Talk:Controversy over whether New Orleans Mayor failed to follow hurricane plan

Latest comment: 18 years ago by Mrmiscellanious in topic Defense of Nagin

Stop being disingenuous


Who said 'local disgrace'? If you put a quote in the headline, cite it IMMEDIATELY in the opening para.

OK, I changed the title to be very specific. Now there's a citation showing the specific paragraph from the evacuation plan which says to use city and school buses to help get the poor who are unable to get out of town on their own before a disaster strikes. Is it POV to point to the Mayor's failure to follow the published disaster plan, as published by the State of Lousiana? - Busted 05:17, 4 September 2005 (UTC)Reply
TY. Busted, I entirely sympathise here. Stick to presenting facts and minimal quotes which highlight them and I'm glad to see you involved here. But I think, if you are really intellectually honest, you'll agree that the intial attempt at this article was more of a reaction to the existing articles. There is no need to take the same tack that the pseudo-leftists have been employing. It's an uphill battle when it shouldn't be a battle at all.
So can we publish this article now?
Is it POV to let the public know about this lack of follow through by the Mayor? The Mayor is probably too busy to take my call to explain his side of the story at the moment, but as long as Wikinews is slinging mud at the Federal Government with its "National Disgrace" editorial, without waiting to see what caused the delays, then it's only fair that Wikinews makes room for an article to highlight the failings of the local officials as well, starting with Mayor Nagin.
If this article cannot be published, then please "unpublish" the "National Disgrace" editorial as well. - Busted 05:32, 4 September 2005 (UTC)Reply
After thinking about this issue some more, and since no one is following up, rather than dispute the "National Disgrace" editorial (which would cause it to be "censored", I will go ahead and republish this article, because I don't believe in censorship. It's better to let the readers have access to both articles and let them decide for themselves. - Busted 05:54, 4 September 2005 (UTC)Reply
No, I think that resolving your own "disputed" state is inappropriate. If there is support for your article, someone else will change its status. Furthermore, your point of view shines through here still. People are smart enough to draw their own conclusions from the article, just as you did from the others. I will edit the article to remove your commentary, but I do this without malice. The article will be stronger and, I feel, more convincing, without that element. - pvh 23:47, 4 September 2005(PST)
As long as the pictures stay. They're worth a thousand words each! - Busted 06:58, 4 September 2005 (UTC)Reply

Things this article needs before publication

Active lead
Wikinews does not report what commentators are wondering. This is a strong story, don't hide behind what other people are asking. "Mayor Ray Nagin didn't use hundreds of buses that were available before Hurricane Katrina to evacuate citizens who were too poor to make their way out of the city." - says who didn't do what, but needs where, when, why.
See the National Disgrace story. The whole basis of that story is based upon "commentators" wondering what's up with the Federal response to this disaster. I have news for you. An equal number are wondering what's up with the lack of local execution of the disaster plan that was in place since 2000.
As for your other points, "Where" is obviously in New Orleans. The pictures show the specific locations (two bus yards, one of which is less than a mile from the Superdome.) As for the "when", the first sentence makes it clear that Mayor Nagin didn't use the buses before Katrina hit. I can't read Mayor Nagin's mind, so I don't "why".
Your improvements are bringing the article along! It's always best to state, in the text of the article, where something is happening - even if it is utterly obvious from the title or the images. The reason is the article might be picked up by another site but with a different title, and often people do not get images. This could be worked in with just "New Orleans Mayor..."
The when should be made more clear, perhaps something like "In the early days after Hurricane Katrina, before the floodwaters made it impossible..."
Why is something you can sometimes skip in an article. But in this case, I'm sure there are people who have expressed an opinion as to why the Mayor might have failed to follow through. You might see if you can find someone you can quote? - Amgine/talk 06:57, 4 September 2005 (UTC)
OK, I added the location, and better established the time period. As for the "why", I'm not sure I can find any commentators who are not making purely inflammatory or derogatory statements. Adding a comment from some right wing hate site that he's "a stupid democrat" won't improve the article at all, so what kind of comment are you looking for? The only defense for Mayor Nagin I have been able to find is some anonymous postings on a left wing web site called Fark, which claim that he didn't have the authority to use those buses. But is that really a reliable source of commentary? I stand by the State of Louisiana disaster plan, and Mayor Nagin's own comments as quoted in the article, that he did have the authority, and simply failed to follow through. I'm open to other angles though. - Busted 07:07, 4 September 2005 (UTC)Reply
<nod> Okay, looks like you've made good faith efforts. Try to drop a note on User talk:NGerda's page and ask if he thinks you've addressed his NPOV concerns. I didn't put that on the article, so I'm not sure what his specific issues were. - Amgine/talk 07:13, 4 September 2005 (UTC)
I already did so, and in response, NGerda suggested a new title, "Controversy over whether New Orleans Mayor failed to follow hurricane plan". He alluded to other concerns, but since he has no other specific suggestions to improve the article, I will go ahead and rename the article per NGerda's wishes and leave a second message with NGerda giving him another chance to participate. - Busted 07:17, 4 September 2005 (UTC)Reply
No redlinks
Each paragraph needs to express a single complete thought or topic.
I think there was just one graf with some extraneous text.
Is it better now? What other objections do you (or anyone else) have? - Busted 06:34, 4 September 2005 (UTC)Reply

