It's funny--some of y'all seemed worried about me, but collecting all the news hasn't burnt me out emotionally at all. I think I'm sort of in a state of emotional disconnect at this point (again, because it cannot be said too many times: not watching the disaster on TV helps a lot), and I'm pretty sanguine about everything. It may even be that compiling news makes me feel like I'm being useful in some small way. My eyes are getting very tired, though.
Remember the last entry with "Bad news: Halliburton gets a NOLA cleanup contract"? Well, ter369 points out something I hadn't thought of: "I'm here in Houston, where Halliburton getting contracts means more jobs, not only in New Orleans, but here in a city with tens of thousands of new residents this week."
roseredhoofbeat: "I live in San Antonio, Texas, and pretty soon we're going to be getting evacuees. I just called the United Way, and she told me that I need to register with a volunteer agency, not just show up because they'll turn me away. After what happened at the Superdome, they're understandably kinda paranoid. I signed up with them, at http://www.unitedwaysatx.org/katrina/volunteer_add.cfm. It will take 3-5 days for them to get back with you, but we don't have a pressing need for them YET. Evacuees will be coming soon, though and they NEED HELP!
Call the United Way hotline at 211 if you have any questions- the lady I talked to was very helpful and nice. If anyone needs a place to stay, I will try to either put you up at my place, or find someone who can. No guarantees- it depends on how many people need it and can't find it. My house only has one bathroom, and I'd rather not go in for a mini-Superdome situation. If you could please post this, I would be most grateful. Thank you."
katieupsidedown: "Oh! Since the Humane Society is so popular in your poll, you might want to direct a few people here where there is information regarding housing for animal victims of the hurricane. If someone is wary of taking in strange people or doesn't have the room for other human beings, they might look into helping those that can't help themselves."
amarantha_raven: "The One Campaign is organizing aid for hurricane victims as well."
eofs: "Not sure if you've seen this yet, but it's an attempt to compile in one place what support each university is offering to displaced students."</strong>
sqrrlsrant: "Anyone living near the affected area (I'm from Baton Rouge) who wants to volunteer should NOT call the 211 Volunteer Line like all the tv/radio stations are saying. Unless you have a medical skill set, they will take your name and number and tell you they will call back once the "search and rescue" phase is over. Maybe the United Way, Red Cross, and other big agencies don't need your help, but there are thousands of smaller groups that do. Check out the lists provided by local news media to see who else is acting as a shelter, or where other relief efforts are located and give them a call or drop by.
Myself and a couple of friends went to drop off donations to a local women's center that is being used to collect items for babies and mothers and the lady there, who was looking pretty desperate, asked us if we knew anyone who wanted to volunteer. We all said we had been looking but had been turned away. She wanted to the number and the name of the person who had done so, because she said they desperately needed help with sorting and anything anyone could do that was clerical in nature. They're being inundatated with supplies and requests (which is GREAT) but don't have the staff to keep up. I'm sure this is a problem for many of the smaller groups trying to help."
kira002: "Cleo, in your next update would you give a plug to the United Federation of Fans (www.unitedfederationoffans.com)? Dunno how many Trekkies are reading, but I'm using whatever outlets possible to spread the word about this. It's the brainchild of Trek actors Chase Masterson, Kitty Swink, and Armin Shimerman, who asked if I'd help organize a Trek-wide effort to raise funds for victims of the hurricane. Alexander Siddig, Nana Visitor, Rene Auberjonois, and Andrew Robinson have also given their endorsement. In addition to donations to the Red Cross, Humane Society and United Way, there are auctions for Trek memorabilia with proceeds going to those organizations."
noodlefreak: "Hi--An update on the Vietnamese trapped in Versailles. CNN just reported that they were finally rescued and were brought to the Superdome. My understanding is that they will be evacuated out of the city tomorrow. Thank you for bringing attention to this. CNN had originally reported that there were 500 people, but it's actually 300 people that were trapped and rescued.
