View Full Version : Hurricane Rita

September 20th, 2005, 06:47 PM
Rita strengthens and moves into US Gulf

By Jim Loney

Rapidly strengthening Hurricane Rita lashed the low-lying islands of the Florida Keys with squalls on Tuesday and threatened Gulf Coast communities to the west with a possible encore to devastating Hurricane Katrina.

Rita grew from a tropical storm to a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph (160 kph) winds in a matter of hours as it battered the fragile Keys and was expected to strengthen further as it moved into the Gulf of Mexico, where Katrina wreaked havoc three weeks ago.

The hurricane was headed west toward Texas, raising fears it could bring more heavy rains to an already flooded New Orleans and threaten recovery of oil production facilities.

All 80,000 residents had been ordered out of the Florida Keys island chain, but many stayed behind in boarded-up homes. The eye of the hurricane stayed offshore while its winds pushed seawater up over the only highway linking the islands to the Florida mainland and flooded some low-lying buildings.

"The storm is not living up to its potential right now and that's a great thing," said Key West Police spokesman Steve Torrence. "We're not seeing a lot of flooding, we're not seeing a lot of damage, we're seeing a great inconvenience really."

Rita's center was about 50 miles south-southwest of Key West, Florida, at 5 p.m. The hurricane was headed west into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico at about 15 mph (24 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The center's deputy director, Ed Rappaport, told President George W. Bush in a videoconference that Rita was expected to become a major hurricane with sustained winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph) and could send a 20-foot (6-meter) storm surge over the Texas coast by Saturday. One computer model foresaw it revving up into a monster Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 131-mph (210-kph) plus winds.

The president received the briefing aboard the helicopter assault landing ship Iwo Jima, which is docked in New Orleans and has served as the military's Katrina relief headquarters. It was Bush's fifth trip to areas mauled by Katrina.

"I've been in touch with the governor of Texas. I've been briefed on the planning for what we pray is not a devastating storm. But there's one coming," said Bush, who was criticized as being caught off guard by the severity of Katrina.

The president also signed an emergency declaration making federal assistance available to Florida, at the request of his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Military cargo planes evacuated the Keys' hospitals and nursing homes before Rita hit and helicopters were on standby to carry in water, food and other supplies, officials said.

About 1,000 Florida emergency workers were still in Mississippi helping with Katrina recovery efforts, but there were enough left to handle Rita, Florida emergency management chief Craig Fugate said. Some 2,400 Florida National Guard troops were mobilized and another 2,000 were on alert.

Florida had ample supplies of fuel, with 52 million gallons of gasoline stored at Port Everglades, state officials said. But that port was closed as Rita passed and the governor urged Floridians to conserve fuel.

Gales also whipped the Miami area, home to 2.3 million people. At least 24,000 homes and businesses were without power in the Miami area and the Keys.

Rita was the seventh hurricane to hit Florida in 13 months.

Oil companies only starting to recover from Katrina evacuated Gulf oil rigs as Rita moved toward major energy production areas.

And the Navy began moving its remaining fleet of Katrina relief vessels, including the Iwo Jima, away from the Gulf Coast to ride out any potential battering from Rita.

Around 1,100 Hurricane Katrina evacuees still in Houston's two mass shelters faced another evacuation as the city found itself in the possible path of Rita. They were being sent to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.

Hurricane Rita also caused minor flooding in northwest Cuba, where 60,000 people were evacuated from flood-prone areas. Most of Havana's 2.2 million residents stayed home, leaving the capital's streets nearly deserted, though some were evacuated as rain and wind taxed buildings that local authorities feared might collapse.

(Additional reporting by Michael Peltier in Tallahassee, Jane Sutton and Michael Christie in Miami, Adam Entous in New Orleans, Mark Babineck in Houston and Marc Frank in Havana)

Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. .

September 20th, 2005, 07:02 PM
http://images.ibsys.com/2005/0920/4997533.jpg (http://www.local10.com/slideshow/4997527/detail.html?qs=;s=1;p=/weather/;dm=ss;w=400)

TLOZ Link5
September 20th, 2005, 11:19 PM
PLEASE let it hit Crawford...

September 20th, 2005, 11:38 PM
^ Based on the track map above you might get your wish.

Here's a link to Crawford ... if it were bigger you'd find it just west of Waco: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=crawford,+texas&spn=8.194807,14.757935&hl=en

September 21st, 2005, 05:30 AM
Hurricane Rita is now a category 3 storm, moving west through the Gulf. A hurricane expert stated that it would strengthen into a 4 or 5,and weaken slightly as it made landfall. If a high-pressure system in the middle of the country stays put, the storm will track toward the west and probably hit Texas If the high-pressure moves east, the storm could turn north and hit Louisiana.

A historic model for the storm is Hurricane Carla in 1961.

September 21st, 2005, 09:16 AM
Ray Nagin:

"OK, everyone can come back home for some Red Beans, Rice and Gumbo cookin' in the pot!"

"Um......On second thought........"

September 21st, 2005, 09:19 AM
PLEASE let it hit Crawford...

Somebody say "Amen!" I wonder if God is punishing the south for giving us slavery or giving us George W. Bush. Then again, it just might be because of Jeff Foxworthy.

