Sunday, September 1, 2019

Hurricane Katrina

Fourteen years ago, Hurricane Katrina plowed across Florida, and headed into the Gulf of Mexico. St. Tammany residents started getting uneasy. On Friday, August 26, 2005, the weather forecasters kept telling us that it was going to make a 90 degree northward turn once it got into the Gulf of Mexico and come on land somewhere around Pensacola, Fl. 

Huge hurricanes don't usually make 90 degree turns. Once Katrina got into the Gulf of Mexico it immediately started getting bigger and stronger, making it even less likely that it was going to make such a sharp turn.

Sure enough, by Saturday morning it became obvious that Katrina was turning "gradually" to the north and would make landfall around Biloxi, or, in the very worst scenario, at New Orleans. St. Tammany residents got busy and started making preparations. Usually we have three or four days to get ready, but in Katrina's case it became apparent we were in trouble only two days before landfall, waking up on Saturday morning to alarming news.

People who lived near the water started putting things on high shelves or upstairs if they had a second story. No one had ever seen (or remembered seeing) a "storm surge" of 12 to 20 feet.

We filled bathtubs with water, stocked up on water bottles, and gathered up all the loose lawn items, and parked the vehicles in the middle of the open yard away from the trees.

We only had a day to board up windows. Some residents had saved plywood coverings from previous storms, so they re-installed those. Others had to make hurried trips to the lumber yard for plywood of whatever size and thickness they had left. 

Getting Out of Dodge

By Saturday noon, people were leaving. Hundreds of thousands of people clogged the interstate highways heading away from New Orleans. The inbound lanes going into New Orleans became outbound lanes so that all lanes on interstate highways were converted to escape routes.

Those corridors became parking lots. Many of those people ran out of gas (and thus air conditioning,) drinking water, and patience.

Many people decided to stay and "ride out the storm." I had ridden out a few storms, but had learned it's not a good idea to subject your family to eight to ten hours of huddling in a dark house with winds roaring, rain pouring, and trees crashing all around. 

Some went to Baton Rouge, which, as it turns out, wasn't far enough to escape the power outages and wind damages to trees. Others heading out of New Orleans had to drive as far as they could until they either ran out of gas or found a motel with a room still available. Many of those evacuees never went back to New Orleans. 

Monday, August 29, was the day that belonged to Katrina. The storm roared into land just east of New Orleans, at about the Louisiana/Mississippi state line. That put the worse wind and water and storm surge at Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian, Mississippi. A wall of water over 20 feet high hit Pearlington. A 12 foot storm surge swept across Slidell. The eye of the hurricane lumbered northward towards Bogalusa. 

Pontchartrain Drive in Slidell

The storm continued northward causing considerable damage to Tylertown and Hattiesburg, and even further north. But the real unimaginable damage was in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 

Canal Street, New Orleans

Monday was a horrific day for New Orleans. Monday night was even worse. The city had been hit not only by hurricane-force winds and torrential rains, but also by storm surges that had punctured the levee system in several places, flooding across the Crescent City. It was devastating. New Orleans was paralyzed by wind, water, and lawlessness. A police officer told me later that the full extent of the chaos in New Orleans after Katrina would probably never be told. 

The Sound of Chain Saws

On Tuesday people gradually emerged, took a look around, and were astounded by the damage. Neighbors began checking on their neighbors, scrounging up what food they could, eating first what was already defrosting in unpowered freezers. People with chainsaws ventured forth, clearing first the trees that blocked their driveways, then the trees from the roads that passed by their house. By the end of the third day, most of the rural roads and state highways were passable, thanks to individuals with chainsaws.

Some construction personnel with bulldozers didn't even bother cutting the trees out of the way. They just shoved them to the side so people and emergency personnel could pass. 

That New Orleans flooded due to levee breaks was a disaster story in itself, and large portions of Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian, MS, were wiped down to the slabs. A gambling casino floated hundreds of feet and came to rest on top of the highway in Gulfport. The Slidell I-10 twin span and every bridge on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was pushed sideways like a child's building blocks. 

 Trees had fallen, slicing through roofs of every other house in most areas. Blue tarps went up everywhere to cover the gaping holes in the roofs.  Refrigerators filled with spoiled food were carried out of kitchens and put out next to the roads for somebody else to deal with. 

And the clean up crews did deal with them. Scores of trucks making regular neighborhood runs, grappling up the piles of debris and taking them away to designated areas where the debris could be piled up and set on fire.

ATM's were out of operation, banks were closed, the entire city of New Orleans was barricaded off for three or four weeks before people were let back in.  

The mold. Inside the walls. Then on top of that, some of the sheetrock dry wall that was installed to replace soggy moldy sheetrock turned out to be outgassing corrosive fumes itself. 

Thousands of FEMA trailers began piling up in open fields north of New Orleans, waiting to be delivered to people who needed them.  Some of them were never delivered. 

A FEMA Trailer storage area northeast of Bogalusa - 2007
(Google Earth - USDA Farm Service Agency Photo) 

Efforts were mounted to save the lost and abandoned pets, the dogs, the cats, some of which were left behind by evacuating owners, others who lost their owners to the flood waters. Hundreds of animal rescue personnel were sent into the worst areas to try to round up and capture the panicked exhausted pets. Humane societies far across the countryside were packed with rescued animals. The search began to re-unite them with their owners, or find them new homes.

Power Slowly Restored

Gradually, the power came back on. It took a month in some places, but electric company work crews poured in from everywhere, untangling the lines, removing the broken light poles and installing new ones. The wires went back up, the power was restored, and people rejoiced when the lights came back on (along with the air conditioning.)

People who had no houses were living in tents, church recreation halls, Red Cross shelters, small travel trailers that had at one time only been used for vacation trips, and, of course, FEMA trailers. 

The thousands of New Orleans residents who were rescued from the flooded out freeways, from the Superdome, and from the airport- they were put on buses and transported outward, and then even further, winding up in places where they had to rely on the kindness of strangers just to survive. I searched the internet, and almost every local newspaper in every small town across the South had an article about two or three New Orleans residents or families who had been adopted by local residents. They were given food, clothing and shelter. Jobs were offered and accepted. Schools enrolled new evacuee students without records and paperwork.

