Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Question for Hal Rogers and Chris Shays

Which number is greater, 48 or 72. Hint: it's not a trick question. From today's Times Picayune:

Rogers waved a copy of the city's disaster plan in the air, saying it mandated a 72-hour lead time. Holding aloft the same report, Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., told Blanco bluntly, "It should have been mandatory and it should have been done sooner. The fact that you don't recognize that is troubling."

So here we had the two distinguished congressmen waving around a sheet of paper demanding to know why an evacuation wasn't called for 72hrs before landfall. If they had done even a minimal amount of fact checking, they'd have found that Katrina was expected to hit the Florida panhandle 72hrs before landfall. Katrina made landfall at 6:10AM CDT(7:10AM EDT) Aug. 29. Yet in the archives of the Northwest Hemisphere Hurricane Center we find:

Initial: (1800 UTC): 25.4N 81.3W 65KT
12 Hour: 25.4N 83.0W 70KT
24 Hour: 25.4N 84.5W 80KT
36 Hour: 25.8N 86.0W 90KT
48 Hour: 26.8N 86.8W 100KT
72 Hour: 30.5N 86.8W 110KT (at the coast)

New Orleans is 89.95W, Pensacola is 87.12W. So on the floor of the House of Representatives, the two congressmen demanded to know why the mayor and the governor didn't order an evacuation while the hurricane was still expected to make landfall to the east of Pensacola. The official forecast didn't include New Orleans until 4AM Aug. 27 (O.K. that's 50hrs). In the case of Rep. Shays I personally emailed his office to point this out after his Oct. 4 Scarborough Country appearance and I find it hard to believe that neither congressman had a staffer point it out. I have to believe that they were engaging in deliberate clowning and getting away with it. To add to the clown show, the congressman from Pensacola (Jeff Miller) also asked about the failure to use school buses to evacuate before the hurricane. No conjecture involved, the congressman from the Florida panhandle knew that he was engaged in a spurious line of questioning.

Though I thought that both Blanco and Nagin did reasonably well, I have to wonder when one of them will point out how stupid it is to ask why they didn't order an evacuation before the city was directly threatened. I don't expect either one of them to read this blog, but surely someone in one of their offices would have thought of it by now. Also, had that been Democratic congressmen questioning a Republican mayor and governor, does anyone not believe that first Fox and then the rest of the media would have pointed out the absurdity of the charges?

I have a powerpoint presentation-- which is a sequence of the maps from the weather service showing the evolving predictions for Katrina. (A friend made it--) as soon as I can I'll send it to you. We're trying to figure out how to put it on the web.

Anyway, it shows very clearly why it was impossible to evacuate according to the disaster plan. It was not clear until late Friday night, early saturday that Katrina was aiming for Louisiana. I'm away from my home computer, but I'll try to mail it to you as soon as I can get someone to send it to me.
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