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15 posts categorized "Hurricane Rita"

December 11, 2005

Katrina news

Think Progress on Bush's broken promises to New Orleans--Bush Advisor To Reporter: Katrina “Has Fallen So Far Off The Radar Screen, You Can’t Find It.”

Steve Gilliard points to Gail Collins' editorial, "Death of an American City".

Democracy Now reminds us that the Katrina death toll remains unknown.

AP reports on post-Katrina forensics.

Newsday has a story on the efforts to reunite families after Katrina. Three months after the hurricane, over 1300 kids are still unaccounted for.

Chris Kromm reports from the Katrina Survivor's Assembly in Jackson, Mississippi.

"Voices From the Ninth Ward" by Tim Shorrock of Reconstruction Watch.

October 04, 2005

Terribly big of them

Today the Justice Department decided that people whose assets were wiped out by Hurricane Katrina won't have to go to credit counselling, despite what the new bankruptcy bill says. [Reuters]

Now that's compassionate conservatism.

September 30, 2005

Disaster, disability, and discrimination

Michael Berube speaks on disaster and disability.

Julie gets fierce with FEMA.

Imagine a movie where the bridge to Gretna stretched across east Texas.

Jeanne D'Arc follows the unfolding Orleans Parish Prison scandal.

Benn Greeberg has more Orleans Parish Prison: Now, ACLU wants answers about fate of 6,500 New Orleans Prisoners.

Mike the Mad Biologist discusses an excellent op/ed by Michael Ignatieff on civic duty and disaster.

I know I give the Red Cross a hard time, but I'm still proud that the liberal blogosphere raised over $180,000 for Katrina relief.

September 26, 2005

Houston evac post mortems

Highlights from today's hurricane coverage:

Dan Feldstein and Matt Stiles have a good analysis of the Houston evacuation "plan" in today's Houston Chronicle.

Michael Hussey explains what it's like to be homeless during a hurricane and describes how local politics are undermining emergency preparedness in Tampa:

I have been reading news articles about local hurricane preparations since Katrina. There has been mostly turf battles between with members of the Hillsborough County Commission against Mayor Pam Iorio. There has been little useful information for what the public should do in the event of a category 5 hurricane. Tampa could be underwater as easily as New Orleans. The sad truth is I would be better off people with homes. At least my tent won't be underwater like many people's homes will be because of the terrible drainage system.

Eric Berger, the Houston Chronicle science writer and blogger, assembles a comprehensive Rita Roundup at SciGuy.

September 24, 2005

Time for a New Deal

It's bad enough that so many people are homeless in the richest country in the world, but it's outrageous that the richest country in the world can't even get its homeless citizens off the street during hurricanes. [Houston Chronicle]

Where will Rita go?

Dr. Jeff Masters discusses Rita's landfall and inland trajectory.

Two new Gulf Coast blogs

Other bands of blogger activists are covering the news on the Gulf Coast and working to rebuild.

Yesterday night, I got this email from Tom:

I was checking out Katrina blogs and found your site. I was delighted to see more New Yorkers interested in our area. Right after the storm, two New Yorkers Joe Larocca (Penn Station) and his brother Jerry Larocca drove 1,600 miles to Gulfport, Mississippi. For more than a week they did incredibly helpful work, helping clean houses, comforting my neighbors, and lending a helping hand anywhere needed. I now refer to them as my cousins once removed--once removed by the Civil War.

If you are interested, we set up two blogs. We have had limited time to post because we were connected by a satellite dish and a generator. As of last night, we have power and cable and internet!

The first has connections to Methodist and Presbyterian sites, with photos taken of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The second is just starting but hopes to connect churches together in a non-denominational rebuilding effort.

Please thank the organizers for all of us.
[email protected]

Katrina Response


ChurchtoChurch (

Thanks to the organizers, and thanks to Tom and company.

Unless Rita disrupted her travel plans, our co-blogger Nancy Scola should be arriving in Baton Rouge today. I'll keep you updated.

September 23, 2005

Bush promises not to get in the way


Now, that's what I call leadership: Bush promises not to get in way of Rita relief

"We will make sure that my entourage does not get in the way of people doing their job, which will be search and rescue immediately. Rest assured, I understand that we must not and will not interfere with the important work that will be going forward," Bush said. [Reuters]

Traffic situation improving in Houston

A heartening report about the traffic flow out of Houston from Richard, a citizen journalist blogging at Stormwatchers. He writes:

As you can see by the highway cameras at, the traffic has diminished. [...]

For those who are inclined to rail against "the government," especially about the failure to provide gasoline for the long lines of evacuees on the highways yesterday, I offer a counterpoint: Houston and Harris County have done as excellent a job as they can. No plan survives contact with the enemy, sayeth the old military epigram. In this case, the "enemy" is a major threat to the fourth largest city in America...Rita. We learned from Katrina - and now we have more lessons to absorb.

"Get out of town" is not a plan

The roads out of Houston are still clogged.

Early Thursday morning Texas authorities finally decided to allow contraflow traffic on Interstate 45 and other key evacuation corridors. More contraflow arteries will be opened later today.

What state and local officials had estimated would take six hours to get from Galveston to Huntsville on Interstate 45 was actually close to 13 hours, state officials admitted. Still, opening up contra flow lanes was the last thing [Texas Department of Transportation] wanted to do.

“It’s absolutely unprecedented,” said Janelle Gbur, a department spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation. “TxDOT has never reversed flow on a freeway.” [Galveston Daily News]
So, what, if anything, can emergency managers do to help the people stuck on the highway right now? What can we learn about evacuating a major car-dependent city? What have we learned from previous hurricanes?

Evacuation-related traffic jams on this scale have been tackled before with considerable success:

In September 1999 roughly three million people were evacuated from coastal areas in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina prior to landfall of Hurricane Floyd. Over 500,000 South Carolinians evacuated from six coastal counties. Because managers with the South Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) and the South Carolina Department of Public Safety had not agreed on a lane reversal plan prior to Hurricane Floyd, contraflow (i.e., lane reversal) was not employed during the evacuation. Consequently, there was severe congestion on Interstate 26 between Charleston and Columbia. Traffic and emergency managers quickly developed a contraflow plan for reentry operations after the hurricane. (Read the full case study .pdf)

Here's another interesting site from the US Department of Transportation concerning best practices for road management in disasters.

Maybe Houston is doing everything right and this snarl-up is unavoidable--we'll never know unless we educate ourselves about best practices before the spin machine really cranks up. I'm not saying that we should all become armchair emergency managers, but it's important to familiarize ourselves with some basic concepts so that we can at least think critically about what authorities and their experts are about to tell us. Let's be prepared to wade through the bullshit.