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Tom

The commentary above makes it sound as if the issue was evacuation AFTER Katrina. But the issue, as I read the evacuation plan, is evacuation of the 100,000 people without means of leaving (this number is noted in the evacuation plan) BEFORE the hurricane hits. The Mayor needed no additional authority, once he declared a mandatory evacuation, to use the school buses. It is certainly true that the buses wouldn't have been able to remove everyone who wanted to leave, but it would have improved the situation.

llamaschool

Thanks for the comment Tom.

I think the Mayor's comments address both the pre- and post-Katrina evacuation situation. The important thing in his comments is that his plan was always to use the buses to take people to the Superdome. There wasn't enough time (esp. after the mandatory evacuation notice) to get people out of the city safely before Katrina hit.

As for the Mayor, I don't think he can commandeer the buses under a mandatory evacuation...I think only the state can do that (though I could be wrong...my memory is rusty on that).

wv susan

If the plan calls for evacuation by buses before the hurricane, the plan should also provide for paid drivers who were lined up ahead of time. Looking for volunteers during a mandatory evacuation is a ridiculous excuse.

Tom Grey - Liberty Dad

I appreciate that in your defense of Mayor Nagin's failure, you seem want to be open minded.

First response for his city is HIS responsibility.

But while, "There are quite a few possibilities as to what really happened," what did NOT happen is this: Nagin did NOT order available busses (50, 250, 2000) to evacuate New Orleans.
Not before Katrina hit.
Not after Katrina hit but before flooding (Monday?).
Not after the flooding.

Nor did Nagin, or anybody, order the busses to be parked on higher ground (ABOVE sea level), perhaps the Superdome parking?

Finally, Gov. Blanco ordered a state of emergency, putting it under the command of the Maj. General in charge of LA Homeland Security.
Why don't you know this, and this person's name?
And what he, too, did and did not do?

(The Dem ID for incompetent Mayor and Governor deleted; don't know about the General)

llamaschool

Tom,

Finding higher ground in New Orleans is a near impossibility. If there was even bigger flooding (and the worst-case scenarios, which had both the Pontchartrain and Mississippi River levees overtopped), there would be no dry ground in New Orleans.

To get buses out of New Orleans, you have to go across long bridges over swamps or lakes to just get outside the city. Considering this would take a long time during an evacuation (there are reports of it taking 3 hours just to get out of the city limits) and tie up important resources (bus drivers), they decided to just leave them put and hope.

True, by leaving them they lost the buses. BUT by having their available bus drivers make multiple trips from places in the city to the Superdome, they likely saved more lives than they would have either by evacuation or by moving the buses.

As for the Major General, I believe his name is Bennett Landreneau, and he was involved (I think) primarily in the LA Nat'l Guard response.

Tom Grey

I think you note the key:
"they decided to just leave them put and hope."

Right. The Dems decided to gamble, and lost -- and now blame FEMA.

Though I imagine a part of their Sat./Sum decision was that most of the bus drivers had already left -- why don't we know HOW MANY bus drivers were available, when?

On the reports of 3 hours to leave, which I believe, I think there should be hourly estimates, by the police (news?), on how long it takes.

But in fact on the gamble issue, you imply an extremely important point.

Good decisions sometimes have bad outcomes. On all safety issues, "unsafe" really means "higher probability of disaster".

Most drunk drivers, most nights, get home safely. They prolly increase their chance of accidents from 1 in 10 000 up to about 1 in a hundred.

Katrina was maybe 1 in 5 to overflow/ break the levees (flood); meaning 4 out of 5 times leaving the buses saves a lot of money/ trouble. Our society doesn't know how to even talk about probabilities and risk, much less judge decision making.

Gen. Landreneau is the guy IN CHARGE, legally, according to Blanco's 26 Aug. State of Emergency decree (sec. 2). He should be fired, too.

Bob Dob

Tom, the NO plan for evacuation, does it specify evacuation outside the city of New Orleans, or does evacuation in the context of this plan mean evacuation to safe haven within the city of New Orleans?

Bob Dob

I'm sorry, that question was for llamaschool.

llamaschool

Tom,

How is leaving the buses there a gamble? It's a trade-off. Use bus drivers to bring people to shelter in the Superdome, or use bus drivers to take buses out of the city. On an evacuation, you've only got one trip out. On bringing people to shelter, you've got multiple trips and can save more lives.

Instead of being a gamble, this was a trade-off. Lives for buses. People will criticize the mayor for losing these assets, but it's clear that this decision saved many lives.

llamaschool

Bob,

Both. There's a plan for getting people out of the city, by encouraging people to take their own transportation and by using some buses (though this plan wasn't set in stone). But then there's a second focus in the city/state plans in the mandatory evacuation phase on getting people to shelter.

Bob Dob

Thanks Llamaschool. My reading of the municipal plan has been that it does not commit the city to busing people outside the city limits; I agree with many who say that if it had been feasible, busing 100,000 people outside the hurricane zone would have been the thing to do. I'm glad to have this confirmed by you; there is a shortage of information out there, and a glut of un-sourced indictments.

This charge that the city was required by its own plan to bus its citizens beyond the city limits bothers me because it is so unfounded. It has been used to demonise Nagin, making him a hate figure that defenders of the administration can rally against, and diverting attention away from the failures of FEMA.

Do you know of any news organisation that has tackled this wide-spread myth? Given the emotive power of the charge, you would think that some media outlet would investigate the issue, and I am dismayed that none, to my knowledge, has.

I'm also troubled that so few people on the left have tackled this issue, and I commend you for doing so. Too many on the left stop up their ears and chant "fascist fascist fascist" whenever anyone on the right speaks. We need to learn to engage the other side and anticipate its arguments, instead of engaging in tedious rounds Bush-bashing and rhetorical overkill. My two cents, anyways.

llamaschool

Bob,

No problem. As for the news, nobody's really gone after this myth. Both Media Matters and Think Progress have addressed some of the school bus myths, but they've mostly focused on reports by some politicians that 2,000 buses were flooded (not on the main argument they're promoting).

I really have no idea why people aren't/weren't paying attention to this. My guess is that people tend to read blogs on "their side" and don't pay a lot of attention to what's on the other side. If all you read is Atrios, TPM, etc., then you'd never know that this was a big deal on the right side of the blogosphere.

By the way, I'll be posting a full summary of the entire school bus story saga tomorrow.

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