns colleagues in Senate that US must invest in flood control projects in Louisiana in order to avert a major natural disaster in the event of a hurricane making landfall in Southern Louisiana. “I want to speak this morning about what we can do here in Washington a little better, with a little more energy, with a little more focus to help the people in Louisiana and throughout the gulf coast area. Not only do they deserve our help, but because of the energy industry and the economic benefits they bring to the whole country, they not only need our help, they deserve our help. They deserve our attention…. 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 Pontchartrain into the tremendously populated areas around the gulf coast.… We are in Iraq, in an important battle, but part of our objective there is to secure an oil supply for the region and for the Nation and to use that for the betterment of the people of Iraq, for their growth and development and the security and stability of the world, as well as to fight for other issues. We are fighting to get 1 to 3 million barrels out of Iraq, and right here in the Gulf of Mexico, today, we have a facility that has virtually been shut down because of a hurricane. Nearly a million barrels is being imported in this country, and exported, a year.… My point is, I hope we will again use this opportunity to focus on the critical infrastructure needs necessary for Louisiana and the gulf coast of Mississippi and Alabama primarily to protect itself not just from homeland security threats from terrorists but real threats of weather.… Yet time and time again, when Louisiana comes to ask, ‘Could we please have just a portion of the revenue that we send?’—we are not asking for charity; we are asking for something we earned; we are happy to share with the rest of the country to help invest in infrastructure—we are told: We cannot do it this year. We do not have enough money. It is not a high enough priority.… Well, I do not know when it is going to get to be a high enough priority. 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.… We also have a bill through the WRDA legislation, which is the traditional funding for the Corps of Engineers, the federal agency primarily responsible to keep the waterways dredged, to keep the levees up as high as possible, to work with our local flood control folks, particularly our levee boards in Louisiana, which are some of the most important public entities we have, that literally keep people dry from heavy rains and from floods and storms of this nature.… We need our federal government to understand that we are happy to share our resources and riches with the world, but we do deserve a greater portion of these revenues to keep our people safe, to keep our infrastructure intact, and, most certainly, to be respectful of what the people of Louisiana and the entire gulf coast contribute to our national well-being and security. .. [A]s a Senator representing the State of Louisiana, the chances of it happening sometime are pretty good. If we do not improve our transportation evacuation routes, invest in protecting this infrastructure, and focusing on reinvesting some of the tremendous wealth that has been taken from this area, and reinvesting it back, we will only have ourselves to blame.” [US Congress, 9/15/2004, pp. S9257-S9260]

Entity Tags: Mary L. Landrieu, US Army Corps of Engineers

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Federal, Flood Risk, Evacuation Problem, Warnings

The Washington Post publishes a front page story examining what might happen if Hurricane Ivan, or any other major hurricane, hits New Orleans. The article cites numerous experts who agree that such an event is inevitable and will be a disaster. Walter Maestri, emergency management director in Jefferson Parish, warns that as many as 50,000 people could drown if a Category 4 hurricane makes a landing on Southern Louisiana’s shores. Windell Curole, director of the South Lafourche Levee District, tells the newspaper: “I’m terrified. I’m telling you, we’ve got no elevation. This isn’t hyperbole. The only place I can compare us to is Bangladesh.” Gregory W. Stone, director of the Coastal Studies Institute at Louisiana State University, says, “I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but the doomsday scenario is going to happen eventually. I’ll stake my professional reputation on it.” [Washington Post, 9/15/2004] Other articles at the same time also point out the danger. For instance, on September 14, the Associated Press publishes the story,“Direct Hit by Ivan Could Sink New Orleans” which discusses a worst-case scenario where a direct strike could leave the city “deep in a stew of sewage, industrial chemicals and fire ants, and the inundation could last for weeks…” Ivor van Heerden, director of Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Public Health Center, states, “My fear is, if this storm passes (without a major disaster), everybody forgets about it until next year, when it could be even worse because we’ll have even less wetlands.” [Associated Press, 9/14/2004] The Dallas Morning News publishes an article giving similar warnings. [Dallas Morning News, 9/14/2004]

Entity Tags: Windell Curole, Gregory W. Stone, Hurricane Ivan, Walter Maestri

Category Tags: Flood Risk, Media, Before Katrina

A National Geographic article hypothesizes a scenario of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans. “[T]he storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however—the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party. The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level—more than eight feet below in places—so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it. Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States. When did this calamity happen? It hasn’t—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.” Joe Suhayda, a retired coastal engineer at Louisiana State University, says, “I don’t think people realize how precarious we are.” The article further notes, “The chances of such a storm hitting New Orleans in any given year are slight, but the danger is growing. Climatologists predict that powerful storms may occur more frequently this century, while rising sea level from global warming is putting low-lying coasts at greater risk. ‘It’s not if it will happen,’ says University of New Orleans geologist Shea Penland. ‘It’s when.’ Yet just as the risks of a killer storm are rising, the city’s natural defenses are quietly melting away. From the Mississippi border to the Texas state line, Louisiana is losing its protective fringe of marshes and barrier islands faster than any place in the US.” [National Geographic, 10/2004]

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Media, Flood Risk, Evacuation Problem, Environmental Risk, Public Safety Risk

In a National Hazards Observer article titled “What if Hurricane Ivan Had Not Missed New Orleans?,” University of New Orleans professor Shirley Laska warns that a Category 4 hurricane hitting New Orleans would be one of the greatest disasters ever to hit the US, with estimated costs exceeding $100 billion. According to Laska, in the aftermath of the hurricane, it would take nine weeks to dewater the city, and “national authorities would be scrambling to build tent cities to house the hundreds of thousands of refugees unable to return to their homes and without other relocation options.” [Natural Hazards Observer, 11/2004]

Entity Tags: Shirley Laska

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Media, Flood Risk

A poll conducted by the University of New Orleans finds that 62 percent of greater New Orleans’ 1.3 million residents would feel safe in their homes during a Category 3 storm. Only in the case of a larger Category 4 or 5 hurricane would a majority of the residents—78 percent—decide to evacuate the city. A total of 401 residents from St. Charles Parish take part in the survey. The figures cause grave concern for the university’s researchers who say the results suggest that residents have developed a false sense of security. For decades, residents have successfully rode out moderate-sized hurricanes. But as University of New Orleans pollster Susan Howell explains, Louisiana’s dramatic loss of its coastal wetlands means storms will have a greater impact, thus putting the city’s residents at greater risk. [Times-Picayune, 6/23/2005; Times-Picayune, 6/23/2005]

Category Tags: Evacuation Problem, Academia/Professional, Before Katrina

Funding is cut for a FEMA disaster exercise meant to prepare government agencies for a major hurricane in New Orleans. The exercise, a follow-up to the Hurricane “Pam” exercise that was conducted the prior year (see July 19-23, 2004), was to develop a plan to fix such unresolved problems as evacuating sick and injured people from the Superdome and housing tens of thousands of displaced residents. [Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005] “Money was not available to do the follow-up,” Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will later say in an interview with the Associated Press. [Associated Press, 9/9/2005] After the disastrous Hurricane Katrina, Eric Tolbert, FEMA’s former disaster response chief, will tell Knight Ridder Newspapers: “A lot of good was done, but it just wasn’t finished. I don’t know if it would have saved more lives. It would have made the response faster. You might say it would have saved lives.” [Knight Ridder, 9/1/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Eric Tolbert, Michael D. Brown

