Saturday, September 03, 2005

Another Classy Individual

Joe Horn also spent LOTS of time at at least one shelter today, signing autographs, talking to evacuees, and, though the report didn't say so, I'll bet he made a substantial donation to hurricane relief as well. I heard others of note have done the same, although I didn't catch names.

Let's many high level politicians have done the same?

Yeah, I didn't think so.
Must Read

Billmon puts it all into perspective:

Paul Krugman's column in yesterday's New York Times argues that the Cheney administration's lackadaisical response to Hurricane Katrina is a symptom of a much larger problem -- the GOP contempt for government:

At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures.

I was thinking about posting something along those same lines -- along with a modest proposal to chaingang all the conservative pundits and politicians who've spent the past twenty five years trashing the federal government, and put them to work stacking sandbags down in Louisiana. And while we're at it, we could take all the think-tank libertarians and corporate bunko artists who promised us their blessed free market could and would solve all human problems, and use them as filler for the sandbags.

That's just a starter all means check out the entire post. It's that good.
More Close to Home

I took care of a few chores this afternoon after putting in some time at work re: the server issue...what's going on in BR is NOTHING compared to the Crescent City, but I'd like to paint a small picture of things here...where, as the national news points out, the population has almost doubled.

Like most of y'all, filling the tank is a bit of a challenge. Rule number one: if there's no line at the station, there's no gasoline. Last night some friends of mine went searching--it took them some fifty stations to find an open one. Prices are up, of course, although I'll bet it's not as bad as elsewhere (more on that in a second). Stephen told me about the place they finally found--while they were waiting, a tanker truck drove up--but no one wanted to give up their place in the line. Finally, the tanker opted for the "lean on the horn and proceed slowly" approach, which worked. I guess gasoline doesn't hold much value when your vehicle resembles an accordion.

Traffic is a perpetual problem here in Red Stick (indeed--in last year's mayor's election, traffic flow was THE issue...I also remember a Gambit contest--the winning entry was "You know you're in Baton Rouge when...someone tells you 'yes, it's only three blocks away, but it'll take you a half hour to get there'" ), and of course more people means more congestion. Also, as I mentioned earlier this week, BR, like a lot of cities its size, has dealt with traffic issues in a piecemeal way. Locals know the quirks, new residents will require a bit of time.

Gasoline, by the way, is $2.90 a gallon over here--which is probably fairly cheap by national standards. The place where I filled the tank now has individuals directing lines of approximately 20 to 30 cars to the pumps

Long lines everywhere seem to be the rule, and for at least the near-term future, and some downtown streets are being controlled by police--they're directing buses to the Centroplex/River Center (now a shelter housing some 5,000 people)--other areas downtown are filled with work/utility vehicles. I'm doing my best to limit my driving to essential trips--there's no sense in me adding to the congestion.

The national news focused on increased gun sales, of course...I guess I'm not all that surprised--gun shows are a local pastime--although fortunately I haven't had to deal with that aspect of local life. Ugly rumors are rampant--the whole "bad folks from New Orleans" stuff--but as far as I know, the rumors are all false.

There are still some fallen trees and utility poles in some neighborhoods, although crews took care of a number of them this week along the roads I normally use. Electricity is almost--but not quite--fully restored, making me feel even luckier...and a little guilty: I was without power for only about ten hours or so.

Anyway...again, this city was incredibly lucky, and the changes here aren't even in the same league as what New Orleans is facing. NOLA needs our help, and we'll do whatever we can to assist.
Bouquets and Brickbats

You know the statement--"In the whole scheme of things, sports is...," and I'm not a sports blogger by any stretch of the imagination (Full disclosure: yeah, I watch sports...maybe not as much as I did, say, five or ten years ago, but...)...anyway, I'll damn well give a lot of credit to Peyton and Eli Manning, who not only made significant donations to hurricane relief, but also visited Baton Rouge area shelters, where they spent a LOT of time listening, signing autographs, and so on. Say what you want about sports, but that's a VERY classy gesture--in particular, to some of the young kids I'll bet it was a real treat after a pretty awful week.

And...on the other side of the coin, who else but Tom "Bottom Line" Benson, who's making noise about permanently moving his team--the Saints--to San Antonio. You know what? I personally wouldn't be all that bothered--I watch Saints games on TV, but have never gone to one, and I'm aware the damage to New Orleans will surely push Benson to at least privately consider a move...but to make public noise at this time just reeks of no-class, if you ask me.
Update from an Earlier Post

Here's the link to What It Means to Miss New Orleans, by Mark Childress--it was in the Times, not Salon.
Cleanup Crew

Blanco just announced she's hired James Lee Witt, FEMA director during the Clinton administration, to assist with the disaster response.
Drinking Big Easily

Several items courtesy of Murph:

The Big Apple will raise its glasses to the Big Easy -- not for toasts, but to collect money for more than 80,000 hospitality workers from the hurricane-ravaged city.

In addition to New York, bars around the country also have promised to mix cocktails to help the Louisiana bartenders and hotel, casino and restaurant workers facing unemployment.

Four New York-based cocktail experts are spurring the "Save New Orleans Cocktail Hour" -- a two-hour nationwide drinking session scheduled for next Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Each $10 drink -- Big Easy classics like the sazerac, the ramos gin fizz and the Pimm's cup -- will be served with a set of free Mardi Gras beads.

New York bartenders stepped forward first, with dozens of establishments from Soho's tony new Pegu Club to the Central Park's Tavern on the Green and the lively Havana Central, agreeing to participate in the fundraiser.

Organizers said the effort is spreading quickly and now includes the Sierra Gold tavern in Las Vegas, a half dozen businesses in Washington, D.C., and more in Arlington, Va., and Silver Springs, Md...

Amtrak trains are now flowing out of the city with evacuees.
(finally--I wish they'd tried this BEFORE the storm).

Murph's Musical Charity Drive--yes, there are more pressing matters right now, but once we're past the immediate crisis, I think this is a good idea.

And--here's a status report on some of the more famous NOLA locations.
Load Imbalance on the Spin Cycle

From America Blog:

I just received an excellent email making an excellent point from Luke.

1. Bush, through the director of FEMA, FOX News, and other surrogates, is pushing the spin that the people of New Orleans brought this disaster on themselves by NOT evacuating the city.

2. But Bush is also pushing the spin that no one could have known the disaster would be THIS BIG, so it's unfair to blame Bush for not preparing adequately for the disaster.

3. But if no one could have known the disaster would be this big, then why should we have expected people to evacuate the city?

If we are to blame the citizens of New Orleans for not taking such an "obviously" serious and imminent disaster seriously, then our president should have recognized the same imminent disaster and taken the appropriate preparatory steps. He didn't.

So which one is it, friends of Bush. Should people have anticipated the disaster in advance or not?
More Sites With Info

EllaGoes, and Veterans for Peace.
22 Reasons America NEEDS New Orleans

Got this from my sister--I think it might have been in Salon, but couldn't find the link--I hope Mark Childress doesn't mind me posting all of it:

1. The turtle soup at Galatoire's is presented in a white porcelain tureen, then ladled into your bowl by a waiter who reveals with a wicked smile that the turtle's name was Fred.

2. The hats in Fleur de Paris, a shop on Royal Street, are perfectly frivolous and ridiculous, beautiful visions of silk and lace.

3. Nowhere else in the country do so many Roman Catholic churches coexist peacefully with so many voodoo shops.

4. If you are a grown man, this is the only place in America where you can step off an airplane, and be guaranteed that within 30 minutes a respectable woman unknown to you will call you "baby," as in, "How you doin', baby!" If you are a grown woman, you will be called "darlin' " whether you are the least bit darlin' or not.

5. The beads of sweat on the unlined face of the conductor on the St. Charles streetcar.

6. Mardi Gras beads, but only the ones you catch, thrown by an actual masker on a float. The ones that hit the ground don't count unless they bounced off your hand or arm first.

7. The Lucky Dog is a venerated local frankfurter that has come a long way, culinarily speaking, from the days when Ignatius J. Reilly peddled them to tourists in "A Confederacy of Dunces." Now they are really good, especially if it is 4 a.m. and you are hungry.

