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August 29, 2008

Katrina—Third Anniversary
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 05:55 PM * 71 comments

Making Light followed this story from the beginning, from the day before Katrina hit New Orleans:

Katrina: Not your usual weather disaster story
28AUG05 O the dreadful wind and rain—They’re talking about this being the kind of storm that can reshape coastlines. Hurricane-force winds could be felt up to 150 miles inland. The Mayor of New Orleans has ordered a mandatory evacuation, and the governors of Louisiana and Mississippi have ordered that all the lanes on the interstates be switched to “outbound.” Best-case scenario for New Orleans still has the levees breaking and the city under fifteen feet of filthy water—and it doesn’t look like we’re going to be a best-case scenario. As of mid-afternoon, the storm’s stats are worse than Hurricane Camille’s—and while Camille was intense, it was also physically small. Katrina is huge.
29AUG05 “Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? ‘Times-Picayune’ Had Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues” by Will Bunch, in Editor & Publisher. A very strong article which lays out Bush & Co.’s consistent policy of stripping funding from levee maintenance and hurricane preparedness in the Gulf Coast area in order to reallocate those funds to the Department of Homeland Security and the war in Iraq.
Apocalypse deferred; likely damage merely “incredible”
29AUG05 Maybe there’ll be a New Orleans to go back to after all. We can hope.
Then again —
30AUG05 — we may have breathed a sigh of relief for NO too soon:
30AUG05 Footage from yesterday from a helicopter over New Orleans, with local commentary. Needless to say, the flooding is worse today.
30AUG05 Okay, which one do you have stuck in your head?
When the Levee Breaks
Down in the Flood (Crash on the Levee)
Wasn’t That a Mighty Day?
Five Feet High and Risin’
Wade in the Water
Here Comes the Flood
Throw Out the Lifeline
Katrina Info
30AUG05 Scroll down or click through to Katrina for our accumulating collection of links to check-in pages, current info sources, and background articles.
Yahoo News photos
30AUG05 I keep hearing on the news about looting in New Orleans. But what I’m seeing—everybody has digital cameras these days, especially reporters—are pictures of people slogging through filthy water with stashes of food, diapers, bottled beverages, etc.
Gulf coast status report
31AUG05 New Orleans is being abandoned for the time being, by decree of the governor. The whole city’s flooded, and in places the water is twenty feet deep. Survivors in the city’s shelters are going to have to be relocated. Hell, survivors everywhere in the city are going to have to be relocated.
Why everyone didn’t leave
31AUG05 This eye-opening rant by talented Southern writer Cherie Priest on what it’s like to have no money and no options, and no place to go, should be required reading for tsk-tsking newsreaders who’ve never missed a meal in their lives.
01SEP05 Belle Waring:
Say what you like about casting blame for the unfolding tragedy in NO, the bare facts of the matter are these: America suffered a serious attack on Sept. 11, 2001. That was four years ago. I think we had all assumed that in the meantime a lot of wargaming and disaster-mitigation planning and homeland security gearup had been going on. If this is what the Federal and State governments are going to come up with when the suitcase nuke goes off in D.C., then we are well and truly fucked.
You’re Part of Me Still
02SEP05 Fats Domino found.
Another term for it would be “lying sack of shit”
02SEP05 Michael Brown is a man who has no idea what words mean.
Imagine that
02SEP05 Amazingly, it turns out that Baton Rouge-based Innovative Emergency Management, beneficiaries of the clever plan to privatize emergency planning, have suddenly turned shy about letting the world see their old announcements and press releases.
Just a thought
02SEP05 New Orleans LiveJournaler “cobaltgreen” suggests what can be done to get help into the city faster.
1. Announce they are giving late term abortions down at the Convention Center.
2. Spread the rumor that they’re thinking about disconnecting the feeding tube of a (white) woman in a coma at one of the hospitals still standing.
3. Ask a calm, mourning, middle aged woman to camp out for peace along Canal Street.
Elsewhere on LiveJournal—
02SEP05 Say what you will about the SCA, but they do know something about dealing with large events that take place in a sea of mud.
Did you think we were just making it up?
02SEP05 “We’ve heard the warning “this isn’t about politics” over and over in the last few days. The hell it isn’t. And I don’t mean kicking Bush while he’s down, just for the fun of it, although there are surely liberals eager to do that. For the rest of us, however, we’re seeing the awful real-world consequences of conservatism play out on our television screens. This is why we’re liberals. We don’t yell about poverty and racial disparities for kicks. ”
Comedy Gold
02SEP05 “The good news is— and it’s hard for some to see it now—that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house—he’s lost his entire house—there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.) ”
Tryin’ to find out what I didn’t know
03SEP05 Chuck Taggart’s Looka is another weblog that’s been tracking events in New Orleans; we should have linked to it days ago. This day’s worth of posts includes a list of which well-known New Orleans musicians are accounted for, and which are still missing. (Still missing: Alex Chilton.)
The otters return, and they’re on fire
03SEP05 The Red Cross has been ordered not to enter New Orleans with relief.
Welcome to your dystopian future
03SEP05 The observation that the United States is best understood as a third world country that happens to have a lot of money has never seemed more correct.
God Be Praised, The System Works
04SEP05 In other news, it’s harder and harder to tell the joke fake news from the real.
04SEP05 One thing the last week has clarified is that, as far as a lot of right-wingers are concerned, self-reliance and survivalism are virtues only when practiced by people who look like right-wingers. Practiced by the rest of us, they’re grounds for summary execution.
Discover America! It’s 2700 smiles wide
04SEP05 British families trapped in New Orleans last night claimed that US authorities had refused to evacuate them as Hurricane Katrina approached the city.
05SEP05 It’s enough to make you suspect the “politics” we’re allowed to see is not much more than a stage show designed to distract us. Imagine thinking such a thing.
An Open Letter to the President
05SEP05 From an editorial in the Times-Picayune
Looking ahead
05SEP05 Via Avedon Carol, this play on Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
Mission accomplished
05SEP05 “Fox news analyst Sean Hannity praised Bush’s speech, saying, ‘I will say anything my leader tells to say…. That’s what a journalist is supposed to do.” Time magazine’s Blog of the Year concurred, writing, ‘The City of New Orleans and its residents owe the President a profound debt of gratitude for these photographs.’ ”
Not An Imaginary Story
05SEP05 Next to this, the unselfconscious depravity of Barbara Bush is small beans. It does make me want to say and do things I’ll regret. I’m beginning to think that’s its point.
Words line up in formation and fail me
05SEP05 Maybe I will have that drink after all.
Today’s Lesson (1)
05SEP05 Then said Jesus unto him, “Go, and do thou likewise.”