From all across the nation, people began searching for relatives, for friends, wondering if they had survived, or where they had been taken in the confusion. Internet bulletin boards were filled with desperate pleas for help in locating folks who had disappeared in the chaos. Sometimes the outcomes of those searches were miraculous, sometimes tragic. 

The property insurance industry in Louisiana was never the same again. 

Hurricane Katrina became a lesson, not only in weather, storm surge floods and loss of electricity, but on the goodness of neighbors working together, of parish agencies and local city governments functioning even though stressed beyond their limits, of good people doing extraordinary things, and extraordinary people providing incredible public service, many without pay. 

The volunteers from across the U.S. who swarmed into the area to help were astounding: church groups, civic groups, business community groups. Towns from throughout the country sent their police officers, firefighters, search and rescue squads to help in any way they could. Many of the bonds forged between communities at that time are still strong today.

I eventually wrote a letter to the editor thanking all those people with chain saws who went out and started cutting apart and removing fallen trees within hours of the storm having passed through. They were symbolic of all the people who stepped up, got to work, and saved lives even while many of us were still wandering around dazed and in a state of shock at the destruction. 

A historical marker in Waveland, MS

 A volunteer recognition plaque at Covington (La.) City Hall

May there never be another Hurricane Katrina, but if there is, may it always be followed by that overwhelming response where neighbors help neighbors however and wherever they can. 

Hurricane Katrina Timeline

For those of you who are more detail-oriented, here's a timeline for the entire ordeal:

 Hurricane Katrina Timeline
Compiled by The Shreveport Times

Tuesday, August 23, 2005  

5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues a statement saying that Tropical Depression Twelve had formed over the southeastern Bahamas.

Wednesday, Aug. 24

4 a.m.: Tropical Storm 12 is moving through Bahamas.

10 a.m.: NHC names Katrina, now an official tropical storm with winds over 40 mph. Tropical storm warning and hurricane watch for Florida issued.

11 am EDT (1500 UTC) - Tropical Depression Twelve is upgraded to Tropical Storm Katrina.
4 p.m.: National Hurricane Center reports Tropical Depression No. 12 has formed over the Bahamas, with 35 mph winds, moving erratically.

4 p.m.: NHC says Katrina is organizing and strengthening.

10 p.m.: NHC issues hurricane warnings for south Florida as Katrina is expected to strengthen.

Thursday, Aug. 25

4 a.m.: Katrina passes south of Grand Bahama island with 50 mph winds.

7 a.m.: The FEMA National Response Coordination Center Red Team is activated.

10 a.m.: NHC says Katrina crossing Florida Straits toward southeast Florida with 60 mph winds. Tropical storm warning for west Florida coast issued.

4 p.m.: NHC says Katrina now a Category 1 hurricane, with sustained winds of 75 mph headed toward southern Florida. Louisiana National Guard has contingency plan for Hurricane Katrina. State police are on alert.

5 p.m. : Tropical Storm Katrina is upgraded to become Hurricane Katrina, the fourth hurricane of the 2005 season.

6 p.m.: NHC says Katrina making landfall north of Miami with 80 mph winds.

6:30 p.m.: Katrina makes its first landfall in Florida as a Category 1 hurricane near Hallandale Beach on the Dade-Broward county line. After landfall, instead as going West as forecast, Katrina jogged hard left (South) almost parallel to the coastline in densely populated metropolitan Miami. One man, who stayed on his boat rather than stay at one of the nearby hotels which were still open, was killed. Katrina continued its path through Coral Gables and southwest Miami, then went southwest through unpopulated Everglades National Park and exited the state near the southern tip of mainland Florida. Despite the course change, only 14 Florida deaths were attributed to the hurricane, since it was only a Category 1, with sustained winds of 80 mph. 

Katrina destroyed many old large trees in Miami, pulling some out of the ground by the roots. Hurricane experts who toured the Kendall/Sunset area after the storm determined that tornadoes had been spawned out of the hurricane, but luckily only struck in between houses, causing no deaths

10 p.m.: NHC says Katrina turning southwestward over Miami-Dade County with 75 mph winds, headed for Gulf of Mexico.

Friday, Aug. 26

Midnight: Katrina downgraded to tropical storm heading over southwest Florida, with 60 mph winds.

2 a.m.: Katrina leaves Florida mainland and crosses into the Gulf of Mexico.

4 a.m.: Katrina regains hurricane status in Gulf.

8 a.m.: Katrina begins moving erratically.

10 a.m.: Katrina, with winds exceeding 80 mph, is off the west coast of Florida, north of Key West, still expected to turn north up the coast.

10:30 a.m.: NHC says Katrina strengthening rapidly, now a Category 2 hurricane with winds exceeding 100 mph. Louisiana state police issue their first situation report. Offshore oil crews begin evacuating Gulf of Mexico rigs. Hurricane projected to go into Mobile, Ala., area.

GULF COAST STATES REQUEST TROOP ASSISTANCE FROM PENTAGON: At a 9/1 press conference, Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, commander, Joint Task Force Katrina, said that the Gulf States began the process of requesting additional forces on Friday, 8/26. [DOD]

4 p.m.: National Hurricane Center Advisory No. 14 says Katrina is shifting to the west, with landfall predicted within 72 hours on the east Mississippi coast.

5 p.m.: Gov. Kathleen Blanco publicly issues a declaration of emergency, orders state Emergency Operations Center to be activated at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, contraflow evacuation preparations begin. GOV. BLANCO ASKS BUSH TO DECLARE FEDERAL STATE OF EMERGENCY IN LOUISIANA: “I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.”


5 p.m.: Blanco and the Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force hold first conference phone call of disaster officials from state government and 13 southeast parishes. The Mississippi emergency office listens in.

7 p.m.: NHC predicts Katrina will grow to a Category 3 hurricane within the next few hours, hurricane winds extend 25 miles from center, storm still moving west-southwest. National Guard begins calling 2,000 troops to report Saturday.

