Dear Kaitlyn Mae,
Thus it begins this missive to you regarding Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster to hit the United States. I write it because I fear that the history books you may read someday will be full of lies. Much like that “9-11 Omission-Commission” report which covered the guilty behinds of faulty politicians’ failure to act, if not outright treason.
As a resident of a part of the country susceptible to hurricanes (assuming you still live in the Merryland/DC area when attending school) I hope the information provided helps you make wise decisions should you or your family be faced with such a killer storm.
Hurricane Katrina bore down on America’s Gulf coast early on Monday morning, 8/29/05. It was a category 4 hurricane when it hit land, having been downgraded from a category 5 right before it hit land.
It was a huge storm.
Today is September 6,2005.
Below is a review of what has happened since Katrina hit through the above date. Below this is a short review of Grandmother’s experience with hurricanes that you know what to expect.
Hurricane Katrina had been hyped endlessly as a killer hurricane since the Friday before it actually hit land. The storm at first glanced off the coast of Florida as a category 1 and still it left seven people dead in its wake.
Like much of the country, I paid close attention to the path of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricanes and thunderstorms have always been a source of fascination for me, Kaitlyn, an oddity some would suggest. Beyond that, at the time of this writing, Grandmother lives only ten miles from the Atlantic Ocean. What happened to the coast of Mississippi could happen just as easily along the coast of Delaware. In a future missive I will detail Grandmother’s plans for evacuation should a killer storm like Katrina head my way.
Grandmother knows very little about the Gulf coast of the United States. I’ve never visited any state even remotely near there. The somber pronouncements that any hurricane above a category 3 would obliterate the levees protecting New Orleans fascinated me. I had no idea that the city of New Orleans is essentially a “bowl”, a dip in the landscape that is BELOW sea level.
Baltimore city has often been compared to New Orleans in terms of temperature, shellfish preferences and the ever-present humidity. Baltimore is NOT below sea level, however, although Baltimore did suffer a killer hurricane that had much of the Chesapeake Bay inundating the city.
It was so very odd to be sitting in front of my television and hear those pronouncements about busted levees and the devastation predicted for a hurricane over a category 3. Katrina was a high hurricane 4 and yet no one seemed overly concerned about the levees.
Something I also know little about, these levees, although I’ve learned quite a bit about them of late. As I listened to the weather forecasters and heard about the floods to come should the levees break, it seemed that the world should have been screaming and shouting. Yet the world continued to revolve, the handsome news anchors kept informing us about the danger of the levees and I watched it all from the comfort of an easy chair on cable news.
Various news personnel made their way to New Orleans during the storm. We were treated, as we always are, to sight bites of reporters bending backwards from the blowing winds and web cam shots of hurricane stricken areas even as the winds blew. It’s a form of fascination for the American public and we had a bit of a ho-hum attitude about it.
Florida had taken quite a few hits with hurricanes this year and the last. Florida managed to get through them with the storms’ devastation in most cases being a much smaller area than Katrina’s.
It was the Tuesday after the hurricane that the realization of the horror visited by Katrina became apparent. Beginning with the rather casual announcement that some of the levees protecting New Orleans from the ocean waters had been “breeched”. I imagined a massive cement wall with small cracks that would seep water, more an annoyance than a catastrophe.
The city of New Orleans, over the course of that Tuesday, was completely flooded. Before my fascinated eyes it would seem that what I deemed to be not much more than cable news background, exactly what was predicted to happen, actually HAPPENED.
Then all hell broke loose.
Before the hurricane, the Friday and Saturday proceeding, unbeknownst to me at the time but known now, Louisiana officials were debating whether to order a mandatory evacuation of the city. As I understand it, President George W. Bush finally phoned up Louisiana’s Governor, a doltish Governor Blanco, and begged her to order a mandatory evacuation of the city.
As of this writing, Kaitlyn, there is still an ongoing debate over who said what to whom. Whatever was said, a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans was made.
Only one problem. New Orleans is populated by approximately 480,000 people. Many of whom are poor and without transportation. Those people had no way to get out.
New Orleans opened up the Superdome for such residents and this also turned out to be a boondoggle. At some point the New Orleans convention center was also opened for the city’s residents. Why, and how, that came about is still unclear.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency were the first to come on the scene.
This was about Wednesday of the week of the storm. The cable news networks were broadcasting conflicting and confusing information. Beginning with the news that snipers were shooting at the rescue vehicles.
There were also tales that New Orleans’ cops left their jobs, that the people in the Superdome were trapped without food and water. The situation at the New Orleans’ convention center was so horrific it defies documentation.
