Hurricane Gustav

From Michael Chertoff's press conference today:

CHERTOFF: As you know if you followed the latest weather report, Hurricane Gustav is headed, I’d say at this point likely landfall somewhere between Vermilion Bay and New Orleans in Louisiana. Again, it’s possible this will change, but this is where most of the prediction seems to be centered. The storm is moving a little more quickly than we were seeing late yesterday, which means it will arrive within certainly 24 hours in terms of tropical storm winds. At the same time, that may benefit us a little bit by minimizing the strengthening.

We’re still looking, however, at what may be a low Category 4 or a high Category 3 storm.

This is a thread for hurricane related news and updates.

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    Praying so hard (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by eleanora on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:00:13 PM EST
    for all those poor people. Gustav killed at least 23 people in Haiti, including a mom and her six kids. She was found holding the 11 month old. I hope FEMA has its act together this time :(

    It's good to see that some learned lessons (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by nellre on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:08:00 PM EST
    Loss of life, and the travesty of FEMA's tardy rescue is not likely this time because people got out.
    But I wonder about the future of NOLA. With storm strengths rising due to warmer oceans in the gulf, these events will become more common. Fewer folks will return after each disaster.

    Entire Lousiana coast (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Cream City on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:13:27 PM EST
    now expected to get hit, says Jindal.  And from almost all Louisiana counties being evacuated, it now is all counties in the entire state.  

    Storm surge could be 12 feet.  That's incredible.

    And yes, re the comment above, I wish we knew whether the levees had been sufficiently rebuilt.  But it would be by the same federal agency that built them and was supposed to maintain them, and an agency under Bush cutbacks of so many agencies.  So I am not sanguine on that at all.

    Btw, if Jindal keeps handling this well, he is getting far more coverage than he would have at the now-canceled speech at the GOP convention.  And he is getting the coverage for taking action, which is far better than for just talking about it.  But may one pol's benefit from this not come at a cost to so many people who have been through so much.  It just looks too late now for the storm to swerve or dissipate.  And he knows it.  

    The Army Corps of Engineers is (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:52:53 PM EST
    in charge of levee building and maintenance as well as some of the new pumps which apparently according to a whistleblower from the ACE are defective.

    Defective pumps used to protect New Orleans

    And there are questions about whether the company that got the contract was given special consideration because of their connections to the Republican Party.

    New Orleans Pump Contract Investigated
    Army Corps Copied Pump Maker's Specs In Bid, Gave $32M Contract To Politically Linked Company

    This could be a serious mess.  Very serious.


    That was always a catch-22. (none / 0) (#18)
    by Fabian on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:51:00 PM EST
    If you rely on the feds to build and maintain your vital infrastructure, then you end up at the mercy of the very same federal government.  You save money, but you lose control.

    Jindal has been a rock. (none / 0) (#30)
    by magisterludi on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:08:18 PM EST
    This just breaks my heart. NOLA is so beloved here in Memphis.

    The trains are arriving with mostly elderly and disabled. Don't care much for mega-churches, but they jump into action. Their logistics are incredible. They feed and shelter thousands. My hat is off to them.


    From the Houston Cronicle (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by jpete on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:18:34 PM EST
    on Chron.com:

    "We've planned this so that those traveling should be able to go at speeds of 15 to 20 miles per hour, instead of 5 miles per hour that has happened in the past,"
    Southeast Texas Emergency Management spokeswoman Crystal Holmes said residents who choose to stay should give law enforcement agencies their relatives' names and be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 10 days.

    This is you an idea of what evacuation is like and of what people on the edge of the hurricane face.

    this has more potential for flooding in Louisiana, (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:20:05 PM EST
    especially NOLA, based on a vermillion bay landfall. The NE quadrant is the worst. I was in the NE quadrant of Katrina... and more than 100 miles inland.

    No power for weeks, blue tarps on roofs for months, even years.

    I live somehat further away now, and my trust for Chertof ans FEMA are still nonexistent.

    If the floodwalls in St. Bernard Parrish (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by kempis on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:25:25 PM EST
    fail, we'll know who to blame:


    Regarding Gustav, I'm horrified. This is like watching a hammer swinging at a bruise.

    All we can do is hope that it loses strength, but it looks instead like it may gain a bit before landfall at Cat 3 or 4.

    Even if the levees and floodwalls hold, we can expect the Mississippi-Louisiana coast to be just as devastated as it was from Katrina.

    This is truly awful.

    That video linked is horrifying (none / 0) (#12)
    by Cream City on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:39:43 PM EST
    -- with unbelievably subpar work, and by an unlicensed contractor.  We may just have seen where the levees will break this time.