8. I once met Thelma Toole, mother of John Kennedy Toole, author of "A Confederacy of Dunces," who asked if I would buy her a "very expensive meal at the finest restaurant." This lady rolled her R's like an 1860's stage actress to indicate her intellectual superiority to the rest of us. I took her to the restaurant of her choice, and by evening's end she had all the waiters gathered at our table, spellbound by stories of "Kenny." "My son was a genius, with a large and oddly-shaped head," she boomed. Imagine what other great books Kenny might have written, she said, had he not killed himself in a car on that beach in Biloxi.

9. Every Twelfth Night, Henri Schindler, a local historian and Mardi Gras curator, holds a magnificent masked ball on the second floor of the Napoleon House, at the corner of Chartres and St. Louis Streets. White curtains blow in and out of the large empty rooms as masked figures glide past on a cushion of mystery.

10. Locals go to the Maple Leaf and Tipitina's to hear music. Also to Frenchmen Street, a cluster of 10 or 12 small bars and clubs featuring, on any given night, 10 or 12 kinds of music, about 8 of which will be funky. (The other four will be too loud.) Usually at the better places there's a Neville involved, or a Marsalis.

11. My friend Martha Ann Samuels, a real estate agent, revealed to me the actual location of Stanley and Blanche's house on Elysian Fields Avenue, a secret she learned from Tennessee Williams himself when she helped him buy a condo in the Quarter. (I'm not telling.)

12. Oyster loaf at Casamento's on Magazine Street. The crunchy local French bread showers crumbs on your hands. Each bite contains bread, mayo and the delectable local bivalve, breaded and brilliantly fried. Casamento's closes down for the summer because oysters are better other times of the year.

13. At JazzFest, citizens happily stand in long lines in the blazing sun for a chance to eat crawfish bread, white boudin sausage and alligator gumbo to the thump of Rockin' Dopsy from the Congo Square stage. (Could someone please put the JazzFest committee in charge of the Superdome?)

14. You can stand at the foot of Ursulines Avenue and watch a huge oceangoing ship slide by above the level of your head.

15. Along the promenade where the river passes Jackson Square, tourists still fall for one of the oldest New Orleans scams. A friendly fellow proposes that for a dollar he can tell you where you got them shoes. When you accept the bet, he says, "You got them shoes on your feet!" He keeps the dollar.

16. It has the only airport named for a jazz trumpeter, the indelible Louis Armstrong.

17. In the Confederate Museum near Lee Circle is a crown of thorns said to have been woven by Pope Pius IX himself, and sent as a gift to Jefferson Davis while he was imprisoned shortly after the Civil War. For me this artifact represents the height of Southern absurdity, and must be preserved for those future generations who will not believe it.

18. Every Thursday night at Donna's on Rampart Street, Tom McDermott plays the fastest, wildest ragtime, Brazilian and stride piano you've ever heard. It's scary how fast his fingers move when he gets going. His feet come up off the floor.

19. Rich people live on the high ground. Poorer people live on the low ground. Last week some of the rich folks' houses got wet, too.

20. Piety Street is one block over from Desire. Not a long walk at all.

21. On a foggy night the moon grows fat and full, and hangs in the sky above the big old river. It pours light on the water and makes a magical brown glitter that doesn't exist anywhere else. The water is the reason the city is there. The full moon pulls the tides into Lake Pontchartrain.

22. The city's sanitation department is considered among the finest in the nation. Its work during Mardi Gras is legendary. Can we please get this water out of here so they can get to work on this mess? The sooner the better.

Mark Childress, who was a part-time resident of New Orleans for the past four years, is the author of "Crazy in Alabama" and other novels.
Grover Norquist, Son of a Bitch


Via DailyKos, this Grover Norquist memo, dated today, to US Senators, opposing the move to delay a vote on eliminating inheritance taxes permanently, which he says is “Proof that they are exploiting this tragedy is that they were never for repeal of the Death Tax in the first place.” The Grovester would never consider doing that, well, except for saying that repeal would produce “higher levels of economic growth is exactly what the residents of the Gulf Region need at this time to start the rebuilding process for their neighborhoods and more importantly for their lives.” Hey, why don’t you go and make that argument with the true beneficiaries of your charitable proposal in Biloxi or New Orleans or better yet the Superdome: one moron enters, no moron leaves.
First Floods, Now Fire

Warehouses along the river are now on fire--and there's no water pressure, so standard fire trucks really can't do anything.

Otherwise--mentioned Shawn's update yesterday very generally--to be specific, he linked to this site, which has extremely high resolution photographs of the affected areas. Caveat: the photos aren't all oriented exactly right, and they're probably of most value to folks with a good knowledge of NOLA geography; however, using them in conjuction with Google Maps in a different browser window can help.

Bill Clinton reacts to Dennis "The Human Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Float" Hastert's lunacy: Clinton was discussing New Orleans's dilemma when someone described the speaker's comments to him. Had they been in the same place when the remarks were made, Clinton said, "I'm afraid I would have assaulted him."

Back in a bit.
Morning Update

There's an oil slick on the Mississippi River--looks like it might have come from storage tanks in Plaquemines Parish. I guess most people saw or heard about Kanye West's statement last night during the benefit concert. Tulane cancelled the fall semester.

The Red Cross is BANNED from New Orleans, believe it or not.

And now the dauphin is on the air, promising "make it right" this time. There's just something so used-car-salesman-like about Shrubusto...yuks it up with Trent Lott (who has MORE than just one house), praises the utterly incompetent "Brownie," promises to "not let bureaucracy" get in the way...stale.

Bush took no questions.

I dunno--maybe his relief effort is so lethargic because he can't drop bombs on something.
Alpha and Omega

If MoDo hit one out of the park, John Tierney whiffed on three pitches so far out of the strike zone he might as well be blindfolded. What a son of a bitch.

For the record, Mr. Tierney, cities burned to the ground--or nearly so--long after Ben Franklin introduced fire departments, many of which charged extortionist rates for "protection," and sometimes fought for the "right" to save buildings (and pocket said protection money) while they burned to the ground. New York itself had any number of fires, including the one during the infamous draft riots of 1863 (portrayed with only partial accuracy in the movie Gangs of New York--the book is a better study for those wanting facts). FEMA is the government gravy train? My ass--try "no bid Pentagon contracts" if government pork is the particular windmill you want to tilt at. (link courtesy of America Blog).

And before you dismiss New Orleans as "just another high risk area to live in," take a look at your apartment (the heating, the a/c, the furnishings, your computer case, for instance), your car/means of conveyence, the food you eat--the STEEL that constructs the buildings that are fireproofed in a way you're so smug about...and remember that NOLA is, as often as not, the first port of call for the materials that all that is made of.

Speaking of America Blog, they've been doing an incredible job of covering the disaster, and have two items that are of paramount interest: a link (.pdf) displaying the request Louisiana made to Washington on August 28th--Sunday--and this report about the STILL HORRIFIC conditions at the Convention Center, where people have been LOCKED IN. Oh my god, indeed.

And John Tierney can go fuck himself.


Maureen might not bat 1.000, but she's spot on here:

Stuff happens.

And when you combine limited government with incompetent government, lethal stuff happens.

America is once more plunged into a snake pit of anarchy, death, looting, raping, marauding thugs, suffering innocents, a shattered infrastructure, a gutted police force, insufficient troop levels and criminally negligent government planning. But this time it's happening in America.

W. drove his budget-cutting Chevy to the levee, and it wasn't dry. Bye, bye, American lives. "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," he told Diane Sawyer.

Shirt-sleeves rolled up, W. finally landed in Hell yesterday and chuckled about his wild boozing days in "the great city" of N'Awlins. He was clearly moved. "You know, I'm going to fly out of here in a minute," he said on the runway at the New Orleans International Airport, "but I want you to know that I'm not going to forget what I've seen." Out of the cameras' range, and avoided by W., was a convoy of thousands of sick and dying people, some sprawled on the floor or dumped on baggage carousels at a makeshift M*A*S*H unit inside the terminal.

Why does this self-styled "can do" president always lapse into such lame "who could have known?" excuses.

Who on earth could have known that Osama bin Laden wanted to attack us by flying planes into buildings? Any official who bothered to read the trellis of pre-9/11 intelligence briefs.

Who on earth could have known that an American invasion of Iraq would spawn a brutal insurgency, terrorist recruiting boom and possible civil war? Any official who bothered to read the C.I.A.'s prewar reports.

Who on earth could have known that New Orleans's sinking levees were at risk from a strong hurricane? Anybody who bothered to read the endless warnings over the years about the Big Easy's uneasy fishbowl.

In June 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, fretted to The Times-Picayune in New Orleans: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."