That’s just the first week. We followed the Katrina story for months; the posts and the comment threads (the best part is the commentary) are still here in the archives. Heck, we were even ahead of the story: From Making Light, Risk Assessment, September 15, 2004 (nearly a solid year before the disaster):

It may have been written in 2002, but Hurricane Risk for New Orleans, from the American Radioworks site, is an unpleasantly prescient look at New Orleans’ vulnerability to a major hurricane:
Think about the great cities in this country, and one of them will be New Orleans. On a recent evening, a scientist pulls up in the French Quarter. Joe Suhayda takes a plastic rod out of his trunk and he proceeds to show us what could happen the next time a hurricane hits New Orleans.

“OK, this is tool that I have a range rod,” explains Suyhayda. “It will show us how high the water would be if we were hit with a Category Five Hurricane.”

Which would mean what?

“Twenty feet of water above where we are standing now,” says Suyhayda.

No one could say, “No one could have predicted this,” except Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff did say, “government planners did not predict such a disaster ever could occur.”

Which brings us back to today: Three years on and not one bit better prepared for a hurricane striking New Orleans. And what’s this in the news? Hurricane Gustav, headed for New Orleans. Landfall sometime between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning with winds up to 130 MPH. While all the Republicans are happily gathered in their convention center in Minneapolis. And right behind it, Tropical Storm Hanna.

God only knows where Hanna will go, where it’ll hit, and how hard.

Comments on Katrina--Third Anniversary:
#1 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 07:01 PM:

Somehow I had the impression that hurricanes run out of energy when they hit land, but the map shows Gustav crossing Cuba, and the news says it already hit Jamaica, and it's still going to be a hurricane when it hits the mainland?

#2 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 07:04 PM:

Cuba is narrow south-to-north, and there's a awful lot of warm water in the Gulf beyond it.

#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 07:12 PM:

Nah. Gustav is angry. Never underestimate a pissed-off hurricane.

#4 ::: George Smiley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 07:29 PM:

Here is the NOAA storm track prediction for Gustav. Note the predicted location of the storm on 2 pm Monday, as the preliminary speakers are scheduled to be warming up the GOP crowd for McCain's acceptance speech.

If there is an interventionist God, He has a *deeply* malicious sense of humor.

#5 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 07:46 PM:

Well, there wasn't a cloudburst over Obama's speech, despite whats-iz-name praying for one.