Category Tags: FEMA Restructuring, Resource Allocation, Disaster Preparedness, Evacuation, Evacuation Problem, Before Katrina

Speaking before his colleagues in the House of Representatives, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-LA) expresses concern about what would happen if a large hurricane were to hit New Orleans. “What would have happened if last September, Hurricane Ivan had veered 40 miles to the west, devastating the city of New Orleans? One likely scenario would have had a tsunami-like 30-foot wall of water hitting the city, causing thousands of deaths and $100 billion in damage. The city has always been at risk because of its low-lying location, but that risk has been increased because of rising sea levels, groundwater pumping and the erosion of coastal Louisiana. Twenty-four square miles of wetland disappear every year, since the 1930s an area one and a half times the size of Rhode Island washed away. Considering the reaction of the American public to the loss of a dozen people in the recent mud slides in California, it is hard to imagine what would happen if a disaster of that magnitude hit the United States. The experience of [the December 2004 tsunami that hit] 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.” [US Congress, 1/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Earl Blumenauer

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Federal, Flood Risk, Policies, Warnings

A Popular Science article predicts that New Orleans could be completely submerged if hit by a Category 5 hurricane. Scott Kiser, a tropical-cyclone program manager for the National Weather Service, calls New Orleans the one city in the US and possibly the world that would sustain the most catastrophic damage from such a hurricane. He points out that the levees need not fail; a storm surge caused by high winds creating huge waves would quickly drown the city. John Hall of the US Army Corps of Engineers similarly calls the city “the most vulnerable major city to hurricanes.” The article notes that “New Orleans has nearly completed its Hurricane Protection Project, a $740-million plan led by [Al] Naomi [Corps project manager for the New Orleans District] to ring the city with levees that could shield residents from up to Category 3 storm surges.” The Army Corps is considering a new levee system capable of holding back a surge from a Category 5 hurricane, but it “is still in the early planning stages; it may be decades before the new barriers are completed.” [Popular Science, 4/2005]

Entity Tags: Scott Kiser, John Hall, Al Naomi

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Federal, Media, Flood Risk

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issues its 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season outlook, predicting that there will be 12 to 15 tropical storms, with seven to nine becoming hurricanes, and three to five of those becoming major hurricanes. Retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., the NOAA Director, says, “Forecaster confidence that this will be an active hurricane season is very high.” [NOAA Magazine, 5/16/2005]

Entity Tags: Conrad C. Lautenbacher, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Federal, Increased Chance of Hurricane

New Orleans Emergency Preparedness Director Joseph Matthews admits in an interview that the city lacks the ability to safely evacuate residents who do not have their own transportation. “It’s important to emphasize that we just don’t have the resources to take everybody out,” he says. [Times-Picayune, 7/24/2005]

Entity Tags: Joseph Matthews

Category Tags: Evacuation Problem, Louisiana: NOLA, Before Katrina

The New Orleans district of the US Army Corps of Engineers formally notifies Washington that if a major hurricane scores a direct hit on the city, two of New Orleans’ biggest pumping stations could be disabled. These pumping stations are needed—even under normal conditions—to keep the city dry. In the event of an overtopped or breached levee and heavy rains, the city would be submerged. [Los Angeles Times, 9/4/2005]

Entity Tags: US Army Corps of Engineers

Category Tags: Flood Control Programs, Flood Risk, Federal, Warnings, Before Katrina

In a letter to Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), the leaders of a key Senate committee that oversees the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), a group of state emergency directors, denounces a proposal (see July 13, 2005) to transfer preparedness functions from FEMA to a new preparedness directorate elsewhere in DHS. The NEMA letter argues that the move would disconnect disaster planning staff, grants, and programs from the state, local, and federal agencies that are supposed to respond. “It would have an extremely negative impact on the people of this nation.… Any unnecessary separation of these functions will result in a disjointed response and adversely impact the effectiveness of departmental operations.” David Liebersbach, president of NEMA and director of the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says he believes that the motive behind the proposal relates to terrorism prevention efforts, which are very different than the types of efforts required to mitigate and manage natural disasters. “Losing [the] natural hazards emphasis for FEMA is getting to be quite a concern,” he says. “Prior to FEMA, the very programs that became FEMA were fragmented and were very difficult for states to interface with. Now you start taking pieces out.” [Ledger (Lakeland, FL), 8/21/2005; Wall Street Journal, 9/6/2005; Reuters, 9/17/2005] Now there is a “total lack of focus on natural-hazards preparedness,” he says. “[The emphasis on terrorism] indicates that FEMA’s long-standing mission of preparedness for all types of disasters has been forgotten at DHS.” [Reuters, 9/17/2005]

Entity Tags: National Emergency Management Association, David Liebersbach

Category Tags: FEMA Restructuring, Disaster Preparedness, Federal, Federal: FEMA, Organization Capacity, Before Katrina

In a letter to President Bush, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco urges the president and his energy secretary, Samuel W. Bodman, to visit the Louisiana coast and see first-hand the deteriorating condition of the state’s coastal wetlands. She wants the administration to reconsider its objection (see July 15, 2004) to a provision in the House (see April 21, 2005) and Senate (see June 28, 2005) versions of the 2005 Energy Policy Act (HR 6) that would channel oil and gas royalties from offshore operations to coastal states for coastal wetland restoration. In her letter, she emphasizes how Louisiana’s disappearing wetlands is making the oil and gas industry’s vast network of pipelines increasingly vulnerable to damage. She also stresses that coastal wetlands have historically protected the coast from the full fury of hurricanes and, without this barrier, a major hurricane could devastate low-elevation coastal communities like New Orleans. “Let me show you the fragile wetlands that are the only protection for the thousands of miles of pipelines that connect this nation to 80 percent of its offshore energy supply and to a full third of all its oil and gas, both foreign and domestic. The vulnerability of those protective wetlands is all the more apparent to our two million coastal zone residents during this active hurricane season.” [Louisiana, 7/20/2005; Houma Today, 7/21/2005]

Entity Tags: Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, George W. Bush, Samuel W. Bodman

Category Tags: Before Katrina, Federal, Flood Risk, Louisiana: State, Coastal Wetlands

ABC News reports that much of the Louisiana National Guard’s equipment—including dozens of high-water vehicles, humvees, refuelers, and generators—is in Iraq. “The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission,” Lt. Colonel Pete Schneider with the LA National Guard tells ABC. [ABC News, 8/1/2005]

Category Tags: Resource Allocation, Organization Capacity, Federal, Before Katrina

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues its first advisory for Tropical Depression 12, noting that a tropical storm or hurricane watch may be required for southern Florida later in the evening. [National Hurricane Center, 8/23/2005] The NHC probabilities notice indicates Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida are most likely to be directly impacted. [National Hurricane Center, 8/23/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues its second forecast/advisory for Tropical Depression 12, indicating that the storm is organizing and moving northwest. It issues a tropical storm watch for portions of the Florida Keys and Florida East Coast. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 36 hours. [National Hurricane Center, 8/23/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues its third advisory for Tropical Depression 12, indicating that the storm is organizing and moving northwest. The tropical storm watch for portions of the Florida Keys and Florida East Coast remains in effect. A hurricane watch may be required later today for portions of the Florida East Coast. [National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, a popular web-based weather service, reports that several models indicate that Katrina will enter the Gulf of Mexico by Sunday, “where it has an excellent chance of intensifying into a hurricane. Since the GFS is the only model calling for this stall, it is more believable to assume that Katrina will push into the Gulf of Mexico and threaten the US Gulf coast early next week.” [Masters, 8/24/2005]

