Katrina Web Log


This Web log on Hurricane Katrina's aftermath is designed to help readers stay up-to-date on the various strands of this developing story. NPR.org will update this page throughout the day.

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September 2, 2005

Bush Cites 'Flow of Progress' in Disaster Recovery

President Bush says progress is being made in bringing relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Earlier today, Bush said the response so far was "no acceptable."

But after touring the Gulf Coast to see the damage, the president, speaking in New Orleans, said: "I know the people in this part of the world are suffering, and I want them to know that there's a flow of progress. We're making progress."

"This is a storm that requires immediate action, now," the president said after a daylong tour of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. "I understand the devastation requires more than one day's attention. It's going to require the attention of this country for a long period of time."

Listen to President Bush's Remarks

6:29 p.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

One Dead as Evacuees' Bus Overturns

A bus carrying Hurricane Katrina evacuees away from the New Orleans Superdome overturned and rolled across a highway median near Lafayette, La., The Associated Press reported.

One person was reported killed. At least 10 people were taken to hospitals, several critically injured, The Daily World of Opelousas, La., reported on its Web site.

Trooper Willie Williams, spokesman for the state police, told AP the driver lost control of the vehicle, but other details were not immediately known.

6:05 p.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

Some Relief Comes to New Orleans

After four long days of misery, then chaos, help arrived in New Orleans in force today. Military vehicles in a long convoy rolled through flooded streets, bringing food, supplies, and the National Guard.

Thousands remained stranded, but the Superdome was evacuated, and food and buses finally reached thousands of people stranded at the city's convention center.

Diane Sylvester, 49, was the first person through a food-and-water line at the convention center, and she emerged with two bottles of water and a pork rib. "Something is better than nothing," she told The Associated Press as she mopped sweat from her brow. "I feel great to see the military here. I know I'm saved."

MORE: Military Convoy Brings Aid, Evacuation Speeds Up in New Orleans

5:49 p.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

House Debates Relief Response in Approving Aid

Congress returned to Washington from vacation to approve $10.5 billion in emergency aid related to Hurricane Katrina but not before debating the government's response to the disaster, NPR's David Welna reports.

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) implored his colleagues not to find fault with what's been done so far. "The public will see the Congress reacting, reflecting the best of our people," Lewis said. "They do not want us pointing fingers at each other, trying to figure out who you can blame besides myself."

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) chided the Republican leadership for not reconvening earlier this week, as she had urged them to do. "What has been lacking this week is the sense of urgency, the judgment and the action needed to save lives," she said.

Majority Whip Ray Blunt (R-MO) said he agreed with President Bush that the results of relief efforts have not been satisfactory: "I hope lessons have been learned that we have to respond more quickly, we have to respond in the right ways and be sure our priorities are right."

Echoing comments from Mr. Bush earlier in the day, Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas said the funding approved today is "initial relief designed to meet the immediate needs of the people on the ground -- both the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and the brave men and women working around the clock to help them."

MORE: Congress Offers $10 Billion, and Criticism, for Aid Effort

5:31 p.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

The Grim View from a Biloxi Hospital

Dr. John McKee was working at the Biloxi Regional Medical Center -- located right along the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi -- when Hurricane Katrina hit. He has been there for most of the time since. McKee's own home was destroyed in the aftermath of the storm, but he says the injuries and devastation around him have prevented him from focusing too much on his own loss.

"It's not just what you see. It's the patients you see. It's the smell," McKee tells NPR's Kathy Lohr. "We haven't been able to flush toilets since the beginning... The building is sweating, our [operating room] got contaminated... The hospital is packed... The lobby -- I mean, there's tents outside the hospital. It's packed right now."

Listen to McKee Tell His Story

3:33 p.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

Police Officer Details Conditions at Superdome

A New Orleans police officer who rode out Hurricane Katrina at the Superdome, and now struggles to maintain some sense of order five days later, described the mood among the tens of thousands of refugees in the city center as stretched to the breaking point. And he tells NPR's Ed Gordon that many there feel the lack of aid has a racial component.

"The people here feel like they are being left behind because of their color," said the officer, who wished to remain anonymous. "We hear stories that FEMA is here, the National Guard is here, food is here -- but we don't see anything."

He and his fellow police officers are trapped by floodwaters, just like the rest of those crowding the Superdome and nearby convention center. "We're living out of our cars, maybe later living on the street," he says. "We're all alone -- there's no cooperation between agencies here, no one's come up with a solution."

Still, he says he and his comrades are still working to maintain order. "We're trying to show the people something is being done."

MORE: Superdome Refugees Close to Breaking Point

2:20 p.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

Corps Works to Stem Flooding in New Orleans

A helicopter drops sandbags to fill a broken section of a levee.
A helicopter drops sandbags to fill a section of a canal wall that broke, allowing floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina to fill the streets in New Orleans. · Credit: Reuters

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it expects to finish closing off New Orleans' 17th Street Canal from Lake Pontchartrain on Friday. Most of the water now covering the city came from breaches in that canal and two others.

NPR Science Correspondent David Kestenbaum reports that Blackhawk helicopters have slowly been dropping sandbags into the 17th Street Canal breach, now thought to be 450 feet long, but it will take more work to repair the gap. The Corps says a gravel road needs to be built to the site, after which the repair will take three to four days. The Louisiana Department of Transportation has been breaking up a nearby road to provide material for the work.

