Katrina : A Timeline

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Monday, August 29th

On CNN :

COOPER: This just in to CNN. Hurricane Katrina has been downgraded now to a tropical storm. It was a Category 1 storm when we arrived here about an hour or so ago in Mississippi, just outside Meridian, but it has now been downgraded to a tropical storm. So we will continue to follow that. And we'll have a lot more on this Special Edition of 360 coming up next. But first let's check in with Erica Hill for the day's other headlines. Erica, good evening.

HILL: Hi again, Anderson. You still look pretty wet, by the way.

President Bush in Arizona and California today. And when he wasn't focused on the damages of Hurricane Katrina, he was trying to drum up support for his Medicare Prescription Drug Program...

SHEPARD SMITH: You're live on FOX News Channel, what are you doing?

MAN IN NEW ORLEANS: Walking my dogs.

SMITH: Why are you still here? I'm just curious.

MAN: None of your fucking business.

From NPR's levee breach timeline :

6 p.m.: A report from the Homeland Security Operation Center says: "Preliminary reports indicate the levees in New Orleans have not been breached."

6:08 p.m. The American Red Cross e-mails officials at the White House and Department of Homeland Security about reports of levee breaches and "extensive flooding" in the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish.

9 p.m.: Appearing on CNN, then-FEMA Chief Michael Brown says: "We have some, I'm not going to call them breaches, but we have some areas where the lake and the rivers are continuing to spill over."

9:29 p.m.: John Wood, chief of staff for Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, is sent an e-mail that reads in part: "the first (unconfirmed) reports they are getting from aerial surveys in New Orleans are far more serious than media reports are currently reflecting."

10:30 p.m.: A Homeland Security situation report reads: "There is a quarter-mile [breach] in the levee near the 17th Street Canal... an estimated 2/3 to 75% of the city is under water... a few bodies were seen floating in the water." This report reaches the White House around midnight, according to congressional investigators.

Tuesday, August 30th

Updates from New Orleans TV station WWL :

8:39 A.M. WWL-TV studios are being evacuated as rising water is coming into the station. The French Quarter is taking on water and water is expected to rise in the city for the next few days.

9:35 A.M. Marshal Law in effect in Jefferson Parish and Plaquemines Parish. 60 percent of homes in Plaquemines Parish under water.

10:15 A.M. A spokeswoman describes Jefferson Parish as a "very dangerous" place. Jackie Bauer says there's gas leaks everywhere, water needs to be boiled, there's no commercial power, no pumping stations and the water's toxic.

And there's still some deep water in some neighborhoods. Bauer says there are other dangers -- snakes in the water, other vermin, loose dogs and cats everywhere. She says -- quoting now -- "We kind of have to fight for survival with them." - Associated Press

10:35 A.M. Governor Blanco - "Worse than our worst fears."

From the Associated Press (more photos here):

Before going on an helicopter tour of the New Orleans, Kenner, Metairie, Arabi, Slidell and Mandeville areas to assess the extent of Hurricane Katrina damage, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, center, expresses her concern for the victims Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005, in Baton Rouge, La. Blanco is surrounded by, from left, Louisiana National Guard Major General Bennett Landreneau, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La, FEMA director Mike Brown and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La. (AP Photo/Bill Feig, Pool)

President Bush plays a guitar presented to him by Country Singer Mark Wills, right, backstage following his visit to Naval Base Coronado, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Bush visited the base to deliver remarks on V-J Commemoration Day. (AP Photo/ABC News, Martha Raddatz)

More from WWL :

2:00 P.M. - Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi says "this is going to be the most expensive natural disaster that's hit the United States in history."

2:01 P.M. - Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard says there is no plumbing and the sanitary situation is getting nasty. He told WAFB-TV that he is carrying around a bag for his own human waste.

3:07 P.M. - Governor Blanco: We are looking for ways to get people out of the Superdome and out of New Orleans said Governor Blanco as she tried to keep from crying.