TLOZ Link5
September 21st, 2005, 12:05 PM
Somebody say "Amen!" I wonder if God is punishing the south for giving us slavery or giving us George W. Bush. Then again, it just might be because of Jeff Foxworthy.

I'm aware of at least some neocons who are itching for Rita to hit, because apparently then the media spotlight will be off Cindy Sheehan for a while.

September 21st, 2005, 01:55 PM
Too bad Cindy is not down there now?


September 21st, 2005, 02:44 PM
The oil companies are already itching to raise prices.

Seems there a higher power not too pleased with the red states.

I know 9/11 was caused by abortion and homosexuality. What's causing these storms that are wiping out the south?

September 21st, 2005, 02:52 PM
Intelligent design.

September 21st, 2005, 02:59 PM
*golfclap* * * * * * *

TLOZ Link5
September 21st, 2005, 04:16 PM
Too bad Cindy is not down there now?


Meaning that the antiwar campaign will lose media attention because of Rita.

TLOZ Link5
September 21st, 2005, 04:18 PM
A thought occurs, though. If the damage from this hurricane is as catastrophic as was Katrina, then will there be a second highly-publicized relief effort?

September 21st, 2005, 04:36 PM
Meaning that the antiwar campaign will lose media attention because of Rita.

I know.

I was being confused-sarcastic.

BTW, Rita went "5".

September 21st, 2005, 04:36 PM
The oil companies are already itching to raise prices.

Seems there a higher power not too pleased with the red states.

I know 9/11 was caused by abortion and homosexuality. What's causing these storms that are wiping out the south?

God does not like Humidity.

September 21st, 2005, 07:49 PM
Awesome satellite imagery: http://weather.unisys.com/satellite/sat_wv_east_loop-12.html

September 21st, 2005, 08:35 PM
So please lofter, if you could just give a link or some still images.
Done. The link above will take you to the awesome loop.

September 21st, 2005, 08:37 PM
Maybe who ever or what ever (Im not religious so I dont really care) made the earth designed it so when someone is destroying it, (say global warming) then it will respond and destroy the area itself (say the gulf coast). Pretty damn smart. Hmmmm.

It just so happens that this part of the gulf (both at sea and on land) is where the largest part of the US oil industry is located.

September 21st, 2005, 10:47 PM
Rita strengthens to Category 5 Hurricane

By Mark Babineck

Hurricane Rita strengthened on Wednesday into a powerful, intensely dangerous Category 5 storm as it headed toward the Texas coast and prompted evacuation orders for more than a million people.

The storm had grown into the third most intense Atlantic hurricane on record as measured by internal pressure, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

A hurricane watch was issued for the U.S. Gulf Coast from Fort Mansfield Texas, to Cameron, Louisiana. Rita was expected to come ashore late on Friday or early on Saturday as a "major hurricane ... at (Category 3) or higher," hurricane center forecaster Robbie Berg said.

President George W. Bush declared emergencies for Texas and Louisiana.

"Federal, state and local governments are coordinating their efforts to get ready," said Bush, who was heavily criticized for an ill-prepared federal response to Hurricane Katrina last month that killed more than 1,000 people.

"We hope and pray that Hurricane Rita will not be a devastating storm, but we've got to be ready for the worst," Bush said.

The hurricane center said Rita had become "an extremely dangerous" Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 165 mph (265 kph) and higher gusts as it moved over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Rita lashed the Florida Keys on Tuesday but did little damage to the vulnerable Florida islands.

Rita's path included the Texas coast southwest of Galveston, where in 1900 at least 8,000 people died in the deadliest recorded U.S. hurricane.

Just last month, Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and killed at least 1,037 people.

Financial markets reacted immediately to news the storm had gained strength, with the prospect of more destruction and oil-supply interruptions affecting everything from stocks and the dollar to oil prices.


Galveston, a city of about 58,000 people located on a barrier island, began evacuating residents on Tuesday. More than 50 miles inland, Houston Mayor Bill White ordered an evacuation of residents in areas prone to storm surges or major floods.

Officials said as many as 1.2 million people were expected to start leaving Houston, America's fourth most populous city with about 2 million residents, and an international center for the oil industry. The city was the most popular destination for evacuees from Katrina, which displaced about 1 million people, including nearly all of New Orleans's 450,000 residents.

Stores in Houston quickly ran out of emergency supplies, plywood and food. The last major hurricane to hit Houston was Alicia in 1983, a Category 3 storm that killed 22 people. Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 caused extensive flooding in the city and killed more than 40 people across the United States.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry urged Texans along a 300-mile stretch comprising most of the state's coastline, to leave. He said nursing home residents already were being evacuated.

The Mexican government issued a tropical storm watch for the country's northeast coast from Rio San Fernando northward.

"Everyone's scared, that's why we're all leaving," Galveston Island resident Maria Stephens said, citing television images of Katrina's devastation. "I saw the people at the shelters and the bodies floating in the water. I don't want that to be my family."

NASA prepared to evacuate its Johnson Space Center in Houston and turn over control of the International Space Station to its Russian partners.

About 1,100 Katrina evacuees still in Houston's two mass shelters were being sent to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Some Houston hospitals were evacuated.