    And it has been four months since that story, but I would not think that has been enough time to get even that spot fixed, much less all of the system check for more subpar, so-called repair work.


    can this be criminally prosecuted? (none / 0) (#15)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:44:40 PM EST
    I hope so.

    I would think so (none / 0) (#45)
    by kempis on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 04:48:15 PM EST
    if the Army Corps of Engineers chose to pursue this. After all, it's specified in the contract that they were to have used the rubber material, not old newspaper, in the seams.

    If we had a real media, the news networks would be investigating this and this would be a big story. Then there would be public pressure to hold someone to account for this--someone in the Army Corps of Engineers along with the contractor.

    Hell, if the cameras hadn't been rolling in New Orleans, there would be little national outrage over Bush, "Brownie," and the handling of Katrina. Criminal corruption like this happens because our reporters usually don't report it.

    Right now, I just hope those floodwalls hold.



    And I want to see Bush (none / 0) (#21)
    by Cream City on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:56:56 PM EST
    -- since word is that he now is heading to NOLA -- standing right there at that levee "repair" when the storm hits and for hours afterward.  

    Bush and that unlicensed contractor and Chertoff and all of them.  Right there.  And without lifejackets.  


    In addition to sending good thoughts and prayers (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Redshoes on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:03:24 PM EST
    check in your local areas for ways to help/donate.  Regardless of where it hits it looks like there will be a lot of damage.  

    Moon of AL brings this tragedy to our attention: (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by jawbone on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 04:14:42 PM EST
    Two weeks ago, 1.2 million people in northern India were flooded out when heavy monsoon rains led to the the breaking of a dam/embankment of the Kosi river in Nepal. The river left its bed without warning and took a new path. A few miles downstream in India the flooding left 1.2 million people homeless, many without food and scores killed.

    I knew nothing about this tragedy! See MoonofAlabama post.

    Meanwhile, Cuba reports few injuries from Gustav due to its very efficient evacuation plans and execution; however, winds of 204 mph were recorded.

    Katrina was a 3, wasn't it? (none / 0) (#1)
    by dianem on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 12:58:14 PM EST
    That's what Wikipedia says. But it still wasn't the storm that did most of the damage. It was the fact that New Orleans and a lot of the smaller communities on the coast were not built to withstand the conditions nature throws at them. Here in California, we tend to do pretty well in earthquakes because everything is earthquake reinforced. I'm sure that "the big one" will do major damage, but we won't see a recurrence of 1906. We build homes in floodplains, but they are generally behind levees. The places where there aren't good, engineered levees get low value warehousing and industrial zoning. Except in the recent growth explosion some idiots decided to let the developers put in good levees AFTER they built the homes. It's a contest now - will the floods come first, or the levees?

    Have they rebuilt the levees around New Orleans? I can't see how they could have done more than patch them. It takes forever to design/fund/build these things. And what about the other areas of the coast, where people were literally blown out to sea because their homes dissolved around them in the wind? I can't see how they could have reinforced the remainder of the homes so quickly. It takes decades to design and implement construction changes. Well, at least people know where not to be now and the government isn't likely to make the same mistakes. I hope that they've the "pet" issues resolved. Nobody should die because they have to choose between their companion of 10 years and their life.

    Yes, New Orleans withstood the storm itself... (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Maria Garcia on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:32:35 PM EST
    ...but the levees didn't hold.

    Actually what hit NO was a Cat2 (5.00 / 0) (#13)
    by angie on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:43:41 PM EST
    NOLA was on the east side of Katrina -- the Western side (strongest part of any hurricane) was a Cat3 & that landed in Mississippi. So, what hit NOLA was a Cat2 and we were told my entire life (I grew up in NOLA & lived there at the time of Katrina) that the levees could withstand a Cat3. They did not. Further, one of the levees that broke had just been "redone" and was a completed project at the time Katrina hit. Arrhg -- I could go on forever about the incompetence of the government (Fed & local) forever, so I'll just say what happened there was long-term incompetence and a typical case of the government not wanting to spend the money for what was needed until after a disaster occurs. As can be seen with Gustov -- the state is evacuating people who cannot afford to leave on their own (which is, for the most part, why so many people did not evacuate for Katrina). BTW -- my family & I had evacuated for Katrina and we were all fine. My mom & dad (who returned to NOLA after Katrina) have already evacuated today & are on there way to stay with me here in NC. It took them 6 hours to go 83 miles early this a.m. as they were leaving the city. But they are almost to Atlanta now and will be here soon.