Wednesday, August 31st

Thursday, September 1st

From the BBC :

US President George Bush has admitted there is "frustration" at the speed of the relief effort following Hurricane Katrina's hit on the Gulf Coast.

"I fully understand people wanting things to have happened yesterday. I mean I understand the anxiety of people on the ground... So there is frustration but I want people to know there's a lot of help coming," he said in an interview with ABC television.

He said the operation being mounted was one of the biggest in US history, and inevitably took time to get under way.

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did appreciate a serious storm but these levees got breached and as a result much of New Orleans is flooded and now we're having to deal with it and will," he said.

A 2-year-old girl slept in a pool of urine. Crack vials littered a restroom. Blood stained the walls next to vending machines smashed by teenagers.

The Louisiana Superdome, once a mighty testament to architecture and ingenuity, became the biggest storm shelter in New Orleans the day before Katrina's arrival Monday. About 16,000 people eventually settled in.

By Wednesday, it had degenerated into horror. A few hundred people were evacuated from the arena Wednesday, and buses will take away the vast majority of refugees today.

"We pee on the floor. We are like animals," said Taffany Smith, 25, as she cradled her 3-week-old son, Terry. In her right hand she carried a half-full bottle of formula provided by rescuers. Baby supplies are running low; one mother said she was given two diapers and told to scrape them off when they got dirty and use them again.

At least two people, including a child, have been raped. At least three people have died, including one man who jumped 50 feet to his death, saying he had nothing left to live for.

The hurricane left most of southern Louisiana without power, and the arena, which is in the central business district of New Orleans, was not spared. The air conditioning failed immediately and a swampy heat filled the dome.

An emergency generator kept some lights on, but quickly failed. Engineers have worked feverishly to keep a backup generator running, at one point swimming under the floodwater to knock a hole in the wall to install a new diesel fuel line. But the backup generator is now faltering and almost entirely submerged.

There is no sanitation. The stench is overwhelming. The city's water supply, which had held up since Sunday, gave out early Wednesday, and toilets in the Superdome became inoperable and began to overflow.

"There is feces on the walls," said Bryan Hebert, 43, who arrived at the Superdome on Monday. "There is feces all over the place."

From Newsweek :

The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.

How this could be--how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century--is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.

Friday, September 2nd

From CNN :

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to describe. It's something I never could conceive of ever seeing in a major city like New Orleans. It is hard to believe, you know, this is New Orleans, Louisiana, we're talking about.

We spent the last few hours at the convention center, where there are thousands of people just laying in the street. They have nowhere to go. These are mothers. We saw mothers. We talked to mothers holding babies. I mean, some of these babies, 3, 4, 5 months old, living in these horrible conditions. Putrid food on the ground, sewage, their feet sitting in sewage. We saw feces on the ground. It is -- these people are being forced to live like animals.

And you know, when you look at some of these mothers, your heart just breaks. We're not talking about a few families or a few hundred families, thousands and thousands of people gathered around the convention center.

I want to warn you, I mean, some of these images that you will see, they're very, very graphic. But people need to see this. The people down there have been down there for days, and people need to see what it is really like down here.

We saw dead bodies. People are dying at the convention center, and there's no one to come get them. We saw an older woman, someone's mother, someone's grandmother in a wheelchair, her dead body pushed up against the side of the convention center, with a blanket over it. Right on the ground next to her, another dead body, wrapped in a white sheet. People are literally dying. Right in front of us as we were watching this, a man went into a seizure on the ground. It looked like he was dying. People tried to prop his head up. No one has medical training. No ambulance can come. There's nowhere to evacuate him to.

It is just heart breaking that these people have been sitting there, without food, without water, waiting for these buses to take them away. And they keep asking us, "When are the buses coming? When are the buses coming?"

And you just have to say, "I don't know. I really don't know."

(Cross-posted at The Talent Show and This Modern World)

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