Someone asked where this story came from...it was from nola.com blog where people and family of those who were flooded in could post where they could be rescued. Luckily you and so many people brought attention to it that they were able to be rescued."
Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans? An ARC FAQ.
Last night at the Astrodome: a personal report.
Army publication calls some NOLA Katrina victims "the insurgency."
You can help Katrina victims through eBay as well.
Congress Likely to Probe Guard Response
By SHARON THEIMER, Associated Press Writer
[3:40 pm CST]
WASHINGTON - Another 10,000 National Guard troops are being sent to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast, raising their number to about 40,000, but questions linger about the speed with which troops were deployed.
Several states ready and willing to send National Guard troops to the rescue in New Orleans didn't get the go-ahead until days after the storm struck — a delay nearly certain to be investigated by Congress.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard last Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday.
California troops just began arriving in Louisiana on Friday, three days after flood waters devastated New Orleans and chaos broke out.
In fact, when New Orleans' levees gave way to deadly flooding on Tuesday, Louisiana's National Guard had received help from troops in only three other states: Ohio, which had nine people in Louisiana then; Oklahoma, 89; and Texas, 625, figures provided by the National Guard show.
Maj. Gen. Thomas Cutler, who leads the Michigan National Guard, said he anticipated a call for police units and started preparing them, but couldn't go until states in the hurricane zone asked them to come.
"We could have had people on the road Tuesday," Cutler said. "We have to wait and respond to their need."
The Michigan National Guard was asked for military police by Mississippi late Tuesday and by Louisiana officials late Wednesday. The state sent 182 MPs to Mississippi on Friday and had 242 headed to Louisiana on Saturday.
Typically, the authority to use the National Guard in a state role lies with the governor, who tells his or her adjutant general to order individual Guard units to begin duty. Turnaround time varies depending on the number of troops involved, their location and their assigned missions.
One factor that may have further complicated post-Katrina deployment arose when Louisiana discovered it needed Guardsmen to do more law enforcement duty because a large portion of the New Orleans police force was not functioning, according to Lt. Gen. Steven H. Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon.
Because the agreement that was already in existence for states to contribute Guard troops to Louisiana did not include a provision on their use in law enforcement, Blum said, Gov. Blanco had to get separate written agreements authorizing Guardsmen to do police-type duty.
Still, Blum said, this took only minutes to execute.
With many states' Guard units depleted by deployments to Iraq, Katrina's aftermath was almost certain from the beginning to require help from faraway states.
Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress are just beginning to ask why one of the National Guard's most trusted roles — disaster relief — was so uneven, delayed and chaotic this time around.
Sen. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record), R-Neb., said the situation has shown major breakdowns in the nation's emergency response capabilities. "There must be some accountability in this process after the crisis is addressed," he said.
Democrat Ben Nelson, Nebraska's other senator, said he now questions National Guard leaders' earlier assertions that they had enough resources to respond to natural disasters even with the Iraq war.
"I'm going to ask that question again," Nelson said. "Do we have enough (troops), and if we do, why were they not deployed sooner?"
President Bush was asked that question Friday as he toured the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast area and said he disagrees with criticism the military is stretched too thin.
"We've got a job to defend this country in the war on terror, and we've got a job to bring aid and comfort to the people of the Gulf Coast, and we'll do both," he said.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., plans to make oversight of the Defense Department, the National Guard and their assistance his top priority when he returns to Washington next week from an overseas trips, spokesman John Ullyot said Friday.
Bush had the legal authority to order the National Guard to the disaster area himself, as he did after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks . But the troops four years ago were deployed for national security protection, and presidents of both parties traditionally defer to governors to deploy their own National Guardsmen and request help from other states when it comes to natural disasters.
In addition to Guard help, the federal government could have activated, but did not, a major air support plan under a pre-existing contract with airlines. The program, called Civilian Reserve Air Fleet, lets the government quickly put private cargo and passenger planes into service.
The CRAF provision has been activated twice, once for the Persian Gulf War and again for the Iraq war.