#6 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 07:54 PM:

Jim, #5: Yes, precisely. If I were a Christian of the "everything happens for a Reason" variety, I would be really hard put to view this combination of events as anything but a clear, unmistakable sign that God favors Obama. Of course, you'll never hear that interpretation being stated publicly -- but I do wonder how many of them, deep down inside, are utterly terrified that it might be the case?

#7 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 08:35 PM:

Gustav took a few hours to get really warmed up after he rained on us a little, but Hurricane Gustav, after blowing up to Cat 1 from nameless status in a record 16 hours, killed fifty people in Haiti with rain. Haiti's mountains slowed him down and knocked out his eye, but he reformed a new eye south of Haiti and hit Jamaica at tropical storm strength.

His glancing blow at Jamaica slowed him down further, but he staggered back out over the water and is currently bearing down on the Caymans, and has already regained hurricane status.

The southwestern tip of Cuba is pretty flat. If Gustav's eye actually traverses Cuba (not at all certain), it'll slow him down a little. But it's not going to break him up at all, and once he crosses that little spit of land, he's got the whole wide Gulf of Mexico primed and ready to pump him up to Category 3 strength.

There are little eddies (in the space-time continuum) -- no, no, in the Gulf. Eddies of hot water which break off the warm current moving up around Cuba to flow on out as the Gulf Stream. If Gustav hits the big eddy from July, the Gulf Coast is really in hot water.

Hanna, meanwhile, after spending a few days piddling around to the northeast of Puerto Rico (and not even raining on us), has suddenly decided to take a freaky little dogleg south, and looks to be headed right along Katrina's path, which is to say, cutting south of Florida (or smack over Miami, but that hardly counts) and then roaring across the Gulf.

The good-ish news there is that Gustav will already have cooled some of the Gulf down before Hanna gets a chance at it. Hurricanes churn up the bottom water (which is cold) and slow down the cycle.

And then there's Invest 97, which is just over the Cape Verde Islands after its sojourn across the Sahara, looking to the west and thinking hard.

Yes sir. Interesting times.

To answer Erik @1 - yeah. Land kills hurricanes, from friction with the landscape and because land isn't as warm as tropical water, especially when it cools down at night. But you need a continent to do it right; we just don't have much land down here -- although the mountains do make a visible difference, if an eye actually manages to hit an island.

New Orleans has started evacuation -- still voluntary at this point -- but Mayor Nagin says if Gustav stays on this track, it'll be mandatory tomorrow. Mr. Bush has already declared an emergency, three years too late, and has freed up federal funds for relief efforts. I'd say he's got a head start on a heck of a job this time.

The irony is knife-cuttable. I have no idea what the media are making of this; I haven't the stomach to watch.

#8 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 08:41 PM:

Oh -- the best possible resource for your tropical weather fix is the Weather Underground's tropical weather page.

#9 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 08:47 PM:

Hurting, big time.

Every morning this 3rd week anniversary I wake like I did back in 2005, clenched stomach, heart hurting, head swollen, depressed, anxious, scared.

Vaquero has declared August 29th the first day of the Season of Death: that runs back to 9/11/01.

That's how triggery we are these days.

I can only imagine what it is like for those who really went through it, for real. I've talked to with so many then, and since, and all week, and today.

It's just farkin' horrible.

Yet, so many are looking Gustav in the eye, despite everything, and shaking a cocktail into it. Laughing. While crying. While packing.

Love, C.

#10 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 08:49 PM:

The big hope is that the rivers of cold water poured into the Gulf from this year's Midwest floods may have cooled the temps in crucial places just enough to take some of the power out of Gustav.

Love, C.

#11 ::: George Smiley ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 10:03 PM:

So. Wikipedia says that the toll stands at 1,836 dead, 705 missing. That number is higher than my recollection of the official numbers. A lot higher. Am I nuts, or was this accounting successfully suppressed?

#12 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 10:22 PM:

Went out to the KC RenFest today with my boss to de-spider and de-grime the booth as well as put the flowers in their spots/hanging baskets, hang signs, etc. for opening day tomorrow.

He had Air America on and on the way home one of their commentators said that the GOP probably regards the gulf hurricanes now as either; extreme irony, or if you believe in God, punishment for all those eeevil Democrats down there (including their innocent children).

#13 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 10:31 PM:

Unsurprisingly, Karl Rove said just about the most evil thing possible when contemplating the possibility that Gustav would cause another major catastrophe for New Orleans during the Republican convention:

"'The Republicans can't seem to catch a break when it comes to August and when it comes to the weather,' said Karl Rove, a former Bush adviser, on Fox News yesterday.

Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida as a Category 5 storm in August 1992, and the sluggish federal response was castigated by state leaders as well as then-candidate Bill Clinton in his successful bid to defeat President George H.W. Bush that fall.

The current President Bush believed that the nation had dodged a bullet after Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005, only to realize belatedly that New Orleans had flooded and his administration's homeland security apparatus was overwhelmed."

It's not that the Republicans are incompetent and/or negligent. It's certainly not that the people living in hurricane-prone areas can't catch a break, especially those unfortunate enough to be living under Republican administrations. No, the people we really should feel sorry for here are the Republicans!

#14 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2008, 11:03 PM:

If they're going to try claiming that these hurricanes are a Message from the Powers that Be, then they might want to consider this:
the message could be that the Powers don't much like the GOP and the way it treats people who aren't rich white conservative men.

#15 ::: Wakboth ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 03:08 AM:

The idea of Gustav disrupting the RNC convention is almost-delicious irony. If only you could have hurricanes without the loss of life and horrible damage...

#16 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 07:03 AM:

Well, they're prepared this year. No people starving in the Superdome this time. This year it will be quietly off camera.

NEW ORLEANS - Police with bullhorns plan to go street to street with a tough message about getting out ahead of Hurricane Gustav: This time there will be no shelter of last resort. The doors to the Superdome will be locked. Those who stay will be on their own.

And, if you have a problem with that:

Blackwater Worldwide is currently seeking qualified law enforcement officers and security personnel to potentially deploy to provide security in the possible aftermath of Hurricane Gustav. This is the first time Blackwater has mobilized under its controversial Homeland Security contracts.

Links courtesy of Brad deLong and Majikthise.

#17 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 07:05 AM:

Agh; correct Brad deLong link here.

#18 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 09:33 AM:

Land kills hurricanes, from friction with the landscape and because land isn't as warm as tropical water, especially when it cools down at night.

The real killer isn't friction, it's lack of moisture. Tropical Cyclones are heat pumps -- very humid air is lifted up and condenses. The Heat of Condensation (ΔvH) of water is very high -- it takes a great deal of energy turn boiling water into steam -- and when you reverse it, a great deal of heat is pulled into the water, which then falls. Thunderstorms work the same way, but the rain rapidly cools the ground, shutting off the pump that lofts that moisture. (This is why storms than don't move fade quickly, storms that move fast can last for hours.) Over the ocean, even several inches of rain won't significantly cool the ocean waters, so the storm can grow without cutting off the moisture and heat it needs to grow. Warm waters have lots of both -- even 100F rain soaked ground has a fraction of the heat and moisture available than the Gulf of Mexico does in late summer.

#19 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 09:38 AM:

The Katrina coverage was one of the high points of Making Light. I can't bear to read it again, but I read every word at the time.

#20 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 09:38 AM:

Meanwhile, Gustav at 30-Aug-2008 0800EDT: 20.8N, 81.6W, expected track NE12. Winds 120MPH/105kts (CATIII). Pressure 28.20InHg/955mb.

Over last 24 hours, Winds +20kts, Pressure -28mb.

#21 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 11:12 AM:

Jon @ #16, the news isn't all bad:

"In a bid to avoid the 2005 spectacle of desperate city residents crammed into the New Orleans Superdome, the government has lined up hundreds of buses and trains to evacuate 30,000 people who can't leave the city on their own." [Reuters]

#22 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 01:06 PM:

Is it me, or does that Rove-mark have strong potential to backfire badly?

Also, were I superstitious about such things, I would note that this isn't the first (as noted) or even even the second time that the Republican heartland and in particular the administration (didn't something hit Texas oilman country last year, for example?) is getting nailed and start wondering if maybe Buchanan's pietistic "this is punishment for the liberals" is off base and Someone is sending a message about Republicans.

It's also worth recalling that Katrina took out a lot of refineries, so it wasn't just the poor that got hammered then.

#23 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 02:41 PM:

I dunno. I tracked back all the links, but never found an actual link to the alleged Blackwater call for personnel.

This is a terrible time and feelings are very high. Rumors are rife. We all have to check and re-check and re-check again the veracity of everything, in order to keep panic under control.

Believe me, I'm no fan of Blackwater and its thugs paid so highly with our tax dollars. I have confirmed stories of really evil Shyte some pulled in New Orleans post Katrina.

Love, C.

#24 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 02:43 PM:

It's reThugs' Gawd-given white shoe right, entitlement, privilege to have vacation from July 4th through Labor Day. Additionally, it is Tradition!

