Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Louisiana, Mississippi Devastated By Hurricane
From The New York Times:
NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 30 - With parts of this city under 20 feet of water and a death toll in the region that is reported at 55 and certain to climb, the Gulf Coast began today to confront the aftermath of one of the most devastating storms ever to hit the United States.
Floodwaters from a canal that leads to Lake Ponchartrain were sending more water into already flooded areas of New Orleans, and Mayor C. Ray Nagin said in a television interview that the city was 80 percent under water, with some of it 20 feet deep.
Hundreds of residents have been rescued from rooftops, and as dawn broke rescuers in boats and helicopters searched for more survivors. The death toll in just one Mississippi county could be as high as 80, Gov. Haley Barbour said. Preliminary reports on Monday put the toll at 55.
"The devastation down there is just enormous," Mr. Barbour said on NBC's "Today" show. "I hate to say it, but it looks like it is a very bad disaster in terms of human life," he added, referring to Harrison County, which includes Gulfport and Biloxi.
"This is our tsunami," Mayor A. J. Holloway of Biloxi, Miss., told The Biloxi Sun Herald.
The New York Times also reports that hurricane relief efforts have been hampered by the overseas deployment of National Guard units in Iraq:
State National Guard units, already strained by long overseas deployments, joined federal, state and private organizations yesterday in a broad effort to provide relief in areas thrashed and flooded by Hurricane Katrina.
The American Red Cross said it was undertaking one of the largest emergency operations in its history, and federal disaster-relief teams descended on stricken areas across the Gulf Coast. Private volunteer groups prepared to deliver hot meals to hundreds of thousands of residents made refugees by the storm and the flooding it caused.
Even before the storm hit the coast, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had positioned 23 disaster medical assistance teams and seven search and rescue teams around the region.
It also delivered generators, tarps and stockpiles of water, ice and ready-to-eat meals, agency officials said.
FEMA also sent two teams of veterinarians to provide care to any injured pets or other animals.
More than 5,000 National Guard troops were called up over the weekend to assist in relief operations, despite the burden of providing troops to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tens of thousands more may be called as the extent of the damage becomes clear, officials said.
National Guard officials said many of the troops mobilized for storm duty had recently returned from overseas combat zones.
Some 3,500 Louisiana National Guard troops were on active duty to help with housing, security, power generation, food distribution and debris removal, with 6,500 more available.
Mississippi called up 850 National Guard troops, and Alabama mobilized more than 1,500. Officials said nearly 100,000 additional members of the Guard from the Southeast were available on short notice.
The Alabama contingent includes military police, engineers and Special Forces who have all recently served in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to Lt. Col. Robert Horton of the Alabama National Guard.
"We are prepared to respond to any natural disaster and to support the war on terrorism," Colonel Horton said. "We just have to deal with both missions."
So what was the Preznit doing as a huge swath of the nation dealt with the devastation of "our tsunami"?
He was yucking it up with supporters at a Bamboozlepalooza Tour appearance touting his Medicare reforms.
How out of touch is that?
UPDATE: Holy shit, John McCain met Bush at the airport with a fucking cake yesterday as Katrina was blasting through Louisiana and Mississippi:
Many parts of Louisiana and Mississippi have been completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi compared the devastation of Katrina to the tsunami last year. At least 80 people have been killed by Katrina (though the death toll is expected to climb), insurers are estimating damage at $9 billion dollars.
And what was Preznit Bush doing while millions of Americans were desperately trying to survive the third most powerful hurricane to hit the United States mainland?
He was partying with cake and laughing it up with his fellow Kool Aid drinkers.
(Thanks to Rob at AmericaBlog for the heads up on Bush's "Let Them Eat Cake" photos.)