Not only was the money depleted by the Bush folly in Iraq; 30 percent of the National Guard and about half its equipment are in Iraq.

Ron Fournier of The Associated Press reported that the Army Corps of Engineers asked for $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans last year. The White House carved it to about $40 million. But President Bush and Congress agreed to a $286.4 billion pork-filled highway bill with 6,000 pet projects, including a $231 million bridge for a small, uninhabited Alaskan island.

Just last year, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials practiced how they would respond to a fake hurricane that caused floods and stranded New Orleans residents. Imagine the feeble FEMA's response to Katrina if they had not prepared.

Michael Brown, the blithering idiot in charge of FEMA - a job he trained for by running something called the International Arabian Horse Association - admitted he didn't know until Thursday that there were 15,000 desperate, dehydrated, hungry, angry, dying victims of Katrina in the New Orleans Convention Center.

Was he sacked instantly? No, our tone-deaf president hailed him in Mobile, Ala., yesterday: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

It would be one thing if President Bush and his inner circle - Dick Cheney was vacationing in Wyoming; Condi Rice was shoe shopping at Ferragamo's on Fifth Avenue and attended "Spamalot" before bloggers chased her back to Washington; and Andy Card was off in Maine - lacked empathy but could get the job done. But it is a chilling lack of empathy combined with a stunning lack of efficiency that could make this administration implode.

When the president and vice president rashly shook off our allies and our respect for international law to pursue a war built on lies, when they sanctioned torture, they shook the faith of the world in American ideals.

When they were deaf for so long to the horrific misery and cries for help of the victims in New Orleans - most of them poor and black, like those stuck at the back of the evacuation line yesterday while 700 guests and employees of the Hyatt Hotel were bused out first - they shook the faith of all Americans in American ideals. And made us ashamed.

Who are we if we can't take care of our own?

Friday, September 02, 2005


Unfortunately, I'm NOT making this up: somebody on Channel 9--didn't catch his name, but one of the anchors reverentially referred to him as a "Ph.D. Psychologist" just made one of the more bizarre speeches I've heard: he advised people to only watch small bits of the coverage, so as to not get upset; instead, play a game, and to not question our leaders, because they're "doing the best they can," etc. etc.--gag.

Wrong! Most of us CAN'T get to New Orleans--we'll get turned away some twenty miles from the city, and that's probably for the best: the city needs people who are trained in disaster response. Many people, myself included, would get in the way (although I'm still on a list of potential volunteers, and will happily work with people where I can--as noted below, I might be able to help people who are unfamiliar with information technology)...but IF our skills aren't required, our EYES most definitely are: those of us who aren't victims of this tragedy are witnesses to it, and our eyes, ears, and voices bear witness.

To cut close to home for the individual espousing the turning of our eyes away, just before he suggested we all Sunday services this weekend: would he have suggested that witnesses turn their eyes from Golgotha some 2,000 years ago? Would he say, "Turn away from the agony of the crucified Christ, because it will only rouse your anger. Instead, trust Pontius Pilate, who knows what's best, both for Jews and Gentiles."?

To change the subject just a bit: the national feed just showed a woman who was out at I-10 and Causeway for two days--she invited both Bush and Blanco to spend a SINGLE night in the conditions she endured. Should she "turn away?"

More than ever, we need to SEE what's going on--our country is a DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC, i.e., OF the people, BY the people, and FOR the people.

Charlie Melancon is on the air now, talking to idiot egoist Ted Koppel...suddenly Ted's an expert on federalism, citing Posse Comitatus. Fuck Ted Koppel. Melancon is telling the truth--in a crisis, Koppel is worried about filling out forms?

That's as bad as telling people to turn away.

The page is now up and running.

Quick note: Blanco is on the air--she's asked Bush to bring back LNG personnel who are overseas in Iraq. Otherwise, not much else to report right now.

Back in a bit.
Closer to Home

Speaking of...I'm finally AT home after a bit of work--nothing though, compared to the work that will need to be done in New Orleans. I also had a few chores to do, including dropping off the rent check--the landlord's office is just north of here, and I forgot to cart my checkbook with me to work (otherwise, that's usually a chore handled on the way home. I try to plan my car trips, which is a better and better idea with gasoline prices going up by the minute).

Anyway--it was a REAL eye-opener to see the church hall on the route--HUNDREDS of people were queued up outside. Obviously these folks have been relocated from the storm region. And there are LOTS of people who need basic necessities--food, clothes, you name it. Just saw on the local television that the latest plan is possibly using abandoned "big box" stores as longer term shelters--an idea that James Howard Kunstler might have a few thoughts about.

More video from the west burbs--West Esplanade in Metairie is actually pretty dry, although the Driftwood Subdivision has a lot of downed trees. Drainage ditches have water, but not to the tops. The Wilson pumping station is working. Vintage Blvd. in Kenner is also dry.

Before I left work for a few hours (I'll be back there later), I saw this in Counterpunch: a first hand account of the chaos of the I-10 at Causeway staging point:

...thousands of people (at least 90% black and poor) stood and squatted in mud and trash behind metal barricades, under an unforgiving sun, with heavily armed soldiers standing guard over them. When a bus would come through, it would stop at a random spot, state police would open a gap in one of the barricades, and people would rush for the bus, with no information given about where the bus was going. Once inside (we were told) evacuees would be told where the bus was taking them - Baton Rouge, Houston, Arkansas, Dallas, or other locations. I was told that if you boarded a bus bound for Arkansas (for example), even people with family and a place to stay in Baton Rouge would not be allowed to get out of the bus as it passed through Baton Rouge. You had no choice but to go to the shelter in Arkansas. If you had people willing to come to New Orleans to pick you up, they could not come within 17 miles of the camp.

Where's the "compassion" in the "compassionate conservatism" once espoused by a certain village idiot candidate for high office?

Flaherty, by the way, pulls no punches in regards to the other side of the political aisle, noting sarcastically that Governor Blanco, both before and after the storm, was advising prayer as opposed to concrete plans for the pending storm.

I'm watching a live shot of the I-10 camp right now--my god.

They just cut to footage earlier today from around the Convention Center--and the reporter likened the arrival of Marines bringing supplies from North Carolina to Baghdad--except that, in this case, the folks being liberated are likely quite grateful. And, if ANY good can come from this disaster, perhaps it will be that a REAL nation-building project--right here in the United States--could be undertaken. And if such a massive undertaking succeeds, then this country should consider MORE nation building RIGHT HERE in the USA--I'd guess that almost every town and city in this country has places that could stand a little of in Baton Rouge, there are MANY areas that could benefit.

Well, Shrubusto took a visit to the 17th Street Canal--he posed for a picture. Well, let's hope he noticed the breach.

OK--I need to grab a quick bite to eat, then I'll run back to work to finish up the project I mentioned below. I'll be keeping my eyes open though.
Quick Update

Still busy here--apologies...they've also requested that we limit our time watching streaming video, which, to be honest, is good right now, since I'm running a restore operation on one of the servers (i.e., more bandwidth for the restore is a very high priority for me right now)...there's also something of a positive nature on a personal note...I'll maybe explain more about that at a later time.

Anyway, came across this site from the Velvet Rut, after checking the main page--it has the names of NOLA musicians who are safe.

On other fronts, David Vitter isn't all that impressed with FEMA's efforts thus far. People apparently are STILL waiting for buses to take them further than I-10 at Causeway.

Paul Krugman's got a solid op-ed focused on the asleep-at-the-wheel manner in which the storm was handled.

New Orleans Metroblog, Oyster, Jeffrey, and Shawn all have updates. And I'm getting most of my info from here and here--the latter having this fairly recent update:

Margret Miller of D'Iberville, Miss. lost every brick and board to Hurricane Camille... The only item she ever found was her silver platter she found lying in a field. She rebuilt. Hurricane Katrina has now taken every brick and board of her home again. Nothing left at all...except the same silver platter which she again found lying in a field. She plans to rebuild again.
Another Update

A friend of a friend rode out the storm on Canal Blvd. Initially, the house rode out the storm without problems...the first sign of potential issues were gangs of looters driving up and down the Blvd. following...

Then the levee broke.

Said acquaintance was rescued by a boat and is now safely out of town, following a roundabout journey.

Still working on restoring the server. Thankfully, we've got extensive backups and this might not be the hours long tedious chore it could be...disaster preparation, albeit on a tiny scale, is so far working for us...