10 p.m.: NHC calls Katrina "stubborn." Katrina has grown to 105 mph winds, expected to turn west-northwest on Saturday, with landfall now projected on Mississippi coast. Blanco's staff phones media to warn that the storm is going to have a greater impact on Louisiana.

Saturday, Aug. 27

4 a.m.: NHC says hurricane will hit New Orleans area late Monday afternoon, with eye projected to go over Jefferson Parish. Winds are 115 mph. Red Cross plans opening shelters in Monroe, Alexandria and Shreveport.

5 am EDT (0900 UTC) - Hurricane Katrina reaches Category 3 intensity.

7:30 a.m.: Governor holds conference phone call with all state and local emergency responders; state recommends first evacuations of low lying parishes begin at 9 a.m. Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Charles have declared states of emergency. Mandatory evacuations ordered for St. Charles, voluntary evacuations for Plaquemines, St. Bernard and Grand Isle. Shelter Task Force on standby. Federal Emergency Management Agency staff in New Orleans evacuating for Baton Rouge Emergency Operations Center; Mississippi agrees to accept contraflow on I-59 into the state.

9 am CDT St Charles Parish officials call for a mandatory evacuation of its residents. St Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis first announces a state of emergency in his parish, then later that same day calls for an evacuation and sets up two shelters in his community. He requests that all citizens planning on leaving get out by noon on Sunday. Plaquemines Parish declared a mandatory evacuation. Officials were in the process of picking up special-needs residents at mid-day Saturday.

Jefferson Parish officials declared a voluntarily evacutation for most of the parish but a mandatory evacuation for the coastal areas of Grand isle, Crown Point, Lafitte and Barataria. St. Bernard Parish has recommended all residents evacuate, though it likely will not declare a mandatory evacutation because the parish won’t offer shelters, said Emergency Management Director Larry Ingargiola.

10 a.m.: Blanco writes President Bush asking for federal disaster assistance. In response, Bush issues a national disaster declaration, triggering federal aide. Blanco specifically asks for $9 million in federal aide to protect life and property. FEDERAL EMERGENCY DECLARED, DHS AND FEMA GIVEN FULL AUTHORITY TO RESPOND TO KATRINA: “Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.” [White House

10:30 a.m.: Second conference phone call of emergency agencies; NHC issues hurricane watch for Louisiana from mouth of Pearl River to Morgan City. Orleans and St. Tammany parishes are adhering to hurricane evacuation plan. Shelters in Monroe and Alexandria to open at 2 p.m.; Shreveport and Baton Rouge shelters on standby to open at 4 p.m.

Noon: Louisiana State Police Training Academy in Baton Rouge opens as shelter for troopers' families evacuating from storm areas.

12:30 p.m.: Blanco holds news conference with Jefferson Parish officials. She announces contraflow -- turning interstates and major highways to all outflow -- will begin at 4 p.m.

1 p.m.: NHC says Katrina, packing sustained 115 mph winds, taking dead aim on New Orleans, with landfall predicted for midmorning Monday; strengthening predicted.

1:30 p.m.: Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin hold joint news conference on all New Orleans media. She urges everyone to leave and asks them to go door-to-door to urge their neighbors to evacuate.

2 p.m.: State troopers from six regions in place for contraflow.

3:30 p.m.: Another conference phone call of emergency agencies. Status: contraflow beginning, long lines in New Orleans gasoline stations, state sending in more gasoline supplies.

4 p.m.: Phase 3 contraflow (all interstates and major highways switched to all outgoing lanes) in full effect in New Orleans area.

5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin host a mid-afternoon press conference, and Nagin warns residents of the serious potential for danger. The mayor said he would stick with the state’s evacuation plan and not officially call for residents to leave New Orleans proper until Sunday. This will allow those residents in low-lying surrounding areas to leave first and avoid gridlocked escape routes. Ray Nagin calls for a voluntary evacuation of the city at this time, and stresses the need for those in low-lying areas of New Orleans to evacuate. Nagin said the city would open the Superdome as a shelter of last resort for evacuees with special needs. He advised anyone planning to stay there to bring their own food, drinks and other comforts such as folding chairs, as if planning to go camping. “No weapons, no large items, and bring small quanties of food for three or four days, to be safe,” he said. Governor Blanco requests that President Bush declare a major disaster for the State of Louisiana in a letter through FEMA Region VI Director Gary Jones. In the 4-page letter, Blanco makes specific requests under the Stafford Act for aid (housing, counseling, unemployment, and Small business funding) as well as requesting "direct Federal assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property" (by removing debris) and agrees to reduced liability.
Map of Louisiana counties eligible for assistance due to September 27 authorization
In response to Governor Blanco's request, President Bush declares a Federal state of emergency in Louisiana under the authority of the Stafford Act, which provides a "means of assistance by the Federal Government to State and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to alleviate the suffering and damage which result from such disasters...". The emergency declaration provides for federal assistance and funding  and assigns to the FEMA federal coordinating officer (FCO), by law, the responsibility for coordinating relief efforts with those government bodies and relief agencies which agree to operate under his advice or direction. It also provide for military assets and personnel to be deployed in relief and support operations, although the Posse Comitatus Act impose strict limitations on the use of Active Duty soldiers in law enforcement. While Blanco's request mentions the City of New Orleans in the first paragraph, , the subsequent declaration  does not cover the parishes expected to receive the most damage, like Jefferson Parish and New Orleans (Orleans Parish). These and other Southeast Louisiana Parishes were mentioned by name in Blanco's request.
Saturday night, National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield briefed leadership on Katrina. According to the St Petersburg State Times, this included President Bush, Governors of Louisiana and Mississipi, and the Mayor of New Orleans.

5:30 p.m.: Blanco leads conference phone call for statewide elected officials and 65 legislators in southeast Louisiana.

7 p.m.: Katrina landfall predicted for Lafourche Parish around noon Monday morning, aiming at Orleans-Jefferson Parish line. National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield called Blanco to warn of severity of storm. Blanco urges Nagin to talk to Mayfield.

8 p.m.: Shelters in Lafayette, Thibodaux, Hammond and Lake Charles open.