New Orleans, flooded by Katrina, was taking no chances. Mayor Ray Nagin said two busloads of people had been evacuated already and 500 other buses were ready.

State officials said an estimated 9,700 residents of Cameron Parish on the Louisiana-Texas border were told to leave. They added that 2,662 people housed in shelters after Katrina were relocated to facilities farther north in the state, and 5,054 more were expected to be moved.

A FEMA spokesman said Rita was not expected to re-flood New Orleans if the storm stayed on its current westward course.


At 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT), Rita's center was about 580 miles east-southeast of Galveston and moving toward the west near 13 mph (21 kph), the hurricane center said.

Taking lessons from problems after Katrina hit, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said authorities had positioned supplies and were checking on communications systems. The government sent Coast Guard Rear Adm. Larry Hereth to Texas to coordinate the response.

"I hope that by doing what the state officials and mayors are doing now ... getting people who are invalids out of the way, encouraging people to leave early, that when the storm hits, there will be property damage but hopefully there won't be a lot of people to rescue," Chertoff told MSNBC.

Oil companies just starting to recover from Katrina evacuated Gulf oil rigs as Rita moved closer. Four Texas refineries were shut down, even as four refineries remained shut in Louisiana and Mississippi after Katrina.

Together with the 5 percent of U.S. refinery capacity shut since Katrina, the four closed Texas refineries add up to about 11.5 percent of U.S. oil refining.

A U.S. energy official said the risk of flooding at the Texas refineries was less than what Katrina posed in Louisiana, because they were on higher ground.

U.S. light crude oil rose $1.15 per barrel to $67.35. The dollar weakened and U.S. stock prices amid concerns about the storm's impact on energy costs and consumer spending.

(Additional reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston, Adam Entous and Caren Bohan in Washington, and Allan Dowd in Baton Rouge)

Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited.

September 22nd, 2005, 09:54 AM
...Lets plug the storm drains in D.C., maybe that will help. Or throw some logs in the rivers in Crawford...

My sentiments exactly.

And I don't think you're proposition about the earth taking care of itself is too far off track. We have lived out of harmony with nature for so long, that the power of nature seems to need to re-establish itself. The biggest crime in this woul be allowing residents to repopulate barrier islands and wetlands. There is no reason - period. All of those people are going to get bailed out by taxpayers and it is in our interest that they not rebuild those areas again.

September 22nd, 2005, 11:11 PM
There have been many reports, throughout the area affected by the hurricanes, of people in essential public service jobs not showing up for work.

HoustonChronicle.com -- http://www.HoustonChronicle.com (http://www.chron.com/) | Section: Local & State (http://www.chron.com/metro)
Sept. 22, 2005, 2:11PM

Luggage checkers fail to show up at 2 airports

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- No decision had been made today on whether to discipline scores of Transportation Security Administration luggage checkers at Houston's two airports who failed to show up to work, creating snarls at baggage checkpoints.

"We haven't had the chance to sit down and discuss it," said Andrea McCauley, a spokeswoman for TSA in Dallas. "It will be the subject of discussion in the weeks to come."
The absences were not excused, she said. "I can't make any assumptions about why people didn't come to work. After Katrina, people were fearful about their families and property," said McCauley. "Right now we are focusing on getting people out of the airport as quickly as possible."

The lack of baggage checkers contributed to ugly scenes at Houston's two airports, with endless lines scarcely moving as people fretted over missing what might be the last plane leaving the city to their destination.

TSA officials did not know the precise number of workers who skipped work today, McCauley said. In an effort to make up at least some of the shortfall, 180 TSA volunteers had been sent to Houston from as far away as Cleveland. It was not known how many of the volunteers had actually arrived in Houston and begun working by mid-day.

McCauley said the agency anticipated Wednesday that some workers would fail to report to their jobs after news accounts of the impending storm drew increasingly dire.

"Certainly we did expect a shortfall and that is why we asked for volunteers, some of whom are on the ground and some of whom are on the way," she said.

The problems with getting out of Houston airports were exacerbated by people showing up with no reservations trying to get on flights, and those with reservations packing enormous amounts of baggage that slowed the search process.

The TSA workers who volunteered to help in Houston came mostly from four other Texas cities, along with about 30 from Cleveland. Asked if those who didn't report to work today will be paid for the day anyway, or would be forced to take a vacation or leave day, McCauley said, "That has not been determined."

September 23rd, 2005, 12:28 AM
This is what the Bush years have taught us: Watch out for your own butt, 'cuz no one else is going to help you.

September 23rd, 2005, 12:31 AM
So, here's the question. Is the "terrorist threat" in this country real or we seeing just what a bogus claim it is - all made up to support the neo-con agenda? Seems that if someone wanted to - really wanted to do some damage - our country is completely incapacitaed right now - paralyzed.

Except for big oil, Halliburton, Bill Frist's hospital corporation, Tom Delay, Blackwater Security, and, of course, Regis & Kelly.

September 23rd, 2005, 10:08 AM
No, this isn't real ...