Entity Tags: Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues its fourth advisory for Tropical Depression 12, upgrading its forecast to a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch for the Southeast Florida Coast from Vero Beach to Florida City. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 36 hours. [National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues its fifth forecast/advisory. Tropical Depression 12 has been upgraded to Tropical Storm Katrina. The NHC expects additional strengthening in the next 24 hours. The NHC models indicate that Katrina will keep building slowly eastward, moving across South Florida over the next 36-48 hours and into the Gulf of Mexico within 72 hours. The models, however, are inconsistent in predicting the next landfall. One model indicates Katrina will hit New Orleans, others indicate Katrina will make second landfall on the Northern Florida Peninsula. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: At 25.6 N, 77.2 W
bullet Direction and speed: NW at 9 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 45 mph with higher gusts
bullet Probability that Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet West Palm Beach, FL: 29 percent
bullet Panama City, FL: 10 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 3 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 2 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

In its sixth advisory, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues a hurricane warning for Southeast Florida Coast from Vero Beach to Florida City. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected in the warning area within the next 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. A tropical storm watch remains in effect for the East-Central Florida coast. The NHC expects Katrina to become a hurricane on Thursday before reaching the Southeast Florida coastt. In its discussion, The NHC indicates that Katrina has turned west in the past few hours and is expected to continue to move slowly on a westward track for the next 24 to 48 hours. The models continue to diverge significantly on where Katrina will head after entering the Gulf of Mexico. Tracks cover the coast from Mississippi eastward. The official forecast turns Katrina northward over the eastern Gulf of Mexico. One model indicates that Katrina will barely touch the east coast of Florida before moving north, while another model indicates Katrina will travel south of due west across South Florida and the Keys as a very intense hurricane. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: Near 26.0 N, 78.0 W., moving west at 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 50 mph, with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 1001 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet West Palm Beach, FL: 40 percent
bullet Panama City, FL: 9 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 4 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 3 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/24/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) repeats its hurricane warning for the Southeast Florida Coast from Vero Beach to Florida City. The tropical storm watch remains in effect for the east-central Florida coast. The NHC expects Katrina to strengthen into a hurricane before her center reaches Florida coast. Models are beginning to “agree” that Katrina will turn northward, although “there is still a notable spread.” The NHC predicts that Katrina will become a hurricane before landfall, will weaken while crossing the Florida peninsula, and then will re-intensify over the Golf of Mexico. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 26.2 N, 78.7 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West at near 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 50 mph
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 1000 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet West Palm Beach, FL: 64 percent
bullet Panama City, FL: 11 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 5 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 4 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

In its eight advisory, The National Hurricane Center (NHC) retains the hurricane warning for southeast Florida, and tropical storm watches and warnings elsewhere, noting that the storm continues to strengthen. Models continue to agree Katrina will travel westward across the southern Florida peninsula for next 48 hours or so, but continue to diverge significantly in forecasting when and where Katrina will move north towards Florida panhandle or northwest Florida. One model indicates Katrina will move across northeast Florida, while another indicates Katrina will hit the western Florida panhandle. Katrina could still become a Category 1 hurricane prior to Florida landfall, and expected to re-strengthen after entering the Gulf of Mexico. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 26.2 N, 79.3 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West at 6 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 60 mph
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 997 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet West Palm Beach, FL: 99 percent
bullet Panama City, FL: 13 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 7 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 5 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Several counties anticipate issuing evacuation orders. Currently, Palm Beach plans to begin evacuations at 1:00 pm today. Voluntary and mandatory evacuations will begin in areas of Broward County, Martin County including the Barrier Islands, and low-lying areas of Miami-Dade County. [Florida, 8/25/2005 pdf file]

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Tropical Storm Katrina becomes Hurricane Katrina, according to the latest advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Hurricane Katrina now has maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane. The NHC expects that Katrina could strengthen before making landfall, and then weaken as it moves inland across South Florida through Friday. Models indicate that Katrina will move slight south of due west for next 12 hours, before moving northwest than north after 48 hours. NHC models agree on westward motion for next 36 hours, but continue to diverge significantly after that. One model takes Katrina northeast after 72 hours across the Florida panhandle, while three other models take Katrina significantly westward, indicating Katrina landfall between Mobile, Alabama and Grand Isle, Louisiana. However, the NHC gives two of the three models indicating a westward turn “less weight” because they have not been accurate over past 24 hours. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 26.1 N, 79.9 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West at near 6 mph
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 985 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet West Palm Beach, FL: 99 percent
bullet Panama City, FL: 14 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 8 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 7 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

At 7:00 pm, the eye of Hurricane Katrina makes landfall near North Miami Beach with winds of 80 mph and higher gusts. [National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The eye of Hurricane Katrina, now a Category 1 hurricane, is moving southwest across Miami-Dade County, and expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico Friday morning. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects Katrina to strengthen as it moves into the Gulf. Two models indicate Katrina will become a major hurricane. Indications are that Katrina will move westward before being forced northerly over the eastern Gulf of Mexico. “All indications are that Katrina will be a dangerous hurricane in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico in about 3 days.” Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: Miami-Dade County, Florida
bullet Direction and Speed: Southwest at near 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 75 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 961 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 16 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 9 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 7 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/25/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that Katrina has regained hurricane strength upon leaving Florida and entering the Gulf of Mexico. NHC expects Katrina to continue, with slight increase in speed, over next 24 hours. Models generally agree that Katrina will migrate westward, gradually turning northwest. The “consensus” of models has shifted westward. Indications are now stronger that Katrina will be a dangerous hurricane in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico within the next couple of days. The official forecast indicates Katrina winds will strengthen to 100 mph, although two models forecast a major hurricane. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 25.3 N, 81.5W
bullet Direction and Speed: Due west at near 5 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 75 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 987 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 17 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 11 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 8 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Hurricane Katrina will make landfall in Louisiana in only 72 hours, and critics will later charge that, by failing to call for an evacuation at this hour, local and state officials fail to execute their own emergency plans properly. Other critics will question why the federal government does focus efforts towards Louisiana and, particularly, the New Orleans area today. However, at this hour, Katrina has just reconstituted as a Category 1 hurricane, and it appears more likely to head towards the Florida Panhandle (Northeastern Gulf Coast than towards Louisiana. Indeed, the first National Hurricane Center Advisory to indicate that Katrina threatens New Orleans is still several hours away (see 10:00 am August 26, 2005), and, according to its own reports, FEMA has not yet activated the Region 6 Response Coordination Center, which serves Louisiana.
Note 1 - The particular plan(s) implemented by local, state, and national officials during this crisis remains unclear. While various government websites contain several “plans,” it is not clear that the posted plans are the operative documents at this time, and some reports indicate that officials are operating under another plan (or plans). [Chicago Tribune, 9/11/2005]
Note 2 - Contrary to many published reports, the New Orleans Emergency Plan for Hurricane Evacuations (NOLA Plan), or the version of this Plan available online, does not require evacuation 72 hours in advance of all hurricanes, and does not address the concept of “mandatory” evacuations at all. Rather, the Plan contemplates a maximum time of 72 hours to prepare for a hurricane. The NOLA Plan contemplates that, “Slow developing weather conditions (primarily hurricane) will create increased readiness culminating in an evacuation order 24 hours (12 daylight hours) prior to predicted landfall.” [City of New Orleans, n.d.] In another place, the NOLA Plan states as follows: “Using information developed as part of the Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force and other research, the City of New Orleans has established a maximum acceptable hurricane evacuation time standard for a Category 3 storm event of 72 hours. This is based on clearance time or is the time required to clear all vehicles evacuating in response to a hurricane situation from area roadways. Clearance time begins when the first evacuating vehicle enters the road network and ends when the last evacuating vehicle reaches its destination.” The NOLA Plan continues: “Evacuation notices or orders will be issued during three stages prior to gale force winds making landfall.”
bullet Precautionary Evacuation Notice: 72 hours or less
bullet Special Needs Evacuation Order: 8-12 hours after Precautionary Evacuation Notice issued
bullet General Evacuation Notice: 48 hours or less [City of New Orleans, n.d.]
Note 3 - The two Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Evacuation and Sheltering Plans posted on the Louisiana State website each reference a table which “give[s] information on the times at which action to evacuate people must be taken if the total number of people in the risk area is to be evacuated in Category 3 (Slow), 4 and 5 hurricanes” for parishes in Southeastern Louisiana. However, the referenced table is missing from the plans. [Louisiana, 1/2000 pdf file; Louisiana, 1/2000 pdf file] Therefore, the timetable contemplated under these plans for implementing evacuation orders remains unclear.