9 p.m.: Traffic moving at 35 mph on I-10 at Texas line.

9:30 p.m.: Fifth conference phone call of emergency response agencies from state Emergency Operations Center. Parish officials recommend evacuations in Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, St. Bernard, St. James, St. John and Terrebonne. I-10 traffic described as "light" until Baton Rouge area.

10 p.m.: NHC update predicts Katrina, packing 115 mph sustained weeks, will hit downtown New Orleans around 1 p.m. Monday, with storm surge of 15-20 feet above normal tides.

Sunday, Aug. 28

12:40 am CDT (0540 UTC) - Hurricane Katrina reaches Category 4 intensity.

1 a.m.: NHC advisory says Katrina strengthened to 145 mph sustained winds extended 70 miles outward from the center; hurricane conditions expected in Louisiana within 24 hours with storm surges up to 25 feet; landfall still predicted west of the mouth of the Mississippi River, passing over downtown New Orleans at 1 p.m. Monday.

4 a.m.: New Orleans issues a mandatory evacuation order effective at 9 a.m. Hospitals and hotels excepted.

7 a.m.: Governor's sixth conference phone call with emergency agencies in southeast Louisiana. State officials predicted 26-foot storm surge. Parishes which have issued mandatory evacuation orders: Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa near Lake Pontchartrain and Terrebonne. Jefferson is under full evacuation. Shelters opening in Hammond, Thibodaux and Lafayette. St. Bernard told to expect up to 12 feet.
Hurricane Katrina reaches Category 5 intensity.

8 a.m.: Superdome opened as shelter of last resort. Louisiana National Guard has activated 4,000 troops, including some deployed to the Superdome.

9 a.m.: State police say 18-21 foot storm surge expected for St. Bernard Parish.

MORNING — LOUISIANA NEWSPAPER SIGNALS LEVEES MAY GIVE: “Forecasters Fear Levees Won’t Hold Katrina”: “Forecasters feared Sunday afternoon that storm driven waters will lap over the New Orleans levees when monster Hurricane Katrina pushes past the Crescent City tomorrow.” [Lafayette Daily Advertiser]

9:30 am CDT (1430 UTC) - President Bush calls Governor Blanco, says he is “very concerned about the storm’s impact”, and urges Blanco and Nagin to order a mandatory evacuation. The Mayor and the Governor had a press conference scheduled for 9:30 AM during which they announced the mandatory evacuation. It seems apparent that the phone call from President Bush did not cause them to call for a mandatory evacuation. "We're facing the storm most of us have feared," Nagin told an early-morning news conference, the governor at his side. Katrina was now a Category 5 hurricane, set to make landfall overnight. Minutes earlier, Blanco had been pulled out to take a call from the president, pressed into service by FEMA's Brown to urge a mandatory evacuation. Blanco told him that's just what the mayor would order."

10 a.m.: Blanco on radio and TV in New Orleans, telling people to leave. President Bush phones Blanco. Her staff says the president was concerned about an evacuation. "She tells him that evacuation started yesterday."
National Weather Service issues a bulletin predicting "devastating" damage.
Mandatory evacuation is ordered for New Orleans City by Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco[23].

Noon: Jefferson asking people to leave; state announces bridges will close starting at 5 p.m. Heavy traffic on all highways moving at speeds as low as 10 mph. State warns Lake Pontchartrain storm surge to be 18-22 feet. Blanco sends detailed three-page letter with one-page attachment with cost estimates of $130 million to Bush spelling out types of aid needed, including aid in evacuation, food, shelters for regular and special-needs evacuees, housing, unemployment benefits, crisis counseling, food stamps, hazard mitigation, debris removal and individual monetary assistance for evacuees. Louisiana Superdome opened as a "refuge of last resort".[24]

1 pm CDT (1800 UTC) - In the Gulf of Mexico, Katrina quickly strengthens to a strong Category 5. At its peak, hours from landfall, hurricane hunter planes measured 175 mph sustained winds, with gusts to 216 mph. President Bush declares a state of emergency in Alabama  and Mississippi , and a major disaster in Florida  under the authority of the Stafford Act. President Bush meets in videoconference with National Hurricane Director Max Mayfield to discuss hurricane Katrina while at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Governor Blanco makes arrangements with the Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico for National Guard reinforcements, however the federal authorities do not issue the required authorization for these reinforcements until September 1.
1:30 p.m.: Ferry service ends in New Orleans.

2 p.m.: A staff e-mail reports that U.S. Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff attempted to call Blanco. A press aide writes back: "I think she's asleep." Chertoff's office is told to call back at 3 p.m.

AFTERNOON — BUSH, BROWN, CHERTOFF WARNED OF LEVEE FAILURE BY NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR: Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center: “‘We were briefing them way before landfall. … It’s not like this was a surprise. We had in the advisories that the levee could be topped.’”

4 p.m.: NHC says Katrina, now with 165 mph winds and directly south of the mouth of the river, still dead aim on downtown New Orleans; 43 parishes have officially declared disasters. In the event of a category 4 or 5 hit, “Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer. … At least one-half of well-constructed homes will have roof and wall failure. All gabled roofs will fail, leaving those homes severely damaged or destroyed. … Power outages will last for weeks. … Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards.” [National Weather Service]

4:30 p.m.: Eighth conference phone call of parish and state emergency officials: tropical storm winds (40 mph) already reported on Lake Pontchartrain. Storm surge of 28 feet now predicted. Shelters of last resort opened in all parishes, some 20,000 to 25,000 people are reported in Superdome.

5 p.m.: Contraflow on interstate highways ends.

5:30 p.m.: Governor leads conference phone call from Louisiana Office of Homeland Security to brief elected officials.

LATE PM – REPORTS OF WATER TOPPLING OVER LEVEE: “Waves crashed atop the exercise path on the Lake Pontchartrain levee in Kenner early Monday as Katrina churned closer.” [Times-Picayune]

6 p.m.: New Orleans floodgates being closed, all marine traffic halted.