Hurricane Force



MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everyone. I’d like to begin with an update on some of the hurricane preparations. As you know, Hurricane Rita is approaching the Texas coast, threatening to bring death and devastation to some of the President’s wealthiest and most powerful political supporters – as well as to ordinary residents of the greater Houston area, not all of whom are black. We want everyone to understand that we're taking this hurricane very, very seriously, and the federal government has already set the machinery in motion to delivery vital disaster recovery services – including press conferences, focus groups, overnight polls and photo opportunities with selected grateful survivors – to the President just as soon as the storm has passed.

In addition, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA have already pre-positioned ample supplies of red tape, government forms (in triplicate) and number 10 pencils in Anchorage, Alaska, so that they can slowly be moved to the disaster area over the next few weeks and passed out by befuddled truckers who have no idea where they were supposed to deliver their cargos. We know that after Hurricane Katrina there were a few isolated cases of desperately needed shipments of ice and water being delivered on time and to the correct locations, but FEMA’s new director, Jenna Bush, has assured the President those kind of slip ups won’t be tolerated this time around.

Meanwhile, Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff has declared Hurricane Rita a political event of national significance, and has designated parts of the California and Oregon coasts as federalized military disaster zones. However, we hope to have that snafu straightened out within the next few days. Gov. Schwarzenegger should be released from federal custody shortly, and martial law has been cancelled in Marin and Napa counties. All 82nd Airborne units have returned to their bases. The President deeply regrets the mass arrests and summary executions, and has offered his apologies to Rep. Pelosi and the surviving members of her family.

As you know, the President has also canceled his morning video game breaks and afternoon guitar lessons for the next three days, and is now directly involved in planning and executing . . . I mean, coordinating the disaster recovery plan, along with senior advisor Karl Rove and the new disaster recovery czar, Dennis Miller. The President is also being briefed every few minutes on the media coverage of Rita’s progress across the Gulf of Mexico, and is now fully conversant with terms like “eyewall,” “storm surge” and “Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity category system,” which I understand he will use frequently in his hourly presidential weather reports to the nation tonight.

And with that I’d be happy to take your questions.

Q Scott, does the President plan to be present on the scene when Hurricane Rita makes landfall, to comfort the victims and give them hope and leadership in their time of peril?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m glad you asked that question, Jeff. Good to have you back, by the way. Yes, the President will be involved and visibly active on TV at all times during this disaster. We also expect him to personally save at least three elderly black persons from drowning by carrying them piggyback from their flooded homes and delivering them safely into the arms of waiting paramedics. And yes, there will be time for questions afterwards. Steve?

Q Have you guys figured out who hung that banner from the bridge when the President came aboard the USS Iwo Jima in New Orleans Wednesday?

MR. McCLELLAN: That, um, matter is still under investigation by the Navy and the Secret Service. But my, uh, understanding is that it was a spontaneous effort on the part of the crew to welcome their Commander in Chief . . .

Q But Scott, it said: “Accomplish This, Asshole.”

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, uh, like I said, it wasn’t an official banner, so the, uh, wording wasn’t approved by the White House. It may have been a, ah, case of mistaken identity, or a fraternity prank. I’ve talked to Karl and Scooter about this, and I’m confident they weren’t involved. Other than that, I don’t really know anything about it. You’ll have to ask the Navy. Or the Coast Guard. Next question.

Q Wait, I have a follow up . . .

MR. McCLELLAN: Sinjay?

Q Now that the BJP government in Assam State has been voted out of office, what impact does the President expect the upcoming elections to have on the Multi-Fibre Agreement negotiations on underwear tariffs currently underway in the Doha round of the World Trade . . .

MR. McCLELLAN: Yeah, yeah, whatever. Talk to Portman’s people. Tom?

Q There’s a rumor going around that the President's mother will be doing live color commentary on Hurricane Rita for station KHOU-TV in Houston. Is there any truth to that?

MR. McCLELLAN: It would be premature for me to comment while contract negotiations are under way. However, just for the record, I should point out that KHOU is Houston’s most trusted source for news, sports and weather, and has the top-rated weather team in both the evening and late-night local news slots. Day or night, for news you can use, choose KHOU. Mark?

Q Scott, how responsible does the President think state and local officials in Texas will be for the sluggishness and incompetence of the post-Rita relief effort next week?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well that’s obviously hard to answer until we see just how sluggish and incompetent it will be. But the President has already spoken to Governor Perry, and he’s assured us we’ll have his full cooperation in shifting as much blame as possible to Houston Mayor Bill White and the lesbians who used to work for Ann Richards. But Governor Perry has also agreed to accept a few minor criticisms, which is very generous since he’s running for reelection next year.

Q Will Jenna Bush offer her resignation as FEMA director before or after the President accepts abstract responsibility for the federal government’s many failures? And I have a follow up.

MR. McCLELLAN: Our current contingency plan calls for her to give a tearful press conference on D plus 4, although that might conflict with the President’s scheduled photo op at the FEMA Firefighter Diversity Workshop and Hurricane Jamboree. I’ll have to get back to you on that. Your follow up?

Q Do you know what her excuse will be?

MR. McCLELLAN: That she wants to spend less time with her family. Rita?

Q The hurricane?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, Beamish. Is she here?

Q She hasn't worked here for years.

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh. OK, let’s move on. Bill?

Q This morning Tom DeLay was taking about a $1 trillion emergency earmark to rebuild the Sugar Land Golf and Tennis Club – even though the hurricane hasn’t hit it yet. Is the President worried about the costs of reconstructing after Rita?