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, City of New Orleans, Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, reports on the latest modeling: “Although Katrina is currently moving just south of due west, the computer track models unanimously agree that a trough moving across the central US this weekend will ‘pick up’ Katrina and force it on a northward path towards the Florida Panhandle.… While New Orleans [certainly] needs to keep a wary eye on Katrina, it seems that the Florida Panhandle has its usual hurricane magnet in place, and the same piece of coast punished by Ivan and Dennis is destined for another strike by a major hurricane.” [Masters, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Jeff Matthews

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Katrina gains strength as it moves westward away from Florida, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The NHC expects Katrina to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane by Saturday. Most of the models indicate that Katrina’s path will flatten out in more westward direction over next 12 hours. Two models indicate “large jump” west over Louisiana, while most other models indicate Katrina will move inland over the Northeast Gulf Coast. The NHC expects Katrina to strengthen into a major hurricane. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 25.1 N, 82.2 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West at near 7 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 80 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 981 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 18 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 12 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 10 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues a special advisory that Katrina, now a Category 2 hurricane, is rapidly gaining strength as it moves westward. Forecasters expect Katrina to strengthen during the next 24 hours and may become a Category 3 hurricane. Given the drop in pressure, the NHC predicts that Katrina will rapidly strengthen to near Category 4 hurricane within 72 hours. (In fact, Katrina will become a Category 4 hurricane in 61 hours (see 1:00 am August 28, 2005), and will make landfall in only 67 hours .) Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 25.1 N, 82.2 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West near 7 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 100 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 971 mb
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 18 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 13 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 11 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Around this time, various weather forums and bloggers begin to discuss the threat to New Orleans that Katrina poses. Brendan Loy, a self-described “meteorology nerd” from Indiana, posts the following blog, titled “New Orleans in Peril,” at 11:37 am: “At the risk of being alarmist, we could be 3-4 days away from an unprecedented cataclysm that could kill as many as 100,000 people in New Orleans. Such a scenario is unlikely—the conditions would have been just right (or rather, just wrong)—but IMHO, it’s not nearly unlikely enough to feel good about things. If I were in New Orleans, I would seriously consider getting the hell out of dodge right now, just in case.” Loy continues: “Normally, watches go up approximately 48 hours before the leading edge of the storm is expected to hit, but I wonder whether the NHC might fudge that a bit, and issue watches earlier, if New Orleans looks like the target, in light of the time-consuming logistical nightmare that a citywide evacuation would be. On the other hand, an evacuation that ultimately proves to have been unnecessary is economically costly and, more importantly, may have a vigilance-lowering ‘boy who cried wolf’ effect, especially since it would be the second time in as many years. So this is going to be a tough call for the NHC. Here’s hoping they get it right… and here’s praying that New Orleans is spared.” [Loy, 8/26/2005] (See also, generally, [Masters, 8/26/2005] )

Entity Tags: Brendan Loy

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, General Public, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that Katrina, now a Category 2 hurricane, continues to move west-southwest away from Florida, and is expected to gradually turn west on Saturday. Models have now shifted significantly westward. The NHC states that the “projected landfall is still about 72 hours away.” (In fact, Katrina will make landfall in only 55 hours.) The NHC expects that Katrina will strengthen over the next 24 hours, becoming a Category 3—or major—hurricane later today, and may be a Category 4 hurricane at landfall. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 24.8 N, 82.9 W (approximately 70 miles west-northwest of Key West, Florida)
bullet Direction and Speed: West-southwest at near 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 100 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 965 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from the center up to 25 miles; and tropical storm force winds extend up to 85 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 17 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 16 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 15 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, reports that the latest computer models indicate, “the threat of a strike on New Orleans by Katrina as a major hurricane has grown. The official NHC forecast is now 170 miles west of where it was at 11am, and still is to the east of the consensus model guidance. It would be no surprise if later advisories shift the forecast track even further west and put Katrina over New Orleans. Until Katrina makes its northward turn, I would cast a very doubtful eye on the model predictions of Katrina’s track.” [Masters, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, General Public, Advisories

CBS News reports that new models indicate that Katrina may shift west towards New Orleans. Noting that New Orleans is “among one of the most vulnerable hurricane places, if not the most vulnerable in the country,” the reporter reminds viewers that although hurricanes generally weaken before hitting land, “Hurricane Camille didn’t in ‘69; there’s no guarantee that this one will. This could very well be a Category 4.” [CBS News, 8/26/2005] ABC News contains a similar report tonight, nothing that Katrina could hit near New Orleans and be a catastrophic hurricane. [ABC, 8/26/2005] MSNBC reports that four out of five computer models indicate that Katrina will hit between New Orleans and the Mississippi-Alabama Border. [MSNBC, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Camille, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories, Before Katrina

