Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Gov’t Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education

04.23 US business schools failing on climate change

Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

04.25 Pollution From Canada’s Oil Sands May Be Underreported

04.25 High court orders UK government to explain clean air plan delay

04.25 Matt Damon: ‘Children are drinking water so dirty it looks like chocolate milk’

04.24 Disney, the Gap and Pepsi urged to quit US Chamber of Commerce ["Its a small world after all..." – Disney]

04.24 Why we joined the March for Science

04.23 The trees that make Southern California shady and green are dying. Fast. [video]

04.23 March for Science puts Earth Day focus on global opposition to Trump [videos]

04.22 Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Threat of Science Denial [4 videos]

04.22 These Images Carry a Dire Warning About Climate Change

04.22 Nearly 40 million people live in UK areas with illegal air pollution [rather than maximizing profit from fossil fuels, better policy embracing science could dramatically improve life on earth]

04.22 Bill Nye the Science Guy on Trump: 'We are in a dangerous place' [we need the opposite of Trump to advance the country and world]

04.22 Electric flying car that takes off vertically could be future of transport [videos; new solid-state lithium battery technolgy—led? by Dr. Goodenough—may double performance and recharge speed while eliminating risk of lithium battery fire]

04.22 Global 'March for Science' protests call for action on climate change

04.21 Sale Of Seawater Desalination Technology In China

04.21 Britain set for first coal-free day since the industrial revolution [Hurrah!]

04.20 How to Stop Drug Price Gouging [and why hasn't the U.S. Government done this?]

04.20 East Chicago Needs More than "Basics" from Scott Pruitt's EPA

04.20 The Monsanto Tribunal’s Legal Opinion Reinforces Movements’ Struggle for Basic Human Rights

04.20 Pollution is killing our children. Here’s how we can save them

News Media Matters

04.25 The Media Bubble Is Worse Than You Think

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

04.25 The Democrats delivered one thing in the past 100 days: disappointment

04.25 Can Donald Trump better renegotiate Nafta? Yes, by bringing back TPP04.25 Trump signals delay on border wall funding to avoid government shutdown

04.25 Would Trump supporters elect him again now?

04.25 There’s no such thing as a blue or red state. Let’s talk about real life instead

04.24 Donald Trump Has Made Socialism Cool Again

04.24 Nearing 100 Days In, Trump is Least Popular President in Modern History

04.24 Comey Tried to Shield the F.B.I. From Politics. Then He Shaped an Election.

04.23 Trump’s Organized Crime Ties Bring Blackmail to the White House

04.23 Trump: 100 days that shook the world – and the activists fighting back

Justice Matters
High Crimes?

04.25 The Palestine Exception

Economics, Crony Capitalism

04.25 The Right’s Green Awakening

04.25 Trump's Corporate Takeover Detailed 100 Days into 'For-Profit Presidency'

04.23 Elizabeth Warren on Big Banks and Their (Cozy Bedmate) Regulators

04.23 The evidence is piling up — Silicon Valley is being destroyed

04.22 THE REAL TRUMP AGENDA: HELPING BIG BUSINESS

04.22 In Latest Populist Betrayal, Trump Executive Order Unchains Wall Street Greed [misfeasance, nonfeasance, and malfeasance]

International

04.25 Two wildlife rangers killed by poachers in Democratic Republic of the Congo

04.25 Ontario plans to launch universal basic income trial run this summer

04.24 Life in Africa’s Last Colony

04.24 Trump push for border wall threatens to cause government shutdown [since inexpensive electric flying cars are about to be sold, building any wall is just stupid]

04.24 Chinese leader urges restraint over North Korea in call with Trump

04.24 Trump Thinks This Is Pro-Life?

04.24 How France Voted

04.24 Asking for Trouble on Iran

04.23 The Observer view on the French presidential election

04.23 French election 2017: voters go to the polls in wide-open contest [videos]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Hurricane Expert Threatened For Pre-Katrina Warnings
Newspaper logo

REPORT:

Hurricane Expert Threatened For Pre-Katrina Warnings

by GREG PALAST
Funny thing about the murderously failed plan for the evacuation of New Orleans: no one can find it. That's right. It's missing.
Monday, August 28. From New Orleans--Don't blame the Lady. Katrina killed no one in this town. In fact, Katrina missed the city completely, going wide to the east.

It wasn't the hurricane that drowned, suffocated, de-hydrated and starved 1,500 people that week. The killing was done by a deadly duo: a failed emergency evacuation plan combined with faulty levees. Behind these twin failures lies a tale of cronyism, profiteering and willful incompetence that takes us right to the steps of the White House.

Here's the story you haven't been told. And the man who revealed it to me, Dr. Ivor van Heerden, is putting his job on the line to tell it.

Van Heerden isn't the typical whistleblower I usually deal with. This is no minor player. He's the Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center. He's the top banana in the field -- no one knew more about how to save New Orleans from a hurricane's devastation. And no one was a bigger target of an official and corporate campaign to bury the information.

