Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hurricane Katrina New York Times Timeline (plus additions and updates)

(This is the New York Times timeline published on September 11, 2005, I'll be making additions and updates as the information becomes available).


(Events, statements and circumstances preceding the storm which had a direct bearing on events.)


[In 2002 Joe M. Allbaugh, then the FEMA director, said: "catastrophic disasters are best defined in that they totally outstrip local and state resources, which is why the federal government needs to play a role...."]

[The American Federation of Government employees which represents FEMA employees, wrote to Congress in June 2004 complaining, "seasoned staff members are being pushed aside to make room for inexperienced novices and contractors."]

[Colonel Terri J. Ebert, director of homeland security from New Orleans since 2003, said he never spoke with FEMA about the state disaster blueprint, so New Orleans had its own plan.]


FRIDAY, August 26 -- hurricane Katrina passes into the Gulf of Mexico.


Governor Kathleen B. Blanco -- Declares a state of emergency and request additional forces from the federal government.



[As early as Friday, August 26, as hurricane Katrina moved across the Gulf of Mexico, officials in the watch Center in FEMA headquarters in Washington discussed the need for buses.

Some said, "We should be getting buses and getting people out of there," recalled Leo V. Bosner, an emergency management specialist with 26 years at FEMA and president of employees Union. Others nodded in an agreement, he said.]


SATURDAY , August 27 -- New Orleans residents board up their homes.


Governor Kathleen B. Blanco -- Asks the federal government to declare an emergency for the state and help save lives and property.

Mayor C. Ray Nagin -- Declares a state of emergency and issues a voluntary evacuation order.

National Guard -- The state National Guard is in the process of deploying 4000 troops to prepare for the storm.


George W. Bush -- declares a state of emergency in Louisiana, authorizes FEMA to provide aid.

Secretary Michael Chertoff, Department of Homeland security -- Now known action taken.

Director Michael Brown, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) -- urges those on the coast to heed warnings and prepare for storm. Dispatches teams to Louisiana.


SUNDAY, August 28 -- Lines form at the Superdome.


Governor Kathleen B. Blanco -- Speaks with President Bush. Urges residents of New Orleans and surrounding areas to heed mandatory evacuation orders.

Mayor C. Ray Nagin -- orders a mandatory evacuation and opens 10 "refuges of last resort." City buses bring some to shelters.

[As hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans, Mayor C. Ray Nagin largely followed the city plan, eventually ordering the city's first-ever mandatory evacuation. Although 80% of New Orleans’ population left, as many as 100,000 people remained.]

National Guard -- Assists state police with evacuations, conduct security and screening at the Superdome.

Superdome -- 10,000 people.

[Colonel E. Britt decided to make the Superdome the city's lone shelter, assuming the city would only have to shelter people in the area 48 hours, until the storm passed or the federal government came and rescued people.]

National Guard troops on active duty in Louisiana – 3500


President Bush -- urges people to heed evacuation order. Hold a teleconference with disaster management officials and speaks with Governor Blanco.

[While local officials assumed that Washington would provide rapid and considerable aid, federal officials, weighing legalities and logistics, proceeded at a deliberate pace.]

Secretary Chertoff -- Participates in a daily video teleconference on the approaching hurricane.

Michael Brown, FEMA -- Positions water, ice, food and resource teams to move into stricken areas as soon as it is safe.

Coast Guard -- Closes ports and waterways. Positions boats and helicopters for rescue operations.

Department of Defense -- Activates an army crisis action team, begins to coordinate with FEMA and civil authorities.


MONDAY, August 29 -- hurricane Katrina makes landfall, levees breach.


Governor Blanco -- Repeats a warning for the people not to reenter the city. Tells the president, "I need everything you've got."

Mayor Nagin -- Has police begin search and rescue operations and heavily flooded areas.

National Guard -- Assist with rescues, relocate its headquarters to the Superdome because of flooding.

[The Louisiana National Guard, already stretched by the deployment of more than 3000 troops to Iraq, was hampered when its New Orleans barracks flooded. It lost 20 vehicles that could have carried soldiers through the watery streets and had to abandon much of its most advanced communications equipment, guard officials said.]

Superdome -- 10,000 people.

National Guard troops on active duty in Louisiana -- 3500.


President Bush -- Declares a major disaster in Louisiana, releases federal funds to supplement local and state aid.

Secretary Chertoff -- Monitors the impact of the storm.

Michael Brown, FEMA -- Arrives in Baton Rouge, FEMA teams wait to enter New Orleans.

[FEMA appears to have underestimated the storm, despite an extraordinary warning from the national hurricane Center that it could cause "human suffering incredible by modern standards." The agency dispatched only 7 of its 28 urban search and rescue teams to the area before the storm hit and sent no workers at all into New Orleans until after the hurricane passed on Monday, August 29.]

Coast Guard -- Begins rescuing people from rooftops with its helicopters and boats.

Department of Defense -- No action known.


TUESDAY, August 30 -- Widespread looting; most of the city is under water.


Governor Blanco -- says everyone must be evacuated from the Superdome.

[When the water rose the state began scrambling to find buses. Officials pleaded with various parishes across the strait for buses. But by Tuesday, August 30 as news reports of looting and violence appeared, local officials began resisting. Governor Blanco said the bus drivers, many of them women, "got afraid to drive. So then we looked for somebody of authority to drive the school buses."]

Mayor Nagin -- Evacuates the city government to Baton Rouge. Camps out in hotel and remains in New Orleans.

National Guard -- governors from Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi have called up 7500 National Guard troops.

Superdome -- 12,000 people.

National Guard troops on active duty in Louisiana -- 3800.


President Bush -- Cuts his vacation short.

