I see dead people.
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful - and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people - and neither do we." -- George W. Bush, August 6, 2004
"NorthCom started planning before the storm even hit. We were ready for the storm when it hit Florida. So what we did was we activated defense coordinating officers to work with the state to say okay, what do you think you'll need, and we set up staging bases that could be started. We had the USS Baton sailing almost behind the hurricane so that after the hurricane made landfall its search and rescue helicopters would be available almost immediately. So we had things ready. The only caveat is, we have to wait until the President authorizes us to do so. The laws of the United States say that the military can't just act in this fashion; we wait have to wait for the President to give us permission."
--Lt. Commander Sean Kelley, US Northern Command, speaking to the BBC
FEMA warns that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S.
New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requests urgent funding for the levee system. The Bush administration cut their request down by 80 percent. In total, from 2001-2005, the Bush administration cuts New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent in order to pay for the Iraq war, which is now costing American taxpayers between $4 and $5 BILLION dollars a month.
MONDAY, AUGUST 29
Hurricane Katrina strikes New Orleans at 8:00 AM with winds at 120 MPH and a storm surge of 18 feet. Within an hour, a levee break floods about 20% of the city. 26,000 people are taking shelter in the Superdome.
5 hours later, FEMA director Brown makes his first action: He sends a memo to Homeland Security Chief Chertoff, suggesting that 1,000 Fema workers should be sent in - but only after a 48 hour wait. One of their tasks, Mr Brown wrote, would be to "convey a positive image" about the government's response to the disaster.
By 7:00 that evening, the American Red Cross reports that they expect relief operations to be “the largest recovery operation the Red Cross has ever attempted.”
TUESDAY, AUGUST 30
By midmorning people in the Superdome have begun to die. The Red Cross arrives to deliver relief and supplies to those in the dome, but are turned back by the Department of Homeland Security, who explained that their assistance would discourage evacuation.
Bush, accompanied by Rumsfeld, speaks for over an hour at North Island Naval Air Base about the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Pearl Harbor, freedom, terrorism, Pearl harbor, evil, muslim fanatics, his dad's military service in WW2, the spirit of Liberty, Iraq, democracy in the Middle east, Osama Bin Laden, free people, and murderous regimes. He mentions the ongoing disaster only in passing. Afterwards he is photographed playing a guitar.
By mid-afternoon, Director of Homeland Security first learns of the levee break and flooding which had happened more than 24 hours earlier.
Throughout the day, tens of thousands of desperate people are directed to go to the city's main Convention Center for food and water, only to find that there are no supplies of any kind.
At 5:50 pm, 80% of New Orleans is underwater. Bush announces that he intends to cut short his vacation.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1
President Bush calls for “zero tolerance” for looters or price gougers in a morning interview.
Bush tells Diane Sawyer says "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," despite the fact that the AP had reported on August 29, 3 days earlier: "Experts have warned for years that the levees have no chance against a direct hit by a category 5 storm." Four days earler, on August 28, the Mayor of New Orleans warned: "The storm surge will most likely topple our levee system."
In a morning interview with NPR’s Michael Seigel, Department of Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff admits he knows nothing of people stranded at the convention center.
In an evening interview with Paula Zahn, FEMA Director Brown says he just heard about people stranded at the convention center “a few hours ago.”
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2
As of early friday morning, despite more than 24 hours of CNN and MSNBC footage of bodies in the streets and people dead and dying of hunger, rescue and relief teams from around the country are still sporadically being turned away.
At 9:35 AM in a speech given in Mississippi, the President praises FEMA Director Brown saying “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”
Later that day, Bush does a fly-over across New Orleans.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7
Conflicting reports of FEMA requisitions report the delivery of between 25,000 and 45,000 body bags.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
I hear this joke on FlickrCentral:
Q: What is President Bush's position on Roe vs. Wade?
A: He really doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.