By Sunday evening, 4,000 Louisiana National Guard troops are on duty in the hurricane area. LOUISIANA NATIONAL GUARD REQUESTS 700 BUSES FROM FEMA FOR EVACUATIONS: FEMA sends only 100 buses. [Boston Globe]

9:30 p.m.: Ninth emergency agencies conference phone call. New Orleans reports that expected FEMA medical team did not arrive, calling it "a burden." St. Bernard reports verified storm surge of 18-19 feet. Blanco closes the conference by thanking the hundreds of emergency personnel. "You've worked very hard to protect our citizens," she said. "Now, we just have to weather the storm. ... I know there will be a lot more frustration coming from our people, especially to get back in. ... You'll have to give us that call. God bless you and stay safe."

10 p.m.: NHC reports Katrina has 165 mph winds, Category 5, with landfall expected Monday morning, located 165 miles south-southwest of New Orleans. Projected to go over eastern New Orleans.

Midnight: Telephone conference call among state, federal and local emergency responders. Weather service in Slidell warns storm surge could be more than 30 feet locally.

Monday, Aug. 29

4 a.m.: NHC says Katrina weakening with 150 mph winds, soon to hit Louisiana east of Grand Isle and reach Louisiana-Mississippi border around noon, with hurricane-force winds extending 105 miles from center, which is projected to hit Louisiana-Mississippi border east of New Orleans.

6 a.m.: NHC says Katrina about to cross southern Plaquemines Parish, surge to 28 feet locally.

6:10 a.m.: Katrina makes landfall in Plaquemines Parish near Buras, Louisiana, United States with 125 mph winds. Katrina had just weakened from Category 4 at that time..

7 a.m.: State police report mentions the first three Katrina deaths of three nursing home evacuees in Baton Rouge.

7:30 a.m.: First state and local agencies conference phone call there are reports of power out in most of southeast Louisiana.

Jefferson reporting flooding, winds gusting to 100 mph.

New Orleans has lost most communications, reports greater than 20-foot storm surge verified, "extensive" flooding in New Orleans East and Superdome on back-up power. New Orleans requests food, specifically requesting 200,000 meals.

All communications down in St. Bernard, which reports three feet of water "due to overtopping of the Industrial Canal."

National Guard headquarters in Orleans' 9th Ward reports 3 feet to 4 feet of water rising on streets.

Big Charity Hospital in New Orleans reports "major problems" of flooding on bottom floor and blown-out windows. People are "on their roofs," hospital reports.

Local disaster officials request MREs (meals ready to eat.)

8 am CDT (1300 UTC) - New Orleans: Rising water on both sides of the Industrial Canal

9 am CDT (1400 UTC) - New Orleans: 6-8 feet of water in the Lower Ninth Ward

10 a.m.: NHC bulletin puts Katrina, with 145 mph, nearing landfall at the mouth of the Pearl River, 35 miles east-northeast of New Orleans, with hurricane force winds extending 125 miles from center. "Significant storm surge flooding" reported. Hurricane Katrina makes a third landfall near Pearlington, Mississippi, United States with 120 mph winds after crossing Breton Sound.

11 a.m.: First notice of levee break. In the state police official situation report in boldface is this notation: "Captain Mark Willow, NOPD Homeland Security, has reported a 20-foot break in the 17th Street Canal. Fire Department is reporting authority. Levee board notified." Also reported "significant structural damage, heavy flooding and deteriorating weather." New Orleans: 10 feet of water in St. Bernard. President Bush appears at the Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort and Country Club in El Mirage, Arizona for a Medicare event as the hurricane makes second landfall. He adds, "I want to thank the governors of the affected regions for mobilizing assets prior to the arrival of the storm to help citizens avoid this devastating storm."

1 p.m.: State police status report says FEMA is sending in law enforcement personnel because of reports of looting in New Orleans. State police in New Orleans request ice and water, saying drinking water unfit. Pumping stations in Orleans and Jefferson are reported not working. Communications down.

2 pm CDT (1900 UTC) - New Orleans officials publicly confirm 17th Street Canal breach

3 p.m.: State police EOC reports Katrina, with 95 mph winds, near Hattiesburg, Miss. New Orleans Homeland Security Director Terry Ebbertt said “Everybody who had a way or wanted to get out of the way of this storm was able to." 

Governor Blanco sends 68 school buses into New Orleans from surrounding, unflooded parishes, to begin evacuating those left in the city

AP: "FEMA director Brown also urged local fire and rescue departments outside Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi not to send trucks or emergency workers into disaster areas without an explicit request for help from state or local governments." Brown sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff five hours after landfall to activate 1,000 Homeland Security workers into the region. Brown acknowledges that this process will take two days. Brown's memo to Chertoff described Katrina as "this near catastrophic event" but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, "Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities." 

Brown defines role of requested assigned personnel and additional aid from the Department of Homeland Security: "Establish and maintain positive working relationships with disaster affected communities and the citizens of those communities. Collect and disseminate information and make referrals for appropriate assistance. Identification of potential issues within the community and reporting to appropriate personnel. Convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public. Perform outreach with community leaders on available Federal disaster assistance."
President Bush declares a major disaster for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama under the authority of the Stafford Act.

4 p.m.: State police EOC situation report includes reports of 8 feet of water over south Plaquemines Parish. State police deliver communications down in New Orleans; satellite phones being sent. First requests for diesel fuel for National Guard vehicles.

5 p.m.: National Weather Service warns of flooding in New Orleans. Hotel rooms in LaPlace secured for state troopers.

6 p.m.: State Office of Emergency Preparedness status report includes notation that there are three levee breaches in New Orleans causing flooding. The report says the 17th Street Canal breach is flooding the Lakeview area. The report mentions two other levee breaches in the 9th Ward. State police and wildlife and fisheries agencies have launched boats on search and rescue missions. FEMA reports ice and water are en route to Superdome. New Orleans reports flooding throughout the city, except for Central Business District and French Quarter. Superdome roof damage reported, three collapsed buildings, two in French Quarter are reported.

7 p.m.: State police EOC situation report shows nearly 400 calls to 911 services have been entered into their database. Baton Rouge state police reporting "significant" increase in I-10 eastbound traffic leading into New Orleans area.