Those people, Kaitlyn, did not have the luxury of simply riding out the storm in those city structures. Or the ability to simply leave when the storm passed by.
Those people were TRAPPED, Kaitlyn, in that with the broken levee the city had flooded. There was no way out of New Orleans and no way in.
Alabama and Mississippi too were hit horribly by the storm. Bridges and interstates were busted apart as if they were simply pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Entire houses were completely flattened.
Hurricane Katrina had effortlessly picked up houses and moved them a few miles down the road.
As of now, the two breaks in the levees have been temporarily repaired by the Army corps of engineers. All people at the Superdome and Convention Center have been evacuated to nearby states, most in Texas.
It goes on, Kaitlyn. Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana. Three states. All hit so hard by this storm they may never recover.
The spin has begun. New Orleans blames it all on the federal government, specifically President Bush. The Feds, for now, are trying not to cast aspersions but it comes out.
For some reason, New Orleans did not even want to do a mandatory evacuation. The Governor demanded 24 hours to “think” about her options. This only 48 hours before the storm was due to hit. 24 precious hours for someone who should never be in charge of anything much less a state, so she could “think” about it.
New Orleans cops left their jobs in droves, many participating in a little free shopping courtesy of abandoned stores then flooded.
FEMA responded to help evacuate those people left behind. FEMA stopped due to alleged sniping of the rescue vehicles.
Grandmother suspects that some of those corrupt Democrats running Louisiana needed time to decide how to best spin it all politically but we’ll get more into this later. For now they’re all happy to cast blame on the freaking President of the United States for God’s sake!
Kaitlyn, should Delaware’s coast ever be swamped by flood waters, first, Grandmother would get out of Dodge as even the inept authorities in Louisiana demanded. The last person I would expect to be on the scene to get me out had my good sense not prevailed and I ignored the evacuation order, is the President!
I would expect my Sussex county officials, the Governor of Delaware, hey, maybe even that creep of a Senator Biden, to be handling things. I would definitely be looking to the local police for help. Maybe after a few days I would look to the national government for some assistance in terms of money or rescue should I still need same. Such things are for the LOCALs to handle. Everybody knows that. Common sense dictates it.
Ah. There lies the rub. For the New Orleans police were nowhere to be found.
Yet the Democrats are out and about, boo-hooing and blaming the President for what THEY didn’t handle.
Ah, more on this will come out, Kaitlyn. Lest they alter history, Grandmother will provide you with the truth.
Written as it actually happened.
Grandmother’s Hurricane Experience
As of this writing, Kaitlyn, Grandmother is a hefty and experienced 55 years of age. Having lived in Merryland and now Delaware, all of those years, I’ve experienced a hurricane or two.
The very first hurricane of my memory is Hurricane Hazel. Which plowed its way right up the Chesapeake Bay when I was six years old. The storm bought such a huge storm surge that much of Baltimore was under water.
Of course I was very young and the memory is vague. I recall having to hide under my bed at the command of my father. Before diving under the bed I recall seeing trees and playground equipment fly past the window of our second floor apartment. Thus began Grandmother’s lifelong fascination with the storms called hurricanes.
Hurricane Hazel took out huge chunks of Ocean City, Merryland, which I live near now.
Another hurricane of my memory was Hurricane Floyd. It was during this hurricane that I got the bright idea of watching the entire hurricane from my front porch.
I had to be out of my mind.
The two dogs did join me for the adventure but were mighty weary as we kept moving back and back from the driving rain. Eventually some birds decided to join me, hand to God. The entire ledge under the porch became filled with birds of all kinds. They were perfectly safe there and didn’t seem to mind my human presence. Soon all sorts of objects were flying by and Grandmother, to the relief of the dogs, decided to go inside the house.
Just two years ago, Grandmother and husband were faced with Hurricane Isabella. We had just moved here to Delaware and husband and I debated what to do in the event of a mandatory evacuation.
“I’m not leaving for anybody,” husband said stubbornly. I chewed my fingernails and wondered where we could go and how on earth to tend to our many pets.
We did fill the tub with water and prepare for Isabella fairly well. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately from your mother’s perspective, Isabella didn’t hit Delaware near as bad as it slammed into Baltimore. Your mother was without electricity for a week and Baltimore had flooded areas for weeks afterward. Here we only lost our cable for a few days.
No doubt by the time you read this Kaitlyn you will have experienced a hurricane or two. Comes from living on the coast of the United States.
“If I’ve learned one thing from Katrina,” husband said to me last week, “is that if the government tells me to evacuate, I’m going.”
Quite a change from his stubbornness during Hurricane Isabella.
We do have a plan, Kaitlyn.
We’ll discuss next session.