America is slowly moving towards anarchy
USA: His name was "Katrina" - The Chronology of the Disaster in Lousiana
A nameless low
Tuesday 23 August
On Tuesday the week before last, at five p.m. local time, the American National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, published a routine broadcast. Their content: The Bahamas authorities have reported a storm warning for the central and northwestern part of the archipelago. The "tropical low number twelve" is located about 23.2 degrees north and 75.5 degrees west, about 280 kilometers northeast of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. The low moves at a speed of 13 kilometers per hour in a northwesterly direction, the wind force is a maximum of 55 kilometers per hour. That didn't sound too alarming, even if the message contained a warning that the low "could turn into a tropical storm later Wednesday."
The contents of the Bulletin of the National Hurricane Center appeared in the newspapers as a short message, and there was a storm warning for Florida.
In New Orleans hardly anyone wasted a thought on “tropical low number twelve” Tuesday evening, especially not the night owls in the French Quarter. Like every evening there was a lot going on there. The All Purpose Blues Band played at Club 544, the New Orleans Beat Street Combo at Crescent City Brewhouse, and an acoustic jam session was the order of the day at Checkpoint Charlie.
1500 kilometers to the southeast, the storm is gaining force.
Wednesday August 24th
This morning, the hurricane experts find that tropical low number twelve has grown into a tropical storm. It is given a name for cataloging: "Katrina".
At first, Katrina slowly moves forward towards Florida. There the warnings are amplified. Jazz can be heard in downtown New Orleans that evening as well. The New Orleans Spice Jazz Band plays on the restaurant ship Creole Queen, in Checkpoint Charlie there is blues from a certain Domenic.
Katrina hasn't made a name for herself here yet.
A taste: Florida
Thursday, August 25th
Katrina is upgraded to a hurricane and lurks off the coast of Florida. Inside the vortex, winds of 120 kilometers per hour are measured, and Katrina is slowly approaching. On Thursday afternoon, the eye of the hurricane is 25 miles from the city of Fort Lauderdale. In the evening, the hurricane swept across southern Florida for several hours, covering roofs and devastating three caravan parks. Seven people die.
Katrina is not finished yet. It's another 890 kilometers to New Orleans.
Concern about New Orleans
Friday, August 26th
In the morning, Katrina is temporarily downgraded to a tropical storm, but the storm builds up again on the way south across the Gulf of Mexico. Katrina sets course again for the USA, this time the states of Mississippi and Louisiana are threatened. The forecasts are worrying: Katrina is expected to reach the mainland on Monday afternoon and by then it will grow into a Category 4 hurricane - that means wind speeds between 210 and 150 miles per hour.
The authorities of the two states have declared a state of emergency. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco says "very good evacuations" are planned. The main concern is New Orleans, the 35th largest city in the United States, which is largely below sea level.
Now “The Big Easy” has been warned. Difficult trials await the “great light-heartedness” of the metropolis of the south, to which New Orleans owes its pseudonym.
TV broadcasters publish rules of conduct for emergencies. Under the title “Prepare now!”, The local TV station of the television network ABC, broadcasting on channel 26, lists tips on which supplies to store, which part of the house is the safest and how to increase its stability “when you have $ 1,500 can spare ”.
But it's too late for that.
"It's time to get busy"
Saturday, August 27th
Elaine Collins, an employee at a state hospital, is instructed in the morning to clear the hospital with all of her colleagues. She calls her husband and tells him that she is leaving town. Her daughter Taishi works in a downtown New Orleans hotel, she wants to stay. Family members part ways. Days later, Elaine is desperate to search for her husband and daughter on the Internet.
The eye of Hurricane Katrina moves west at around eleven kilometers per hour. But soon, so forecast weather researchers, Katrina will turn northwest, possibly directly towards New Orleans.
"It's time to get busy," advises ABC on channel 26. "Close the window bars, fix chipboard in front of the windows and glass doors!"
Sunday 28th August
The escape begins. “This is not a test. This is the real thing. This hurricane has New Orleans in its sights, ”warns Mayor Ray Nagin in a press conference. All highways in Louisiana and Mississippi will be set up for northbound traffic only. Long lines of cars recede from New Orleans. The evacuation of the city is theoretically compulsory - but anyone who wants to stay is not prevented from doing so. All flights from New Orleans are fully booked, regardless of the destination. Those who no longer get a flight or do not own a car are poor.