Dayem them hurricanes and terrorists for not following the rules.

Love, C.

#25 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 02:47 PM:

O.K. I found an AP story re Blackwater calling for personnel for New Orleans -- a single one, and it's very short.


Love, C.

#26 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 04:46 PM:

At least this time, New Orleans-ers will be convinced to take an axe along should they have to evacuate into their attics.

30,000 bus spaces shouldn't even begin to be enough evacuation for all the people without cars.

Let us not forget that McCain has called for increased offshore oil drilling and had to forego a photo-op on a rig because of bad weather already. Kind of underscores how inefficient that is for a cure for our oil problems.

And that Palin is a global warning denier... from a state that is going to be a major sufferer from Arctic warming.

#27 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 05:25 PM:

I was reading a PDF online about drilling rigs and the strings they use. There apparently are points where they can safely separate the string from the rig, when they have to leave the area because of weather.

#28 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 06:56 PM:

Idea for housing in New Orleans.

I spent some time once in Sausalito and saw their piers of houseboats, which were not exactly boats so much as boxes that sat on the bottom in low tide and floated in high tide. So in effect they were buildings at low tide and boats in high tide. Perhaps such a structure would be useful for a different reason in flood-prone areas; they could sit on the ground in normal times and float on the water in a flood. Does this sound practical?

#29 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 07:12 PM:

Erik Nelson @28: I like that notion; unfortunately, I am not enough of an architect to evaluate it myself. It had occurred to me that houses could be designed as boats, just for that reason. I suppose zoning/housing codes might be the main issue (IIRC, Robert Heinlein wrote an essay in the 50s, complaining that such considerations prevented the development of efficient, affordable housing).

One idea I had was developing boxcars as living units in a sort-of railyard/trailer park. In the event of emergencies with enough advance warning (such as hurricanes and/or flooding; tornadoes might not give you enough advance warning), a locomotive would hitch together the homes and pull them to higher ground (or out of state).

#30 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 07:38 PM:

Gustav is now Cat4, possibly going to be Cat5. Still aimed at western Louisiana. Oh Ghu, please no.

#31 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 07:46 PM:

It would be lovely if New Orleans actually had 700 buses headed in... but the contractor bailed ... excuse me, ran into challenges. They're using school buses instead.

#32 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 07:50 PM:


For a moment I thought you were talking about Ethernet cables . . .

#33 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 08:11 PM:

@30 etc

Track forecast west of N.O., yes, but that isn't necessarily *better* - the east side of gulf coast storms tends to stay stronger longer than the west side does (given the SE quadrant over warm water and the NW quadrant over cooler, drier land.)

We talk a lot about what Katrina did to N.O. three years ago but the devastation went as far east at Mobile, AL (a couple hours drive as I recall - maybe 80 miles?).

Interesting times, indeed. I've read of evacuation orders for, well, Orleans, Lafourche, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, and parts of Jefferson Parish so far (link goes to WWL-TV, channel 4 out of New Orleans).

Suppose I should call my parents, who live in the region but not the evac zone, and find out how many of my extended family are moving in with them this weekend.

#34 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 08:29 PM:

Erik Nelson: I think it's likely to be a one way system (that is boats can be houses, but houses can't be boats.

First problem... Sewage. if the thing floats, it can't have a sewage (or anyother) water connection (well, not quite. A bib with hoses running to the house might be doable).

Second problem (and harder to fix) maintenance. The bottom has to stay watertight. That's hard to do if they are in contact with the ground. You also have a lot of limits on weight, and distribution.

#35 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 09:44 PM:

According to the NYT, Ray Nagin is calling Gustav "the storm of the century" and NO is being evacuated. I pray they get everyone -- especially the elderly and infirm -- out.

#36 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 10:07 PM:

1836 dead, 705 missing is about how I remember it.

(I remember somewhat higher estimates, actually--attempts to accurately estimate death toll in disasters usually drop a bit from high early numbers, as missing people turn up; 9/11 was a characteristic example, clearer than Katrina because the final death toll was so definite.)

But the early official counts were much lower, implausibly low. I don't think they were really meant to be believed. It wasn't easy to even try to count bodies.

A repeat is a horrible thing to contemplate. Especially if people get left behind to drown again three years after the same thing happened. I'm betting the governments know all eyes are on how they perform, but with them I don't really trust that that's enough.

#37 ::: jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 10:12 PM:

Yeah, the fun never stops. Local school systems had to provide more than 400 buses Saturday to make up for a lack of transportation the state had promised to provide for evacuees by using out-of-state contractors.