CNN’s Larry King focuses on Hurricane Katrina tonight. Meteorologists Sam Champion (WABC-TV) and Rob Marciano (CNN) both predict that that Katrina will be a Category 3 or four storm that could hit near New Orleans or western Florida by Monday morning. Marciano warns that the storm could be “as bad if not worse than Hurricane Charlie coming on shore.” Champion characterizes the situation for people from “Pensacola all the way to New Orleans” as “bad news. I think its trouble. I think it certainly is one of those things that you get up and you watch very carefully.” [CNN, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: Sam Champion, Hurricane Charlie, Rob Marciano, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Media, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that Katrina continues to move west-southwest, but will likely turn west, then west-northwest on Saturday. Katrina is following the typical pattern observed in intense hurricanes, and likely will become a Category 4 hurricane. Indeed, some models indicate it could become a Category 5 hurricane. NHC warns, “most of the reliable numerical model tracks are now clustered between the eastern coast of Louisiana and the coast of Mississippi.” The official forecast indicates that Katrina will move over the north central Gulf of Mexico in approximately 48 hours. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 24.6 N, 83.6 W
bullet Direction and Speed: West-southwest at 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 105 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 965 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from the center up to 25 miles; and tropical storm force winds extend up to 85 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 15 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 18 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 17 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/26/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Katrina, now Category 3 hurricane, will only strengthen during the next 24 hours, The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports. Katrina’s eye is now clearly visible, and central pressure is dropping. Models now agree Katrina will move west-northwest later today, before turning northwest and north over the next 2-3 days. Katrina is likely to be a major hurricane upon landfall. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 435 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: West at near 7 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 115 mph, with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 945 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 40 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 150 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 11 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 16 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 17 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Hurricane Katrina will make landfall in Louisiana in only 48 hours . Governor Blanco has declared a state of emergency (see 4:00 pm August 26, 2005), and requested that President Bush declare a state of emergency, to enable direct federal assistance in the potential disaster (see Early Morning August 27, 2005). FEMA has apparently sent 10-20 staff members to Louisiana by this time (see 11:00 am August 27, 2005).

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories, Federal: FEMA, Louisiana: State, Emergency Response

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, urges New Orleans residents to leave: “Emergency management officials in New Orleans are no doubt waiting to see where Katrina makes her turn before ordering evacuations. However, if I lived in the city, I would eva[cu]ate NOW! The risks are too great from this storm, and a weekend away from the city would be nice anyway, right? GO! New Orleans needs a full 72 hours to evacuate, and landfall is already less than 72 hours away, so I would get out now and beat the rush. If an evacuation is ordered, not everyone who wants to get out may be able to do so.” Matthews also speculates that Katrina could be the costliest hurricane ever: “Insurers estimate that Katrina already did about $1 to $4 billion in damage.… This is a shocking number for a Category 1 hurricane, and bodes ill for the residents of New Orleans and the US insurance industry if Katrina makes a direct hit on New Orleans as a Category 4 storm, which would likely cost $100 billion. But, New Orleans’ amazing run of luck could well continue at the expense of Mississippi or Alabama or Florida. Like Camille in 1969, Katrina may come ashore far enough east of New Orleans to largely spare it.” [Masters, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Jeff Matthews

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Private Sector, Advisories

Alabama Governor Bob Riley offers Louisiana Governor Blanco and Mississippi Governor Barbour assistance if necessary, upon reviewing this morning’s National Weather Service report showing that Katrina’s most serious impact will most likely be in Louisiana and Mississippi. [Alabama, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Bob Riley, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Haley Barbour, National Weather Service

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Mississippi: State, Advisories

Phil Capitano, Mayor of Kenner (Jefferson Parish, Louisiana), issues an urgent announcement on the city website: “Residents of Kenner: I AM URGING, I AM BEGGING YOU TO LEAVE TOWN NOW!…Hurricane Katrina is going to deal a devastating blow to Kenner…THIS IS A KILLER STORM…” Capitano states that “If you decide to stay, and again we strongly urge against it…one of the most important things to have is an ax, pick, hammer or some type of device [t]hat will allow you to break through your roof and get away from flood waters…, and we do expect much of Kenner to be under water.” He continues, “I cannot emphasize enough to Kenner residents—the urgency, the absolute need to evacuate,” warning that the weakest spot is the parish line along Airline highway, where the levee board sandbags will only be six feet high, and thus, “they are going to be overrun.” [Kenner, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Phil Capitano

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: SELA, Execution of Emergency Plans, Evacuation, Levee Breach/Flooding

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues its first hurricane watch for the southeastern coast of Louisiana, from east of Morgan City to the mouth of the Pearl River, including New Orleans. A hurricane watch likely will be required for other portions of northern gulf coast later today. Models also indicate Katrina will strengthen and could become a Category 5 hurricane, and the hurricane will likely move west-northwest during the next 24 hours. Katrina’s eye has begun a concentric eyewall cycle. Models now agree that Katrina is likely to make landfall in the next 72 hours over the northern Gulf Coast, however, the models disagree about where Katrina will make landfall: Two models indicate landfall will be near Morgan City or Intracoastal City, Louisiana. The other guidance ranges from Grand Isle, Louisiana to Pensacola, Florida. The official NHC forecast calls for landfall in Southeastern Louisiana—in 48-60 hours. (In fact, Katrina will make landfall in only 38 hours .) Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 405 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
bullet Direction and Speed: West at 7 mph.
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 115 mph, with higher gusts.
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 940 mb.
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 65 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 150 miles.
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 12 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 18 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 19 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, reports that, “Katrina has increased markedly in size the past 12 hours, and will deliver a widespread damaging blow wherever she comes ashore.… I’d hate to be an Emergency Management official in New Orleans right now. Katrina is pretty much following the NHC forecast, and appears likely to pass VERY close to New Orleans. I’m surprised they haven’t ordered an evacuation of the city yet. While the odds of a catastrop[h]ic hit that would completely flood the City of New Orleans are probably 10 percent, that is way too high in my opinion to justify leaving the people in the city. If I lived in the city, I would eva[cu]ate NOW! There is a very good reason that the Coroner’s office in New Orleans keeps 10,000 body bags on hand. The risks are too great from this storm, and a weekend away from the city would be nice anyway, right? GO! New Orleans needs a full 72 hours to evacuate, and landfall is already less than 72 hours away. Get out now and beat the rush. You’re not going to have to go to work or school on Monday anyway. If an evacuation is ordered, not everyone who wants to get out may be able to do so—particularly the 60,000 poor people with no cars.” [Masters, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Jeff Matthews

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, General Public, Advisories, Evacuation Problem

During FEMA’s daily video conference, Max Mayfield, National Hurricane Center Director, warns FEMA officials that Hurricane Katrina could make landfall near New Orleans as a Category 4 hurricane: “This one is different… It’s strong, but it’s also much, much larger.” Mayfield also warns FEMA that the anticipated storm surge could overwhelm the levees. Mayfield will later recall that he sees many “newcomers to the disaster world” around the table during this conference. However, he knows that many professionals listening in from the Gulf states have been through his hurricane prep course and they know that this is no drill: “The emergency guys, they know what a Cat 4 is,” Mayfield states. Jack Colley, State Coordinator for Texas’ Division of Emergency Management similarly recalls that, “Clearly on Saturday, we knew it was going to be the Big One.… We were very convinced this was going to be a very catastrophic event.” [Washington Post, 9/11/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Max Mayfield, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories, Federal: FEMA