Unfortunately my day just got a lot busier--one of our servers had a problem with antivirus, and a thorough uninstall (antivirus software is notoriously difficult to unintall) resulted in system corruption.

Time to get to work here.

Anyway, got this from my sister, FWIW--it's from Velvet Rut:

a clearer picture of uptown from a tulane student-run board:

neighborhood updates
friday, september 2
by ovis, 9/2/05 0:24 ET

I just spoke with my friend who lives in the Riverbend and he is still
in N.O., at home. He told me:

1)From St Charles to the river is dry
2)There is water starting at about Willow that extends to I-10
3)Oak is dry and he doesn't see excessive looting except people carrying water occasionally, but he says he can't blame them for that
4)Rite Aid at Oak was looted with the help of a forklift which is still stuck in the front door
5)Oak to the river is dry
6)Tchoup is dry til somewhere around Louisiana
7)Jefferson is clear from Oschner West but the other way towards Claiborne has a few feet of water that turns into 4 or 5 feet as you get downtown
8)The water on St Charles starts at about Napoleon and goes north, water is barely lapping at first floors
9)3-3 1/2 feet at Daneel(sp) and Marengo
10)All houses uptown seem repairable
11)Even though there are lots of downed trees and stuff, it's not bad considering the size of the storm
12) He has seen no police or National Guard uptown.
13) The closer you are to the river the better off you are.
14) The old shacks up towards Earhart to the I-10 will need to be leveled.
15)Loyola and Tulane are in pretty good shape
16)My friend has a generator, 30 gallons of gas and says he will not leave until The National Guard arrives and they make him leave. He has enough food for months.
Defending Anger

Any number of bloggers were letting our senior Senator have it following an interview with Anderson Cooper when she supposedly seemed, for lack of a better term, lethargic...I didn't see the interview (Crooks & Liars has the video, Think Progress has a transcript)--so I'm witholding any opinion, although a comment I read is probably spot on: come election time, don't be surprised to see the GOP blaming Blanco and Landrieu for the slow response.

And Landrieu shouldn't expect much defense from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party, judging from comments.

Anyway, I'm not here to praise or excoriate Senator Landrieu--like I said, I didn't see the interview, and haven't had time to watch it (and I'm trying to balance work, some important personal stuff...and yeah, writing some posts). However, whether or not Landrieu is playing the chump, the truth is the response to Hurricane Katrina HAS been achingly, painfully slow. Slow like trying to download the entire Bob Dylan album Bringing it all Back Home on a 14.4 modem slow--Atrios has some comparisons to crises distant and recent (the Berlin airlift and the tsunami), and the latest response is found wanting, especially considering that while the storm came upon the city relatively quick by hurricane standards, there was still a window of some 72 hours prior to it arriving when preparations could--and should--have been implemented. And LET'S ALL hope that the contingencies involved more than contraflow.

Furthermore, a couple of things are becoming glaringly apparent: first, BASIC matters like levee maintenence/upgrades were placed on the federal administration (one benefit of reading YRHT on a regular basis is that Oyster often points out very good books to read like Rising Tide, which, among other things, notes the Federal role in constructing and maintaining levees. And, as cited below, the Federal government basically gave NOLA the finger in recent years when it came to such projects.

Now, the city itself isn't blameless--last night I put in a post arguing that the city should have, at the very least, attempted to press buses into service BEFORE the storm--and, despite it not even being on the radar screen, should have DEMANDED additional Amtrak runs to evacuate people (which would've had the added benefit of not congesting traffic any further). Pre-positioning of troops might have also been beneficial in both rescues and looting prevention, although, again, it's one of those ugly unspoken (except by those of us on the progressive side of things) facts that the LNG is over in Iraq right now.

This morning Ray Nagin finally gave in to what must be a massive sized lump of anger welling up inside--whether this manages to accomplish anything remains to be seen. And, sorry to place the two in the same paragraph, but NOLA writer Schroeder likewise is furious...and it was in reading his post today that I began to think about what I'm writing now...

Schroeder has a right to be furious--for that matter, a LOT of people have the right to be VERY angry at the way this disaster has been handled once nature's fury passed. As citizens of this nation, we should EXPECT our government to respond--and respond quickly--to calamities like this--that's WHY we pay taxes, that's WHY we have institutions like FEMA, Homeland Security, the National Guard, the police, and so on. Taxes paid by New Orleanians--and by Louisianians, AND by citizens of the entire nation SHOULD have been used for levee maintenence, given the vital role New Orleans plays in our nation. NOLA ain't just the city of sin. It's a major port, and vital to the nation's security (um oil anyone?)...

Coming into work, I was considering all this--and further considering the way special interests like corporations have, for YEARS, been cajoling, bullying, and purchasing their way into government in order to fund or finance THEIR pet programs, while simultaneously demanding--and often enough, demanding in ways every bit as loud as Nagin did this morning--that THEY be catered to in the form of reduced taxes, sweetheart deals, etc. etc. Their demands are incessant--and, you know what? They tend to get their way.

Maybe it's all the money...or maybe it's the fact that they own the government...or maybe it's that they constantly shout at the top of their lungs, drowning out all other voices. Whatever it is--maybe a combination--it works for them.

And that's why I'm glad to see Schroeder get angry. I'm glad Nagin shouted out. Even as I'm appalled by the scene at the Convention Center--just unbelievable--AND throughout the city, likewise--I'm glad that some decided to shout as loud as they could, because right now--RIGHT NOW--they need help. And I'm appalled that the government's response was so weak...I'm also appalled that the government's preparation was also so weak.

Perhaps this disaster--and the way it affected so many normal, ordinary people--people who don't have the money to throw in armfuls to the politicians--will serve as a wake up call to those who pander for our votes while selling us down the river. And if the disaster in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama manages to wake folks up, then, while it won't compensate for those who've lost family and loved ones (or property) it might serve as a way to honor those we've lost, or those who've lost everything--particularly in these times.

(note: sorry for the late start--I've been very busy here).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

"C'mon Bush, You Can Do Better Than That"

An actual quote from a hurrican survivor in Slidell who's now living in a lean-to. The whole quote was something like "You can put helicopters and all sorts of stuff in Iraq, and here we are? C'mon Bush, you can do better than that." And he didn't look like a blue-state type.

And, sigh: the local tv noted that BR is now "the largest city in Louisiana." Um, gee...that's a title I'd just as soon give back to NOLA when it's back on it's feet--Baton Rouge is were I live, but New Orleans is where I LIVE.

We need NOLA back--for all of us.
St. Bernard

They've finally shown some video from St. Bernard Parish, and it's worse than Orleans. Some houses are completely submerged, and others have water literally to the top of the roof.

Rep. Charlie Melancon is being interviewed--he's describing the scene--as I noted below, reports say over one hundred people died at Chalmette Boat Slip, waiting to be rescued. Melancon is pointing out what's obvious to anyone looking at the video: you can't drive a vehicle to St. Bernard Parish. All the roads are under water--there, and at Belle Chase (in Plaquemines Parish).


America Blog notes FEMA director Michael Brown's curious little line at the conclusion of a CNN interview:

" help those who are stranded, who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city..."

Aravosis, rightly, asks if this is a way of deflecting blame, i.e., is there a bit of "well, they deserved it" to those words. I find this interesting in light of several reports tonight noting that a number of hotel guests are also stranded. Unlike the poor, these folks have resources, and I seriously doubt they all decided to stick it out, hurricane party-style.

In fact, I remember seeing, prior to the storm's arrival, at least one couple being interviewed who sought shelter at the Dome because they simply couldn't get out--they were on their honeymoon.

Michael of AmericaBlog heard a report that Greyhound buses stopped running on Saturday.

Whether Greyhound buses--or, for that matter, ANY public conveyence--city buses pressed into service, special Amtrak runs, school buses etc.--would've completely eliminated the human tragedy is of course open to question. Would people who view local authority, i.e., the cops, as people to be avoided at all costs (and, as some people know, at least some New Orleans police are DEFINITELY to be avoided)--anyway, would people who's relationship with authority is, well, combative--would they suddenly heed warnings to "get on the bus"? And, yes, plenty of people like that can be included among those who didn't evacuate.

However, it's also true that there was no attempt made to press city buses into service, or appeals to the government for extra passenger trains (still no appeals for trains as far as I know) until AFTER the storm. An attempt before the fact could have--and should have--been tried.

