Anger Follows Flooding in Katrina Ravaged New Orleans

New Orleans residents, including the mayor, are lashing out in frustration over the uncertainty of their situation after Hurricane Katrina left the city flooded.

Unrest grows in flooded New Orleans (CNN)

As parts of flooded New Orleans slip into chaos and Gulf Coast communities struggle to deal with the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana’s governor is declaring Wednesday a day of prayer. Officials in New Orleans have not even begun tallying the dead — there hasn’t been time. With waters rising from broken levees, all efforts have been focused on rescuing survivors.

Those survivors are facing dire conditions — no power, little drinking water, dwindling food supplies, gunfire in the distance — with no way to get out. And the waters are still rising, at times dotted by the bodies of those who perished when the hurricane roared into town Monday morning.

Authorities were having to evacuate the thousands of people at city shelters, including the Louisiana Superdome, where a policeman told CNN unrest was escalating. The officer expressed concern that the situation could worsen after three shootings, looting and a number of attempted carjackings during the afternoon.

[…]

Anger was rising along with the muddy water in New Orleans. Mayor Ray Nagin on Tuesday night blasted what he called a lack of coordination in relief efforts for setting behind the city’s recovery. “There is way too many fricking … cooks in the kitchen,” Nagin said in a phone interview with WAPT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi. Nagin was fuming over what he said were scuttled plans to plug a 200-yard breach near the 17th Street Canal, allowing Lake Pontchartrain to spill into the central business district.

[…]

Frustration was also rising among people who now find themselves refugees in their own city. Thousands of people were being housed in the Louisiana Superdome, where toilets were overflowing and there was no air conditioning to provide relief from 90-degree heat. Nagin estimated the number of people in the Superdome at between 12,000 and 15,000 people as of late Tuesday. He said they could be there for a week unless evacuated sooner. Blanco said officials are making plans to evacuate people from the Superdome and other shelters, but she did not say when that might happen or where they might be taken.

Mayor blasts failure to patch levee breaches (CNN)

A day after Hurricane Katrina dealt a devastating blow to the Big Easy, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Tuesday night blasted what he called a lack of coordination in relief efforts for setting behind the city’s recovery. “There is way too many fricking … cooks in the kitchen,” Nagin said in a phone interview with WAPT-TV in Jackson, Miss., fuming over what he said were scuttled plans to plug a 200-yard breach near the 17th Street Canal, allowing Lake Pontchartrain to spill into the central business district. An earlier breach occurred along the Industrial Canal in the city’s Lower 9th Ward.

[…]

The National Weather Service reported a breach along the Industrial Canal levee at Tennessee Street, in southeast New Orleans, on Monday. Local reports later said the levee was overtopped, not breached, but the Corps of Engineers reported it Tuesday afternoon as having been breached.

But Nagin said a repair attempt was supposed to have been made Tuesday. According to the mayor, Blackhawk helicopters were scheduled to pick up and drop massive 3,000-pound sandbags in the 17th Street Canal breach, but were diverted on rescue missions. Nagin said neglecting to fix the problem has set the city behind by at least a month. “I had laid out like an eight week to ten week timeline where we could get the city back in semblance of order. It’s probably been pushed back another four weeks as a result of this,” Nagin said. “That four weeks is going to stop all commerce in the city of New Orleans. It also impacts the nation, because no domestic oil production will happen in southeast Louisiana.”

Nagin said he expects relief efforts in the city to improve as New Orleans, the National Guard and FEMA combine their command centers for better communication, followup and accountability.

Nagin’s frustration is understandable. Unfortunately, although our ability to respond to natural disasters has improved markedly after lessons learned from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, there is no way to be truly prepared for something like this. The only comparable storm to hit the United States in my lifetime was Hurricane Camille (1969), which I only vaguely remember. And each storm sets off its own rather unpredictable chain of events.

Update: Bob Owens has been wondering for a couple of days what would happen with the inmates in New Orleans prisons. Now we know.

Inmates at a prison in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans have rioted, attempted to escape and are now holding hostages, a prison commissioner told ABC News affiliate WBRZ in Baton Rouge, La. Orleans Parish Prison Commissioner Oliver Thomas reported the incident to WBRZ. A deputy at Orleans Parish Prison, his wife and their four children have been taken hostage by rioting prisoners after riding out Hurricane Katrina inside the jail building, according to WBRZ.

Michelle Malkin has been blogging up a storm on this and other Hurricane Katrina news.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Read this and hizzoner’s comments will seem … well… hypocritical. The mayor and his government, preceeding city and state governments, the federal government, private industry, the oil industry and colleges and universities have all known that this would happen some day and have known this for some 50 years. Read The Times Picayune report. It is disturbing and sobering and begs the question, asked by the newspaper itself, “Should New Orleans even be rebuilt?”

  2. TORRI BUCC says:

    RAY NAGIN SHOULD HAVE HIS BRAIN REMOVED. HE SHOULD HAVE GIVEN THE ORDER TO EVAC. EARLIER THAN SUNDAY. ALSO, HE MADE A COMMENT THAT THE JEFFERSON PARISH POLICE WHERE WRONG FOR NOT LETTING THE DUMB ASSES FROM ORLEANS PARISH LEAVE THE CITY BY USE OF THE WESTBANK EXPY. WELL IF THE A$$ HOLES FROM ORLEANS KNOW HOW TO CONDUCT THEM SELFS IN A TIME OF CRISIS, AND ACTED LIKE THEY REALLY WANTED TO BE HELP INSTEAD OF LIKE A BUNCH OF URGENT NIGGER, MAYBE IT WOULD NOT HAVE COME TO THAT.
    I LIVE ON THE WESTBANK IN MARRERO AND I DON’T WANT MY PROPERTY OR MY NEIGHBORHOOD DAMAGED MORE THAN IT ALREADY IS. IT IS BAD ENOUGH THAT WE HAVE A MAJOR DISASTER ON OUR HANDS, WE DON’T NEED ORLEANS PARISH ANIMALS TRYING TO MAKE IT WORSE FOR THE REST OF US.
    TO THE MAYOR, RAY NAGIN, YOU ARE DAM RIGHT WE DO NOT WANT YOUR ORLEANS TRASH ON OUR SIDE OF THE RIVER IF THEY CAN’T CONDUCT THEM SELFS PROPERLY IN THE MIDDLE OF A NATIONAL DISASTER.
    I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO SAY THANK YOU TO THE OFFICERS ON THE WESTBANK FOR DOING A GREAT JOB OF TRYING TO PROTECT JEFFERSON PARISH. GREAT JOB BOYS, HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON.
    P.S. NAGIN STOP TRYING TO MAKE THIS OUT TO BE A RACIAL ISSUE. WHEN ARE YOU PEOPLE GOING TO STOP TRYING TO USE THE RACE CARD? ITS GETTING KIND OF OLD. YA’LL ARE NOT SLAVES ANY MORE, SO MOVE ON. PUT THE OPPRESSION CRAP IN THE PAST AND GET OVER IT.

  3. robin black says:

    To Torri Bucc, How can you say (why do we use the race card). We still use the race card because there are racist like you are still alive. You are still using the word Nigger to describe black folks. Until, you people change I will ride the race card as far as I can.