Can you perhaps cut down the size of the big picture to match that of the small one? It is trivial to think of some NPOVing suggestions, like size of evacuation information, but they would all require more research, and there is a limit to how much work you should ask out of someone. One can always imagine a piece of data to NPOV an article, but data is not always available. Anyway, sometimes you just try to make it a better article in other ways, like by having a picture or more thoroughly citing the various opinions out there. In keeping with my "NPOV is not everything" philosophy, I would incurage you to to move the "I need 500 busses man" comment up. It is a great part of the stories irony / amusement / interest, and just plain makes the article more fun to read. But I can't say if the NPOV hardliners will let you do this. - Nyarlathotep 14:25, 4 September 2005 (UTC)Reply

Feasibility Issue


I haven't edited a Wikinews article before, but I would think that the article could use perspective on the state of New Orleans at the time a federal emergency was declared. Although the evacuation plan called for using buses, considering the numerous articles on the web that detail the amount of time it took to get out of New Orleans that Saturday and Sunday, it would appear that the point is moot (i.e. if Nagin had requested the buses, there would not have been enough time to mobilize the buses, have the evacuees assemble, pick up the evacuees, and transport them out of town before the hurricane hit. It would appear that attempting such an exercise would have caused an even greater loss of life than we are currently seeing, as the evacuees would be in the relatively unsafe buses during a hurricane, rather than in safer buildings.)

  • Excellent suggestion, make the change if you like.
  • As such, I wonder if this is all a Rovian deflection of criticism away from the Bush administration. Seeing as FEMA published in early 2001 that the three largest disaster risks to the US were a terrorist attack on New York, a Hurricane in New Orleans, and an Earthquake in San Francisco. [1]. So, when FEMA faced was rolled into the department of homeland security and faced massive budget cuts regarding hurricane prepardness in favour of terrorism prepardness eyebrows should and do raise. Suddenly people are all out to protect these decisions and want to attack the Mayor of New Orleans? It simply reminds me of Rove's previous work.
"Rovian deflection"? How pathetic that you think Mayor Nagin's failure to act, or my submission of an article to reveal his failure, was somehow orchestrated by the President's Deputy Chief of Staff. Your ego is way out of control if you think secret agents working for Karl Rove are now submitting articles on Wikinews. What's next? Are you going to accuse Mayor Nagin of being an agent of Karl Rove? How sad.
Getting back to reality, city and school buses were available in plenty of time for at least a single one-way trip to get thousands of people out of harm's way. Even if there were massive traffic jams, two days was enough time for at least one pickup. Your silly excuse that the buses would have been more dangerous than staying put is obviously contradicted by the facts on the ground. There are no credible reports of people who were in the process of evacuating ending up stuck in traffic right up through the hurricane. Care to provide a source for that "excuse"? While we're waiting for you to respond with sources for your arm waving, these pictures speak for themselves.
By the way, your paranoia about Rove being behind these pictures is an amusing reminder of just how nuts the radical left has become in America. The latest polls show that most folks aren't buying the partisan spin about Bush being primarily to blame, although most fault both the local and Federal governments for not being adequately prepared.
Your mindless paranoia does your cause more harm than good. I didn't vote for either candidate in the last election because of this kind of nonsense. Start making sense and I'll turn out next time. - Busted 02:02, 6 September 2005 (UTC)Reply