Throughout this afternoon and evening, Katrina’s threat to New Orleans dominates the airwaves and the internet. Residents, officials, and weather experts repeatedly plead with residents to evacuate and warn of the inevitability of massive flooding Katrina will bring. Douglas Brinkley, historian and New Orleans resident, sums up the twin problems as follows: “Unfortunately, this is an economically depressed city. And a lot of poor people living in shotgun shacks and public housing don’t have the ability to get in a car and just disappear. And we’ve made openings at the Superdome where people will be fed and have a place to sleep if they want to get out of their low-lying house.” With respect to the flooding threat, Brinkley laments: “The Army Corp. of Engineers has done a good job with the levee system. Not good enough. I’ve heard it, it’s almost become a cliche, but it is like a tea cup or bowl here in New Orleans. And if you get hit from the east, Pontchartrain water comes flooding in. And that’s—at all costs, we don’t want that to happen. By and large, more than any major city in the United States, New Orleans is unprepared for a disaster from a hurricane. It’s just the—one of the names you called it the Big Easy. It’s also the City Time Forgot, and sometimes we let things get into disrepair, you know. Potholes and weak levees are recipes for potential disaster when a hurricane like Katrina comes around the bend.” [Fox, 8/27/2005] Online news and blogs buzz with the coming catastrophe. [Associated Press, 8/27/2005; Masters, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, US Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans Superdome

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Media, Advisories, Evacuation Problem

Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center, warns the Times-Picayune that Hurricane Katrina poses an imminent danger to New Orleans: “The guidance we get and common sense and experience suggests this storm is not done strengthening.… This is really scary. This is not a test, as your governor said earlier today. This is the real thing.” Katrina “is a very, very dangerous hurricane, and capable of causing a lot of damage and loss of life if we’re not careful.” “This thing is like Hurricane Opal,” Mayfield says, referring to the 1995 Category 3 hurricane that hit the Florida panhandle. “We’re seeing 12-foot seas along the Louisiana coast already.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Opal, Max Mayfield

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Ivor Van Heerden, a scientist at the LSU Hurricane Center tells the Time-Picayune that the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina will weaken the Lake Pontchartrain levees and cause additional overtopping: “The bottom line is this is a worst-case scenario and everybody needs to recognize it,” he said. “You can always rebuild your house, but you can never regain a life. And there’s no point risking your life and the lives of your children.” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Ivor Van Heerden, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories, Levee Breach/Flooding

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) expands the hurricane watch westward to Intracoastal City, Louisiana and eastward to the Florida-Alabama border, and states that a hurricane warning likely will be required for portions of the Northern Gulf Coast later tonight or Sunday. Landfall in southeast Louisiana is likely in “a little under” 48 hours. (In fact, Katrina will make landfall in 32 hours .) According to the NHC, Katrina will likely strengthen, and may become a Category 5 hurricane before landfall. Katrina likely will move west-northwest during the next 24 hours. Models continue to diverge, with some indicating Katrina will turn northward, while others indicate Katrina will shift westward. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 380 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: West at 7 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 115 mph, with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 945 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 45 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 160 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 12 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 20 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 21 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La) appears on CNN to discuss the challenges to evacuating Southeastern Louisiana. Landrieu first notes, “[W]e don’t have enough highways.… We have urged the federal government to stay focused on helping us to expand our highway infrastructure just for this purpose.… We don’t, literally, have enough highways to get people out.” Landrieu also describes the challenges to an evacuation of New Orleans: “About 30 percent of the population doesn’t have access to an automobile or owns an automobile. So they’ve got to count on extended families or friends or neighbors. The evacuation of the elderly is always a challenge of course and those that are in hospitals. The mayor is working and has been working diligently on that plan. Hopefully it will be carried out,” although, she notes, 3,000 of Louisiana’s National Guard are in Iraq and thus unable to assist in the evacuation. [CNN, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana National Guard

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Louisiana: State, Policies, Warnings, Evacuation Problem

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that “dangerous Hurricane Katrina” is now moving west-northwest, and is expected to strengthen. Portions of the northern Gulf Coast are already experiencing 12-foot waves. The Central Gulf Coast can expect 5-10 inches of rainfall, with 15 inches in some areas, on Sunday. The expanded hurricane watch from Intracoastal City, Louisiana and eastward to the Florida-Alabama border remains in effect; a hurricane warning likely will be required for portions of the Northern Gulf Coast later tonight. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 360 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
bullet Direction and Speed: West at 7 mph.
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 115 mph, with higher gusts.
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 944 mb.
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 45 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 160 miles. [National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Around 7 pm this evening, LSU Hurricane Center scientists share their latest prediction models with emergency officials at the Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge. On the giant screen looming over the officials, scientists post the sum of all fears: New Orleans will go under. Everyone knows what that means: a major water rescue of untold thousands. [Time, 9/4/2005] The model predicts that Katrina’s storm surge may weaken and overtop New Orleans’ levees, causing massive flooding of Plaquemines Parish, New Orleans’ 9th Ward, Michoud area, and Mid-City, as well as large parts of Slidell. [Schleifstein, 8/27/2005; Daily Advertiser, 8/27/2005] The Times-Picayune will publish the projected storm surge map the next morning. [Times-Picayune, 8/28/2005 pdf file] Reportedly, the Center also e-mails their modeling results to state and federal agencies, including the National Hurricane Center. [MSNBC, 9/9/2005]

Entity Tags: LSU Hurricane Center, National Emergency Operations Center, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories, Levee Breach/Flooding

Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) appears on CNN to warn that Hurricane Katrina is a very dangerous storm: “Well, it’s very serious. And it can not only cause a lot of damage, but large loss of life if people don’t heed the advice of those local officials. This could be stronger than Hurricane Betsy in 1965. And I know there’s been a lot of focus on New Orleans, as there should be, but we don’t want to forget about Mississippi and Alabama. They’re going to have a tremendous storm surge, not only near, but well out to the east to where the center of this hurricane makes landfall.” Mayfield states that “I certainly would [evacuate] if I lived in a place that did not have some high terrain. And that’s much of southeast Louisiana. This has always been our greatest, you know, concern anywhere on the Gulf of Mexico. And I think when we start talking about storm surge values, up as high as Camille, you know, that will get people’s attention. We’re going to very likely put up the hurricane warning later tonight.” [CNN, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Max Mayfield, Hurricane Betsy

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Advisories

NHC Director Max Mayfield personally calls Louisiana Governor Blanco and Mississippi Governor Barbour. Mayfield tells Barbour that Katrina may be a “Camille-like storm.” He tells Blanco that this one will be a “big, big deal.” “I wanted to be able to go to sleep that night,” he will later recall. According to Mayfield, Blanco is unsure that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has fully grasped the situation and urges Mayfield to call him. [Washington Post, 9/11/2005]

Entity Tags: Ray Nagin, Hurricane Camille, Haley Barbour, Max Mayfield, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

NHC Director Max Mayfield calls New Orleans Mayor Nagin: “This is going to be a defining moment for a lot of people.” [Houston Chronicle, 9/8/2005; Washington Post, 9/11/2005] Nagin will tell City Councilwoman Cynthia Morrell early Sunday morning, “Max Mayfield has scared me to death.” [Newsweek, 9/19/2005] Nagin will later recall that Mayfled’s message “scared the crap out of me.” “I immediately said, ‘My God, I have to call a mandatory evacuation,’” according to a later Knight Ridder report. [Knight Ridder, 9/11/2005] Nagin will call for the evacuation Sunday morning at 9:30 am (see (9:30 am) August 28, 2005).

