In The Wake Of Katrina

Hurricane Katrina barreled across Florida and then slammed into the gulf states including Louisiana where it directly or indirectly has inflicted the most monumental amount of destruction ever seen in recent times. Right up there with the Chicago Fire of 1800’s and the Earthquake in San Francisco around 1900.

Much of New Orleans is now knee deep or more in water due to the fact that the city is below sea level and the levees from nearby lakes have broken.

About a million people were evacuated from New Orleans prior to the arrival of Katrina, but many never left the city and there are now scores of dead among those people.

As of this writing there is total lawlessness not only in New Orleans, but in some of the shelters housing the refugees.

In the city, itself, there is looting, gunfire, rapes and assaults. Some of the victims are tourists from elsewhere in the United States or Canada. Those tourists pleas for help and assistance from authorities are often falling on dead ears as one policeman told a person that it’s “everyone for themselves.”

Rescue helicopters flying in food are being assaulted to the point where the are dropping the packages from off the ground. Some police, firefighters and rescue helicopters are being shot at by refugees!

The shelter at the Superdome in Louisiana is no longer secure, itself, and many refugees are being bused to the Astrodome in Houston, Texas almost 400 miles away or to San Antonio, Texas.

President Bush has already declared Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama as disaster areas and FEMA is mobilizing assistance. National guard troops are also on their way to parts of these areas to get control and keep control.

Those in the afflicted areas, however, see no signs of the Guard nor FEMA. All they claim to see is dead bodies, looters, buses and police vehicles rolling by them without stopping.

It has been said that there may be no electricity or fresh drinking water in New Orleans for weeks or months.

Off the Gulf coast oil rigs and refineries have been put out of operation, sunk or severed from their connections. As a result of this oil and gas prices have risen by more than $1 across the United States and as much as $5 per gallon at some stations in the deep South, leading President Bush and other to call for an end to profiteering. In some areas of the nation there is already rumors of “odd and even” days for gas to be started at the pumps.

Thousands are feared dead in the states of Mississippi and Louisiana and it will take time to make a full accounting of the dead and the survivors. Some families are already being reunited, but this is rare.

Accounts from people talked about how the waters rose above the second floors of homes. People scrambled to get to their roofs and some were simply washed away trying to make the peak of the house. Some people we adrift in the water and trying to avoid floating cars that came within their paths.

Television and radio networks are talking about join telethons to raise money to help the victims of this flood. Wal-Mart has already donated millions to the Red Cross and Salvation Army to help the victims in these hard hit areas and will be providing millions more in free necessities to victims of Katrina.

Billions in aid money has already been spent and Congress is expected to approve another 10 billion dollars in interim money, to be followed by even more disaster relief money, which will be administrated by FEMA.

The official word from FEMA, through representative Michael Brown of Homeland Security, who is in charge of this operation for FEMA:

“The priority at this time is to meet the immediate life saving and life sustaining needs of victims in the impacted areas,” said Brown. “FEMA, along with other federal partners and state governments, is coordinating a massive mobilization of resources for urban search and rescue efforts, housing, food and medical care.”

Federal response activities include:

 As of early August 31, more than 54,000 people were in 317 shelters. FEMA is working with a multi-state housing task force to address expected continued sheltering and eventual housing needs. More than 82,000 meals have been served in the impacted areas.

 More than 1,700 trucks have been mobilized through federal, state and contract sources to supply ice, water and supplies. These supplies and equipment are being moved into the hardest hit areas as quickly as possible, especially water, ice, meals, medical supplies, and generators. It may, however, take several days for supplies and equipment to reach all victims because of damaged and closed roads and bridges.

 Eighteen of FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue task forces and two Incident Support Teams are working in Louisiana and Mississippi Eight swift water teams from California are also deployed making a total of 1,200 people conducting search and rescue missions. All 28 of FEMA’s teams are activated for response, with the balance staged, en route or mobilized.

 Fifty-one teams from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) have been deployed, including five Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) that are supporting New Orleans medical facilities and hospitals not fully operational. These teams have truckloads of medical equipment and supplies with them and are trained to handle trauma, pediatrics, surgery and mental health problems. Additional teams are staged in Anniston, Ala.; Camp Shelby, Miss.; and Baton Rogue, La., and will move out as conditions permit.

 NDMS has identified 2,600 hospital beds in a 12-state area around the affected area and is working with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to move patients to these facilities.

 USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is providing food at shelters and mass feeding sites and issuing emergency food stamps, infant formula and food packages to households in need.

 FEMA is coordinating logistics with the U.S. Department of Transportation and Louisiana National Guard in support of the ground evacuation of refugees sheltered at the Superdome in New Orleans to the Houston Astrodome in Harris County, Texas.

 A team of 66 transportation experts is supporting state and local officials in the damage assessment of highways, railroads, airports, transit systems, ports and pipelines. The Department of Transportation is supporting detour planning and critical transportation system repairs.

Affected individuals in declared counties can register online for disaster assistance at or call FEMA’s toll-free registration line 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) – TTY 800-462-7585, hours. Victims are encouraged to register on-line due to the possibility of high call volume. If registering by phone, owners of commercial properties and residents with only minor losses are urged to wait a few days before calling so those whose homes were destroyed or heavily damaged can be served first. Phone lines are open 24-hours, 7 days a week.

Photos Courtesy FEMA.


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