Busted, sometimes pictures can be misleading if you don’t understand the context behind them.

Carrying out an evacuation of a large city requires a massive commitment of logistics, human resources, and infrastructure. It’s not just a matter of deploying buses — unless you are in a science fiction movie, buses don’t drive themselves. You need trained drivers (you could use volunteers, but that creates the risk of major traffic accidents, which would disrupt contraflow), you must be able to organize residents into pickup points and keep those areas safe and well-organized, you need to organize transportation routes to go to places safely out of the range of the hurricane, you need to provide places on the route for riders to get water and go to the bathroom, you need personnel to accompany buses in order to respond to medical emergencies, etc.

New Orleans is a city that (1) has tremendously concentrated poverty and (2)is in dire fiscal straits. Just to give one example, the city could only afford to maintain a police force of 1600 people in a city the size of 450,000 people. Indeed, New Orleans officials made clear that they lacked the capabilities to organize a mass evacucation for those 100,000 residents without the means to leave New Orleans by themselves.

FEMA was well aware of the fact that New Orleans could not evacuate huge numbers of residents. Let me excerpt the opening sentences from the now-infamous article by Bruce Nolan in the 7/24/2005 edition of the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

“City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give the poorest of New Orleans’ poor a historically blunt message: In the event of a major hurricane, you’re on your own. In scripted appearances being recorded now, officials such as Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas drive home the word that the city does not have the resources to move out of harm’s way an estimated 134,000 people without transportation.”

What city officials did in preparation before the hurricane was to concentrate their very limited resources on improving contraflow so that cars could get out, retrofitting the Superdome so it could survive a hurrricane, and using the busdrivers it had to transport people to the Superdome.

You can disagree with the choices the Mayor made regarding the evacuation (as well as with plenty of his other decisions) but you should at least recognize the terrible trade-offs he faced.

Defense of Nagin


Archpundit, a St.Louis-based blogger and a graduate student in political science, has written a series of posts defending New Orleans' preparation for the hurricane. He has a long post at Daily Kos discussing city, state, and federal preparedness for a hurricane in light of what was learned from Hurricane Ivan, making some of the same points I made above. [2]

He also has several posts on his own blog: [3] [4] [5] [6] [7].

When I get a chance, I would like to add some of these points into the article.

Is it appropriate to add new content to an article which was published 6 days ago?