    Cats are based n wind speed. (none / 0) (#23)
    by Fabian on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:58:05 PM EST
    Katrina was a very powerful and well organized storm, with a phenomenal storm surge.

    Storm surge is based on the effect of the low pressure.  The lower the pressure, the larger the eye, the worse the storm surge.

    High winds help to whip the sea, but it's not the same as a wall of water ten feet or more crushing all that lies in its path.


    I got east & west messed up (none / 0) (#42)
    by angie on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 04:06:16 PM EST
    NOLA was on the west side of Katrina (the weaker side) MS was on the East (the stronger side). NOLA will be on the east side of Gustav (the stronger side) this time.

    Katrina was a cat 3 when the eye made (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:44:06 PM EST
    landfall East of New Orleans.  New Orleans did not get the worst of that storm.  It was probably closer to a cat 1 in the quadrant where it hit them.

    The important and incredibly frightening thing about the direction the storm is going in now for New Orleans is that if it stays on track they will be on the East side of the eye which has two very bad strikes against New Orleans as well as all of the coastal properties to the East.  The NorthEast quadrant of a hurricaine is generally the most violent part of the storm and the way the wind will be blowing the water from the Gulf will be pushed onto shore.  The loss of wetlands in Southeastern Lousiana has resulted in this sea surge scenario being far, far worse for New Orleans than it might have been in past years when the wetlands were largely in tact and able to absorb the worst of the battering waves.

    As for the levees - they repaired the dammage done from the last storm, but I don't think there has been much more done - they certainly haven't done a wholesale revamp of the levee system.  Although they are supposedly built to withstand a cat 3, some experts think it would take much less than that to puncture the levee system as built right now.

    Gustav has the potential to be worse than Katrina for New Orleans in particular - if you can even imagine that.


    we're thinking the same, (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:45:52 PM EST
    and praying we're wrong.

    As we know from the way Fay behaved (none / 0) (#26)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:01:14 PM EST
    hurricanes can be very unpredictable in their own way.  I haven't tracked Gustav closely, but it is not impossible that it could fall apart, sent on some unexpected turn or lose a lot of steam suddenly - which would be great.

    BUT BUT BUT I still would make every effort to get out of the way of this storm though because at 24 hours out it seems to be holding its own.  I'd rather be safe than sorry - well inland, on high ground and in a strong structure even in the outter bands especially anywhere near the northeast quadrant.


    Politicians love to punt the problems (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Fabian on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:47:52 PM EST
    down the road for some other administration to deal with - mostly in terms of acquiring and spending money for an unpopular project.

    It's much easier to raise money for something fun! and popular! where the benefit is easy to see and in the near term.  Pouring money into infrastructure for a 100 year or 50 year natural disaster is never popular because there's always some other project that needs the money right now.

    A lot of the changes post-Katrina were needed before then, but imagine trying to pass legislation that would tell homeowners (and landlords) in the lowest lying districts that they needed to pay a LOT to make their properties more wind and flood resistant.  An unfunded mandate writ large.

    And the levees built to Cat 3 at best, even when they knew what would happen if a levee failed?  Not good.  The levees actually made things worse not better by channeling the water and holding it in instead of draining it away.  But more would have required more money.  More money to build, more money to maintain.

    One of the hospitals had the emergency generators on the ground floor.  They had planned to move them up above potential flooding, but it hadn't happened yet.  Great ideas that aren't implemented are useless.

    New Orleans should be a wake up call for anyone wondering about Climate Change.  The time to prepare is not sometime in the conveniently distant future, but in the inconvenient now.


    Not just climate change (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by angie on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:54:46 PM EST
    although is a big part too, but more importantly is the serious erosion of the coastal wetlands (due in large part to offshore drilling) -- they create a natural "barrier reef" that caused the hurricanes to loss strength before making landfall -- now that they are basically all but gone, the hurricanes that hit make landfall at full strength.

    add to that a lot of straight line (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:58:15 PM EST
    mini-canals that were built for oil and gas exploration...these drain the wetlands, or allow them to drain without significant deposits.

    I imagine they make great (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:04:01 PM EST
    access routes for sea surge too.  Sigh.

    It's even bigger than that (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by dianem on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:53:18 PM EST
    Wetlands are sponges that soak up water. Without healthy wetlands, the water simply runs off into lakes and rivers, resulting in increased pressure on levees and higher floods. Wetlands are so important, and most people think of them as just mosquito factories. The one thing I truly value about George Bush's Presidency is that he established the "No Net Loss" policy, assigning the US Army Corps of Engineers to enforce Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to protect wetlands, even if they aren't navigable waters. Bush Jr. has pulled back a bit, but 404 is the most powerful tool in the nation for protecting wetlands.