The Governor promised 700 buses would arrive by Thursday. As of Thursday night, 150 had arrived. By Friday, the governor's assessment was this: "The contractor is not necessarily doing what they promised to do."

#38 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 10:40 PM:

Gustav is destroying western Cuba, it seems, and has already devastated Haiti and the Dominican Republic and done a lot of damage in Jamaica.

Gustav is much larger than Katrina, and Katrina was huge. She covered enormous territory.
Even now, three years later, driving north from New Orleans, you have get 300 miles up to finally get above the area of Katrina devastation.

Gustav is bigger than Katrina.

I'm just sick.

The reThugCON is considering turning themselves into a telethon to raise mone for the Red Cross.

But as far as I've been able to tell, the scandals embezzlements, etc. of the Red Cross from Katrina's time which made people not want to donate to the Red Cross but rather to individuals who would hand money directly to victims, hasn't been fixed.

Vaquero's hometown of Natchitoches is expected to get hit -- and it's 200 miles northwest of New Orleans. The eye is expected to pass over Alexandria, which isn't that far from Natchitoches.

All those New Orleans musicians heading from Denver or elsewhere to play the reThugCON must all be trying to get back home for their families and homes. But -- contraflow is already just about to go into effect.

Love, C.

#39 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 11:12 PM:

Forwarned is 4-armed, and all that.

OK Jim, is there anything people who don't live in the Gustav strike zone can do, now? Think big. Should fandom-at-large rent a bus tomorrow morning? Would it do any good? What *would* do some good?

#40 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 11:43 PM:

INCITE is requesting donations for help in evacuating people:

Your assistance is urgently needed to help low-income women of color and their families evacuate safely if need be, stay safe for the duration of the evacuation, and return to the city as soon as possible so as not to fall prey to the pushout that has kept so many folks from being able to return to New Orleans since Katrina. Local organizers are using whatever resources and funds at their disposal to help women and their families evacuate, bond people being held in Orleans Parish Prison out, and support those who make the choice to stay in whatever way they can.
#41 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2008, 11:53 PM:


They're expecting hurricane force winds in NATCHITOCHES?!? [1] Criminy.

(For the uninitated, think "halfway between Alexandria and Shreveport" or "About 3/4 the way up the west side of Louisiana." Definitely. NOT. Coastal.)

[1] Yes, I can spell it. Went to school there, 89-91. Have Christmas Festival tee shirt to prove it.

#42 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 12:35 AM:

MSNBC Hurricaine Tracker:

#43 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 01:04 AM:

In re houses that double as boats: my first thought was that even if you had something which would float nicely in calm water (about the best you can hope for, I think), this doesn't mean it would be good enough when a big storm is coming through.

Anyone else remember a news story from years ago about a hurricane-proof house? It weighed some multiple of what a normal house that size would (a lot of concrete, I think)-- the owner could hardly hear it when a hurricane was there. I don't recommend this as a general solution. It must have been very expensive to build.

Other than that, I'm just hoping that Gustav does the least damage possible.

#44 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 01:12 AM:

Lucy Kemnitzer's son Frank, an EMT, has been contacted by the Red Cross to go down and help. He'll miss his father's memorial service.

#45 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 02:25 AM:

Eric @ #28, there are already people in the Netherlands living in floatable houses. Terry @ #34, the story I saw I think the homes either have boat-type pump-able sewer tanks or maybe a detachable line to a sewer system and a tank on board just in case they have to separate and cannot hook back up right away. But I'm also not sure how stormworthy they are.

#46 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 03:07 AM:

Doctor Science @ 39: I went looking for the people who organised Peoplefinder after Katrina, and they seem to be organising for Gustav here.

There's all sorts of information oh how to get help, and on how to give help, and more being added all the time.

#47 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 04:05 AM:

Adding to Jen Roth @40, Critical Resistance is calling for people to agitate on behalf of the some 2,500 people still incarcerated in New Orleans. The linked post includes the contact information of the relevant officials.

#48 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 04:46 AM:

Jon Meltzer @16: Blackwater Worldwide is currently seeking qualified law enforcement officers and security personnel to potentially deploy to provide security in the possible aftermath of Hurricane Gustav. This is the first time Blackwater has mobilized under its controversial Homeland Security contracts.

When I heard about Gustav, I thought "Oh, that's bad. Let's hope for the best- as little harm as possible"- the way you think that kind of thing during disasters somewhere.