There was NO "set in stone" evacuation plan. That is a lie to say that there was. It is a gross distortion of the available facts to say "The failure to issue a timely evacuation order in effect made it physically impossible to evacuate the nursing homes, hospitals, and those without automobiles." There was NOT a failure to issue a timely evacuation order. If you review previous evacuation orders in other areas of the US coastline, this was a timely evacuation order. In addition, Nagin ordered a voluntary evacuation order the day before he ordered the mandatory one. And finally, the Louisiana state evacuation plan calls for the southern parishes to be given time to evacuate first, moving past New Orleans, before the citizens in New Orleans clog the roads. Many residents of those parishes south of New Orleans had no levees to protect their homes. Many of their homes are just feet above sea level, and were in danger from even a close call from a major hurricane. The State plan called for there to be an understanding of their need to get out first, and that was done. Their only escape routes go right past New Orleans, and place them on the same roads that the New Orleans residents used the next day. It is an illegitimate criticism to claim that there was not a timely evacuation of the city. When one compares this to Hurricane Rita, FEMA and the Federal Government stepped in ahead of time and provided help via Army helicopters, buses from outside the area, and even C-130 Cargo jets from the US Air Force to evacuate people, because the recognition was there that no city can manage that kind of an evacuation on their own. Most people that died DID NOT DIE because they were not evacuated before the storm hit. They died because they were not evacuated soon enough AFTER the storm hit, and that burden lies squarely on the shoulders of FEMA. FEMA should have been expecting to deal with a city with wind damage from a direct hit of a Category 5 storm. In fact, New Orleans was hit with a glancing blow from a Category 4 storm. FEMA should have been expecting a city completed flooded from massive overtopping of levees due to a 25 foot storm surge. Instead, they had 24-36 hours to deal with a city that had 80% flooded because of compromised floodwalls and damaged levees. Given the potential scenario that FEMA was aware of on Saturday, FEMA should have been pre-positioning supplies from Shreveport to Dallas with food and water. They should have brought in every helicopter in the nation to within a safe distance and had them ready to deliver supplies and rescue people stranded by flooding. They should have assumed that there might be massive casualties because of wind and water-caused trauma, and so they should have given specific orders to the hospital ship in the Gulf of Mexico to come closer to the city once the storm passed to be a location for triage and treatment. The buses that were available, had they been used, had drivers been available and willing to drive, had security personnel and medical personnel been available to staff those buses and the gathering points, and had the logistics been planned to direct those busloads of evacuees to appropriate shelters along safe evacuation routes, would have only been able to take a small percentage of those left in the city out of town. Imagine that those waiting at the gathering points realized that only some of them would leave - would those MOST at risk have been able to force their way to the front of the lines to get on the buses. Remember, it was the medically fragile and the weakest infants that died while waiting to be evacuated - would they have been able to get on the buses ahead of all the others? That is quite doubtful. And many died in hospitals. It was those people that needed advanced life support treatments who died in hospitals when the electricity failed and generators failed, even though they had medical personnel around them to provide the help they could. If those people could not survive in a hospital, could they have survived in a school bus? And then there were those that never left their homes or their neighborhoods that died. How would using buses have saved those people? They would not even leave their neighborhoods and chose to not move to a shelter of last resort. It is unreasonable to assume that they would have gotten on buses.

So, not only is it unlikely that using the buses would have saved many people, since there were not enough buses in the city to even remove a majority of those left in town, and those most at risk would not have gotten on many of the buses, but this argument appears to simply be a cover argument to avoid discussing the real failures in evacuating people, and that is FEMA's slow response after the storm passed.

As I said, they should have been planning this relief effort since Saturday. FEMA tells local and state disaster prepareness officials that they (the local and state officials and their citizens) should be prepared to hang on for 48-60 hours, up to a maximum of 72 hours (3 days) before receiving full-bore FEMA support. They are to hold on by their fingertips until then. The Superdome had enough meals and water for 15,000 people for 3 days, and Mayor Nagin told people that voluntarily moved to the shelter to bring their own food to last 3-4 days. 3 days from Saturday is Tuesday, and the storm had passed out of the area by then. FEMA should have been there on Tuesday and Wednesday evacuating those most at risk from hospitals and then from rooftops. During that time they should have had additional personnel separating those in the SuperDome and the Convention Center areas, allowing those that were the most in need of evacuation to leave first. FEMA should have had "triage" plans in place to evacuate the city in stages if it flooded, as they expected it would, turning into a toxic soup bowl.

There is no doubt that most of the deaths that were not caused in the storm itself were a direct result of the slow response from FEMA. New Orleans got 80-85% of their citizens out of the city, and that is a huge number compared to other evacuations of the same city and much more than most other locations get in other storm evacuations. In Hurricane Georges, the roads leading out of the city became overloaded with cars, and an evaluation of the evacuation found that the roads could not handle all those that want to leave. If there needs to be additional lanes created to provide sufficient egress from the city, then, once again, it is not a failure on the part of Nagin, but instead is a failure of the Interstate highway system capacity, controlled by the Federal Government.

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