Tuesday, Aug. 30

3 a.m.: State police EOC situation report says a 200-foot section of the 17th Street Canal has been breached. Red Cross opening a medical triage center at LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge. All bridges over Lake Pontchartrain are reported under water. Big Charity hospital beginning to evacuate. Water is rising at both the state and Tulane hospitals in New Orleans because of breach in 17th Street Canal.

5 a.m.: Katrina weakening in northeast Mississippi. More than 590 calls to 911 services in New Orleans area reported. Emergency radio system becoming overwhelmed.

8 a.m.: 911 calls grow to 656. "Most calls reference people in the New Orleans area who are trapped either in attics or rooftops." Pumps at the 17th Street Canal, the Industrial Canal and New Orleans East reported failed.

Untimed, but morning: Blanco directs staff to recruit school buses and drivers to evacuate Katrina victims stranded in New Orleans area. MASS LOOTING REPORTED, SECURITY SHORTAGE CITED: “The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked,” Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said. “We’re using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops.” [AP]

9 a.m.: State police situation report says water rising in New Orleans, forcing many to seek higher ground. Some 150 Orleans deputies and dependants summoning help from jail break room, as prisoners have freed themselves from cells and are trying to get in. State troopers and wildlife officers sent. In a news conference, Blanco says damage "worse than our worst fears." She leaves for helicopter tour with FEMA Director Mike Brown. Blanco tells President Bush that Louisiana needs "everything you've got."

11 a.m.: Call goes out from governor's office for buses to aid in evacuation.

12 pm CDT (1700 UTC) - Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff becomes aware that the New Orleans levee breaches cannot be plugged. “It was on Tuesday that the levee–may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday–that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake was going to start to drain into the city.” Senator David Vitter (R-LA) briefs the press that "I don't want to alarm everybody that, you know, New Orleans is filling up like a bowl. That's just not happening." (This statement was initially misattributed to FEMA official Bill Lokey). President Bush spends the day at the North Island Naval Base in San Diego making a speech to commemorate the September 2 anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender.

1 p.m.: State police situation report says AT&T sending satellite trucks to restore phone service at state police headquarters in Slidell and New Orleans. Coast Guard helicopter pilot reported looting at Wal-Mart in Algiers, across the river from downtown New Orleans. Communications re-established with Slidell state police headquarters through e-mail.

2 p.m.: Blanco holds news conference, calling devastation "heartbreaking." – PRESIDENT BUSH PLAYS GUITAR WITH COUNTRY SINGER MARK WILLIS [AP]

3 p.m.: National Weather Service warns of coastal flooding in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish on Lake Pontchartrain's south shore. Water still rising in New Orleans; major downtown intersection of Poydras and Loyola, near city hall, is reported impassable. Calls to 911 from those stranded in New Orleans now more than 1,000. Blanco makes second trip to Superdome.

7 p.m.: New Orleans City Hall taking on water. City has to close its Emergency Operations Center at 8 p.m. Texas Wildlife and Fisheries Department has 30 boats in Baton Rouge en route to New Orleans.

9 p.m.: 911 calls now top 1,400 in Orleans.

10 pm CDT (0300 UTC, August 31) - New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announces that the planned sandbagging of the 17th Street levee breach has failed. 80 percent of New Orleans is underwater. Many instances of looting, including looting by police officers, reported in the city of New Orleans.

Michael Chertoff, released a memo to other cabinet members and the EPA stating "the President has established the `White House Task Force on Hurricane Katrina Response.' He will meet with us tomorrow to launch this effort." The memo also announced "I hereby declare Hurricane Katrina an Incident of National Significance and designate Michael Brown, Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R), as Principal Federal Official (PFO) for incident management purposes."  FEMA refuses to allow volunteer firefighters into New Orleans. USS Bataan was positioned near New Orleans prior to Katrina making landfall, and begins relief operations. The U.S. military moves additional ships and helicopters to the region at the request of the FEMA. Hurricane Katrina gets downgraded to a tropical depression.

11 p.m.: State police report faxes from Methodist Hospital asking for food and basic supplies and from people trapped in Chalmette High School with no supplies.

Wednesday, Aug. 31

1:45AM CDT – FEMA REQUESTS AMBULANCES THAT DO NOT EXIST: “Almost 18 hours later, [FEMA] canceled the request for the ambulances because it turned out, as one FEMA employee put it, ‘the DOT doesn’t do ambulances.’”

5 a.m.: 911 calls in New Orleans area now more than 2,500. Most are said to be from people trapped, but many from their relatives elsewhere. Buses begin arriving at staging area at LaPlace to be escorted into the city to begin evacuating Superdome. FEMA has promised 400 buses.

7 a.m.: Since 5 a.m., another 200 calls to 911 reported. NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS ARRIVE IN LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, AND FLORIDA: Troops arrive two days after they are requested. [Boston Globe]

7:30 a.m.: First teleconference between FEMA's Brown and Washington FEMA headquarters.

9 a.m.: Another 225 calls to 911 have been logged. State police report a need for food, ice, water and other essentials.

With continuing delays in Washington's approval of National Guard reinforcements from other states, Governor Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana orders that all of New Orleans, including the Superdome, be evacuated. 

Governor Blanco commandeers hundreds of buses from across Louisiana using her executive powers, and those buses eventually evacuate more than 15,000 people stranded in New Orleans. The school buses evacuate most people on Wednesday and Thursday.

Governor Blanco says, in an interview on FNC, that she will request President Bush to send Federal troops to help restore law and order in New Orleans. The Governor says that she should have requested them sooner, but was worried about putting people in jeopardy according to an interview with CNN.

President Bush heads back to Washington from vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Though he does not stop in Louisiana, Air Force One flies low over the Gulf Coast so that he can view the devastation.

President Bush declares Gulf Coast a Public Health Emergency. First report of relief supplies delivered to Superdome. New Orleans's 1,500 member police force is ordered to abandon search and rescue missions and turn their attention toward controlling the widespread looting and a curfew is placed in effect. Mayor Ray Nagin calls for increased federal assistance.
The National Guard remain under their respective governors' control, which enables them to provide law-enforcement support in the affected regions -- something the Posse Comitatus Act prohibits active-duty forces from doing within the United States. State workers begin work at closing 17th Street Canal breach, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers adds resources to the task.