On the Net:
National Guard units: http://www.ngb.army.mil/states/
Another Storm Possible in Hard-Hit Region
By MATT CRENSON, AP National Writer
[4:20 pm CST]
Katrina may seem like the last word in hurricanes, but there is a very real possibility that another major hurricane may hit New Orleans or some other portion of the 200-mile coastline devastated by Katrina in the weeks to come.
"We're not out of the woods yet," said Susan Cutter, director of the University of South Carolina Hazards Research Laboratory. "We're not even in the height of hurricane season."
A forecast released Friday by meteorologists at Colorado State University calls for six more hurricanes by the time the hurricane season ends on Nov. 30, three of them Category 3 or above. On average, about one major hurricane in three makes landfall in the United States.
"We expect that by the time the 2005 hurricane season is over, we will witness tropical cyclone activity at near record levels," the Colorado State meteorologists wrote.
So far there have been four hurricanes this year — Katrina, Irene, Emily and Dennis, a Category 3 storm that caused more than $1 billion in damage to the Florida panhandle in July. There have been nine tropical storms.
That puts this season's tropical cyclone activity to date above the average for an entire year, the Colorado State forecast noted. In a more normal year, Mother Nature has produced about a third of her annual allotment of hurricanes and tropical storms by this point in the season.
No major storms currently threaten the U.S. coastline. The latest report from the National Weather Service mentions only Tropical Storm Maria.
"Maria could be near hurricane strength by Sunday," said Jack Beven, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
The storm is not currently expected to reach the U.S. mainland.
The number and intensity of hurricanes is largely determined by water temperatures at the sea surface. This year the waters of the tropical Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico are about as warm as they ever get.
If a major hurricane were to make landfall somewhere on the U.S. coast in the next two months, with the situation in Louisiana and Mississippi still demanding such a large portion of the nation's emergency management resources, mounting another relief effort would certainly be more difficult than usual. But as Florida demonstrated when four hurricanes passed through the state in seven weeks last year, repeated storms are not necessarily unmanageable.
"It would be a challenge, but I don't think it would be catastrophic," Cutter said.
And in many respects another hurricane in the area already devastated by Katrina would only add insult to injury.
"It sounds horrible, but it may not be that bad," Cutter said. "The sad thing is that most of the damage has already been done."
But in New Orleans itself, any violent weather threatens to expand the gaping holes that Katrina opened in the city's flood control infrastructure.
"Even a tropical storm I think would wreak havoc," said Joannes Westerink, a civil engineer at the University of Notre Dame who produces computer simulations of storm surges for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other clients.
Even the daily tidal flows of Lake Pontchartrain threaten to aggravate the conditions left by Hurricane Katrina, he said.
Westerink said he and his colleagues have started working on simulations depicting the effects of a hurricane on the New Orleans levee system in its current state. They expect to have a complete picture in a few days of what another hurricane could do to the city.
New Orleans also remains vulnerable to a Mississippi River flood brought on by heavy rains upstream. But the usual flooding season for the river is spring and early summer.
New Orleans Left to the Dead and Dying
By ALLEN G. BREED, Associated Press Writer
[5:20 pm CST]
NEW ORLEANS - Thousands more bedraggled refugees were bused and airlifted to salvation Saturday, leaving the heart of New Orleans to the dead and dying, the elderly and frail stranded too many days without food, water or medical care.
No one knows how many were killed by Hurricane Katrina's floods and how many more succumbed waiting to be rescued. But the bodies are everywhere: hidden in attics, floating among the ruined city, crumpled on wheelchairs, abandoned on highways.
And the dying goes on — at the convention center and an airport triage center, where bodies were kept in a refrigerated truck.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Saturday that she expected the death toll to reach the thousands. And Craig Vanderwagen, rear admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service, said one morgue alone, at a St. Gabriel prison, expected 1,000 to 2,000 bodies.
Touring the airport triage center, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a physician, said "a lot more than eight to 10 people are dying a day."
Most were those too sick or weak to survive. But not all.
