Saturday, September 03, 2005

More on the mayor

posted by Rob at 7:53 AM

I just noticed the glowing profile of New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin in Thursday's Washington Post. The headline - "New Orleans Mayor Stays Cool in Crisis."

Here's how cool he can be on the radio:
Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.

I clicked over to the City of New Orleans webpage, which has understandably not been updated in a few days. It lists two press releases from the mayor, the last dated August 27. It's headline - "Mayor Nagin Urges Citizens to Prepare For Hurricane Katrina."

It really makes no sense (emphasis mine):
“Although the track could change, forecasters believe Hurricane Katrina will affect New Orleans,” said Mayor Nagin. “We may call for a voluntary evacuation later this afternoon or tomorrow morning to coincide with the instatement of contraflow. This will give people more options to leave the area. However, citizens need to begin preparing now so they will be ready to leave when necessary. Do everything to prepare for a regular hurricane, but treat this one differently because it is headed our way. This is not a test.”

wtf? Do the same, but differently. Great, cool leadership there.

Also on the New Orleans website is the city's emergency plan to prepare for hurricanes. Interesting to note this (emphasis mine):

Evacuation planning and actual implementation has to be based upon certain assumptions. It must be understood that the need to evacuate elements of the population can occur at any time, events resulting in evacuations occur with various amounts of lead time and every evacuation will be unique and offer unexpected challenges to those conducting the evacuation. Evacuations in response to hazardous material spills or sudden severe weather are provided with little or no warning, and often have to be accomplished after the fact, and in a disaster response environment. Throughout the Parish persons with special needs, require special consideration regarding notification, transportation, and sheltering. Resources of equipment, facilities and personnel are more difficult to locate and coordinate when an evacuation is required during late night or early morning hours. If possible, advance warning should be given so an evacuation can be coordinated. Adequate provisions should be maintained at all times in order to conduct a warning or alert of an area.

Certain hazards, such as a hurricane, provide some lead time for coordinating an evacuation. However, this can not be considered a certainty. Plus, the sheer size of an evacuation in response to an approaching hurricane creates the need for the use of community-wide warning resources, which cannot be limited to our City's geographical boundaries. Evacuation of major portions of our population, either in response to localized or citywide disasters, can only be accomplished if the citizens and visitors are kept informed of approaching threats on a timely schedule, and if they are notified of the need to evacuate in a timely and organized manner. If an evacuation order is issued without the mechanisms needed to disseminate the information to the affected persons, then we face the possibility of having large numbers of people either stranded and left to the mercy of a storm, or left in an area impacted by toxic materials.

Now how does that mesh with this from Sunday:
In the face of a catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, a mandatory evacuation was ordered Sunday for New Orleans by Mayor Ray Nagin. ...

Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding. ...

(The mayor) told those who had to move to the Superdome to come with enough food for several days and with blankets. He said it will be a very uncomfortable place and encouraged everybody who could to get out.

Like a lot of government documents, the City of New Orleans emergency plan reads like a term paper written the night before it's due - long, overwrought and complicated. Its neverending details are meant to hopefully impress a citizenry bogged down with other pressing issues enough to earn a quick nod and passing grade - not to actually ever be read.

I wonder if we'll ever find our how much of that plan was ever enacted or followed.

UPDATE: Thanks Professor.


Blogger notbuyingit said...

What doesn't the N.O. mayor understand about the concept of "mandatory evacuation"? All [one] needs to do is go to the Drudge Report site and see the photo of endless school busses sitting in flood waters in N.O. The mayor should have forced his people out of there and put them on those busses. The responsibility in the aftermath of this disaster sits firmly on the shoulders of the mayor. Obviously he has a strong entitlement mentality and figured `let it come and the feds will bail us out'.

Col. David Hunt (ret.) was on Bill O'Reilly last night. Though [others] won't pick up on his in depth leg work to see where the critical breakdown in response occurred, Hunt clearly laid out how the Louisiana Governor DID NOT ask the state and other National Guard troops to be federalized until very late this week. It is so much more easy and politically fashionable to dump all of this on Bush's head and let the MSM run with it. The media airs the complaints of the victims and the city and state officials, but doesn't clarify for the "spoon-fed" viewer the facts of HOW and WHY things did or didn't happen.