Secretary Chertoff -- Declares an "incident of national significance" and activates the national response plan.

Michael Brown, FEMA -- Sends more supplies to the region.

Coast Guard -- Has rescued more than 1000 people.

Department of Defense -- Continues to assist FEMA. Orders five ships to the region.


WEDNESDAY, August 31 -- police try to halt looting. Flood and water dwindle.


Governor Blanco -- With looting and violence escalating, she and her staff search for buses to evacuate people from the city. Calls for a Day of prayer.

Mayor Nagin -- calls for a total of evacuation. Says that some sick or ill people may be moved to the convention center.

National Guard -- additional forces arrive in the area.

Superdome -- 20,000 people plus.

[Two thirds of the 24,000 people huddled inside the New Orleans Superdome were women, children or elderly, and many were infirm, said Lionel C. Swain, an assistant police superintendent overseeing the 90 policemen who patrolled the facility with 300 troops from the Louisiana National Guard. And it didn't take long for the stench of human waste to drive many people outside.

Chief Swain said the guard supplied water and food -- two military rations a day. But despair mounted once people began lining up on Wednesday for buses expected early the next day, only to find them mysteriously delayed.]

National Guard troops on active duty in Louisiana -- 4700.


President Bush -- Cabinet over New Orleans on his way to Washington. Convenes a federal task force and authorizes Mr. Chertoff to coordinate the response.

Secretary Michael Chertoff -- Holds a news conference, says he is "extremely pleased with the response" of the federal government.

Michael brown FEMA -- Has deployed 39 disaster medical assistance teams in 1700 trucks and supplies to the region.

Coast Guard -- Has rescued 1250 people.

Department of Defense -- establishes joint task force Katrina at Shelby Mississippi led by General Russell L. Henri Honoré.


THURSDAY, September 1 -- Violent lawlessness in New Orleans.


Governor Blanco -- Says death toll is in the thousands. Calls for 40,000 troops.

Mayor Nagin -- lashes out at the federal response: "They're thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal."

National Guard -- Assists with the evacuation of the Superdome and helped curtail lawlessness.

Superdome -- 20,000 people.

National Guard troops on active duty in Louisiana – 7400


President Bush -- asks Congress for 10.5 billion relief funds. Appoints his father and former President Bill Clinton to lead a fund-raising effort.

Director Chertoff -- Starts national preparedness month. Hold the second news conference.

Michael brown, FEMA -- First hears about conditions at the convention center. FEMA has rescued 350 people across the city.

US Coast Guard -- Has rescued 2900 people.

Department of Defense -- Begins assembling active-duty troops for joint task force Katrina.


FRIDAY, September 2 -- Military vehicles bring food and supplies.


Governor Blanco -- Meets with President Bush, who proposes to assume control of the state National Guard forces.

Mayor Nagin -- Meets with President Bush.

National Guard -- Secure the convention center brings convoys of food and water to the city.

Superdome -- 1500 people.

National Guard troops on active duty in Louisiana -- 8600


President Bush -- Flies to the region, speaks at the New Orleans airport and visits the 17th St can breach. Meets with Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin.

Secretary Chertoff -- No action known.

Michael D. Brown, FEMA -- Is praised by President Bush. Urges patience.

US Coast Guard -- has rescued 4000 people.

Department of Defense -- No action known.


SATURDAY, September 3 -- Evacuation from New Orleans speeds up.


Governor Blanco -- Rejects the White House proposal. Asks the National Guard to focus on security. Says she has hired James Lee Witt, a former FEMA director.

Mayor Nagin -- Reports that two police officers have committed suicide, including the Department spokesman.

National Guard -- Has evacuated tens of thousands of people from the city by land and air.

Superdome -- ostensibly evacuated.

National Guard troops on active duty in Louisiana -- 12,000


President Bush -- Activates more than 7000 active-duty troops to the region.

Secretary Chertoff -- No known action taken.

Michael Brown, FEMA -- Sets up a morgue outside of Baton Rouge.

Coast Guard -- Rescues continue.

Department of Defense -- 4600 active-duty troops arrive in the region by Saturday morning.


SUNDAY, September 4 -- Troops patrol the streets, regain control of the city.


Governor Blanco -- Her staff chides the White House: "They wanted to negotiate an organizational charter," while the state was waiting for emergency aid.

Mayor Nagin -- Begins offering five-day vacations to city emergency workers.

National Guard -- Assists police officers who begin to urge holdouts to leave the city.

National Guard troops on active duty in Louisiana -- 12,000.


President Bush -- Visits a Red Cross center, orders American flags around the world flown at half staff until September 20.

Secretary Chertoff -- Appears on Sunday talk shows to give status reports.

Michael Brown, FEMA -- Announces that the Superdome has been evacuated, and 5900 FEMA personnel have been deployed.

Coast Guard -- Rescue evacuations continue.

Department of Defense -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visits New Orleans.


MONDAY, September 5 -- 2 levies are fixed: Mr. Bush returns to the region.


Governor Blanco -- Is surprised to learn of Mr. Bush's visit while preparing to leave for Houston.

Mayor Nagin -- Estimates that "it wouldn't be unreasonable to have 10,000" dead in the city.

National Guard -- With looting and violence subsiding, National Guard officials declare New Orleans secure.

National Guard troops on active duty in Louisiana -- 16,000


President Bush -- Flies to Baton Rouge and visits evacuees. Meets with Governor Blanco.

Secretary Chertoff -- No action known.

Michael Brown, FEMA -- Releases an official death count; 71.

Coast Guard -- Says it has rescued more than 18,000 people from flooded areas of New Orleans.

Department of Defense -- More than 7000 active-duty troops are in the region.



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