And people are certainly ready to evacuate now...AND many went to the Dome when it was opened as a shelter.

Note: just saw yet another live shot from Causeway at I-10--literally thousands are waiting on the interstate for buses out of the city, in conditions that could only be described as a nightmare: heat, humidity...and exactly six portable toilets.

In Chalmette, thousands are waiting at a boat slip to be evacuated. Reports say over a hundred died waiting for rescue in the heat and humidity without basic supplies like food and water.

And, finally, a slightly positive bit of news: reports are saying things in Jefferson Parish are improving dramatically. Well, a bit of good news is badly needed. And they're showing footage from attempts to plug the break in the 17th street levee. We'll see if that succeeds.
NOPD Officer: Take This Job and Shove It

Channel 9 is interviewing a now former NOLA police officer--Lt. Henry Waller, of the First District--and he's, in a word, PISSED--at the police department, the city authorities, you name it. He basically said he's no longer a cop. You have to see this guy--and if I can find a transcript, I'll post it. I can only describe the two anchors as bewildered--to say they weren't expecting this would be an understatement.

Waller apparently decided to do his own version of the Johnny Paycheck classic on live television, after describing a chaotic scene in the city--between the looting and associated crime, and the lack of communication and coordination among the police. If I heard right, Waller took his police cruiser out of the city, and again, on live television, challenged the city to come and get it.

Again, I'll try to find a transcript and post it.

Well, I'd planned for a night out here, but just heard a local report about the possibility that computer geeks might be needed to help at some of the shelters, because we might be able to help folks with text messaging (which is working, despite the lack of regular open lines to 504--and, for that matter 225 numbers)...well, I'm an almost computer geek, so I made my call and put my name in to volunteer. Maybe they'll call, maybe they won't, but I think I'll wait here.

Blanco just made a statement--two things: first, 300 soldiers are going into New Orleans to try to stem the chaotic tide. Second, she ripped Dennis Hastert a new one, demanding an apology. Good. I look forward to hearing it.

Mary Landrieu also had a few things to say to Hastert (hat tip to Murph for that one).

More in a bit.
YRHT Has a Few Things to Say

Oyster found time to post, and Shawn has a link to FEMA .pdf files outlining flooded areas. Jeffrey's got recent posts as well.

On the subject of Oyster's latest, I saw where Dennis Hastert, via a spokesperson, is now backtracking on his UNBELIEVABLY CRASS AND STUPID remarks as to whether rebuilding New Orleans would be worth the effort. Nice try, Mr. Pecker, I mean Mr. Speaker, but I think you'd better serve your nation with a public and heartfelt apology...if nothing else, stop and actually use the brain cells you have left: New Orleans, as the biggest port in the nation, no doubt transships large amounts of Illinois agricultural products throughout the world--and brings IN large amounts of crude for transshipment to refineries, producing the fuel needed to operate agricultural machinery...and the fertilizer that grows agricultural products.

I'm sorry, but it really angers me when it becomes evident that a national public official like Dennis Hastert is such a dipshit.

Let's face facts: when headlines are saying "Desperate" or "Chaotic" and the mayor announces "SOS", you've got to ask what's going on...

A very close friend of mine sent me this:

It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.

-- Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004...

The district has identified $35 million in projects to build and improve levees, floodwalls and pumping stations in St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and St. Charles parishes. Those projects are included in a Corps line item called Lake Pontchartrain, where funding is scheduled to be cut from $5.7 million this year to $2.9 million in 2006. Naomi said it's enough to pay salaries but little else.

"We'll do some design work. We'll design the contracts and get them ready to go if we get the money. But we don't have the money to put the work in the field, and that's the problem," Naomi said...

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside...

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars...

One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer: a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the main breach on Monday.

Here's an additional link to a Post op-ed about the budget FEMA:

...the advent of the Bush administration in January 2001 signaled the beginning of the end for FEMA. The newly appointed leadership of the agency showed little interest in its work or in the missions pursued by the departed Witt. Then came the Sept. 11 attacks and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Soon FEMA was being absorbed into the "homeland security borg."

This year it was announced that FEMA is to "officially" lose the disaster preparedness function that it has had since its creation. The move is a death blow to an agency that was already on life support. In fact, FEMA employees have been directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission.

FEMA will be survived by state and local emergency management offices, which are confused about how they fit into the national picture. That's because the focus of the national effort remains terrorism, even if the Department of Homeland Security still talks about "all-hazards preparedness." Those of us in the business of dealing with emergencies find ourselves with no national leadership and no mentors. We are being forced to fend for ourselves, making do with the "homeland security" mission. Our "all-hazards" approaches have been decimated by the administration's preoccupation with terrorism.

And James Wolcott is even more blunt:

No, this is the time for politics, none better, because I can tell you just from being out of NY a few days that a lot of people in this country are shocked and sobered by New Orleans, but they're also worried and pissed off. They're making the connection between the money, manpower, and resources expended in Iraq and how raggedy-ass the rescue effort has been in the Gulf. If you don't say it now when people's nerves are raw and they're paying full attention, it'll be too late once the waters receded and the media-emoting "healing process" begins.

Thankfully, Paul Craig Roberts is ignoring the pleas for sotto voce commentary in a time of tragedy.

"Chalk up the city of New Orleans as a cost of Bush's Iraq war.

"There were not enough helicopters to repair the breached levees and rescue people trapped by rising water. Nor are there enough Louisiana National Guardsmen available to help with rescue efforts and to patrol against looting.

"The situation is the same in Mississippi.


Now, of course that WON'T get anyone out of the city, nor will it stop the looting, or close the breaks in the levees--but I think it's high time we began looking at overall, long-term priorities, particularly when the country is spending huge amounts of money on, ahem, 'other' projects that aren't exactly bearing fruit. Additionally, as (sarcasm alert) an up and coming blogger named Atrios points out, this government DELIBERATELY and WITH FORETHOUGHT (and, I might add, on a BIPARTISAN basis) passed a bankruptcy bill that, in the absence of corrective measures, will be a further slap in the face to storm victims (at least Congress announced they were planning a "Katrina exemption", which Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee tried to add back when the bill was being considered--the amendment failed along party lines). In other words, the "elected" representatives were so busy catering to the only constituents they truly serve--big, fat-cat donors--that they're now having to scramble before their law kicks storm victims while they're down.

As for the anarchy in the streets (and, according to WWL, it's pretty awful), well, if I remember right, that's generally quashed by timely call-up and deployment of National Guard troops to affected areas. Oh, wait, that's right...most of the LNG isn't here. And now Murph's reporting that Dennis Hastert is basically saying "throw the city to the wolves". Like Murph, I don't remember people writing off Iowa and Illinois back in 1993. Thanks for nothing, Mr. Speaker.

Katrina is a national catastrophe that's still playing out. But we need to look closely at our national PRIORITIES, and make some serious decisions. I'm not saying that prior planning would have stopped the storm, or that everything subsequent to the storm's passing could have been or would have been avoided...but we can't simply chalk this up as "one of those things"--unless we want to see a repeat of this catastrophe. I'd like to think we don't.
Big Picture

Here's a Digital Globe image of New Orleans taken yesterday. The angle is quite steep, making it difficult to get an exact feel for some areas--and it doesn't have any suburbs except for those on the near West Bank (I think ONLY Algiers, but I really don't know the West Bank all that much). But you can definitely get a feel for water in some areas by looking at the highways.
Worth Referencing

Murph has a few things he wants to say.
Good Resource

From Kathryn Cramer again--a way for NOLA folks to possibly check on the condition of their home--it involves superimposing a mapped image from Google Maps with a FEMA satellite photo. There's also a link to Google Earth for those who subscribe to it--that might provide even more detailed imagery.

I went ahead and registered with Google Earth, and as soon as my registration is confirmed, I'll check an address a friend asked me to look for. If anyone else wants me to, drop a comment and I'll do what I can.

Here in Baton Rouge, we're starting to see some reactions to the evacuee situation, and I've heard that some areas around here have increased police presence. Don't know if this is in response to a particular incident or just a general precaution, but I expect this will become a lot more common around here at BR tries to deal with the large influx of people. We're now the largest city in the state.

For the record, I noticed some of this yesterday and this morning--despite the fact that LSU hasn't reopened, traffic is VERY heavy, AND there's the added bonus that, like a lot of cities this size, Red Stick has a patchwork pattern of road construction that over the recent past seems more a matter of responding to intolerable bottlenecks than long term flow--resulting in headaches for those unfamiliar with such "fixes," and, quite honestly, headaches for those of us who are.