Untimed: Governor asks United Airlines to include 50 emergency medical technicians on a humanitarian flight from Chicago set to arrive the next morning.

TENS OF THOUSANDS TRAPPED IN SUPERDOME; CONDITIONS DETERIORATE: “A 2-year-old girl slept in a pool of urine. Crack vials littered a restroom. Blood stained the walls next to vending machines smashed by teenagers. ‘We pee on the floor. We are like animals,’ said Taffany Smith, 25, as she cradled her 3-week-old son, Terry. … By Wednesday, it had degenerated into horror. … At least two people, including a child, have been raped. At least three people have died, including one man who jumped 50 feet to his death, saying he had nothing left to live for. There is no sanitation. The stench is overwhelming.”" [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/05]

Untimed, but early morning: Blanco phones President Bush to ask for more resources; she cannot reach president or his chief of staff. She attempts second time in afternoon. “She was transferred around the White House for a while until she ended up on the phone with Fran Townsend, the president’s Homeland Security adviser, who tried to reassure her but did not have many specifics. Hours later, Blanco called back and insisted on speaking to the president. When she talks to him, she says situation is "grave" and state needs more resources. She asks for 40,000 troops to help restore order. [Newsweek]

Blanco administration temporarily suspends call for local buses to evacuate since FEMA supposedly bringing in 500 buses that don't arrive. Blanco orders that staff rescind suspension and get more buses. She issues executive order commandeering school buses from parishes unaffected by Katrina.

PRESIDENT BUSH FINALLY ORGANIZES TASK FORCE TO COORDINATE FEDERAL RESPONSE: Bush says on Tuesday he will “fly to Washington to begin work…with a task force that will coordinate the work of 14 federal agencies involved in the relief effort.” [New York Times, 8/31/05]

JEFFERSON PARISH EMERGENCY DIRECTOR SAYS FOOD AND WATER SUPPLY GONE: “Director Walter Maestri: FEMA and national agencies not delivering the help nearly as fast as it is needed.” [WWL-TV]

80,000 BELIEVED STRANDED IN NEW ORLEANS: Former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy “estimated 80,000 were trapped in the flooded city and urged President Bush to send more troops.” [Reuters]

3,000 STRANDED AT CONVENTION CENTER WITHOUT FOOD OR WATER: “With 3,000 or more evacuees stranded at the convention center — and with no apparent contingency plan or authority to deal with them — collecting a body was no one’s priority. … Some had been at the convention center since Tuesday morning but had received no food, water or instructions.” [Times-Picayune]

PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY DECLARED FOR ENTIRE GULF COAST: “After a natural disaster, short and long-term medical problems can occur. Diseases like cholera, typhoid, hepatitis and mosquito-borne illnesses tend to break out under these conditions.” [WCBS-TV]

CHERTOFF “EXTREMELY PLEASED WITH THE RESPONSE” OF THE GOVERNMENT: “We are extremely pleased with the response that every element of the federal government, all of our federal partners, have made to this terrible tragedy.”

4PM CDT — BUSH GIVES FIRST MAJOR ADDRESS ON KATRINA: “Nothing about the president’s demeanor… — which seemed casual to the point of carelessness — suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.” [New York Times]

7PM CDT – CONDOLEEZZA RICE TAKES IN A BROADWAY SHOW: “On Wednesday night, Secretary Rice was booed by some audience members at ‘Spamalot!, the Monty Python musical at the Shubert, when the lights went up after the performance.” [New York Post, 9/2/05]

8PM CDT — FEMA DIRECTOR BROWN CLAIMS SURPRISE OVER SIZE OF STORM: “I must say, this storm is much much bigger than anyone expected.” [CNN]

11 pm EDT (0300 UTC) - U.S. government weather officials announce that the center of the remnant low of what was Katrina has been completely absorbed by a frontal boundary in southeastern Canada, with no discernible circulation. The remnants of the hurricane cause roads in northern Quebec to be rutted and eroded by heavy rainfall, isolating the north shore communities for several days.

BNSF Railway announces that it expects to restore limited freight service to southern Louisiana by the end of the day on September 1. Other than debris on the mainline, the biggest problem facing crews working to reopen the line is the damage to the Bayou Boeuf bridge in Morgan City; the bridge and bridge piers were struck by a barge propelled by the storm's winds and wave action. BNSF sent crews to repair damaged railway signal systems starting on August 30. Until the southern connections are rebuilt and restored to service, BNSF is transfering freight through other hubs such as St. Louis, Missouri, Chicago, Illinois, and Memphis, Tennessee. (BNSF) 

Norfolk Southern (NS) announces that the majority of the company's mainlines that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina are again operational. NS removed almost 3,700 fallen trees and inspected over 1,400 miles (2,253 km) of track before setting trains in motion. Track directly into New Orleans, however, is still out of service due to washouts and continued flooding and the city's evacuation orders. Freight that normally would have transferred in New Orleans is being handled by other terminals across the NS system. NS's experience with previous hurricanes helped it to prepare action plans before Katrina made landfall; NS moved repair equipment, supplies and employees into nearby areas and quickly deployed them to inspect and repair the system after the storm passed. (NS)

Thursday, Sept. 1

7AM CDT — BUSH CLAIMS NO ONE EXPECTED LEVEES TO BREAK: “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.” [Washington Post]

8 a.m.: Weather service says flooding in New Orleans has stabilized.