Charles Womack, a 30-year-old roofer, said he saw one man beaten to death and another commit suicide at the Superdome. Womack was beaten with a pipe and being treated at the airport triage center.
"One guy jumped off a balcony. I saw him do it. He was talking to a lady about it. He said it reminded him of the war and he couldn't leave," he said.
Three babies died at the convention center from heat exhaustion, said Mark Kyle, a medical relief provider.
Some 20,000 refugees had been waiting for rescue for nearly a week at the Superdome, with as many as 25,000 more at the New Orleans convention center. National Guard Lt. Col. Bernard McLaughlin said the number may have been closer to 5,000 to 7,000. Most were finally taken out by bus and helicopter on Saturday.
At the convention center, thousands of refugees dragged their meager belongings to buses, the mood more numb than jubilant. Yolando Sanders, who had been stuck at the convention center for five days, was among those who filed past corpses to reach the buses.
"Anyplace is better than here," she said.
"People are dying over there."
Nearby, a woman lay dead in a wheelchair on the front steps. A man was covered in a black drape with a dry line of blood running to the gutter, where it had pooled. Another had lain on a chaise lounge for four days, his stocking feet peeking out from under a quilt.
By mid-afternoon, only pockets of stragglers remained in the streets around the convention center, and New Orleans paramedics began carting away the dead.
A once-vibrant city of 480,000 people, overtaken just days ago by floods, looting, rape and arson, was now an empty, sodden tomb.
The exact number of dead won't be known for some time. Survivors were still being plucked from roofs and shattered highways across the city. President Bush ordered more than 7,000 active duty forces to the Gulf Coast on Saturday.
"There are people in apartments and hotels that you didn't know were there," Army Brig. Gen. Mark Graham said.
The overwhelming majority of those stranded in the post-Katrina chaos were those without the resources to escape — and, overwhelmingly, they were black.
"The first few days were a natural disaster. The last four days were a man-made disaster," said Phillip Holt, 51, who was rescued from his home Saturday with his partner and three of their aging Chihuahuas. They left a fourth behind they couldn't grab in time.
Tens of thousands of people had been evacuated from the city, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry said as many as 120,000 hurricane refugees were in 97 shelters across the state, with another 100,000 in Texas hotels and motels. Others were in Tennessee, Indiana and Arkansas.
Emergency workers at the Astrodome were told to expect 10,000 new arrivals daily for the next three days.
Thousands of people remained at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, where officials turned a Delta Blue terminal into a triage unit. Officials said 3,000 to 5,000 people had been treated at the triage unit, but fewer than 200 remain. Others throughout the airport awaited transport out of the city.
"In the beginning it was like trying to lasso an octopus. When we got here it was overwhelming," said Jake Jacoby, a physician helping run the center.
Airport director Roy Williams said about 30 people had died, some of them elderly and ill. The bodies were being kept in refrigerated trucks as a temporary morgue.
At the convention center, people stumbled toward the helicopters, dehydrated and nearly passing out from exhaustion. Many had to be carried by National Guard troops and police on stretchers. And some were being pushed up the street on office chairs and on dollies.
Nita LaGarde, 105, was pushed down the street in her wheelchair as her nurse's 5-year-old granddaughter, Tanisha Blevin, held her hand. The pair spent two days in an attic, two days on an interstate island and the last four days on the pavement in front of the convention center.
"They're good to see," LaGarde said, with remarkable gusto as she waited to be loaded onto a gray Marine helicopter. She said they were sent by God. "Whatever He has for you, He'll take care of you. He'll sure take care of you."
LaGarde's nurse, Ernestine Dangerfield, 60, said LaGarde had not had a clean adult diaper in more than two days. "I just want to get somewhere where I can get her nice and clean," she said.
Around the corner, a motley fleet of luxury tour buses and yellow school buses lined up two deep to pick up some of the healthier refugees. National Guardsmen confiscated a gun, knives and letter openers from people before they got on the buses.
