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September 07, 2005

Katrina Blame Again

Those buses, again:

The story of buses has become the seminal tale of dereliction in New Orleans. Though the city owned hundreds of buses, it failed to use them to move its most vulnerable citizens β€” vulnerable either because of poverty or physical infirmity β€” out of the bowl-shaped city to safe higher ground. Initially it seemed as if the city that knew the levees protecting it would one day break just didn't have a plan to move so many people to safety. But it turns out that emergency-preparedness officials in New Orleans did have a plan, and they did think to use buses to evacuate the city before a major hurricane. They just decided not to fully implement it as Plan A. The plan was developed as a hurricane Georges lesson learned. This appeared in an article that appeared in November 2004 in the Natural Hazards Observer:
Residents who did not have personal transportation were unable to evacuate even if they wanted to. Approximately 120,000 residents (51,000 housing units x 2.4 persons/unit) do not have cars. A proposal made after the evacuation for Hurricane Georges to use public transit buses to assist in their evacuation out of the city was not implemented for Ivan. If Ivan had struck New Orleans directly it is estimated that 40-60,000 residents of the area would have perished.

So the question after dodging the Georges bullet seemed to be, "Do we figure out a way to use buses or do we allow 50,000 people to die for the crime of not having a car?" They chose Plan B.

Nagin and Blanco -- and a long line of incompetent and/or corrupt politicians before -- simply gambled that The Big One wouldn't hit, or that they could rely on "rescue welfare" from others to bail the city out.

They were warned, quite officially, that while help would be forthcoming, it would not be immediate help:

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."

From the Post article linked by the NRO article:

For years, said another senior FEMA official, he had sat at meetings where plans were discussed to send evacuees to the Superdome. "We used to stare at each other and say, 'This is the plan? Are you really using the Superdome?' People used to say, what if there is water around it? They didn't have an alternative," he recalled.

But remember, this is all Bush's Karl Rove's fault.


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posted by Ace at 12:46 PM

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