But our problems are still minor compared to those an hour south, and for those who were in NOLA and are now refugees. Saw that YRHT managed to put a quick comment up saying he was ok, Schroeder and Jeffrey have posted recently as has Shawn. YatPundit's site is still down, but I believe I saw a post saying he and his went to Houston before the storm.

Oh, geez: just heard on WWL's streaming feed that a thunderstorm might be heading towards Arabi, 9th Ward, and St. Bernard Parish--the situation in the latter, by the way, is REALLY getting desperate, according to the NOLA blog.

The LAST thing that area needs right now is rain.
Bywater Map and Contact List

From Metroblog, here's a Bywater map showing known dry areas, and this list might serve as a good example of how to come up with a means to contact people.

Oh--speaking of Bywater, my sister sent me this.

More as I get it.
Pictures and Forums

Jeffrey has them.
Temperatures Rising

You've probably heard this, but things are getting ugly--the Superdome evacuation has been cancelled until order is restored in the area. WWL's reporter said one person likened the chaos around the Dome to Saigon in 1975.

The lastest video I've seen shows some areas where water's receded--in this case, around Jefferson Hwy--but large parts of the city are still inundated. Recent video also shows heavy damage both from the storm itself and subsequent looting.

As to the latter: you've seen my posts below. People have to eat--and, especially drink (water, that is). I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to be in the city WITHOUT a/c OR a fan in the kind of stifling heat common to summertime here. However, the opportunistic looting of shops--in one case, even a St. Vinnie's--isn't exactly a good omen.

You know, if the National Guard wasn't, um, busy ELSEWHERE, some of that could've been avoided.

I took a quick look at Kathryn Cramer's site this morning, and found this:

George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration...

And remember, he continued to loll up until the last moment--actually longer.

Finally, New Orleans Metroblogs has a couple of new updates--the museum is ok, as is a good bit of Uptown (apparently around Tulane/Loyola), and the Quarter. Audobon Zoo is ok.

Oh, before I forget: Billmon has a good list of organizations that will accept donations on behalf of those affected. If you can, please consider a contribution.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Good Triumphs

Or at least trumps--an expression known to any bourre player...just as I was steaming (see post below) Kathryn Cramer shows the best side of humanity--check this out.

What would you expect from an asshole?
Latest I've Heard/Seen

Apologies for no posts over the last few hours...

Good news/bad news: reports of looting at Children's Hospital were in error. However, Charity Hospital has no electricity or plumbing.

Otherwise, small bits of good news here and there--according to a local reporter down there, a number of areas in Kenner and Metairie are now dry, and earlier I saw footage of dry ground near the south terminus of the Ponchartrain Causeway--but heavy damage.

On the other hand, Lakeview is submerged. Footage today shows water up to the rooftops--you can walk directly from an airboat to the roof of a single story building. Canal Blvd. is still under water, which worries me--an acquaintence of mine, and a much better friend-of-a-friend, decided to ride out the storm. We're hoping for a positive word.

Myrtle Grove and Belle Chase, in Plaquemines Parish, are at least partly dry, but southward there were levee breaks, and the lower half of the parish is under water. Worse still, the area has a LOT of petro-chemical--large circular storage tanks were blown away in some places.

Slidell has some dry areas, but other parts are as badly flooded as St. Bernard Parish and the 9th Ward.

The Fair Grounds, which was partially submerged yesterday, is now under about what looks like four to five feet of water.

Gov. Blanco had harsh words for looters earlier--footage shows rampant looting of shops...only sporadic reports about any break-in's of private homes--hopefully these are just rumors--if I find anything else out, I'll pass it along. I did hear reports of armed gangs shooting at helicopters and rescue crews--ouch.

Just saw military vehicles in the Quarter--maybe Royal St? Unlike other areas, it looks mostly dry.

For obvious reasons, I've been mostly trying to focus on immediate news, but I'll make brief mention of a VERY good post from Billmon which takes a big picture look at some major contributing causes to the tragedy--TalkingPointsMemo and Juan Cole have also written excellent pieces.

More video is showing Superdome refugees--looks like they're on dry ground at the I-10/Causeway Blvd. area I mentioned earlier.

OK. additional video just in shows I-10 going downtown is partially submerged. In other words, it's dry in the west burbs--at least in a number of areas--but after the City Park exit you've got a lot of standing water both to the right and around the Parish jail, the old Falstaff brewery, and, if I remember right, near or around where Rock 'n Bowl is at--can't tell the water depth from the shot, but I'll guess several feet.

I'll try to have more in a bit.
Another Update

Am back at home watching more video--looks like it's I-10 at Causeway Blvd, ground level, and it's at least dry on the highway and right of way. It appears to be a staging area, with large numbers of people, buses, ambulances, and even a few helicopters. The Galleria--which I've previously only known as an oddly shaped glass building in Metairie--had window damage similar to the high rises in the CBD.

People are starting to feel the effects of the heat, the lack of clean water, and so on. Those in the right of way are mostly trying to sit under trees, looking for a little shade. As I said last night, it's still August in New Orleans, and saying the air is thick is an understatement.

Apparently officials are now openly asking folks with boats to help with rescue efforts.

Murph confirms that text messages are getting through to people with 504 numbers, and the Red Cross hotline for people looking for family is (866) 437-4636, with a Baton Rouge number of (225) 925-7500.

Again, you can get online updates here, here, or here, and you can link to streaming video here.
Another Update

A press conference recently concluded with the two US Sens., a Corps of Engineers official, and (I think) someone from OEP. Supposedly they've got the material ready to try patching the 17th St. Canal (no word on the Industrial Canal as of yet). The plan is to start dropping a mix of massive sand bags and concrete barriers on the levee breach starting this afternoon. Another claim is that Lake Ponchartrain is receding--no word on whether or not that's the tide, I'll assume it unless someone tells me otherwise.

Cell phones don't work, but I heard a report that text messages ARE working, which might be one way to contact people who have 504 phones (regardless of where they are at present).

If you haven't already heard, those folks in the Superdome will be the Astrodome, which will be quite a massive undertaking. Don't know how they'll coordinate all the vehicles needed to move people to places where the roads are passable--although I just saw an interview with Nagin outside the Superdome and it looked like he was on dry, I take that back--Nagin must've been in the elevated parking lot. There's thigh to waist deep water at ground level there. Still, they need to get folks out of there.

Note: Nagin also mentioned the prison riot--he seemed a bit evasive--said things were "under control but tenuous," which makes me wonder if the prison situation is simply on hold until further notice. Saw this morning that some inmates were being held on a freeway on-ramp.

Bottled water is being trucked in from a Miller Brewery bottling plant in Georgia. There's also a troop carrier heading up the Mississippi River that might be able to house some folks. Finally, New Orleans Metroblog has some recent posts, and graphical data courtesy of the Washington Post, which will give you an idea of NOLA topology.
No Good News, Unfortunately

Don't want to make people any more anxious, but the WWL streaming video just mentioned widespread looting--people took a forklift to the metal security door at a Rite Aid drugstore on Carrollton--more looting reported in the Quarter. An official with Jefferson Parish is saying shelters are being overwhelmed, particularly on the West Bank, which is relatively dry.

Supposedly armed gangs are roaming around parts of the city.

Emergency workers siezed food and water from stores to distribute.

Generators ran out of fuel at Charity and University hospitals...and flooding is getting worse in East Jefferson. Half of Slidell is still under water--I think I saw video of this. Water was up to the roofline.

Wish I had ANY good news to pass along, but "good news" is hard to find.
Decent Graphic

From the NY Times.
More Photo Galleries

From the Pic online, accessible here. More news on the main page.
Morning Update

Just settling in at work today--we've got a minimal crew, and don't expect to do much, but we're here if needed.

Murph, who's now in L.A. (as opposed to LA) has additional sources for anyone looking--he linked to Jeffrey at Library Chronicles, who safely evacuated, and who has a link to streaming video from WWL. JBoo built a No Katrina Blog--it has phone numbers, links to photos, and more info.

More bad news--the levee repairs haven't worked.

As soon as I find out more, I'll post it.
Late Update

Road information from WWL. Bad news: Orleans is still washed out. Not so bad news: a few--only a few--surrounding parishes are accessible--check the site for info.