"It's been a long time coming," Derek Dabon, 29, said as he waited to pass through a guard checkpoint. "There's no way I'm coming back. To what? That don't make sense. I'm going to start a new life."
Hillary Snowton, 40, sat on the sidewalk outside with a piece of white sheet tied around his face like a bandanna as he stared at a body that had been lying on a chaise lounge for four days, its stocking feet peeking out from under a quilt.
"It's for the smell of the dead body," he said of the sheet. His brother-in-law, Octave Carter, 42, said it has been "every day, every morning, breakfast lunch and dinner looking at it."
When asked why he didn't move further away from the corpse, Carter replied, "it stinks everywhere, Blood."
Dan Craig, director of recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said it could take up to six months to get the water out of New Orleans, and the city would then need to dry out, which could take up to three more months.
A Saks Fifth Avenue store billowed smoke Saturday, as did rows of warehouses on the east bank of the Mississippi River, where corrugated roofs buckled and tiny explosions erupted. Gunfire — almost two dozen shots — broke out in the French Quarter overnight.
In the French Quarter, some residents refused or did not know how to get out. Some holed up with guns.
As the warehouse district burned, Ron Seitzer, 61, washed his dirty laundry in the even dirtier waters of the Mississippi River and said he didn't know how much longer he could stay without water or power, surrounded by looters.
"I've never even had a nightmare or a beautiful dream about this," he said as he watched the warehouses burn. "People are just not themselves."
'This is criminal': Malik Rahim reports from New OrleansSan Francisco Bayview, News Report, Malik Rahim, Sep 03, 2005
Malik Rahim, a veteran of the Black Panther Party in New Orleans, for decades an organizer of public housing tenants both there and in San Francisco and a recent Green Party candidate for New Orleans City Council, lives in the Algiers neighborhood, the only part of New Orleans that is not flooded. They have no power, but the water is still good and the phones work. Their neighborhood could be sheltering and feeding at least 40,000 refugees, he says, but they are allowed to help no one. What he describes is nothing less than deliberate genocide against Black and poor people. - Ed.
New Orleans, Sept. 1, 2005 - It's criminal. From what you're hearing, the people trapped in New Orleans are nothing but looters. We're told we should be more "neighborly." But nobody talked about being neighborly until after the people who could afford to leave … left.
If you ain't got no money in America, you're on your own. People were told to go to the Superdome, but they have no food, no water there. And before they could get in, people had to stand in line for 4-5 hours in the rain because everybody was being searched one by one at the entrance.
I can understand the chaos that happened after the tsunami, because they had no warning, but here there was plenty of warning. In the three days before the hurricane hit, we knew it was coming and everyone could have been evacuated.
We have Amtrak here that could have carried everybody out of town. There were enough school buses that could have evacuated 20,000 people easily, but they just let them be flooded. My son watched 40 buses go underwater - they just wouldn't move them, afraid they'd be stolen.
People who could afford to leave were so afraid someone would steal what they own that they just let it all be flooded. They could have let a family without a vehicle borrow their extra car, but instead they left it behind to be destroyed.
There are gangs of white vigilantes near here riding around in pickup trucks, all of them armed, and any young Black they see who they figure doesn't belong in their community, they shoot him. I tell them, "Stop! You're going to start a riot."
When you see all the poor people with no place to go, feeling alone and helpless and angry, I say this is a consequence of HOPE VI. New Orleans took all the HUD money it could get to tear down public housing, and families and neighbors who'd relied on each other for generations were uprooted and torn apart.
Most of the people who are going through this now had already lost touch with the only community they'd ever known. Their community was torn down and they were scattered. They'd already lost their real homes, the only place where they knew everybody, and now the places they've been staying are destroyed.
But nobody cares. They're just lawless looters ... dangerous.
The hurricane hit at the end of the month, the time when poor people are most vulnerable. Food stamps don't buy enough but for about three weeks of the month, and by the end of the month everyone runs out. Now they have no way to get their food stamps or any money, so they just have to take what they can to survive.
Many people are getting sick and very weak. From the toxic water that people are walking through, little scratches and sores are turning into major wounds.
