Worse than we thought
Despite early warnings, plans to evacuate people from New Orleans in the approach of a catastrophic storm were only 10 percent complete a month before the devestating hurricane that accounted for more than 1,100 deaths.
"If you think soup lines in the Depression were long, wait till you see lines" at collection points in New Orleans, Transportation Department regional emergency officer Don Day said at a July 29 briefing with federal and state authorities.
The plans were part of a government exercise, known as Hurricane Pam, to test the nation's preparedness for a catastrophe.
Pam, a "tabletop" exercise that began in July 2004, focused on a mock Category 3 hurricane that produced more than 20 inches of rain and 14 tornadoes. It found, among other things, that floodwaters would surge over New Orleans levees, creating "a catastrophic mass casualty/mass evacuation" and leaving drainage pumps crippled for up to six months.
And Pam was only a category 3 storm. So why did Bush and Brown and the rest of FEMA sit around with their thumbs up their asses for days instead of starting to deal with Katrina when they knew it would hit land? Really, would a hundred miles east or west have made so much difference that they couldn't do anything at all - which is what we got for 3 days?