Both campuses are flooded. At least parts of Gentilly are under water (around Robert E. Lee Drive--ouch--I have fond memories of the area, for reasons I won't go into).

New Orleans East is pretty much what you'd expect--bad.

Tomorrow is a work day for me, so I'm probably packing in for the night. Unless I hear something really important, I'll be back in the later a.m.
$3.00 a Gallon...or More

That is, if you can find gasoline. Just heard that some offshore rigs were blown as far as 17 miles from their original locations. The Coast Guard is reporting a few oil slicks as well...

The Centroplex/River Center in Baton Rouge is now a major shelter--high schools serving as such have to prepare for next week. The Red Cross is asking for volunteers and donations--did the latter, am ready to do the former. 1-800-HELP-NOW (1-800-435-7669) for those who don't have internet or don't want to donate online.

More news on tent cities--they're thinking of using the old State Fair Grounds near Airline Highway (Hwy 61) as a campground. But right now roads are still closed all fact, they're using portions of the raised highway as an initial stopping off point for people who've been rescued from rooftops.

Saw the first person make mention of the lack of public transportation to get folks out of the city, although, to be honest, a number of folks interviewed after being dropped on the elevated highway said they wanted to stick out the least they admitted it was a "bad decision." Still, watching the school buses FINALLY out in force makes me wonder first, why didn't they do this Saturday or Sunday? Second, New Orleans might not be alone in lacking a decent system of public transit, but I HOPE the aftermath of this disaster will impress upon people the NECESSITY of public, inter-urban systems. Greyhound isn't nearly enough...Amtrak makes one stop a day. A coordinated transit system could've gotten these people OUT.

More reports of looting...national correspondents were interviewing folks taking mostly food from convenience stores, drug stores, etc.--again, the police seem to be adopting a policy of letting people loot food and water--what else can they do? Conditions must be absolutely horrible: no electricity, no water AND it's still New Orleans in August, i.e., 90 degrees plus (Fahrenheit) and humidity through the roof with all the standing water...and heaven knows what sort of illnesses will be around for the next few days--already West Nile is an established disease here in the Gret Stet, then you've got the possibility of water borne diseases like cholera...

The Pic Blog says they're trying to plug the hole in the 17th St. continues through the night. Saw some footage from the Lakeview area before the sun set (Regent St., for those who know the area), and it's already under some 8 feet of water (up to the street sign--it was right AT the water line). On the surreal side, gas main breaks are causing small fires just above the water line. Geez.

The Pic is also reporting that they want to evacuate the Superdome shelter...guess y'all probably know the roof had a couple of small breaks, but more important, they're on emergency generator power, i.e., no A/C, and the sanitation, isn't.

Ouch...looters are trying to break into Children's Hospital.

No additional news on the prison riot, or the police officer who was shot.

Finally, to close for now, some parishes like Lafayette are letting parents in shelters register their kids for local schools, i.e., those who aren't in NOLA might have to stay away for a while.

OK, I'm not a native, but I've always thought of the city as my home away from home...those for whom NOLA IS home are hit a hundred, if not a thousand times harder...but this one still is a bit of a stomach punch for folks like me. I was looking forward to a number of weekends in the city this fall. But I guess that's not gonna happen.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More Updates

What a difference a day makes...more like what a difference two hours makes...

My friends are ok--more significantly, one friend is a student at LSU Medical School--she left on Thursday (spends weekends with her husband and children here in Baton Rouge) word on when she can go back and get the stuff in her dorm room, but Deb is already talking about trying to lobby for holding at least some classes here in BR, considering the circumstances. I think she's got a point.

Unfortunately, the levee break at the 17th St. Canal is starting to cause REAL problems. I've seen or heard reports that if it's not plugged, it could put Uptown and the Quarter completely under water. God I hope not. My friends told me about deaths (possibly suicide) at the dome...but haven't seen any confirmed reports.

Again, the Pic blog has some updates, and the WWL blog has more.

No updates on the riot at Orleans Parish Prison. Also, a police officer was shot in the forehead--he's in surgery...

Looting continues--looks like the police are looking the other way when it comes to food--well, people have to eat.

More when there's more news.
Mildly Stir Crazy

Am taking just a brief break here--again, nothing really new to report just yet, so I'm taking a quick ride around to visit with some friends--who, like me, were very fortunate. I'll be back in a little while.

Oh--one small bit of (bad) news--the riot at Orleans Parish Jail was apparently confirmed. No updates, though. And additional Gulfport footage really does look like Camille damage--but even worse.

Hope I'm not coming across as selfish by taking a break here--especially to those NOLA bloggers who must be ten times more anxious AND can't get back home. Again, I'll be keeping my eyes open, and if/when I come across more news I'll pass it along.
More Updates

The Pic blog has some updates on some neighborhoods and New Orleans Metroblog has a few recent posts. Just heard an unconfirmed report that a New Orleans City Jail guard--and a few family members seeking shelter at the jail with him--are being held hostage by inmates. However, that's unconfirmed...if I find out more, I'll post it.

Otherwise, nothing new from around New Orleans, but video from Gulfport shows Camille-like damage, and I just heard reports of looting in Biloxi.

When I hear more, I'll post.
Another Update

Watched a press conference featuring Gov. Blanco, and Sens. Landrieu and Vitter--they took a helicopter tour of the affected regions and provided some general updates.

First, there were three breaks along secondary levees: one at 17th Street and two along Industrial Canal--the latter is actually relieving pressure on St. Bernard Parish just a bit, because the water was so high there. The former is causing flooding in Lakeview and (maybe) downtown--footage shows ankle to knee deep water along Canal St. (Update: new video shows water on Canal up to car windows) Rampart St. was also beginning to take on water, although Vitter said the Quarter and CBD are still dry.

According to the Pic, Entergy is talking about completely rebuilding the power grid in the metro area, because the damage is so extensive. Also, a FEMA spokesperson, speaking at the press conference noted above, made mention of "long-term" shelters...I hope he doesn't mean "refugee camps," but he specifically said trailers, and I wonder if they might not also mean tents.

Am watching more video now--one part of Central City near Claiborne Ave. looks dry, but a water main broke, and a grocery store was being looted. The West Bank looks dry too, but tree branches, power lines, street signs, etc. are blocking roads.

Just heard that Jean Lafitte island is ok, but no word on Grand Isle. The north part of Plaquemines Parish is relatively ok, but the south part suffered extensive damage.

I'll pass along more news when I get it.
"Just Like Baghdad"

Uh oh. Just heard the first reference to...Iraq on local coverage. They were describing wholesale looting in downtown NOLA and Biloxi. Supposedly someone with an armful of clothes asked a cop if he could borrow the cruiser...unbelievable...and I hope that's just a rumor. Canal Street is starting to flood.

Another reference, this time to the tsunami, is, sadly, right on the money--houses torn up like they were made out of matchsticks, and floodwarters are literally at the roofline. A couple of families are sitting on roofs; the reporters think in the Lower 9th Ward.

Long lines are forming at big box stores selling generators--and any place where you can buy ice.

More footage from east of the city was evidence of how badly the causeway between St. Bernard and St. Tammany was damaged--whole sections are gone--about half of those that aren't slipped badly--a drunken bridge.

If this isn't a wost case scenario--well, I don't want to imagine what WOULD be...
The Day After

Apologies for the late start today--I took advantage of being off work to remain horizontal for a little longer, which did wonders for a lower backache I've had since late last week. My problems, though, are small compared to the what's going on an hour south:

First photo I've seen of Chalmette, in St. Bernard Parish.

Three levee breaks are causing significant flooding--New Orleans Metrobloggers have an update and da Paper evaucated their office. Just saw a photo of a significant breach on the 17th St. Canal--it's pouring water into the Lakeview neighborhood. Mid-City and the CBD are also flooding.

Video from the Northshore shows more tree damage, and lots of folks in BR are without electricity. However, it's a sunny, clear day, and I might wander around, conditions permitting, to get a better feel for the local situation.

Another BIG issue is how evacuees will manage--even if some folks could afford extended stays at hotels, you've got logistical issues, i.e., other reservations, etc.

Ouch--video near the Pearl River/Slidell area shows a badly damaged causeway, and massive flooding/wind damage. Looks like the place got hit by a bomb.

Back in a bit.
See You Later Today

Packing in for the night...more news updates here.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Still no footage from St. Bernard Parish, but a reporter who was near there talked about serious damage. St. Tammany Parish also got hit hard.