MR. McCLELLAN: Beamish?

Q No, the hurricane.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think at this point it’s pretty clear to everybody that the amount of federal cash that will pour into Texas after Rita will dwarf the Katrina reconstruction tab – as well as the costs of World War II, the Apollo Project, the Reagan tax cuts and the entire federal budget for defense, Social Security and Medicare combined. I mean, that’s just a given, considering how much clout Texas has in Congress and here at the White House.

The President is certainly open to offsetting those enormous costs with tiny, symbolic spending cuts in other parts of the budget, as long as they’re carefully targeted at Democrat districts. But based on our economic projections, we’re reasonably sure the Treasury can continue to borrow huge sums of money from foreigners for at least the next three or four years, and after that it will be somebody else’s problem.

Q What about raising taxes?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that question. Paula?

Q Scott, there’s been some speculation that the President and the First Lady might try to reach out to African-American voters by adopting a black child from New Orleans and raising him (or her) to succeed in an entrepreneurial free market economy while still respecting and honoring his (or her) unique cultural heritage. What does the President think of that idea?

MR. McCLELLAN: Paula, you know I don’t like to comment on hypothetical speculations, unless they make the President look good. Personally, I’m not totally sure how that one would play out, but since somebody in the administration obviously prompted you to ask me about it, I’m going to assume it would be good. So the President has assured me that he thinks it's a wonderful idea, and I'm sure you all will be hearing more about it soon.

Q Thank you.

MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.

Posted by billmon at September 22, 2005 04:14 PM

September 23rd, 2005, 11:48 AM
Water flows through a damaged levee in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans Friday.


September 23rd, 2005, 01:40 PM
I dread the fact that I was actually secretly desiring the levees to break again.

I just hope noone is hurt by this but the administrations who failed to handle it properly BEFORE it happened.

As for the press conference transcript, I doubt that is real. No spokesperson would ever repeat a derogatory word like "incompetent" when they are talking about their administration.....

September 23rd, 2005, 08:20 PM
I dread the fact that I was actually secretly desiring the levees to break again.
Care to expand on that thought?

September 24th, 2005, 01:17 PM
Bush moved closer to storm; San Antonio was 'too sunny'

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Bush_moved_closer_to_storm_San_Antonio_was_too_sun _0924.html

David Sanger writes from San Antonio in Saturday's (registration - restricted) special section of the New York Times: "President Bush was supposed to land here on Friday afternoon on the first stop of a tour intended to make clear that he was personally overseeing the federal government's preparations for Hurricane Rita's landfall. But the weather did not cooperate."

Excerpts continue:

It was too sunny.

Just minutes before Mr. Bush was scheduled to leave the White House, his aides in Washington scrubbed the stop in San Antonio. Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, explained that the search-and-rescue team that Mr. Bush had planned to meet and thank here in San Antonio was actually packing up to move closer to where the hurricane would strike.

So instead, Mr. Bush flew straight to Colorado Springs, where he plans to monitor the response to the hurricane from the headquarters of the Northern Command, responsible for the military defense of the United States.

In a White House that likes to choreograph the president's appearances days or weeks ahead, it was a reminder that the newest strategy - to put Mr. Bush close to the center of the action - had its risks.

At the Federal Emergency Management Agency's command center in Washington a reporter asked him: "Sir, what good can you do going down to the hurricane zone? Might you get in the way?" Mr. Bush quickly shot back, "One thing I won't do is get in the way."

But clearly someone at the White House reconsidered the President's impact. When Mr. McClellan announced that the president had scrapped his trip, he said that with the search-and-rescue team preparing to move with the storm, "we didn't want to slow that down."

Another White House official involved in preparing Mr. Bush's way noted that with the sun shining so brightly in San Antonio, the images of Mr. Bush from here might not have made it clear to viewers that he was dealing with an approaching storm.

Originally published on Saturday September 24, 2005.

September 25th, 2005, 10:07 AM
September 25, 2005

Imagine 20 Years of This

Ralph Lauer/Fort Worth Star-Telegram, via Associated Press

The automobile exodus, like this one on Interstate 45 in The Woodlands, Tex., last week before Hurricane Rita struck, could be a common sight in the coming decades.


There was a time when the cloud as an icon of destruction was shaped like a mushroom.

And a time when the cloud as a portent of fleeing populations gave off the buzz of locusts.

And a time when the cloud that symbolized unexpected death was the ashen plume shooting out of twin towers pancaking down.

Now the cloud we track across our television screens as a harbinger of all those things is touched with the ancient and divine: a vast, swirling eye. An unblinking thing that could have floated off an Egyptian cartouche, a Huichol ornament or the back of a dollar bill.

In a sense, we are back to a more innocent age. The dark eyes whirling ever closer are "natural" disasters, though they pack the force of thousands of Hiroshimas.

And if science is correct, we will be repeatedly reminded what "a force of nature" implies. Meteorologists argue that we have begun a new era of Atlantic storms pumped up by hot gulf waters, a cycle that oscillates in decades. The devastating hurricanes of the 1960's like Betsy and Camille were followed by a lull from 1970 to 1995 as cooler waters stifled the wrath of adolescent tropical storms. Now the streams of warm water that encourage rapid evaporation and spiraling winds are back.