People whose homes and families were not destroyed went into the city right away with boats to bring the survivors out, but law enforcement told them they weren't needed. They are willing and able to rescue thousands, but they're not allowed to.
Every day countless volunteers are trying to help, but they're turned back. Almost all the rescue that's been done has been done by volunteers anyway.
My son and his family - his wife and kids, ages 1, 5 and 8 - were flooded out of their home when the levee broke. They had to swim out until they found an abandoned building with two rooms above water level.
There were 21 people in those two rooms for a day and a half. A guy in a boat who just said "I'm going to help regardless" rescued them and took them to Highway I-10 and dropped them there.
They sat on the freeway for about three hours, because someone said they'd be rescued and taken to the Superdome. Finally they just started walking, had to walk six and a half miles.
When they got to the Superdome, my son wasn't allowed in - I don't know why - so his wife and kids wouldn't go in. They kept walking, and they happened to run across a guy with a tow truck that they knew, and he gave them his own personal truck.
When they got here, they had no gas, so I had to punch a hole in my gas tank to give them some gas, and now I'm trapped. I'm getting around by bicycle.
People from Placquemine Parish were rescued on a ferry and dropped off on a dock near here. All day they were sitting on the dock in the hot sun with no food, no water. Many were in a daze; they've lost everything.
They were all sitting there surrounded by armed guards. We asked the guards could we bring them water and food. My mother and all the other church ladies were cooking for them, and we have plenty of good water.
But the guards said, "No. If you don't have enough water and food for everybody, you can't give anything." Finally the people were hauled off on school buses from other parishes.
You know Robert King Wilkerson (the only one of the Angola 3 political prisoners who's been released). He's been back in New Orleans working hard, organizing, helping people. Now nobody knows where he is. His house was destroyed. Knowing him, I think he's out trying to save lives, but I'm worried.
The people who could help are being shipped out. People who want to stay, who have the skills to save lives and rebuild are being forced to go to Houston.
It's not like New Orleans was caught off guard. This could have been prevented.
There's military right here in New Orleans, but for three days they weren't even mobilized. You'd think this was a Third World country.
I'm in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, the only part that isn't flooded. The water is good. Our parks and schools could easily hold 40,000 people, and they're not using any of it.
This is criminal. These people are dying for no other reason than the lack of organization.
Everything is needed, but we're still too disorganized. I'm asking people to go ahead and gather donations and relief supplies but to hold on to them for a few days until we have a way to put them to good use.
I'm challenging my party, the Green Party, to come down here and help us just as soon as things are a little more organized. The Republicans and Democrats didn't do anything to prevent this or plan for it and don't seem to care if everyone dies.
Harry Shearer: "The Fear Factor."
New Orleans City Councilman Oliver Thomas just asserted on WWL TV that a couple of hundred New Orleanians--and he named their professions, white collar all--have been denied refuge and put back on buses to go out of state without being told their destination. He quoted one of the women in the group as saying, "If I'da been lucky, I would have died." In a tear-filled monologue, Thomas said communities around Louisiana were refusing to accept refugees from New Orleans because of fear caused by media coverage of "the same few looters--I see the same pictures over and over again". "I saw looting in (mainly white) Jefferson Parish when I was on my way back in bringing water," he continued. And he said of a location in New Orleans where rumors of a "riot" had spread through Jefferson Parish, "It didn't happen. I was there. It didn't happen." Thomas, saying the vast majority of New Orleanians were good people, said people were llooking for refuge "not in Russia, not in China, not in Utah, but in their own state." He did thank the people of Texas for "being neighborly."
"I ask you to mount a collective scream of outrage and wolf howls into the airwaves, radio and TV stations, so that we can come in to do what we have always done in times of disaster and that is to lend a genuine human effort that is tribal community oriented and truly compassionate."
ETA, 10:30 pm: And just when you think things can't get any better, Chief Justice Rehnquist dies. Aaaaaand the battle for ideological dominance begins.