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September 23, 2005



OMG, Blanco said that? "...these troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will." She really did? Egad. I obviously have to pay more attention. Will someone please recall that idiot? GAWD. The woman has zero concept of leadership and *obviously* zero concept of the military as human beings. Whoo-hoo! We getta go kill people! Yay! Oh sure, that's it. Trained killers... more than willing to shoot American citizens... oh LOVELY.

And here I was wondering where Sheehan came up with the "occupied New Orleans" BS.



JustOneProblem though, sorry I couldn't resist, and that is if you look at Chief Lawson's actions on a map. He stops them on the bridge and then drives them, on three commandeered buses, westward past the Superdome about 10-11 miles from the roadblock. Then he dumps them at an overpass by telling the people that this is a FEMA collection point.

Is it? I haven't found anything to suppor that. Was there any water there? Any food? Did a cop stay with that group or did they just ditch them there?

Remember those tv images of all those people sitting on the side of the road, watching the FEMA buses drive on by?

Those were the people dumped there by Lawson.

Still happy TM?


Ed, I'm always happy. When time permits I will dig through the trackbacks to some of my old posts on this - one blogger mapped out the route from the bridge to an evacuation point.

His (her?) point was that it was shorter, for hikers, to avoid the Gretna bridge and stay on the New Orleans side of the river.

But my point will be, yes, there was an evacuation point accessible by road from Gretna.

As to your theory - that the Gretna cops took 6,000 people to nowhere, but are now lying and saying they took them to an evacuation center - uh huh.

Cecil Turner

"one blogger mapped out the route from the bridge to an evacuation point."

It's from Bruce Rolston's Flit site (required reading on this one). The point most folks are missing is that evacuating eastward into Gretna is going the wrong direction (unless you circle around to the I-10 site).

And Ed, I'm not seeing your objection . . . the I-10 site is along the only feasible evacuation route, and a heckuva lot better place to be "dumped off" than Gretna.


Well, I will add one other tidbit:

Parish Sheriff Harry Lee has caused a bit of a ruckus in previous years with some comments on crime in New Orleans. A number of black officials and representatives have not taken too kindly to his comments (and that's an understatement).

BTW, Sheriff Lee is a Asian-American, about 300 or so pounds (the last time I saw him). Speaks with sort of a Cajun drawl. Quite a mixture of cultures.

And he's very popular in Jefferson Parish.



People are trying to find irrelevant motives for restoring and keeping order. That was what was needed; that was what was done. EVERY other interpretation is so much horse patootie.



1. The site specified by Chief Lawson is a highway overpass. Is it a "rescue site"? Is a highway overpass really FEMA's idea of a rescue site?

If that's the case then why did all those buses drive past them?

2. Chief Lawson didn't have any food?

Zatarain's facility in Gretna

Or how about a ...

Wal-Mart Supercenter? Aren't Wal-Mart Supercenters a combined Wal-Mart and grocery store?

Or how abougt a ...

yet another Wal-Mart Supercenter?

Or perhaps a few of the 23 grocery stores located directly in Gretna itself? After all didn't all of the residents evacuate? So did Chief Lawson and his cops need the combined resources of all these facilities?

That's quite an appetite.

Frankly I'm unwilling to take people at their word without some supporting evidence. First off I'd like to know if FEMA actually designated a highway overpass as a "rescue site" or if that was something that got pulled out of someone's ass.

But the idea that Chief Lawson didn't have access to an enormous array of resources that could have easily supported these refugees, many of whom hadn't had water in days in very high temperatures and humidity, is an outright lie.



Causeway">http://maps.yahoo.com/maps_result?name=&ed=ixs0vep_0TqmSqdFRa3NpBNIVUpBuT0sXm1laiCSnjXSA.7IJHNbeKamk1Gfg6fVkjAfGy..dLiBfFa3iTZKbNgeyfWVhpMQ1m35kNwnyp7lgsQ-&csz=New+Orleans%2C+LA+70121&desc=&mag=3&ds=n&state=LA&uzip=70121&country=US&BFKey=&cat=trav&resize=l&trf=0">Causeway Blvd & I10

Is where they got dumped.

Or the WSJ.

"For a couple of days, Dr. Guarisco said, he directed a stream of patients to what he understood was a FEMA mass-casualty tent at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Causeway Boulevard. "A number came back and said, 'there's no one there.' " Dr. Guarisco said."

So what did the cops do then? Drive these people up in buses, drop them off at an empty intersection surrounded by brackish water, note the 17th Street Canal nearby on a previously linked map, with nothing?

*shrug* maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm just talking out of my ass. But having 23 grocery stores, Zatarain's factory and two Wal-Mart Supercenters in a 3 mile radius doesn't sound like a lack of resources to me.



Perhaps a clear timeline would help clear things up. Wednesday was when these people were shipped off to Causeway Boulevard & I10. So when did FEMA get there and start picking people up? Or did they bypass that site and go directly to the Superdome and Convention Center? And when did the buses arrive? Wasn't it around Saturday?


Ed, you're asking why Gretna didn't have a sophisticated and comprehensive plan in place for tens of thousands of unexpected refugees. Get real, here.


Woulda Coulda Shoulda not stepped in that horse patootie.


And, believe it or not, there is a serious point in there. Woulda, Coulda, and Shoulda are important elements of deconstructing this disaster and improving future response. Still attempting to slant to fix blame is stepping in horse patootie. Tagging the Gretna police with all of these Couldas, when what they Dida was to keep order, under challenging circumstances, with changing tactics, warps the debate.