If these are just the first dark puffs of a new kind of summer weather that will prevail for the next 20 years, can we possibly be ready for what is to follow?

Last year, four horsemen galloped over Florida in quick succession: Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. Already this season, the Gulf of Mexico has seen one major hurricane, Rita, sweep in on the veil of another, Katrina.

As a consequence, parts of New Orleans and stretches of the Mississippi coast are nearly uninhabited, and likely to stay that way for months. In Texas, Houston, Galveston and Port Arthur have emptied, at least temporarily. The populations of coastal cities have been scattered in a great arc, some trapped on highways a few miles inland, some in shelters as far away as Massachusetts and California.

The absurdity is that a dangerous squall can now be tracked almost from its birth off the coast of Africa, but its victims still cannot get out of its way. Despite our amazing ability to foretell the meteorological future, greed and sloth may have overpowered most sane efforts to plan for it.

Highways have clotted as families flee, and some of those without cars end up with nowhere to go but their rooftops. Evacuation plans for hospitals and nursing homes have been washed away by worst-case scenarios that no one envisioned - buildings marooned by deep water and beset by gunfire.

Encouraged by federal flood insurance, islands whose very existence is ephemeral have been lined with vacation homes. Low-lying urban neighborhoods with their asphalt toes resting in swamps have been built below levees too fragile to hold. Hurricane-resistant houses have been designed, but their squat forms have proven unpopular with customers craving ocean vistas.

Marshes that once absorbed storms have been allowed to die off and sink, leaving stretches of open water that can be flung shoreward by storm surges. Pipelines designed to flex have snapped - Katrina's damage may include 10 major spills.

Even the economy, unable to flee, has become a victim. The nation's refineries have been concentrated in the threatened hurricane belt. Gas-guzzlers and rising prices are beating into the heads of drivers the nature of the laws of supply and demand. Insurance companies have been rocked, struggling airlines have gasped at their jet fuel bills. The damage so far already could reach $200 billion.

Here is a look at six crucial questions we face:


As coastal communities confront a newly intense storm cycle, they turn to remedies they have used for years to combat beach loss they have already been experiencing because of rising sea levels. Unfortunately, each has serious drawbacks.

They can armor their beaches with seawalls, breakwaters or other hard structures. Usually, though, drawing a rock or concrete line on a dynamic sandy coast results in loss of the very resource the work is meant to protect, the beach.

Communities can replace sand lost to erosion or storm waves. But it can be hard to find good sources of replacement sand; the projects are unsightly, mining and applying the sand brings other environmental problems, and the projects often do not last long, which means the process can be extremely expensive.

As a result, some communities have reconciled themselves to the idea that houses and other buildings will occasionally be lost to the surf. Others are limiting development by establishing setback lines, usually based on natural features like dune lines or the high water mark. But it can be difficult for local officials to stick to these rules, in the face of property owners who plead to protect their homes or who threaten to sue if development limits thwart their plans to live on the coast. —CORNELIA DEAN


The effect that any single hurricane has on the broad United States economy is minor. Even Katrina, which sent gas prices soaring, has done little to alter the national economy's course. Outside the Gulf Coast, business and households have continued spending money at roughly the same rate as they were before.

But if major storms hit the Atlantic and gulf coasts with some frequency, the economic equation changes. Suddenly, an infrastructure that was built with one reality in mind is facing a different one. Uncertainty will increase; efficiency will suffer. "We're going to have to make some difficult choices," said Ross C. DeVol, director of regional economics at the Milken Institute. "You can't build everything to withstand a category-five hurricane."

Katrina alone caused estimated damages of $200 billion, and some conservative House Republicans have suggested reducing government spending by $500 billion over 10 years to pay for that one storm's overall costs. A series of large storms would increase the budget deficit and start a new debate over whether to raise taxes, cut programs, or both.

Whatever the outcome of that debate, the result would almost certainly steal resources that might be invested in infrastructure improvements around the country, or in exploring new technologies. That could cut productivity growth and slow the rise of living standards. —DAVID LEONHARDT


Consider: America's energy industry - both its oil supplies and refineries - is concentrated along the Gulf of Mexico. And it takes about 10 years to construct a refinery.

That means gas prices will almost always spike each time a hurricane heads for the gulf coast.

Already the gulf accounts for a third of America's oil and gas supplies, and that share is expected to grow. Few states have been willing to approve more oil drilling. Coastal states like Florida and California fear the oil industry would scare away tourism. And environmental opposition has so far stymied efforts to drill in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Rocky Mountains.

The concentration in refining capacity is even more marked. There are 50 refineries in coastal states, and the refining capacity of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi is almost equal to that of the rest of the country. No new refineries have been built for nearly 30 years. Only one is being built, in Arizona, and it won't come on line for a decade. To meet demand, refiners have instead expanded their existing plants, particularly along the gulf coast.

Curbing consumption and importing more oil would help. But for Lawrence J. Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation, the recent hurricanes make the industry's case for expanding beyond the gulf. "Our facilities have been forced into a natural disaster corridor," he said. —JAD MOUAWAD


Bill Brown, a chief of one of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's search and rescue teams, had just come home to Indianapolis following Hurricanes Katrina and Ophelia, when the call came: Hurricane Rita was bearing down on Texas. "Not again," he recalls thinking.