It is HOW our system of government is set up. City, county, state and then federal. The city has to ASK the state to step in, as does the state has to ask the federal government to step in. Had Pres. Bush just up and sent in "the troops" [they] would be screaming today how he just usurped power over state and local government and was being a dictator. The man used to be a state governor ... He knows how it is supposed to work.

Who dropped the ball? The N.O. mayor and the Louisiana governor. But the victims themselves hold a lot of personal responsibility (I know that is not acceptable these days). THEY should have gotten themselves the hell out days before the hurricane hit, with the help of the big-mouthed mayor and the criminally unused school busses...

9:48 AM, September 03, 2005  
Blogger awm03 said...

Don't blame just Ray Nagin. Former mayors Marc Morial and Sidney Barthelemy are to blame too. We lived in NOLA from 1988 to 1996. It was common knowledge back then, during the Barthelemy & Morial administrations, that the levee system was only good up to a class 3 hurricane. Plenty of time to perfect evacuation plans for stronger storms.

We lived near the lakefront. In fall of '95, Hurricane Opal, a large cat 1 storm, hit the Florida panhandle. The NOLA version of the storm seemed just like a very windy rainy day. In the evening, I walked to the Lake Ponchartrain levee to see what the lake was like. When I climbed to the top of the levee, the scene was shocking. The wind was so fierce that I couldn't stand up straight. And the lake had come up over the seawall, over Lakeshore Drive, over the park area, and was half-way up the levee. My husband & I agreed that if this is what it was like on the weak side of a cat 1 storm that was over 150 miles away, no way could the levees protect us from a stronger, closer storm. Our evacuation plan: get out before everyone else does.

10:47 AM, September 03, 2005  
Blogger Boghie said...

Read the document...

There is an aweful lot of educating going on...

No mention of evacuation sites...

However, there seems to be a few spots where some government slug was supposed to provision the relocation sites...

The Mayor's plan for provisioning appears to be BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer). I'm guessing that did not work out as well as he thought.

2:15 PM, September 03, 2005  
Blogger Chris said...

And indeed, Hizzoner appears to have decided on the Superdome as a refuge of last resort for 30,000 people.

No bedsheets, no water, no food, no portajohns.

Then there's the infamous picture of the submerged schoolbuses that's rocketing around the internet. That ONE picture will do more to puncture the meme being peddled that it's all Bush's fault than any other thing.

4:28 PM, September 03, 2005  
Blogger notbuyingit said...

Buried at the end of the WaPo's critical article on FEMA's decline is this crucial paragraph:

"Other federal and state officials pointed to Louisiana's failure to measure up to national disaster response standards, noting that the federal plan advises state and local emergency managers not to expect federal aid for 72 to 96 hours, and base their own preparedness efforts on the need to be self-sufficient for at least that period. "Fundamentally the first breakdown occurred at the local level," said one state official who works with FEMA. 'Did the city have the situational awareness of what was going on within its borders? The answer was no.' "
Hello, mayor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Louisiana disaster plan, pg 13, para 5 , dated 01/00

'The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating'...

3:57 PM, September 04, 2005  
Blogger notbuyingit said...

P.S. Props to "Washington Post":

Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said. . . .

Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state's victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort.

11:06 AM, September 05, 2005  
Blogger Marie said...

You've been 'Insta-lanched'. Congrats!

2:34 PM, September 05, 2005  
Blogger Find Truth said...

All the facts about the people in New Orleans were known before the flood.A percentage didn't want to leave,many did not have the means to get out and in the past they rode out the storm with success.The Mayor and Governor new this along with the great possibility of the river and lake causing the city to be under water.

They did not use force to get the people out-hence-they should lose their job and pray to the Lord for

2:00 PM, September 07, 2005  

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