10 a.m.: Evacuation of Superdome begins. FEMA director Mike Brown says agency unaware of those stranded at the Convention Center, where people began gathering Tuesday morning as water rose. First buses arrive to begin evacuation.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE VISITS U.S. OPEN: “Rice, [in New York] on three days’ vacation to shop and see the U.S. Open, hitting some balls with retired champ Monica Seles at the Indoor Tennis Club at Grand Central.” [New York Post]

STILL NO COMMAND AND CONTROL ESTABLISHED: Terry Ebbert, New Orleans Homeland Security Director: “This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace. FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can’t bail out the city of New Orleans.” [Fox News]

2PM CDT — MAYOR NAGIN ISSUES “DESPERATE SOS” TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: “This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the convention centre and don’t anticipate enough buses. We need buses. Currently the convention centre is unsanitary and unsafe and we’re running out of supplies.” [Guardian, 9/2/05]

2PM CDT — MICHAEL BROWN CLAIMS NOT TO HAVE HEARD OF REPORTS OF VIOLENCE: “I’ve had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word unrest means that people are beginning to riot, or you know, they’re banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I’ve had no reports of that.” [CNN]

NEW ORLEANS “DESCEND[S] INTO ANARCHY”: “Storm victims were raped and beaten, fights and fires broke out, corpses lay out in the open, and rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers were shot at as flooded-out New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday. ‘This is a desperate SOS,’ the mayor said.” [AP]

CONDOLEEZZA RICE GOES SHOE SHOPPING: “Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, ‘How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!’” [Gawker]

MICHAEL BROWN FINALLY LEARNS OF EVACUEES IN CONVENTION CENTER: “We learned about that (Thursday), so I have directed that we have all available resources to get that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water and medical care that they need.” [CNN]

Untimed: Blanco asks the president to pay 100 percent of costs of debris removal and emergency protective measures, such as mending canals and pumping out New Orleans. In second letter, Blanco asks for federal funding of registering Katrina victims by ZIP code to expedite processing of emergency housing assistance and to establish a victim database.

9 p.m.: Nagin blasts state and federal officials on live radio interview, complaining that response is slow, that 40,000 troops have not arrived.

11 p.m.: State police report that U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal's office has requested troopers evacuate 20 people at New Orleans Convention Center who are relatives of staff at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans.

Friday, Sept. 2

EARLY AM — BUSH WATCHES DVD OF THE WEEK’S NEWSCASTS CREATED BY STAFF WHO THOUGHT BUSH “NEEDED TO SEE THE HORRIFIC REPORTS”: “The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.” [Newsweek]

Untimed, but morning: National Guard Cmdr. Benny Landreneau reports that 20,000 have been evacuated from Superdome, but thousands more have continued to come.

9 a.m.: Evacuation of Big Charity hospital patients begins by boat and helicopter.

Untimed: Blanco releases copy of letter to President Bush, detailing "previous" requests for aid, including 40,000 troops, trucks of water, ice and food, commercial buses, deployable morgues, airlifts and communications systems. "Even if these initial requests had been fully honored, these assets would not be sufficient to address our critical, immediate needs," she writes. She asks for aerial and ground firefighting support, more military vehicles and 175 generators.

11:45 a.m.: President Bush visits Louisiana State Emergency Operations Center. Bush suggests Blanco sign over control of National Guard personnel to him. Blanco refuses, but agrees to consider it.

10 AM CDT — PRESIDENT BUSH STAGES PHOTO-OP “BRIEFING”: Coast Guard helicopters and crew diverted to act as backdrop for President Bush’s photo-op.

10:35AM CDT — BUSH PRAISES MICHAEL BROWN: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” [White House, 9/2/05]

LEVEE REPAIR WORK ORCHESTRATED FOR PRESIDENT’S VISIT: Sen. Mary Landrieu, 9/3: “Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment.” [Sen. Mary Landrieu]

ROVE-LED CAMPAIGN TO BLAME LOCAL OFFICIALS BEGINS: “Under the command of President Bush’s two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan…to contain the political damage from the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.” President Bush’s comments from the Rose Garden Friday morning formed “the start of this campaign.” [New York Times, 9/5/05]

12PM CDT — BUSH “SATISFIED WITH THE RESPONSE”: “I am satisfied with the response. I am not satisfied with all the results.” [AP]

Untimed: By midday, National Guard has secured streets of downtown New Orleans.

BUSH VISIT GROUNDS FOOD AID: “Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s visit to New Orleans, officials said.” [Times-Picayune]

11:30 p.m.: White House Chief of Staff Andy Card again asks Blanco to sign over National Guard and faxed down a lengthy agreement to the Governor's Mansion. Blanco refused to sign.

Saturday, Sept. 3

Untimed: Blanco thanks Bush for his visit, refuses to sign over control of National Guard troops. Doing so would mean National Guard could not aid New Orleans police in law enforcement. She agrees with Bush that a single military commander should be named to head the troops in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama "to enhance the contribution of over 25 National Guard states" under the command of Louisiana's Adjutant Gen. Bennett Landreneau.

SENIOR BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL LIES TO WASHINGTON POST, CLAIMS GOV. BLANCO NEVER DECLARED STATE OF EMERGENCY: The Post reported in their Sunday edition “As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.” They were forced to issue a correction hours later. [Washington Post, 9/4/05]

9AM CDT — BUSH BLAMES STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS: “[T]he magnitude of responding to a crisis over a disaster area that is larger than the size of Great Britain has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities. The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need.” [White House, 9/3/05]

6 p.m.: Jefferson Parish announces residents can return the following Monday-Thursday.

8:05PM CDT – FEMA FINALIZES BUS REQUEST: “FEMA ended up modifying the number of buses it thought it needed to get the job done, until it settled on a final request of 1,335 buses at 8:05 p.m. on Sept. 3. The buses, though, trickled into New Orleans, with only a dozen or so arriving the first day.” [Wall Street Journal]

Untimed, but during day: Those at Convention Center are evacuated by bus.

Monday, Sept. 5

State police report U.S. Sen. David Vitter's office requested trooper security so Dominion Oil Co. can remove computers from offices in downtown New Orleans. State troopers from California, New Mexico and New York arrive.

Blanco asks Bush to help develop long-term plan for rebuilding Louisiana economy.

Friday, Sept. 9

Brown removed as FEMA director, sent back to Washington. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen placed in charge of all federal hurricane activities.

Tuesday, Sept. 13

Blanco addresses Legislature on storm problems and how they were handled.

See also:

WWL-TV Ten Year Documentary