Steve Godfrey, a New Orleans bicycle activist, escapes by bicycle. He is on the road all day before he reaches Baton Rouge, 120 kilometers away.
Driving becomes a test of patience, petrol is sold out at petrol stations and hotels are overcrowded. A journalist from the TV station 11 News reports on the very last open gas station along the interstate arterial road. In a car he counts three people, nine dogs and four cats. Anyone who ends up stranded in a motel is trying to get news about their abandoned house. “Everything I own, know and love is about to be flooded,” writes a New Orleans refugee in a weblog.
"The longer you wait, the greater the danger and the more difficult it is to escape," warns ABC on channel 26.
In the Superdome, where up to 77,000 spectators follow the games of the New Orleans Saints during the football season, seats are allocated and food is distributed. So far, 9,000 people have sought refuge in this emergency shelter, hundreds of them in wheelchairs. It is already becoming apparent how unsuitable the stadium will be as a crowd: the air conditioning is not connected to the emergency equipment, and the sanitary facilities cannot be used in the event of a flood.
But for the time being, all of this seems secondary. “I just want to be safe,” says Curtis Cockran, 54, a diabetic and handicapped.
The National Weather Service issues a dramatic announcement: “Large areas will be uninhabitable for weeks or more. People, pets and livestock exposed to the storm will certainly not survive the encounter. "
Katrina is upgraded to Category 5 and is heading for the coast at wind speeds of up to 280 kilometers per hour. Cyclones of this magnitude can simply blow over smaller houses.
“God save us,” says Mayor Nagin.
It could have been worse
Monday 29th August
The day of the announced disaster. "Oh my god, he's coming," writes a New Orleans resident on a weblog. At 6:10 a.m. local time, Katrina reached the Louisiana coast south of New Orleans. The center of the hurricane misses the city, Katrina has drifted a little to the east beforehand.
Most of the dams hold, it is initially said, only in the east of the city the water spilled over the dams into the streets in some places. The power went out, parts of the telephone network were paralyzed, the roof of the Superdome was damaged.
But the worst seems to be over, and it could have been worse. There is talk of 55 dead, significant damage, and Mayor Nagin says it will be about 48 hours before residents can return to the city. Katrina will be downgraded to a tropical storm again Monday night.
In the city of Biloxi, 125 kilometers east of New Orleans, people have fled to treetops. The water is meters high. The storm raised the sea between the cities of Gulfport and Biloxi by more than six meters and pushed it inland.
In the French Quarter, police patrols drive through the streets and give instructions over loudspeakers: “The French Quarter is closed. There is an emergency. Leave the streets or you will be arrested. ”But the remaining residents breathe a sigh of relief, they almost feel like celebrating. Johnny White’s Sport Bar on Bourbon Street is open.
Everything went well.
The city is going under
Tuesday, August 30th
When Jessica Fremarek looks out of the window from her ground floor apartment with a view of the lake in the morning, she panics. The water rises threateningly. The apartment is under water within ten minutes. Jessica and her boyfriend Donny Le catch their six cats and run up one floor, break into an apartment there and get to safety.
Suddenly the water starts to rise all over New Orleans. The 17th Street Canal embankment broke 60 meters in length. There is a gap of over 100 meters in the embankment of the London Avenue Canal, and the embankment of the Industrial Canal also failed to withstand the pressure in two places.
New Orleans streets that were vacant immediately after the storm are now flooded. The water is knee-deep around the Superdome. Pumps fail, attempts to repair the dams with sandbags fail, and the authorities helplessly watch as the basin in which New Orleans is located is filled with water.
Katrina struck after a delay. The population survived the hurricane to some extent, but now they are trapped.
In the town of Slidell, Louisiana, two residents ventured back on Tuesday to their home that they had left for fear of the hurricane. They are found dead at 11:53 a.m.
On a street near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, reporters meet a man named Joe O'Neil, who is wearing only shorts. O'Neil had tried to defy Katrina in his house, where he was hiding behind the fireplace. When the storm subsided and the water rose, O'Neil swam through the window and continued towards the main road, which he reached after hours. From there he went barefoot to the next big intersection and waited. While the reporters are talking to him, a truck stops and a woman jumps out screaming. It's Joe O'Neil's sister. She didn't think it was possible that her brother got away alive.
People are storming the shops on Canal Street in New Orleans. A reporter asks a man with a dozen jeans on his arm if he wants to save the things from his store. “No, we all own the shop now!” Shouts the man.
Monday evening it was said that everything could have turned out much worse. Now it's going to be as bad as it can be. Countless residents sit helplessly on the roofs of the houses, the Superdome is cut off from the outside world. Governor Blanco told journalists that she was looking for ways to get people out of the stadium and was fighting back tears. “It breaks your heart,” she says.
It is evening in New Orleans. All hopes of the previous day were disappointed. The prayers were not answered, the city went under.
Rescuers are instructed not to take care of bodies while people can be rescued. At 6.41 a.m. the attempts to close the broken dam on the 17th Street Canal were stopped unsuccessfully. The water slowly reaches a height and thus also a depth of up to five meters.
Trent Lott, the Mississippi Senator, calls on President George W. Bush to visit the hard-hit state: “The people of Mississippi are devastated. You need your help! "
As night falls, Mayor Ray Nagin estimates that "hundreds, if not thousands, are still stuck on roofs and attics, clinging to pipes." 3,000 people had already been saved.
In the French Quarter, one of the highest districts in the city, Johnny White’s Sport Bar will also remain open Tuesday evenings, reports a local newspaper. Six guests are drinking at the bar.
Wednesday August 31st
Day breaks and the water no longer rises because the water level in the city has reached the same height as Lake Pontchartrain.
Wherever a piece of land protrudes from the waters, people gather and wait. Several hundred residents stand lost on the driveway to St. Claude Bridge, amidst shattered glass, plastic bags with their belongings in their hands. They are dropped here after being collected from rooftops and hope to be taken somewhere else.
One of the engineers said in an interview that the dams around the city were only dimensioned for category 3 hurricanes, "that was our job". The hole on the 17th Street Canal is to be filled with sandbags again.
The looting is becoming more and more frightening. A wholesale market of the Wal-Mart chain in the Lower Garden District is completely emptied, among other things the firearms that could be bought there are missing. A policeman is shot in the head. The authorities increase the number of armed officers by another 70 and send an armored vehicle. But the majority of the emergency services are still busy saving people. Many residents no longer dare to leave their hiding places. A driver is forced to get out at gunpoint. Gangs systematically roam the city, pillaging. A stolen forklift is used to break down shop shutters.
Like many others, two children stand on the roof of an apartment block and hold a sign that reads “Help us”.
On another roof it is written in red: “Diabetic, heart transplant, need removal”. A Blackhawk helicopter picks up eight people.
Austrian Dagmar Schröder, who has stayed at her workplace, a hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans, takes advantage of the fact that the neighborhood has not yet been flooded and breaks in her car, despite the uncertainty of how far she will get. Heading west on: “Communication was only possible via SMS. Everything else collapsed, ”the 22-year-old later told profil. She makes it to Houston via Baton Rouge.
At three o'clock in the afternoon, President Bush, who has broken off his vacation in Texas, flies aboard Air Force One at low altitude over the disaster area and on to Washington. He later gave a brief address from the Rose Garden of the White House and said that it would take years to rebuild New Orleans, "but we will do it." The "New York Times" writes of the "worst speech by the president". Bush went public a day too late and only read technical details and showed no concern.
Mayor Ray Nagin estimates "thousands" have died in New Orleans and the number is rising rapidly. Rescue workers who are called to certain addresses cannot find their way because the street signs are under water. Rescued people are extremely weak from the heat and lack of drinking water.
There is heat, stench and crampedness in the Superdome. It is the poorest in town who are waiting for help here. Five people are said to have already died: three sick people, a refugee and a man who is said to have thrown himself from the stands. In addition, there is said to have been violence and sexual assault among those trapped. The evacuation of the Superdome begins in the evening. Buses take the first group to the Astrodome Stadium in Houston, Texas.
In the evening, Mayor Ray Nagin declared martial law, although the judicial authorities of Louisiana deny him this competence. Nagin instructs the police to "do what is necessary" to regain control of the city.