Entity Tags: Max Mayfield, Cynthia Morrell, Ray Nagin

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Meteorologist Jeff Matthews, Director of the Weather Underground, a popular web-based weather service, reports: “We may be on the verge of a rapid deepening phase, and Katrina is growing from a medium sized hurricane to a large hurricane. Where the pressure will bottom out after this deepening phase is anyone’s guess, and I believe something in the 915—925 mb range is most likely, which would make Katrina a strong Category 4 or weak Category 5 hurricane by tomorrow afternoon.” He then laments: “New Orleans finally got serious and ordered an evacuation, but far too late. There is no way everyone will be able to get out of the city in time, and they may be forced to take shelter in the Superdome, which is above sea level. If Katrina makes a direct hit on New Orleans as a Category 4 hurricane, the levees protecting the city will be breached, and New Orleans, which is 6—10 feet below sea level, will fill with water. On top of this 6 feet of water will come a 15 foot storm surge, and on top of that will be 20 foot waves, so the potential for high loss of life is great. Given the current track and intensity forecast, I’d put the odds of this at about 20 percent” [Masters, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Superdome

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, General Public, Advisories, Flood Risk

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) elevates the hurricane watch to a hurricane warning for the area between area between Morgan City, Louisiana and the Alabama-Florida border. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected in the, within the next 24 hours. “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.” The NHC warns that Katrina can cause a costal storm surge of 15-20 feet above normal, with higher surges to 25 feet near and to the east of where landfall occurs. Katrina’s wind field is expanding and conditions are ripe for the hurricane to strengthen even further. “The bottom line is that Katrina is expected to be an intense and dangerous hurricane heading toward the North Central Gulf Coast… and this has to be taken very seriously.” The NHC also issues a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch for parts west and east of the warning areas. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 335 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: West-northwest at 7 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 115 mph, with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 939 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 45 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 160 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 12 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 23 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 26 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/27/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Beginning this morning, and throughout the day, FEMA representatives and other officials appear on TV shows throughout the day. When asked to identify the biggest challenge to preparing for Katrina, FEMA Director Michael Brown replies as follows: “Primarily making sure that as many people as possible get out of the way of the storm. The more people that are in the way of the storm, the more potential they have of becoming a disaster victim.” When asked whether it is possible for the area to weather the storm without loss of life, Brown responds that such an expectation is unreasonable. [CNN, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael D. Brown

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal, Federal: FEMA, Advisories, Emergency Response, Evacuation

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues a special advisory that, with sustained winds of 145 mph, Katrina has become a Category 4 hurricane. Katrina also continues to grow, as hurricane winds now extend 70 miles from the center, and NHC warns that Katrina can yet strengthen, and will likely move northwest later today. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 310 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: West-northwest at 8 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 145 mph, with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 935 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 75 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 160 miles [National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The Louisiana State Police issue a report outlining the status of evacuation orders in Southeastern Louisiana as of 1:30 am this morning:
bullet Ascension Parish: Recommended Evacuation at dawn Sunday
bullet Assumption Parish: Recommended Evacuation
bullet Jefferson Parish: Recommended Evacuation, except for Grand Isle, Crown Point, and Barateria
bullet Jefferson Parish—Grand Isle, Crown Point, and Barateria: Mandatory evacuation
bullet Orleans Parish: Recommended Evacuation
bullet Lafourche Parish: Evacuation ordered at dawn Sunday
bullet Plaquemines Parish: 50 percent of residents have evacuated so far; 40 percent expected to evacuate between 2:00 and 6:00 am. All remaining residents should evacuate by 2:00 pm Sunday
bullet St. Bernard Parish: Strong recommendation of evacuation
bullet St. Charles Parish: Mandatory evacuation effective 9:00 am Sunday
bullet St. James Parish: Recommended evacuation of low-lying areas for mobile and manufactured homes
bullet St. John Parish: Recommended evacuation. If track of storm remains the same, a mandatory evacuation will be issued by 7:00 am.
bullet Tangipahoa Parish: Precautionary evacuation. Further evacuation notification will begin at 7:00 am Sunday
bullet Terrebone Parish: Recommended evacuation for south of Intercoastal City. Mandatory evacuation begins at 6:00 am Sunday. (All other areas under recommended evacuation) [Louisiana State Police, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Louisiana State Police

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) 2:00 am advisory leads with the warning that potentially catastrophic Hurricane Katrina is beginning to turn northward toward Southeastern Louisiana and the Northern Gulf Coast and that sustained hurricane-force winds are already occurring along the Southeastern Louisiana Coast. Katrina will likely make landfall with Category 4 or Category 5 intensity. The NHC warns that winds will be significantly stronger on upper floors of high-rise buildings than those near ground level. An 83 mph wind gust has been reported just east of the Chandeleur Islands (Mississippi), a 75 mph gust at Grand Isle, Lousiana, and a 60 mph gust has already been reported in New Orleans. Coastal storm surge flooding of 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels can be expected, with some surges reaching as high as 28 feet. Some levees in the greater New Orleans area may be overtopped. A bouy 50 miles east of the Mississippi River has reported waves as high as 40 feet already. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 70 miles south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River; 130 miles south-southeast of New Orleans
bullet Direction and Speed: North at near 12 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 155 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 910 mb
bullet Size: hurricane winds extend 105 miles from the center; tropical storm force winds extend 230 miles [National Hurricane Center, 8/29/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warns that Katrina, still a Category 4 hurricane, continues to intensify and grow larger. The NHC reiterates the hurricane warning for Louisiana to Florida, and expands the area covered by a tropical storm warning. It warns further that, “While the details of the landfall intensity cannot be known at this time… Katrina will be a very dangerous hurricane at landfall…. It must be emphasized that the exact landfall point cannot be specified and that Katrina is a large hurricane that will affect a large area,” warns the NHC. “NHC now expects Katrina’s path to move north later today.” Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 275 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: West-northwest at 10 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 145 mph, with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 935 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane force winds extend outward from center up to 85 miles; tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 185 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 11 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 26 percent;
bullet New Orleans, LA: 29 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

“Katrina is in the midst of a truly historic rapid deepening phase… [and] is now the sixth strongest hurricane ever measured in the Atlantic,” states Jeff Matthews, meteorologist with the Weather Underground. “At the rate Katrina is deepening, she could easily be the third or fourth most intense hurricane ever, later today.” Katrina’s “winds are likely to increase to ‘catch up’ to the rapidly falling pressure, and could approach the all-time record of 190 mph set in Camille and Allen. Winds of this level will create maximum storm surge heights over 25 feet, and this storm surge will affect an area at least double the area wiped clean by Camille, which was roughly half the size of Katrina. Katrina has continued to expand in size, and is now a huge hurricane like Ivan. Damage will be very widespread and extreme if Katrina can maintain Category 5 strength at landfall.” Masters warns that, “Given that the storm is so large and is already pushing up a huge storm surge wave in front of it, even a weakened Category 3 Katrina hitting at low tide will cause an incredible amount of damage. A stretch of coast 170 miles long will experience hurricane force winds, given the current radius of hurricane force winds around the storm. A direct hit on New Orleans in this best-case scenario may still be enough to flood the city, resulting in heavy loss of life and $30 billion or more in damage.” [Masters, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Camille, Jeff Matthews, Hurricane Allen, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, General Public, Advisories, Flood Risk

