[StBernard] Levee Problems Predicted

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Jan 24 21:28:57 EST 2006


> -----------------------------------------------------

> Levee problems predicted, documents show

> Homeland Security was warned New Orleans could be flooded for months


> The Associated Press

> Updated: 9:08 p.m. ET Jan. 23, 2006



> WASHINGTON - The Homeland Security Department was warned a day before

> Hurricane Katrina hit that the storm's surge could breach levees and leave

> New Orleans flooded for weeks or months, documents released Monday show.


> An Aug. 28 report by the department's National Infrastructure Simulation


> Analysis Center concluded that a Category 4 or 5 hurricane would cause

> severe damage in the city, including power outages and a direct economic


> of up to $10 billion for the first week.


> "Overall, the impacts described herein are conservative," stated the


> which was sent to Homeland Security's office for infrastructure



> "Any storm rated Category 4 or greater ... will likely lead to severe

> flooding and/or levee breaching, leaving the New Orleans metro area

> submerged for weeks or months," said the report, which was released by a

> Senate panel examining the government's breakdown in responding to



> The documents are the latest indication that the federal government knew

> beforehand of the catastrophic damage that a storm of Katrina's magnitude

> could cause.


> Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm on Aug. 29. Some

> weather experts, however, believe it had decreased to a Category 3 or even

> Category 2 storm by the time it reached New Orleans.


> Dire prediction

> In 2004, Homeland Security and the federal Emergency Management Agency ran

> an exercise called "Hurricane Pam" that provided a dire prediction about a

> Category 3 hurricane hitting New Orleans. It found, among other things,


> flood waters would surge over levees, creating "a catastrophic mass

> casualty/mass evacuation" and leaving drainage pumps crippled for up to


> months.


> The Bush administration has been lambasted for its lackluster response to

> Katrina and its aftermath, including criticism that the government should

> have known that a hurricane of that strength posed a danger to the area's

> levees and was unprepared to cope with it.


> Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said he was not familiar with the

> documents but that the levees situation likely was one reason the


> urged an evacuation of New Orleans before the storm hit.


> "We're in the process of participating in a large after-action report,"

> Knocke said. "We're deeply committed to finding out what worked and didn't

> work, and apply those lessons learned going forward."


> Shortly after the disaster, President Bush said, "I don't think anybody

> anticipated the breach of the levees." He later clarified his remarks,

> saying his comment was meant to suggest that there had been a false sense


> relief that the levees had held when the storm passed, only to break a few

> hours later.


> Eve of hearing

> The documents were released by the Senate Homeland Security and


> Affairs Committee on the eve of a hearing about Hurricane Pam and other

> government preparations for catastrophes. Pam, a so-called "tabletop"

> exercise that began in July 2004, focused planners on a mock hurricane


> produced more than 20 inches of rain and 14 tornadoes.


> As part of the Pam project, federal and state officials working with

> government contractors also estimated that plans to move victims from

> disaster areas were only "10 percent done," the documents show.


> "If you think soup lines in the Depression were long, wait 'til you see

> lines at these collection point (sic)," said one official, identified as

> U.S. Transportation Department regional emergency officer Don Day, in a

> briefing on July 29, 2005.


> "We're at less than 10 percent done with this trans (sic) planning when


> consider the buses and the people," Day said at the briefing, notes of


> were given to the Senate committee by Innovative Emergency Management Inc.

> of Baton Rouge, the contractor hired by FEMA to conduct the exercise.


> C 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be

> published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


> C 2006 MSNBC.com


> URL: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10995817/



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