Here's what happened. Right after Katrina swamped the city, I called Washington to get a copy of the evacuation plan.

Funny thing about the murderously failed plan for the evacuation of New Orleans: no one can find it. That's right. It's missing. Maybe it got wet and sank in the flood. Whatever: no one can find it.

That's real bad. Here's the key thing about a successful emergency evacuation plan: you have to have copies of it. Lots of copies -- in fire houses and in hospitals and in the hands of every first responder. Secret evacuation plans don't work.

I know, I worked on the hurricane evacuation plan for Long Island New York, an elaborate multi-volume dossier.

Specifically, I'm talking about the plan that was written, or supposed to have been written two years ago, by a company called "Innovative Emergency Management."

Weird thing about IEM: their founder Madhu Beriwal, had no known experience in hurricane evacuations. She did, however, have a lot of experience in donating to Republicans.

IEM and FEMA did begin a draft of a plan. The plan was that, when a hurricane hit, everyone in the Crescent City would simply get the hell out in their cars. Apparently, the IEM/FEMA crew didn't know that 127,000 people in the city didn't have cars. But Dr. van Heerden knew that. It was his calculation. LSU knew where these no-car people were -- they mapped it -- and how to get them out.

Dr. van Heerden offered this life-saving info to FEMA. They wouldn't touch it. Then, a state official told him to shut up, back off or there would be consequences for van Heerden's position. This official now works for IEM.

So I asked Dr. van Heerden what happened as a result of making no plans for those without wheels, a lot of them elderly and most of them poor.

"Fifteen-hundred of them drowned. That's the bottom line." The professor, who'd been talking to me in technicalities, changed to a somber tone. "They're still finding corpses."

Van Heerden is supposed to keep his mouth shut. He won't. The deaths weigh on him. "I wasn't going to listen to those sort of threats, to let them shut me down."

Van Heerden had other disturbing news. The Hurricane Center's computer models showed the federal government had built the levees around the city a foot-and-a-half too short.

After Katrina, the Hurricane Center analyzed the flooding and found that, had the levees had just that extra 18 inches, they would have been "overtopped" for only an hour and a half, not four hours. In that case, the levees would have held, and the city would have been saved.

He had taken the warning about the levees all the way to George Bush's doorstep. "I myself briefed senior officials including somebody from the White House." The response: the university's trustees threatened his job.

While in Baton Rouge, I dropped in on the headquarters of IEM, the evacuation contractors. The assistant to the CEO insisted they had "a lot of experience with evacuation" -- but couldn't name a single city they'd planned for when they got the Big Easy contract. And still, they couldn't produce the plan.

An IEM press release in June 2004 boasted legendary expert James Lee Witt as a member of their team. That was impressive. It was also a lie. In fact, Witt had nothing to do with it. When I asked IEM point-blank if Witt's name was used as a fraudulent hook to get the contract, their spokeswoman said, weirdly, "We'll get back to you on that."

Back at LSU, van Heerden astonished me with the most serious charge of all. While showing me huge maps of the flooding, he told me the White House had withheld the information that, in fact, the levees were about to burst and by Tuesday at dawn the city, and more than a thousand people, would drown.

Van Heerden said, "FEMA knew on Monday at 11 o'clock that the levees had breached... They took video. By midnight on Monday the White House knew. But none of us knew ...I was at the State Emergency Operations Center." Because the hurricane had missed the city that Monday night, evacuation effectively stopped, assuming the city had survived.

"The City That Care Forgot" -- that's their official slogan -- lost a higher percentage of homes than Berlin lost in World War II.
It's been a full year now, and 73,000 New Orleanians remain in FEMA trailers and another 200,000, more than half the city's former residents, remain in temporary refuges. "The City That Care Forgot" -- that's their official slogan -- lost a higher percentage of homes than Berlin lost in World War II. It would be more accurate to call it, "The City That Bush Forgot."

Should they come home? Rebuild? Is it safe? Team Bush assures them there's nothing to worry about: FEMA won't respond to van Heerden's revelations. However, the Bush Administration has hired a consulting firm to fix the failed evacuation plan. The contractor? A Baton Rouge company named "Innovative Emergency Management." IEM.
Greg Palast is the author of the just-released New York Times bestseller, ARMED MADHOUSE: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War, from which is adapted. Go to www.GregPalast.com.

This investigative report about Katrina was broadcast by Democracy Now! and can be found on the program's web site. Palast's hour-long special report, "Who Drowned New Orleans?," will be broadcast on LinkTV and can be accessed via Direct TV channel 375 and Dish TV channel 9410.

Other principals who helped produce the Palast report include : Matt Pascarella, Executive Producer; Jacquie Soohen, Co-Producer, Filmographer & Editor; and Leni von Eckardt, Zach Roberts & Christy Speicher, Coordinating Producers.

At the end of the press release, the following information has been added: "James Lee Witt Associates was a member of the original team, but did not participate in the project."




Copyright © 2006 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on August 28, 2006.
 

Public Service Ads: