FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate has what he describes as a "Waffle House" theory of emergency management to assess how bad a situation is after a disaster. "If the Waffle House is open and serving food and has got a full menu, then it's green," he said during an interview inside a FEMA mobile home parked outside a fire station in Joplin. "If the Waffle House is open but has a limited menu, it's yellow, and if the Waffle House isn't open, that's red." - FEMA Gets its Groove Back
"It was always about the intersection of creativity and chaos." So said Kirsha Kaechele, described at Wikipedia as an "American contemporary art curator, artist, and practitioner of sustainable architecture," of the avant-garde Life is Art Foundation/KKProjects art happening that she carried out via Katrina flooding-devastated homes in the St. Roch area of New Orleans' Upper Ninth Ward. These homes now lie in ruins, as they did before. She owes back taxes on the homes, and city has placed tax liens worth $28,000 on two of them. While she can afford the back taxes, she says, the liens are beyond her means. A medicinal marijuana farm created to fund Life is Art failed to make enough money to fund the projects. In any case, she has spent the past five months in Tasmania with her boyfriend, professional gambler and art curator David Walsh, where he has established something called the Museum of New and Old Art. (Pause.) I believe that connects all the most relevant dots as succinctly as possible. [more inside]
New Orleans City Ordinance #26031 --...those who have not been able to make the necessary repairs to their battered homes by August 29th risk having their property seized and bulldozed by the city.... Bush says today: Katrina Repair Will Take Time, but time's up for many New Orleans residents. (more here from ACORN, who has been trying to help save homes there)
The Katrina Cottage is economical, rather charming, and can serve as a "grow" house. At $35,000 for 308 sq ft, it compares favorably to the $75k FEMA trailer. Not a totally new idea - some of the 1906 earthquake refuge shacks are still in existence in San Francisco. Might tiny houses be the future for disaster relief? (via The Blues and Then Some)
The City of Louisiana. Keith Olbermann has crystallized my thoughts exactly(embedded wmv, qt vid here) regarding the ineptness (or is it the complete indifference?) that has played out for us in the past week.
Dept. of Homeland Security: Emergencies and Disasters
Preparing America In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort. The new Department will also prioritize the important issue of citizen preparedness. Educating America's families on how best to prepare their homes for a disaster and tips for citizens on how to respond in a crisis will be given special attention at DHS.Clearly, we are in good hands.
The Matrix shatters before the eyes of the nation (sorry, WMP link) -- and on Fox News! For those old enough to remember, it's so significant that Geraldo Rivera says of conditions in the New Orleans Convention Center, "it's like Willowbrook in there." (Rivera became famous in 1972 by exposing the horrendous conditions in a home for the mentally retarded called Willowbrook; finally, after decades of degrading himself, he remembers what his job is.) And Slate's Jack Shafer on "the rebellion of the talking heads" -- the refusal of reporters on the ground in New Orleans to regurgitate the official spin. [via TalkLeft]
Innovative Emergency Management So this private company got the contract to develop the plan last year. The original release: the Baton Rouge-based emergency management and homeland security consultant, will lead the development of a catastrophic hurricane disaster plan for Southeast Louisiana and the City of New Orleans under a more than half a million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Now all press releases regarding it have been pulled from their website post-Katrina.
Tulane University Emergency Information This informational website -- almost a blog -- has replaced Tulane's regular home page, and I found it strangely compelling as it described the encroaching emergency day by day. It set me to thinking about institutional " crisis management plans" and programs in disaster management. Can you plan for a disaster with rational management science, or is it an illusion?
The business of rebuilding --A range of companies that are expected to play a role in repairing damage, clearing debris and restoring power to the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast ... Some are saying that Katrina could actually boost the Gulf Coast's economic growth for the next few years, while others are forecasting higher energy prices, commodity shortages--and even steeper coffee prices. Worse, the storm may blast inflation throughout the economy.
National Data Buoy Center (Google cache), "the premiere source of meteorological and oceanographic measurements for the marine environment" in the U.S., is located at the NASA Stennis Space Center on the Mississippi gulf coast, is a primary source of hurricane observational data, and is currently offline. At present, the U.S. spends only $50 million annually on ocean observations of vital socio-economic impact. The latest national commission for ocean policy recommended $4 billion annually, including the construction of a distributed, disaster-proof, national ocean observing system, as a component of a global system. The previous ocean commission report in 1969 resulted in the formation of NOAA and the passage of the Coastal Zone Management Act. Will Congress act? The E.U. has.
Live Local Coverage Of Hurricane Katrina New Orleans television stations WWL and WDSU are providing nonstop live coverage of Hurricane Katrina. The Mississippi Department Of Transportation has live cams along the major highways which show the massive evacuation of the coastal areas of Louisiana and Mississippi including the metropolitan areas of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. With gusts of 207 MPH this could set a new record for the largest hurricane to ever hit the United States.
Katrina targets New Orleans. Mandatory evacuations have been declared, and contraflow evacuation routes are in effect near New Orleans, as Hurricane Katrina, a very wet, drenching hurricane, approaches the city from the Gulf of Mexico, where it is gaining in size and strength, with an estimated 45% chance of making landfall as a category 4 or 5 hurricane. The computer models suggest that New Orleans will sustain a direct hit from Katrina, which could be "The Big One" warned about by experts, capable of flooding the city, polluting it with industrial waste, and even flooding the pump stations, leaving it incapable of pumping out the water. The hurricane is predicted to make landfall early Monday near Port Fourchon, which handles approximately 13% of U.S. oil imports, and 27% of U.S. domestic production.