Over here, over 600 trees and 300 power lines were down. Again, I'm one of the lucky ones--I've got electricity. Some 70,000 people here in the parish are without power--and more than ten times that statewide.

Oh--and some footage from the 9th Ward in New Orleans was shown...there's flooding up to the rooftops.

On the ugly side, some looting is being reported.

And, on the truly sad side, casualty counts are beginning to be reported--dozens in Gulfport, Mississippi, sporadic reports of possible deaths in or around NOLA. I have a sinking feeling we're going to hear about more deaths fairly soon.

A few other items of interest: here's the New Orleans Metroblogging site--they had a link to the official website for St. Bernard Parish. I'll be keeping an eye out on both.

Looks like I'm luckier than I thought--just down the road, lights are still off, and there's a lot more tree debris. Haven't seen any footage yet from St. Bernard Parish, but I'll keep an eye out.

On the other side of Red Stick, my brother apparently had some siding peel off his house, but he was able to retrieve it.

Otherwise, well...the convenience store just down the road is open, and they're doing brisk business...including my own. Yeah, with nothing else to do this evening (most stores are still closed), well...besides, work is cancelled tomorrow.

Came across this "blog" on da Paper--the latest update says Antoine's lost a wall (not that I'd be dining at Antoine's anyway, but hey, I'm not going to gloat--Antoine's is a city institution).

When I find out more, I'll update.

Local television is showing some footage from the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain--lots of flooding and fallen trees, power lines, etc. I-12 is technically open, but exits are blocked by State Troopers.

I-10 suffered some damage mostly east of New Orleans. Heard that it's closed around Slidell--don't know about west of NOLA, but my understanding is that anyone trying to make it between BR and NOLA will get turned away. Ascension Parish still has large areas without electricity.

LaPlace (20 miles west of NOLA) had heavy flooding and wind damage.

More footage from the city--the Fair Grounds horse race track, which also hosts Jazz Fest, is partly submerged. Looks like the roof of the grandstand was partly blown away.

Supposedly there will be some aerial video of St. Bernard Parish forthcoming. This and New Orleans East, according to reports, suffered the worst damage; however, it looks like at least parts of almost every neighborhood have at least localized flooding.

Back in a bit.

The governor is speaking live--just heard her say over 200 people were picked up from rooftops, others are swimming to rescue boats. St. Bernard Parish (east of New Orleans) is, in her words, "devastated."

I'm guessing most folks have also seen video from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which bore the brunt of the storm.

But I'll reiterate--just because this didn't obliterate New Orleans and the burbs doesn't mean they weren't hit HARD. My understanding is that evacuees won't be able to get back for at least a week, if not longer. As for those being sheltered, heaven knows what will happen. Even though the Superdome is damaged, people are still there...saw a report that said folks were starting to get impatient.

It might not have been THE nightmare, but it's still a really bad dream. A water main broke in the city, power is mostly off--directives to boil water aren't all that effective for those who have only electric appliances.

Local television has some aerial footage from what looks like Kenner--it's partly to totally submerged. Earlier, I read somewhere that for a week or so the area will be "an urban wilderness." Floodwaters might contain things like poisonous snakes, balls of fire ants, and other "amenities."

Something along Lake Ponchartrain is on fire, and boats look like they were tossed around like toys.

Here--the complaints are a bit more, um, I was going to say pedestrian, but Baton Rouge is a pedestrian's nightmare...anyway, the complaints revolve around lack of power and closed stores.

I'll post more when I find out more.

It isn't online yet, but video locally shows a lot of fallen trees--where I'm at (near LSU's northeast side) things are ok for the most part, but just off campus on the west side there's some local flooding--the west side sits on lower, and softer ground.

Again, we were lucky here. New Orleans--and the NOLA burbs--well, about the only good news is that the city wasn't completely obliterated. But there's serious flooding and damage. Read that a couple of shelters in St. Bernard Parish (east of the city) suffered serious damage--one lost its roof. The Superdome had a couple of pieces of roof fly away. The Quarter is still there, but at least a few buildings were smacked hard. A lot of taller buildings like hotels lost windows. In a nutshell, the footage makes it look like the city got beaten up badly.

The mayor of Kenner (and I'll skip the usual sarcastic jokes about Kenner/Metarie and the NOLA burbs) says every house suffered serious damage. Every house. Other footage that's been released shows people in or around the city in chest deep water--and I read a few reports about folks stranded on their rooftops--the highest place they could get.

A levee broke on the Industrial Canal--ouch. A few reports are saying it might be two weeks to a month before some folks can get back to their homes.

Other reports have been of bodies floating in floodwaters--hopefully that's a bit exaggerated, or, if it isn't, that maybe it's a matter of graves being breached (in the city, people are buried above ground in crypts).

Basically, while there's still more or less a city an hour south of here, the damage is EXTENSIVE throughout roughly a six or seven parish area--Orleans, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, and Terrebone--I expect that Lafourche and Washington Parishes also got hit hard.

Baton Rouge's mayor is making an appeal for donations to the Red Cross.

Here are a few websites to catch some local updates: the BR newspaper, a local televison station, & da paper online.

If I see anything new, I'll pass it along.
I Like Electricity...and I Sure Did Miss It

The power went out some time after midnight, and I'm just back up and running. Like an idiot, I forgot that my only small battery powered radio work, and I had fewer large batteries than I thought, i.e., no boom box either.

Still, we were damn lucky here in BR--the last bulletins I heard were hopeful, and it turned out to be just a bigger than average storm. NOLA, though, seems to be a different story. Don't know the details, but I hear it's bad.

Back after I catch up with everything.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Calm Before

Things are still quiet here in Baton Rouge, although the storm is picking up southward near NOLA and along the coast. There's apparently a very slight chance Katrina will weaken to a Category 3, but that's still a hell of a storm...and it's slowing, which means a protracted period of bad.

Hotels are fully booked; it looks like some folks will have to spend the night in their cars--in parking lots--and traffic on the highways is still heavy. Some news reports implied some hotel managers might allow people to spend the night in the lobby.

Just waiting and watching over here. The cat's in the stairwell, acting suitably pissed, but he's just gonna have to deal.

Other items of interest: some folks had to delay their entrance to the Superdome shelter because they weren't ready to part with...their guns and drugs. Go figure.

Recent footage from New Orleans shows light rain and empty streets.

Back in a bit.
A Car Makes a Poor Hurricane Shelter

Still just light rain here, and they've asked folks to stay off the streets this evening...but a BIG problem is gridlock conditions on the highways--check for yourself. Odd quirks with the highway system, like exit-only lanes that are known to locals, but not people passing through, are contributing to the problem. Here's hoping the roads aren't still clogged come morning.

And, of course, there's no public transportation to speak of.

Just heard a quote from somebody at the National Weather Service re: Katrina weakening--something like "whether you get hit by an 18 wheeler or a freight train makes little difference." Not exactly hopeful.


Well, not surprisingly, my training class was cancelled--indeed, everything is cancelled here in Red Stick...we'll see how long the power stays on...

I guess most folks are able to look at the internets or television for latest reports. Here, there's been a bit of rain from some of the outermost squalls, but that's died down for the moment. Traffic on the interstate is a nightmare, of course.

A couple of NOLA television crews came up to BR to broadcast--they're tag teaming with the local news crews...

Damn, the eye looks ugly.

Otherwise, nothing serious--yet. The forecast is saying the worst will begin come morning. 70 mile-an-hour winds here, 135 or more in NOLA.

And, for anyone who feels the need for pessimism, here's something I found in comments at Eschaton.

One other thing right now: my cat is massively pissed off--I brought him in for the evening...
When the Levee Breaks

Got no place to hide...

Trying to evacuate New Orleans.
This one's BIG--Category 5--Baton Rouge will get high winds and rain. If the track pushes slightly eastward, we'll be spared the worst...but with a storm this big, there really isn't a "safe" side.

Just a few clouds now, but tomorrow will be a different story.

Last night, some friends reminisced about Andrew, a direct hit on New Iberia--where my parents live. Mom and Dad's house survived the direct hit with little damage, but it took a couple of days for me to get in touch (I was living up north then). Steve and Debbie weren't so lucky--a pecan tree came crashing down on their house.

Time permitting, I'll try to post a few updates here and there.

Oh--and here's a somewhat amusing sidenote: I'm scheduled for a training class all this coming week. Guess I'll try to see if that's been cancelled.