There has never been a summer like this for him or FEMA. And this could be just the beginning of decades of hurricane frenzy. That cannot be comforting to FEMA, whose much criticized response to Katrina has been attributed not only to poor leadership and insufficient planning, but also the agency's limited capacity to field a relief effort across the 90,000-square-mile region damaged by the storm.

FEMA's critics say it must develop the expertise to deliver assistance to state and local governments in an emergency, before they have been able to assess their own needs. The agency will have to focus on working closely with National Guard troops trained and equipped to deal with the chaotic aftermath of hurricanes. Critically, the agency needs people at the top experienced in disaster management, not political appointees.

Finally, FEMA will need a lot more money, said Butch Kinerney, an agency spokesman, if it is to have the muscle and personnel to respond effectively to one major hurricane after another. "There is no question these storms are taxing the system," he said. —ERIC LIPTON


Images of thousands of poor people stranded at the Superdome in New Orleans, and of miles of traffic jams on the highways out of Houston, have highlighted the challenge of evacuating densely populated areas on short notice.

Existing models underestimate the difficulty of evacuations, said Jerome M. Hauer, New York City's director of emergency management from 1996 to 2000. "I would suggest to any mayor or governor now," he said, "that we need to leave more time in particular for evacuating hospitals and nursing homes. At the other end, we have to look at how to deal with the massive sheltering demands."

One problem is that no one has planned for huge evacuations, said Mary C. Comerio, an architecture professor at the University of California, Berkeley. "There really are not plans in place to empty a region of half a million people, much less several million people," she said.

Then there is the problem of persuading people to leave, said Dennis S. Mileti, a sociologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The poor and minorities often distrust government officials, he said, but may listen to local representatives of the American Red Cross. And evacuation warnings need to be everywhere - on local and national media outlets. "You need to repeat the information many, many, many, many times," he said. —SEWELL CHAN


It is possible to build a hurricane-proof house. But perhaps the best of the lot - a dome-shaped creation made with tons of poured concrete and anchored with steel pilings - looks like something from a bad sci-fi movie.

They are a hard sell, said David B. South, an engineer who designed the Dome Home 30 years ago and now teaches people to build them from his Monolithic Dome Institute in Italy, Tex.

But experts say homes don't have to look odd to survive a hurricane. "Any house can be fortified," said Wendy Rose, of the Institute for Business and Home Safety, an organization sponsored by the insurance industry, based in Tampa, Fla.

Engineers say the $23 billion in losses from four hurricanes in Florida last year would have been greater had the state not adopted some of the strictest building codes in the country, ones far more stringent than those in the other Gulf Coast states. But most of Florida's homes were built under lower standards and have yet to be updated.

Insurers offer discounts to those who modify their homes. "We ask people to take one step at a time," said Harvey G. Ryland, chief executive of the home safety institute. "Frequently, one of the single most important things you can do is buy a reinforced garage door. A blown-in garage door allows in a large volume of wind that can take a roof off." —JOSEPH B. TREASTER

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

September 26th, 2005, 09:36 AM
Care to expand on that thought?


If the levees break, after most of the people that would be effected by it were already removed, would only put gravy on the heaping mass of dog pile that the president would have to deal with.

Sort of the trim that would hurt very few directly, but emphasize the importance of preserving wetlands (since the damage would be caused primarily by storm surge, not wind, if the storm were not to hit directly). And other precautionary means and methods.

The area was SO bad, I am hoping that the destruction that is being caused by all of this serves to clean away the layers that were covering the things that needed attension, such as the pollution and poor city works, so that they can be dealt with properly before the people start coming back.

I want them to do the job RIGHT, not just do it quickly or for the most $$.

September 26th, 2005, 09:56 AM
^ You might get your wish.

Apparently the combination of shoddy construction of the levees / sea walls, construction of the shipping channel through the wetlands (that allowed the storm surge a clear and unimpeded path of destruction directly into St. Bernard's Parish) and over-development of the wetland areas surrounding NO are now being examined and will hopefully lead to a much better plan for the future.

OTOH, this simply could lead to various official folks and their cronies lining their pockets and re-building another disaster-in-the-waiting.

September 26th, 2005, 10:10 AM
Something to consider in the aftermath of Katrina / Rita ...

The Red Cross money pit

September 25, 2005

By Richard M. Walden
Richard M. Walden is president and CEO of Operation USA, a 26-year-old international disaster relief agency based in Los Angeles. Website: www.opusa.org (http://www.opusa.org).


WITH HURRICANE RITA now making news, it's time for Americans to take a more disciplined look at their tremendous generosity. As of last week, the American Red Cross reported that it had raised $826 million in private funds for Hurricane Katrina victims. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has the total figure at more than $1.2 billion for all relief groups reporting. So the Red Cross received about 70% of all giving.

This percentage was no doubt bloated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's mystifying release to the media of the names of 19 faith-based charities (plus the Red Cross, Humane Society and three lesser-known groups) to which the public should donate — rather than the much wider group of established relief agencies.