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warns that Katrina is now a “potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane” and is headed for the Northern Gulf Coast. Although the NHC cannot predict the exact strength at landfall, Katrina is “expected to be a devastating Category 4 or 5 hurricane at landfall.” The NHC forecasts coastal storm surge flooding 15 to 20 feet above normal tide levels, with higher surges of up to 25 feet, as well as large and dangerous battering waves near and to the east of where the center makes landfall. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 250 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: West-northwest at 12 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: Near 160 mph, with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 908 mb [National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

FEMA’s Situation Update indicates that it is starkly aware of the dire situation in New Orleans, including the lack of transportation for many of the poorer residents: “Katrina could be especially devastating if it strikes New Orleans because the city sits below sea level and is dependent on levees and pumps to keep the water out. A direct hit could wind up submerging the city in several feet of water. Making matters worse, at least 100,000 people in the city lack the transportation to get out of town.” FEMA outlines preparations as follows: FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) Red Team and the National Emergency Response Team (Blue) have been fully activated. Region 4 (serving Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, among others) and Region 6 (serving Louisiana) are also fully activated. At the state level, both Mississippi’s and Louisiana’s Emergency Operations Centers are fully activated. [Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: National Emergency Operations Center, National Response Coordination Center, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Federal: FEMA, Emergency Response, Advisories, Flood Risk, Evacuation Problem

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warns that Katrina, already a potentially catastrophic hurricane headed for the Northern Gulf Coast, continues to gain strength. Katrina is getting stronger-and bigger. The NHC notes that Katrina is now as strong as Hurricane Camille was in 1969, only larger, and warns that storm surge flooding will be 18-22 feet above normal, with surges to 28 feet in some areas. Although hurricanes rarely sustain these extreme winds for long, the NHC reports no obvious large-scale effects that could cause Katrina to weaken substantially. Katrina’s path likely will move northwest, then north-northwest over the next 24 hours. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 225 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: West-northwest at 12 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 175 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 907 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane winds now extend 105 miles from the center; tropical storm force winds extend to 205 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 12 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 33 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 35 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Camille, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Minutes after the National Hurricane Center issues its Advisory, the National Weather Service for New Orleans issues an urgent weather message, “Devastating Damage Expected,” which could not be more stark: “Hurricane Katrina [is] a most powerful hurricane with unprecedented strength…rivaling the intensity of Hurricane Camille of 1969. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks…perhaps longer. At least one half of well constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail…leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed. The majority of industrial buildings will become non functional. Partial to complete wall and roof failure is expected. All wood framed low rising apartment buildings will be destroyed. Concrete block low rise apartments will sustain major damage…including some wall and roof failure. High rise office and apartment buildings will sway dangerously…a few to the point of total collapse. All windows will blow out. Airborne debris will be widespread…and may include heavy items such as household appliances and even light vehicles. Sport utility vehicles and light trucks will be moved. The blown debris will create additional destruction. Persons…pets…and livestock exposed to the winds will face certain death if struck. Power outages will last for weeks…as most power poles will be down and transformers destroyed. Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards. The vast majority of native trees will be snapped or uprooted. Only the heartiest will remain standing…but be totally defoliated. Few crops will remain. Livestock left exposed to the winds will be killed. An inland hurricane wind warning is issued when sustained winds near hurricane force…or frequent gusts at or above hurricane force…are certain within the next 12 to 24 hours. Once tropical storm and hurricane force winds onset…do not venture outside!” [Times-Picayune Blog, 8/28/2005; National Weather Service, 9/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Camille, National Weather Service

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The Times-Picayune Blog publishes the LSU Hurricane Center’s updated flood prediction graphic, which indicates that Katrina’s storm surge will cause massive flooding throughout the City of New Orleans. [Times-Picayune, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: City of New Orleans

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) Advisory leads by warning, “Potentially catastrophic Hurricane Katrina headed for the Northern Gulf Coast.” Conditions are already deteriorating along portions of the central and northeastern Gulf Coast, and they will continue to deteriorate throughout the evening. Katrina, still a Category 5 hurricane, is likely to make landfall with Category 4 or 5 intensity. The NHC reiterates that storm surge flooding will be 18-22 feet above normal, with increased surge to 28 feet in some areas, and warns that “some levees in the greater New Orleans area could be overtopped.” Katrina’s minimum central pressure is now the fourth lowest on record in the Atlantic. Other aspects of the NHC Advisory include:
bullet Location: 150 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
bullet Direction and Speed: Northwest at near 13 mph
bullet Maximum Sustained Winds: 175 mph with higher gusts
bullet Estimated Central Pressure: 902 mb
bullet Size: Hurricane winds extend 105 miles from the center; tropical storm force winds extend outward for 230 miles
bullet Probability that in the next 69 hours, Katrina’s eye will pass within 75 miles of:
bullet Panama City, FL: 5 percent
bullet Gulfport, MS: 38 percent
bullet New Orleans, LA: 47 percent [National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005; National Hurricane Center, 8/28/2005]

Entity Tags: Hurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center

Category Tags: Pre-Impact Katrina, Advisories

Page 1 of 2 (176 events)
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Ordering 

Time period


Categories

Period

Before Katrina (140)Pre-Impact Katrina (192)During Katrina (76)Immediate Katrina Aftermath (19)After Katrina (3)

Organization

Federal (138)Federal: FEMA (64)Louisiana: State (72)Louisiana: NOLA (46)Louisiana: SELA (42)Mississippi: State (4)Mississippi: Biloxi (0)Mississippi: Gulfport (0)Mississippi: Other Local (0)Alabama: State (0)Florida: State (0)States: Other States (0)Private Sector (19)Academia/Professional (9)Media (27)NGOs (17)General Public (9)

Knowledge

Flood Risk (28)Evacuation Problem (22)Public Safety Risk (3)Environmental Risk (5)Organization Capacity (10)Levee Breach/Flooding (58)Sheltering (1)Response Level (1)Advisories (81)Increased Chance of Hurricane (1)

Disaster Management Legislation Relevant to Katrina

Legislation (3)

Emergency Preparedness/Response Plans

Evacuation (13)Shelter (4)Response (7)Recovery (1)

Policies that Affected Intensity of Katrina Impact

Environmental Policies/Programs (16)Land Development (3)Flood Control Programs (23)Disaster Mitigation (12)Disaster Preparedness (11)Resource Allocation (29)FEMA Restructuring (16)Outsourcing (5)Political Patronage (9)Canvassing (0)

Progress and Impact Hurricane Katrina

Florida (3)Louisiana: State (2)Louisiana: NOLA (20)Louisiana: SELA (18)Mississippi: Local (0)Mississippi: State (0)Mississippi: Biloxi (0)Mississippi: Gulfport (0)Mississippi: Other Local (0)Alabama: State (0)

Execution of Emergency Plans

Evacuation (22)Sheltering (2)Emergency Response (120)Other States' Assistance (0)

Response in Wake of Katrina Disaster

Response to Evacuation Execution (0)Response to Emergency Response (1)Investigations (0)

Recovery from Katrina

Infrastructure (bridges; roads) (0)Governmental Services (water, electricity, etc) (0)Industry (oil industry, etc.) (0)citizenship (0)

Statements

Policies (5)Warnings (15)Plans (0)Mitigation (4)Katrina (6)Execution of Emergency Plans (25)Response (0)Recovery (0)

Specific Cases and Issues

Coastal Wetlands (27)

Other

Other (4)
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