The after-action report is for improvement, not for warping history tooting one's own horn or muting another's.

It's Horse Patooting, and it's counterproductive.


The problem is, Ed, that if you try to hook ideology or blame to it, you will have otherwise sensible people get defensive and fail to see the best practical solutions.

So get together here and help out. Forgive and understand a little.

(Just practicing my speechwriting for Hillary).

Cecil Turner

"1. The site specified by Chief Lawson is a highway overpass. Is it a "rescue site"? Is a highway overpass really FEMA's idea of a rescue site?"

It was a designated "staging area" where they brought people they rescued (for subsequent transport via the Airport or Baton Rouge).

Evacuees are being flown to a staging area at the Causeway Boulevard overpass for triage, then transported by helicopter or ambulance to hospitals around Louisiana or in other states depending on their condition.
And yes, buses were slow. Here's a survivor story:
The convoy took us to the second staging area, and as we drove there were fires all along. There were 35 people in my particular truck to Causeway Boulevard. Every two minutes three or four helicopters at a time were bringing evacuees there. About every hour there were 8-10 charter buses and these people rushing to get on. They had a triage area helping people. That was the first organized, if you can call it that, evacuation operation that I saw.
Here's a doctor's view:
As I neared Causeway and I-10, I could see a mass of police cars and people. . . Helicopters were landing on the Westbound circle and having evacuees walk from the helicopters across the I-10 median . . . 2000-3000 people on the edge of the Interstate: standing, sitting, or lying down behind barricades . . . Supplies were very low. . . . A highway of patients. The helicopters continued to land.
"So did Chief Lawson and his cops need the combined resources of all these facilities?"

I see. The "plan" is to take 'em all down to the Wal Mart and wait for the buses? (Lawson can direct: "you 10,000 go over there . . . you 10,000 over there." "No bunching up, now!") Somehow I don't think so. Moving the folks along to the next designated staging area seems reasonable, as does telling them to go back and wait when that's no longer feasible. Blaming the Gretna police for NO's poor evacuation planning is misplaced.


Great post as usual.

IIRC, Lawson said on WWL radio that no one was being allowed into Gretna during that period. Not even residents. The entire town was shut down.

I'm really unclear as to what this debate or argument is over. The city of Gretna didn't have the resources - personnel, food, water, medicine, et cetera - to handle an influx of thousands (tens of thousands?) of evacuees from New Orleans. The best they could do was to ferry or direct people escaping from the city into areas where it would be easier to airlift or deliver supplies to them.

The Causeway Boulevard (I've driven over it hundreds of times when in NO visiting relatives) - is a very long stretch of road that is well above aground and passes over the I-10 main highway - would be the best place to ferry people. Little chance of flooding, easier to land supplies et cetera.

Sound and fury....


richard mcenroe

Since the local news here in Los Angeles (KTLA) had a reporter on scene at what I take to have been this site, while the Chinooks and Blackhawks were shuttling in and out, I'm pretty sure it was a collection point, at least at some point in time.

And Ed, you're right of course, Sheriff Lee should have given away all the contents of those stores to the refugees. Not like his own residents were gonna need anything.

Mike H

Right now. Arrest and bring Lawson up on charges and stop the chatter. He should get 20 years. In a disaster, a local official does not operate a fiefdom independant of state and federal.

Cecil Turner

"Sheriff Lee should have given away all the contents of those stores"

I'm not sure how that was feasible, With only a few officers at his disposal (and those obviously being needed for crowd control). And again, Flit's graphic is critical to understanding the situation. He's got ~25,000 very annoyed folks sitting in the Convention Center, preparing to march over his bridge, and he's already got fires and looting. He can either allow them to cross over his bridge (and take responsibility for the inevitable), or stop them. He can't whistle up a couple hundred tons of food and water and deliver it.

"In a disaster, a local official does not operate a fiefdom independant of state and federal."

Utter nonsense. There was no state directive or federal plan the Gretna officials were ignoring. The NO mayor, after miserably failing to execute his own evacuation plan . . . and discovering he had a serious situation developing at the convention center, decided to foist it off on Gretna:

Nagin advised those gathered at the center to march over the Crescent City Connection bridge to the west bank of the Mississippi River to find relief in neighboring Jefferson Parish.
You want to blame someone for this, look at the NO officials, not the police force in Gretna (who apparently were on-the-job, and showing commendable initiative in unplanned evacuations to the I-10 staging area . . . in marked contrast to their compatriots across the river).


Mike H.:
"Arrest and bring Lawson up on charges and stop the chatter. He should get 20 years."

Charges for exactly (or even vaguley) what crime? Twenty years for violation of what law or statute?

I'm certainly no lawyer but I doubt there's anything in the US Code (or state code) that would apply here. What law or laws are you talking about?

The city of Gretna, according to Aaron Broussard, Sherriff Lee and Chief Swanson, had no resources to deal with the influx of people from the city. What were they supposed to do with the evacuees?

The chatter you're referring to is the facts of the matter. A very tragic, ugly situation, to be sure, but one where the authorities seem to have made the best of a bad situation.

Maybe they're all lying; maybe Gretna did indeed have water and food to handle an influx of evacuees. But right now, there's no evidence of that.



Oh, yeah, brilliant idea. They shoulda let the people who burnt the strip mall go and burn the zatarains, 2 walmarts and 23 grocery stores. That would have be real helpful...

cathy :-)


The MiaSMa rose from pools of floodwaters. It vivexed into the stream of news and consciousness. With the fever came delirium, reflections in a jaundiced eye. Call a doctor for the reporter and the Code Blue team for the Democrats.

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