Anarchy and chaos
Thursday September 1st
There is anarchy in New Orleans. The evacuation of the Superdome also has to be interrupted because a military helicopter, which is supposed to monitor the operation from the air, is being shot at. Fires are always set on the Superdome. The National Guard promises to send another 100 armed officers. “That's not enough, we need 1000,” replies the head of the evacuation unit, Richard Zeuschlag.
A total of 28,000 soldiers are deployed in the disaster area, more than ever before after a natural disaster in the USA. But even on the fourth day after the disaster, there is unimaginable chaos.
Norman McSwain, trauma surgeon at the charity clinic, makes a desperate appeal to the public via the Associated Press news agency. Food and electricity were running low and patients had to be taken to the upper floors of the building to protect them from looters. The sick only got a fruit punch to eat, everything else had been used up, the doctor said.
The aid teams try to reach the hospitals by helicopter, but they are repeatedly shot at by unnerved neighbors who want to be rescued themselves.
Buses with refugees leave the Superdome again and again in the direction of Texas, but because the evacuation is very slow, fights break out between the refugees over the seats in the buses.
Along the arterial roads people beg for drinking water with cups. Corpses are floating in the floods, the risk of epidemics is growing, and the government is declaring a health emergency.
A national shame
Friday September 2nd
After the flood, the next plague hits New Orleans: flames. In the early morning hours, the completely unlit town is lit by fires that broke out after explosions in the area of a railway shed. Police officers do not come to duty, in some areas up to 60 percent of the officers are absent.
A flood refugee who was accepted into the Convention Center reports that the sick and the elderly are dying, and that women and children are beaten and raped.
The army tries again to plug the holes in the dams with sandbags.
But the residents of the disaster region are at the end of their patience. On the fifth day since Katrina raged, the evacuation is still not in full swing, care for those trapped is inadequate and the security situation is unbearable.
The Austrian university professor Manfred Prisching is still stuck in the badly damaged Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans - in 36 degrees heat, without electricity and functioning sanitary facilities and with half a liter of water a day. Martin Krämer, Austrian Consul General in Washington, has bad news for Prisching: "The US authorities expect up to seven more days before foreigners can leave the city."
In an interview with the government, Mayor Ray Nagin takes a hard line: "They have no clue how things are going here." Every damn greyhound bus in the nation should be on its way here! ”Alluding rightly to President Bush, Nagin demands,“ Somebody's got to move his ass here. ”Nagin, at this point the de facto mayor of a reservoir, has little to lose And all the more he wants to get rid of: "Thousands have died there, and thousands more die every day, and we can't get it to organize the help?"
Anger is omnipresent. Refugees in the Superdome roar into the TV cameras and microphones, and the journalists working on site are also losing their composure. A reporter snaps at Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu for not understanding why politicians kept congratulating each other on their efforts while the bodies of rats were being devoured in the streets. Landrieu replied that there will be a time when "all of these things can be discussed."
A CNN presenter asks Michael Brown, director of the state crisis management agency FEMA, why food was thrown from the air in the Indonesian province of Banda Aceh two days after the tsunami, while in New Orleans five days after Katrina such aid could be thrown fail. Brown defends himself: he “does not want to judge why many residents of New Orleans stayed in the city despite the forced evacuation”, but the high number of victims was ultimately due to this. Given the circumstances, the relief efforts went “relatively well”.
Few shared this impression. In addition, the so-called “forced evacuation” was little more than a call to leave the city. A tenth of the residents of New Orleans did not own a car before the disaster, so many were unable to escape.
It is "a national shame" how slowly aid is arriving, says Terry Ebert, the security chief of New Orleans. "I'm ashamed of America," says Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.
Finally, President Bush also has to admit that the aid measures are inadequate. In the late morning he flies to the crisis region and for the first time gets an idea of the situation on site. "What does not work well, we will make it work well," says the President, "we will restore order here."
Katrina has long since moved northeast from New Orleans and reached New England. The last warning issued by the National Hurricane Center with the number 37, on Wednesday at eleven o'clock night, states: "The remnants of Katrina have been absorbed in the frontal zone."
Katrina doesn't exist anymore. The hurricane lasted a week. The southerners will never forget him.
By Robert Treichler
Collaboration: Simone Leonhartsberger, Monika Zach
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