Tuesday, October 11, 2005.

Yesterday wasn't particularly interesting, but today I did a system recovery for a client and everything I touched, worked.  Well, except that the primary drive in the server failed, but the secondary drive booted and it did come up...  



Before I bore you with politics, here are the pictures of the day.

Some train tracks in Waveland, MS.  You could probably charge money for that ride.  Looks like a rollercoaster.  Notice the house in the background that was washed onto the tracks.

The Aiken Road Gang Will Return!  Also out of Waveland.

This is one of the ride signs in City Park.  'You must be 46" tall or more to ride this attraction unless accompanied by an adult'  The high water mark is at 35".

I think that if these people are going to try to move their house, they're going to need a MUCH larger vehicle... 


OK on to polyticks...

While the entire New Orleans Reconstruction idea had me hopeful for a little while, things are quickly moving from the air of cooperation to the foul stench of business as usual.  Some examples:

Sour-puss Kathy Blanco draws a big zero for quashing Mayor Nagin's idea of turning New Orleans into a gambling Mecca.  While I'm not personally thrilled with that idea, it isn't like Kathy is coming up with anything on her own.  It's enough for her to sit up in the Governor's Mansion eating bon-bons or something and quashing everybody else's ideas.  "I have never believed that gambling should be the base on which to build our economy," she said.  Thanks Kathy.  Why don't you try telling us what you DO believe should be the base of our economy?  

Then, of course, we have another famous Democrat dicking up the works.  His mean the Reverend Jesse Jackson.  First Jesse has a brilliant idea to collect all the poor unfortunates with no way to get back here onto busses and drive them on back.  He went on and on about how local people could do the jobs that needed doing, and that they should be given the opportunity to return.  Funny.  I didn't see him bringing any buses to evacuate all the people who were dying after the storm.  I didn't see him stepping up to rescue anyone or provide any leadership for 'his people'.  He wanted 600, but only got 200, and then gave a lame excuse for that.  After all his ranting and raving about returning locals to their rightful city, it turns out that his bus is full of non-New Orleanians.  Brilliant.  When pressed as to how many of the job seekers were from the New Orleans area, Jackson said he didn’t know.

On the other hand, the Feds - with the blessing of the local government - wants to put a big FEMA trailer park on the golf course in Oak Harbor.  It's a fairly nice community, but it doesn't have any services to handle a trailer park.  More brilliance.

New Orleans has decided to enforce a curfew in the French Quarter, closing all the bars.  "Yeah!  We want all the business to come back!  Oh, and by the way, you have to shut down during your busiest time."  Brilliant?  Check.

Then, of course, there is this article talking about my favorite subject:

Workers' lives were priority, Jeff says

Pump employees' evacuation described

By Michelle Krupa 
West Bank bureau

Emphasizing that no safe place exists in Jefferson Parish during a storm stronger than Category 3, parish officials on Monday defended their reasoning and detailed their timeline for evacuating some 1,100 essential employees, including more than 200 critical pump station workers, as Hurricane Katrina bore down on southeast Louisiana.

OK.  No safe place.  That's why some of the parish officials stayed in the hospitals.  Because they were unsafe.  Um...  Yeah.  Makes perfect sense to me.

Aware of residents' growing anger over street flooding that occurred while pump stations parishwide sat vacant for 24 to 36 hours on Aug. 28-29, top directors for Parish President Aaron Broussard said they aimed to protect employees' lives over property when they shipped workers, along with 700 parish vehicles, more than 100 miles north to Mount Hermon, La., near the Mississippi border.

It's just such a total cop-out answer that it's ridiculous to even have to explain it.  What about all the lives they ABANDONED here?

Officials admitted, however, that the sheer distance to the Washington Parish schools where most workers weathered Katrina, coupled with a virtual communications blackout among evacuees and 11 top Jefferson administrators who stayed at the Emergency Operations Center in Marrero, have made them consider tweaking their "doomsday" plan, possibly to send staff westward if another storm were to approach on or near Katrina's path.

How about coming up with a plan to keep the pumps running WHEN WE NEED THEM THE MOST!?  

"It's not safe putting them in this parish; we don't have anything that can withstand a (Category) 4 or 5," Broussard said Monday during a three-hour meeting with The Times-Picayune. "But is the north shore the best perfect spot to put these pump operators? ... We've got to find higher ground to the west."

Where were all the parish officials, cops, firemen, and hospital patients? Does anyone from parish government realize that the pump houses are generally built with 4 foot thick concrete slabs that the engines sit on, and that the walls are 9" steel reinforced poured concrete?  Hmmm?

Broussard's top aide, Tim Whitmer, said parish officials also have thrown open their handbook for disaster planning and have considered suggestions such as training workers of Jefferson's municipalities to man parish pump stations. Some Kenner officials, reeling in light of major street flooding there, volunteered last week to learn to operate the stations and to stay in Jefferson during dangerous storms.

Ah!  Men with courage are to be found in Kenner?  Who'd a thunk it!?  I'm for that.  Train some local folks.

However, Whitmer and directors of Jefferson's public works, drainage and pump stations departments said reopening a pump station, especially during a time of massive flooding and gale winds, is not a simple task.

No kidding.  Neither is fire fighting.  Neither is police work.  I mean, if I were a fireman and I showed up at Aaron or Walter's house - which happend to be on fire - and I said, "Well, we're not going to try to put your house out because that's kind of dangerous, and we have to put life over property." I wonder how they would respond to that?

Mistakes by inexperienced personnel, they said, could hamper relief efforts and cause damage to equipment that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take many years to repair.

As opposed to the MILLIONS of dollars of damage done by flood waters to our homes, which will take many years to repair?  

"It's not just a matter of walking in and turning a switch with one guy," Whitmer said, adding that the parish's largest stations are manned by as many as 25 workers, some charged with clearing grates with rakes and hoes.

Was flooding worse?

Further, officials said, they have begun studying whether the evacuation of personnel from 20 manned pump stations around 7 p.m. on Aug. 28, the day before Katrina's landfall, exacerbated flooding in any part of the parish.

"Our belief is that there was not additional flooding because there were people not there," said Greg Buisson, a political consultant to Broussard who spoke Monday on behalf of the parish president's administration. "We're probing deeper to see if that is, in fact, not true."

OK...  So, we have a political consultant making a statement about fluid engineering that is favorable to the idiot in question.  Um...  Come on, folks.  Is that the best you can really do.  I mean, this has gone to the bunny bitch slap level at this point.  I mean, is anybody actually stupid enough to believe that there was no additional flooding just because the pumps were turned off?  If the pumps don't prevent any flooding, why do we have them at all?  Gee.  We can save all that money and just get rid of them!  Brilliant!

In the weeks following Katrina, Broussard has touted with vehemence his decision to pull pump workers away from their stations as hurricane bands intensified across the parish. Forcing the workers, who earn "laborers" wages, to maintain their posts would have amounted to a "death sentence," he said Monday.

So I guess that the cops, firemen, and everybody else who stayed was OK with their death sentence?

Broussard said his final judgment was triggered by a mid-afternoon phone call Aug. 28 from National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield to Walter Maestri, Jefferson's emergency management chief.

Maxfield warned Maestri that Katrina's path had shifted west, toward the New Orleans area, Maestri said. The information set into motion Jefferson's "doomsday" plan, created in 1998 in the wake of Hurricane Georges.

Ah.  Yes.  Blame it on the plan.  "We were just following someone else's plan folks.  We were far too incompetent to come up with anything better than to just let the ship sink, so we let the ship sink.  And guess what?  We're not even sorry!"

By 3 p.m., about 900 employees from public works departments, including streets, drainage and recreation, were heading toward Mount Hermon, chosen because it was north of the inundation basin below Interstate 12. Meanwhile, the 11 top administrators, including Broussard, remained at the emergency operations center. "We put life jackets on the fourth floor of the EOC and tethered boats to the roof," said Maestri, who was among the holdouts.

So they gave themselves a death sentence?  Hmmm...

Top officials also sent a directive to pump station personnel. "We told them: 'Pump everything down. Get as much of the water out of without sucking in the walls of the canals,' " Maestri said. Public Works Department Director Jose Gonzalez said water levels in most canals were reduced to 8 feet or 8 1/2 feet, the most shallow depth possible without damaging infrastructure.

Pumps cannot be left running without workers in the stations, he added.

Broussard and Maestri said they never considered assigning essential employees, including the pump operators, to ride out the storm at three Jefferson hospitals -- West Jefferson Medical Center, East Jefferson General Hospital or Ochsner Clinic Foundation -- that operated without pause during Katrina.

'That's not the plan'

First, parish workers did not meet triage criteria established by the Jefferson Parish Medical Society, which allows entry to those facilities only by critically ill patients for whom evacuation travel would be deadly, Maestri said. More importantly, though, the hospitals were not built to withstand serious hurricanes and therefore were not set as evacuation sites. "That's not the plan," Maestri said.

This is so stupid that I can't think of anything clever to say about it...

Further, "safe houses" capable of weathering a Category 5 storm were not available at any pump station, making it impossible to leave pump operators in place, he said. Because of limited federal financing, construction of the steel dwellings was only 35 percent complete at five parish pump stations, all on the West Bank, when Katrina struck.

When they returned to Jefferson after 7 p.m. on Aug. 29, employees found pump stations in varying states, public works directors said. All sites suffered some damage; two lost their roofs. Officials still were compiling a chronology Monday of when pumps restarted after Katrina and whether antiquated valve systems at some stations actually functioned better than compressed air systems to keep the lake from spilling into Metairie.

Broussard said, however, that the task is not as high a priority as restarting Jefferson's economy and that the whole truth probably will come out as a result of lawsuits expected to be lodged by flood victims.

"This is going to unfold in a TV drama-like," Broussard said. "If we've left anything out, subpoenas will get the rest."

That's the end of that article...but wait!  There's another one!

Jeff Parish leaders again defend decision to leave pumps unmanned during Katrina

05:59 PM CDT on Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Six weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the metropolitan area, Jefferson Parish officials are still defending their decision to leave the parish’s pumping stations unmanned, a decision many residents say caused some of the flooding that has devastated much of Jefferson.

Maestri defended the evacuation of hundreds of essential personnel in front of a panel of lawmakers, saying that when the powerful storm was about to hit, the pumping stations were not a safe place for anyone.

"There are no buildings in Jefferson Parish,” he said to the panel. “Let me state it again, there are no buildings, that can handle a category-4 or five hurricane."

Then why did you stay, Mr. Maestri?  Were you attempting to commit suicide?

Maestri said life will always come before property for him and he questioned those who say that having the pumps manned would have prevented the flooding.

"There is no evidence, no scientific evidence that can indicate that the flooding was caused because the pumps weren't on."

THEN WHY DO WE HAVE PUMPS AT ALL!?  If pumps don't reduce flooding, then why do we have them.  For this one, we need to go all the way to the Flaming Idiot Award.  Here you go Mr. Maestri.  One Flaming Idiot Award just for you:

Unlike Jefferson Parish, officials in New Orleans kept their pump station workers at their post for the storm.

At Pumping Station Number One, Kevin Martin rode out the storm and said it was something he won’t soon forget.

"When everything went bad, and they didn't, they said helicopters were coming and nobody came,” he recalled. “We had to stay overnight with the water rising and you didn't know how high the water was going to get after the levees broke. I wasn’t too cheery about that."

Martin said that with no electricity and water coming up to knee level, staying behind entailed many risks – risks he might not be willing to take again.

"I would hope they would have meetings about this and they let us who are in here have our input about it, but with that type of hurricane coming down to the city, I don't think we should have stayed,"

Maestri said he’s relieved that his employees didn’t have to experience what Martin went through, but he concedes that the parish may be hit with a series of lawsuits filed by those who have come home to flooded houses.

Yeah, it's called malfeasance or some such...


Has anybody else noticed that the FEMA website pictures are kind of racist?  I mean they show white folks helping black folks.  Shouldn't they also show black folks helping white folks?  

Yes, that's an incredibly stupid thing to say, but I wanted to make sure that I got to say something incredibly stupid first.  Of course, in the next few days, this will become a national story.  Expect Kathy, Aaron, Walter, and Jesse to all have something to say about it.  They're all such brilliant people, I'm sure they'll be right on top of it.







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