This skewed giving to Red Cross would be justified if the organization had to pay the cost of the 300,000 people it has sheltered. But FEMA and the affected states are reimbursing the Red Cross under preexisting contracts for emergency shelter and other disaster services. The existence of these contracts is no secret to anyone but the American public. The Red Cross carefully says it functions only by the grace of the American people — but "people" includes government, national and local. What we've now come to expect from a major disaster is a Red Cross media blitz.

The national Red Cross reports it spent $111 million last year on fundraising alone. And it's hard to escape the organization's warning of Armageddon if you don't call in a credit card number or send a check or donate blood (which it resells to the tune of more than $1.5 billion annually, part of its $3 billion in income).

In Southern California, we have had the spectacle of "drive-by" drop-offs of bags of money at public places such as the Rose Bowl, massively promoted by local media. Hollywood studios and stars and corporate America compete to make huge donations.

The Red Cross brand is platinum. Its fundraising vastly outruns its programs because it does very little or nothing to rescue survivors, provide direct medical care or rebuild houses. After 9/11, the Red Cross collected more than $1 billion, a record in philanthropic fundraising after a disaster. But the Red Cross could do little more than trace missing people, help a handful of people in shelters and provide food to firefighters, police, paramedics and evacuation crews during that catastrophe.

When New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer asked for documentation of 9/11 expenditures, the Red Cross' response was that it is federally chartered and not answerable to state government regulators. The clamor rose, however, when the media began dissecting Red Cross activities in the 9/11 aftermath. This resulted in the resignation of the organization's president and chief executive, Dr. Bernadine Healy, and the appointment of ex-Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine) to oversee its 9/11 fund and help clean up its image. Funds were then pushed out the door — including millions to New York limo drivers who said they lost income after 9/11, and to upscale residents of lower Manhattan to help pay their utility bills.

The organization also ran into trouble after the 1989 San Francisco Bay Area earthquake when it was revealed that it planned to spend only a fraction of the millions of dollars it had collected in the area damaged by the earthquake. When the Bay Area's mayors found out, they insisted that these funds be spent on housing, homeless shelters and health clinics. The Red Cross had to waive, for one time only, its long-standing policy against funding non-Red Cross groups. (Spare change — and there will be a lot of it this time — stays in a Red Cross "national disaster account." This allows it to spend funds donated for one purpose on another.)

The Red Cross expects to raise more than $2 billion before Hurricane Katrina-related giving subsides. If it takes care of 300,000 people, that's $7,000 per victim. I doubt each victim under Red Cross care will see more than a doughnut, an interview with a social worker and a short-term voucher for a cheap motel, with a few miscellaneous items such as clothes and cooking pots thrown in.

The Red Cross' 3 million unpaid volunteers, 156,000 of whom it says are deployed in Hurricane Katrina, are salt-of-the-Earth Americans. But asking where all the privately collected money will go and how much Red Cross is billing FEMA and the affected states is a legitimate question — even if posed by the president of a small relief agency.

As Hurricane Rita dissipates, let me answer my unpopular question like this: Giving so high a percentage of all donations to one agency that defines itself only as a first-responder and not a rebuilder is not the wisest choice. Americans ought to give a much larger share of their generous charity to community foundations, grass-roots nonprofit groups based in the affected communities and a large number of international "brand name" relief agencies with decades of expertise in rebuilding communities after disasters.

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times

September 27th, 2005, 04:49 PM
I find it more disturbing that Michael Brown has been rehired by FEMA as a consultant, to assist in finding out what went wrong.

What are they going to do - ask his opinion and do the opposite?

September 28th, 2005, 10:26 AM
It serves the Republican echo chamber.

Repugnantan Leadership: "Hey Mr. Brown, what went wrong?'

Mr Brown: "The State and Local Officials were dysfuntional."

Repugnantan Leadership: "How do you think you performed?"

Mr. Brown: "There were some small snafu's, but I think, considering the enormity of the catastrophe, that I did very well"

RepugnaNtan News Release

September 28th, 2005, 10:41 AM
Let's not leave the Democrat officials of Louisiana and New Orleans when pointing fingers. Blanco gets her turn at the hearings today.

N.O. police chief has resigned. I wonder what sort of police dept he was running, given that a sizable percentage of his force just up and quit when they were needed most.

And what can you say about mayor Ray Nagin. In the end, N.O. got what it elected - a cable guy, which usually means poor service and missed appointments. I don't think the disenfranchised people of N.O. really care whether they are being screwed by Republicans or Democrats.

October 31st, 2012, 03:14 PM
PLEASE let it hit Crawford...

I came across this forum by accident, while doing a search about hurricane relief.
needless to say after reading this thread and seeing the calls for Rita to strike Crawford Texas,
the B.S. blame game toward Bush, the demonizing of our oil companies.
the only support I'll be sending is a "Have Fun With Your Cleanup After Sandy!"
mods you can delete my account now, I'll not be back here.:rolleyes:

October 31st, 2012, 04:09 PM
Despite the overwhelming urge to respond, ignore the troll^.

November 2nd, 2012, 12:43 AM
7 year grudge.

Amazing what people are still capable of after having their balls removed.

November 3rd, 2012, 04:47 PM

First to mewl - or first to gloat, depending on the occasion.