The Bronx Blogger

Friday, September 02, 2005

What Role Did President Bush Play in the New Orleans Nightmare?

While reading the Powerline blog this evening, I came across an item that I think should get widespread notice by people who are upset at the catastrophic disaster that continues to play out in New Orleans.

The item documents a key aspect of President Bush's response to the crisis that is really quite a revelation, something that everyone who cares about New Orleans should know about.

Here's the link to the Powerline item:

"Why Was New Orleans Evacuated?"

Here's the link to the news story that the Powerline item quotes:

"Mandatory Evacuation ordered for New Orleans"

And here's the text of the above news story, in case the link grows stale (emphasis added):

Mandatory evacuation ordered for New Orleans
8/28/2005, 10:48 a.m. CT
The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In the face of a catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, a mandatory evacuation was ordered Sunday for New Orleans by Mayor Ray Nagin.

Acknowledging that large numbers of people, many of them stranded tourists, would be unable to leave, the city set up 10 places of last resort for people to go, including the Superdome.

The mayor called the order unprecedented and said anyone who could leave the city should. He exempted hotels from the evacuation order because airlines had already cancelled all flights.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding.

"There doesn't seem to be any relief in sight," Blanco said.

She said Interstate 10, which was converted Saturday so that all lanes headed one-way out of town, was total gridlock.

"We are facing a storm that most of us have long feared," Nagin said.

The storm surge most likely could topple the city's levee system, which protect it from surrounding waters of Lake Pontchartrain, the Mississippi River and marshes, the mayor said. The bowl-shaped city must pump water out during normal times, and the hurricane threatened pump power.

Previous hurricanes evacuations in New Orleans were always voluntary, because so many people don't have the means of getting out. Some are too poor and there is always a French Quarter full of tourists who get caught.

"This is a once in a lifetime event," the mayor said. "The city of New Orleans has never seen a hurricane of this magnitude hit it directly," the mayor said.

He told those who had to move to the Superdome to come with enough food for several days and with blankets. He said it will be a very uncomfortable place and encouraged everybody who could to get out.

Nagin said police and firefighters would spread out throughout the city sounding sirens and using bullhorns to tell residents to get out. He also said police would have the authority to comandeer any vehicle or building that could be used for evacuation or shelter.

The Superdome was already taking in people with special problems. It opened about 8 a.m. and people on walkers, some with oxygen tanks, began checking in.

In a neighborhood in central city, a group of residents sat on a porch. It was almost a party atmosphere.

"We're not evacuating," said Julie Paul, 57. "None of us have any place to go. We're counting on the Superdome. That's our lifesaver."

She said they'd spent the last couple of hurricanes there. They would wait for a friend who has a van to take them, because none has cars.

At a nearby gas station, Linda Young, 37, was tanking up her car.

"I'm really scared. I've been through hurricanes, but this one scares me. I think everybody needs to get out," she said.

She said they planned to leave Saturday but couldn't get gas, and didn't want to go without it, so got up early and got in a gas line.

In the suburbs, evacuations were under way.

"That sun is shining too bright for this to be happening," said Joyce Tillis, manager of the Holiday Inn Select at the airport in the suburbs as she called the more than 140 guests to tell them the hotel was under a mandatory evacuation. "It's too nice a day."

Tillis lives inside the flood zone in the community of Avondale. She said she called her three daughters and told them to get out. "If I'm stuck, I'm stuck," Tillis said. "I'd rather save my second generation if I can."

UPDATE Welcome Instapundit readers. Click here to get to the main page of my blog: The Bronx Blogger.

UPDATE It also looks like President Bush's team may have dropped the ball. Click here to find out more: What Role Did President Bush Play in the New Orleans Nightmare, Part II?