When I read this part of your post, though, I felt a kind of dread of wich I'm not sure that I have the words to describe it. Oh dear.

#49 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 07:45 AM:

LA has a Republican governor now, right? I am cynical enough to believe that the >>Federal

#50 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 09:53 AM:'s got some pretty comprehensive front-page coverage going as of a couple hours ago. Gustav'still CAT 4, and last I heard the track's centering on New Orleans.

#51 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 10:45 AM:

My son called from Baton Rouge this morning to reassure us that he didn't think it was going to be as bad as everyone was saying, but his record on that sort of prediction is spotty. He was still living in DC in 2005, so he didn't have to deal with Katrina, but we were all in West Florida a few months later when Wilma hit; he was sure it wouldn't be a big deal, and he was half right; there wasn't any loss of life, but there was an awful lot of water in things, a lot of power outages, and some damage to buildings.

I sure hope he's right about Gustav.

#52 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 10:50 AM:

The 3-day cone from the National Hurricane Center. There's a poster, millwx, over at Daily Kos, who's tracking the forecasting models and the NHC predictions.

#53 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 11:44 AM:

Nancy #43, re: Hurricane-proof houses:

Do you remember what they did about the roof? IME, it's always the roof that comes off from solid concrete or stone buildings in strong winds, I don't dare to imagine what the roofs would do in a hurricane.

#54 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 11:51 AM:
#48 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 04:46 AM:

Jon Meltzer @16: Blackwater Worldwide is currently seeking qualified law enforcement officers and security personnel to potentially deploy to provide security in the possible aftermath of Hurricane Gustav. This is the first time Blackwater has mobilized under its controversial Homeland Security contracts.

When I heard about Gustav, I thought "Oh, that's bad. Let's hope for the best- as little harm as possible"- the way you think that kind of thing during disasters somewhere.

When I read this part of your post, though, I felt a kind of dread of wich I'm not sure that I have the words to describe it. Oh dear.

Again I request, please, please, please, don't spread unsubstantiated rumors. There's no trackback to any source that's reliable on this one. One, and one only, very short AP article quoted in a Carolina paper. Period. And that was some days ago already.

As we know all too well from our experiences in 9/11 and then Katrina, rumors are rife and they are crazy. And things are crazy and awful. We need to be as responsible as possible to not make things worse.

Love, C.

#55 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 11:55 AM:

One of Kate Elliott's twin sons has been in New Orleans with America Corps. He and his team have been evacuated to Alexandria, to set up an evacuation center.

Considering Gustav's expected trajectory that doesn't seem to be a good site ....

Love, C.

#56 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 12:28 PM:

millwx at Daily Kos is saying that according to current models, Gustav will reach land sometime Monday afternoon or early evening, that the storm at the moment is not as large as has been talked about (Category 3, not 4) and that there's a good chance the eye will miss NO, which means no storm surge, though there's still likely to be lots and lots of rain. At least, that's what's being said now. But all of this can change: Gustav can strengthen or weaken, change course, etc. at anytime in the next 24 hours. Everyone is saying, get out now; if you wait until the rain starts, it'll be too late. Looks like evacuation is proceeding smoothly: I'm pleased to say that the Powers That Be have been evacuating the old folks' homes, nursing homes, etc. first, and giving out pet carriers so that people can travel with their pets. Well done.

#58 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 03:16 PM:

One of Cuba's weather stations from Pinar del Rio reported wind velocity of 204.

Even with 'only' a cat 3 the estimated storm surges at certain parts of the levee system are estimated to overtop by at least 10 feet, at least several times while Gustav blows.

Love, C.

#59 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 03:24 PM:

Constance @38:
But as far as I've been able to tell, the scandals embezzlements, etc. of the Red Cross from Katrina's time which made people not want to donate to the Red Cross but rather to individuals who would hand money directly to victims, hasn't been fixed.

That's a set of allegations which Edward C Oleander, who should know about these things, discussed with you in some detail in a previous thread. I don't recall the conversation including any evidence of the systemic problems you imply.

As you yourself said, please, please, please don't spread unsubstantiated rumors. Of any kind.

#60 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 04:15 PM:

#59 ::: abi

The information is easily available.

I was not aware of refutation.

Love, C.

#61 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 04:22 PM:

inge (53):

Nancy #43, re: Hurricane-proof houses:

Do you remember what they did about the roof? IME, it's always the roof that comes off from solid concrete or stone buildings in strong winds, I don't dare to imagine what the roofs would do in a hurricane.