The city needs to fix the 17th Street Canal because it is a main route for carrying water out of New Orleans once the city's pumps are back up and running. The Corps is widening the breaks in another breached canal, the Industrial Canal, in an attempt to help water drain out that has become trapped in the area.

MORE: Q&A: Efforts to Drain New Orleans

2:05 p.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

Relief Arrives Slowly in Biloxi

There is barely any sign of an official presence in Biloxi, Miss., reports NPR's Kathy Lohr. Capt. August Pillsbury of the Salvation Army tells her that his organization opened their relief operation in Biloxi on Monday. Pillsbury is surprised and confused by the failure of other relief efforts to spring up quickly in the same area.

MORE: Gulfport Residents Call for Increased Security

12:55 p.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

Bush Says Effort So Far 'Not Acceptable'

President Bush arrived in Mobile, Ala., this morning where he began a daylong tour of the storm ravaged Gulf Coast. Before leaving the White House, Mr. Bush discussed the relief and rescue effort so far, saying "the results are not acceptable." He also said the $10.5 billion in emergency funding approved by Congress is a small down payment on recovery costs.

Under fire for grim conditions and lawlessness throughout New Orleans, the president said that the administration is working on plans for housing tens of thousands of people forced from their homes in New Orleans.

"We'll get on top of this situation," Bush said, "and we're going to help the people that need help."

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is traveling with Mr. Bush today. The department oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency and has been accused of responding sluggishly to the deadly hurricane.

MORE: Bush Requests Billions for Katrina Relief, Bush Begins Tour of Damage

12:05 p.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

Houston's Astrodome Overflows with Refugees

Refugees from New Orleans take shelter in Houston's Astrodome.
Refugees from New Orleans take shelter in Houston's Astrodome, Sept. 1, 2005. · Credit: FEMA

NPR's Robert Smith describes the scene at the Astrodome in Houston as being "just chaotic" when Red Cross officials and a fire marshal barred any more refugees from entering the building. It had only taken on 11,000 of a planned 23,000 people.

A traffic jam of over 150 busses piled up outside of the Astrodome while officials tried to find, and ready, shelter nearby for the people from New Orleans. A doctor working at the Astrodome said that there were not enough health workers or supplies there, creating a health crisis.

MORE: Astrodome Stops Taking Evacuees

11:52 a.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

Phones Fail for Everyone

The almost complete failure of the communications network in Mississippi and Louisiana has severely hampered rescue efforts. Chuck Hamby of Verizon Wireless tells NPR's Nell Boyce that the company is trying to bring cell phone networks back to life with emergency transmitters on wheels. Kelly Kirwan with Motorola says his company is working with state officials in Louisiana to get emergency responder radio networks running again. Groups are using rented satellite phones for communication while they try to rebuild their networks.

MORE: Why Louisiana Communication Networks Failed

11:37 a.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

100 Die Awaiting Rescue Near New Orleans, Lawmaker says

One hundred people have died in a crowd of more than 1,000 waiting for rescue on a pier just east of New Orleans, Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) tells NPR's Greg Allen. Up to 1,500 people have been stranded for three days on Chalmette Slip in St. Bernard Parish, La. A nearby ferry has not been able to take them to safety because it lacks a captain.

MORE: Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish Desperate for Help

11:25 a.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

Help Fails to Arrive at Convention Center

More than 2,000 people continue to wait for relief at the convention center in downtown New Orleans, only 12 blocks from the rescue command center. On Thursday officials said that relief was on the way. But people at the convention center say they have received no help.

Johnny Jackson, a refugee with his 81-year-old mother and his brother, was angry and wanted to know when the promises from politicians would end and the relief effort begin. Adrena Washington, 62, waited for help near the bodies of two dead women. She told NPR that they were already decomposing from the heat and insects, and that she heard there were more at the convention center.

MORE: Frustrations Boiling Over, 'Living Like Animals' at Convention Center

11:11 a.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

More National Guard Troops Arriving in New Orleans

About 7,000 National Guard troops arriving in Louisiana on Friday will be dedicated to restoring order in New Orleans, Lt. Gen. Steven Blum of the National Guard said. He said half of them had just returned from assignments overseas and are "highly proficient in the use of lethal force."

People trapped in the city tell NPR's John Burnett that lawlessness and gunshots have been a regular part of recent nights in New Orleans, and that a sniper ended a rescue effort by National Guardsmen at the city's Charity Hospital.

MORE: In New Orleans, Frustrations Boiling Over

11:06 a.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

New Orleans Hospital Waits for Help

On the fifth day of emergency conditions in New Orleans, Charity Hospital in the city's downtown continues to struggle with very little electricity and no plumbing for 2,000 people, many of them in critical condition.

Edward Burke, the hospital's chief financial officer, told NPR that there was an "urgent need" to evacuate patients and that rescue officials had made "no concerted effort" to do that, even though the hospital complex in only a half-mile from the city's emergency command center.

MORE: New Orleans Hospitals Barely Coping

9:48 a.m. EDT | Sept. 2, 2005 | permalink

Compiled from NPR News sources and The Associated Press

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Photos: After Katrina

Refugees at Houston's Astrodome.
Howard Berkes, NPR

See the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina, from New Orleans to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

An Aug. 31, 2005, satellite image shows the extent of flooding in New Orleans.
Digital Globe

An Aug. 31, 2005, satellite image shows the extent of flooding in New Orleans. The floodwaters are in green.


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