    PS -- Pets can go now (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by angie on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:57:58 PM EST
    they did change that -- the shelters allow pets now & the buses being provided by the govt. to those who can't leave are allowing them to take their pets as well.

    Thank you for telling me that (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by dianem on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:47:30 PM EST
    It makes me feel much better. Nobody should have to choose between a beloved companion and their life. My husband and I live in a high fire potential area, and we both agree that if we have to leave in a hurry we take the dogs before anything else. Maybe that seems silly to some people, but I couldn't live with myself if I abandoned them to die in a fire. Of course, we have cars, and family we can go stay with so it isn't an issue. People who depend on buses and public shelters don't have choices. A lot of the older people who died in New Orleans died because they refused to abandon their pets. Letting them take them could end up saving lives.

    if there's a choice between a pet and a human, (none / 0) (#38)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:48:55 PM EST
    I go with the human. Pet and baggage? Pets are family.

    So Fl (none / 0) (#2)
    by MichaelGale on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 12:58:16 PM EST
    In South Palm Beach County, it is very windy, with intermittent thunderstorms. Must be because we're between the two, Gustav and Hanna.

    Neither threatening S Fl. Hanna may be a problem but not yet.

    Best link for tracking the storm... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Key on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:10:27 PM EST
    Link for Wunderground blog about Gustav. (none / 0) (#35)
    by jawbone on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:41:31 PM EST

    Gustav's storm surge may breach the New Orleans levees
    NHC's current storm surge forecast calls for a storm surge of 12-16 feet to the right of where the center of Gustav comes ashore. The latest computer generated storm surge map shows that highest surge will be along the levee system along the east side of New Orleans. Storm surge levels of this magnitude are characteristic of a Category 3 to 4 hurricane. The levee system of New Orleans is designed to withstand a storm surge characteristic of a Category 3 storm. If the NHC storm surge forecast verifies, there is a significant threat of multiple levee failures in the New Orleans levee system resulting in flooding of portions of the city. (My emphasis)

    I guess my next spring project for classes will be (none / 0) (#36)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:47:02 PM EST
    to clean up the Lower 9th Ward.



    Thank you for being there (none / 0) (#40)
    by Cream City on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 03:37:26 PM EST
    before, and I hope that the next time you go to NOLA, it will be to enjoy what your work has meant.  I got to help in getting some students to work there from here, too, and I would say that I never have been prouder of our students -- but they do great stuff like that again and again.

    i teach a lot of 'boogies,' (none / 0) (#41)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 03:59:18 PM EST
    but they are growing differently now, going on medical missions to Ghana and Malawi, going to clean up NOLA...

    they are resucitating my faith, thank gooodness.


    i mean bourgeoisie, (none / 0) (#44)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 04:23:30 PM EST
    it didn't look right the first time I wrote it...

    Please send this to obma. (none / 0) (#25)
    by Herschel4473 on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 01:59:54 PM EST
     This was a Email I sent to obma. Please read and then send your own to obma

    I am sitting on the gulf coast awaiting the arrival of Gustav, but in the meantime, Gustav is devastating Cuba.
    There may be huge numbers of deaths there, there will definitely be huge numbers of homeless, huge numbers of people that need everything. If we can send help to Georgia, where they need it; to Iraq, to Indonesia, for God sake let's get our Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force to get help to Cuba.  If the Cuban government is dumb enough to try to stop us, (and they may be), after what this storm is doing, they will be ineffectual in trying.  These people are our neighbors. I am not Cuban, I not Hispanic. I am human.  Jump on it!  They certainly won't get any help out of Crawford, Texas.



    Cuba's civil defense and hurricane preparedness (none / 0) (#27)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:02:28 PM EST
    are second to none... If I'm not mistaken, 0 died in Katrina there. It was only a cat 1 at the time, but still...

    Absolutely! (none / 0) (#31)
    by LibraryLady on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:10:56 PM EST
    I am here in Louisiana and we are so impressed with the way he has handled this.
    All hotels are filled, they are possibly going to use schools as shelters. Food is on its way, guard called up, emergency personnel ready to go.

    you'll be in my thoughts, librarylady (none / 0) (#33)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:19:08 PM EST
    Thanks (none / 0) (#34)
    by LibraryLady on Sun Aug 31, 2008 at 02:33:52 PM EST
    I am far enough north that we expect mostly wind and rain but the schools are all out for the week.