To make a roof hurricane resistant the rafters are connected to the rest of the frame with hurricane ties (metal plates that attach to the sides of the joints), the roof decking is attached by crossnailing (the nails go in side-by-side at angles to resist pullout), and the roof is built as a hip roof without overhangs to keep the wind from getting under it. There are also shingles that are designed to resist being torn off by the wind.

#62 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 04:28 PM:

Constance @60:

Without knowing to what, precisely, you're referring, it's not possible to tell if Edward's postings constituted a refutation. I certainly found them interesting, and I note that you never came back to that discussion to reply to them.

Your views are of course your views. But they are not, on their own, more than unsubstantiated allegation. (Nor are anyone's, of course.)

#63 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 05:25 PM:

Constance @38:
Concrete steps the Red Cross has taken to eliminate fraud:

Every Red Cross volunteer and employee MUST agree to a national background check, a criminal background check is done, and the Red Cross reserves the privilege of doing credit and mode-of-living checks. (Walk-in volunteers can be used for 2 weeks without a background check (but only in strongly-supervised positions that don't deal with money). (Volunteers from organizations that have Memoranda-of-Understanding with the Red Cross do not have to agree to the credit and mode-of-living checks, but these folks aren't used in roles that handle money or bulk transportation of goods -- like ham radio operators)).

The Red Cross set up a fraud-and-abuse hotline to make it easier for volunteers and staff to report problems. Every volunteer is given the 800 number and it is also part of the orientation for deployment to every national disaster. We are supposed to report not only big problems, but also lapses in being good stewards of the donated dollar.

The Red Cross is vigilant in policing itself. The Chapter Exec of a nearby chapter was fired and later convicted for embezzling funds (using Red Cross gas cards for her own vehicle, letting the daughter of a friend take an expensive class for free, etc. The problem was reported by a member of her staff.)

#64 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 08:16 PM:

Hurricane proof roof -- you can use steel; a barrel vault roof on steel trusses with 5/8" stainless steel planking held on with bolts will stand up to nearly anything. (Assuming competent truss design!) One wants to put something underneath to reduce acoustic coupling.

The ferroconcrete house with the serious shutters and the serious roof is more expensive as a capital outlay than a frame house; if you have to replace it every 150 years instead of every 25, though, the long term -- even lifetime! -- occupancy cost has good odds of being lower.

#65 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 08:45 PM:

#53 ::: inge:

This is only an impression, but I'm thinking it was a giant concrete egg without a separate roof. I'm wandering over to Ask Metafilter since I'm pretty sure I read the article but the collective memory here isn't turning up an answer.

Ask Metafilter is a wonderful thing-- it's the site for asking those questions not easily answered by Google. You can answer questions for free, but it takes a $5 lifetime membership to ask them. Absolutely worth it.

It's also a great site for killing time.

#66 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2008, 08:58 PM:

Since they can be a little snippy at Ask Metafilter if you don't google first, I did my own checking....

Here are two hurricane proof houses:

I love the Greek pillars.

Here's the article I was thinking of:

Concrete egg that weighs 34 times as much as a normal house-- I'm still surprised that no one here seems to have remembered the article.

#67 ::: George Smiley ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2008, 03:10 AM:

Just... oh, man. Via the Wunderground discussion boards...

Drunk guys near predicted landfall in Houma, La, with a live webcam feed.

The windsock on the fence in the background is a particularly creepy touch.

#68 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2008, 08:00 AM:

@George Smiley: That cam's down; according to the guy running it at his twitter feed (@rezin8) the power's down, the router's battery went out, and they've lost internet.

There's another live feed in Lulling, west of New Orleans. Wind's picking up.

#69 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2008, 08:05 AM:

Better one from (I think?) Gulfport, here; I gather they're stormchasers, and they're looking worried.

#70 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2008, 09:31 AM:

A mold-proof house would also be a good idea. After the flooding, the main factor that made New Orleans houses uninhabitable was mold, which many disaster insurance plans don't cover. The mold also made many people sick.

Metal, possibly (though steel would rust).

#71 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2008, 07:14 PM:

Dr. Science #39 OK Jim, is there anything people who don't live in the Gustav strike zone can do, now? Think big. Should fandom-at-large rent a bus tomorrow morning? Would it do any good? What *would* do some good?

Two days before landfall, you're behind the power curve. Anything you're doing then is winging it.

What you (or a group of friends) can do is: 365 days before landfall, go out, get trained, put together your gear, make plans, join a CERT, volunteer with a local group that aids in disasters, and be ready to go. So when the time comes, someone in the Logistics branch knows that you're a resource, and plugs you into the incident.

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