tagged w/ Hurricane Gustav
Four years since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, there are still nearly 3,000 mobile homes and trailers across the Gulf Coast housing victims of that disaster.
In Louisiana, there are 2,100 families living in trailers, most of them homeowners struggling to rebuild their homes, according to figures released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Mississippi has 781 families in trailers.
The numbers are down considerably from the 134,000 temporary trailers and mobile homes that dotted the Gulf Coast immediately after Katrina slammed the area in August 2005, leading to nearly 1,800 dead and thousands more homeless. Some trailer dwellers are also victims of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which hit Louisiana last summer.
The federal government has made it a priority to vacate the temporary trailers, particularly after formaldehyde and toxics were found in the trailers. This month, FEMA and HUD announced programs to help extradite residents from the trailers, including $50 million in housing vouchers.
Slow-moving federal housing funds, elderly and disabled residents unable to navigate the system, and a lack of affordable rental units have kept them from completely emptying, said Crystal Utley of the Mississippi Center for Justice, which provides legal advice to disaster victims. Escalating insurance rates in the affected areas have also made it difficult, she said.Four years since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, there are still nearly 3,000... more
Perdue Delayed Asking For Gas Shortage Help
Governor Is In Europe On Week-Long Trip
ATLANTA -- While other southeastern states were asking for help with gas shortages, Gov. Sonny Perdue waited a week before requesting a waiver freeing up extra gas for Georgia.
Officials in Kentucky asked on Monday, Sept. 15, for a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency to lift restrictions requiring special gas. It was granted the following day.
Virginia and Tennessee also asked for similar waivers after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike struck the Gulf Coast, knocking out oil refineries.
On Sept. 22, a week after Kentucky's request, Gov. Perdue sent a letter to the EPA. The agency granted the waiver for Georgia the next day.
The waiver from the EPA lifts restrictions requiring gas stations to sell reformulated gas in metro Atlanta and other areas of Georgia.
Critics said more gas would be flowing into Georgia if Perdue had acted faster.
“By not managing this, by not reacting, not working steadily with the EPA, not having this relationship, not maintaining it, it drags until there’s another crisis and who gets hurt are the working people,” said Rep. Dubose Porter, (D) House Minority Leader.
Distributors Channel 2 talked with said they gave Perdue’s office a heads up three weeks ago that the crisis would likely happen because of a one-two punch from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Add to that the fact supplies are normally low this time of year as refineries switch from a summer to winter gas formula.
“This is the same pattern we’ve seen of waiting too long. There’s got to be that leadership whether it’s transportation, education or here in a gas crisis,” said Porter.
“The people who would criticize that, they don’t understand the way we’re working with the EPA. We were talking with them everyday and timing the request so we could get a positive response,” said Perdue’s press secretary Bert Brantley.
Gov. Perdue left Saturday on a week-long economic development mission to Spain, Portugal and Italy.Perdue Delayed Asking For Gas Shortage Help
Governor Is In Europe On Week-Long Trip... more
In the final part of our five-part series "We Didn't Dodge the Bullet", we look at the threatened cultures in South Louisiana, both Cajun and Native American, that have existed in this land for centuries. With the loss of the very land these communities sit on, the extended family networks and linguistic traditions that have characterized these peoples may be gone forever, and valuable and unique American cultures with them.In the final part of our five-part series "We Didn't Dodge the Bullet",... more
While rural communities soldier on in an impoverished state, the oil and gas industry continues to thrive in South Louisiana, often with little benefit to those who live next door. In part four of this series, we look at the complicated relationship bayou communities have with the oil and gas industry, and the role that this industry has in creating the very conditions that are destroying South Louisiana.
"We Didn't Dodge The Bullet" is a series on the difficulties rural communities in South Louisiana are facing in the wake of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav.While rural communities soldier on in an impoverished state, the oil and gas industry... more
The seafood industry- shrimping, crabbing and oystering- is not only the basis of the economy for many bayou communities in South Louisiana, it is a way of life. In part two of "We Didn't Dodge The Bullet" we look at the impact the loss of this industry is having on South Louisiana, as well as the causes of this loss- primarily competition from foreign imports and government neglect.
"We Didn't Dodge The Bullet" is a series on the difficulties residents of bayou communities in South Louisiana are having recovering from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.The seafood industry- shrimping, crabbing and oystering- is not only the basis of the... more
Every day acres of land in South Louisiana literally wash away into the Gulf of Mexico. In this part of our series "We Didn't Dodge the Bullet" on the difficulties faced by the residents of bayou communities in South Louisiana, we look at what this land loss means to these communities and why it is happening.Every day acres of land in South Louisiana literally wash away into the Gulf of... more
This series explores the struggles of Cajun and Native American peoples in South Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, with a focus on the long-term difficulties of maintaining community and traditional ways of life in the face of disappearing land and a dying seafood industry.
Part I is an overview of the story, including the impact of recent hurricanes.This series explores the struggles of Cajun and Native American peoples in South... more
Up to 26,000 homes flooded by Ike; oil disruption not included in estimate
After Hurricane Ike, most Americans have forgotten about Louisiana. But let us show you, these devastating storms have threatened the livelihood and very existence of Louisiana's fragile unique cultures, who teeter on utter extinction. Watch the faces and hear the desperate pleas of endangered American cultures. Learn how you can help.
• The immediate damage from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike
• Coastal erosion and land loss plays out against human annihilation
• Louisiana’s struggling seafood industry sinks into oblivion
• The role of the oil and gas industry and America's dangerous priorities
• Threats to Cajun and Native American cultures in South Louisiana
After Hurricane Ike, most Americans have forgotten about Louisiana. But let us... more
I took this pic of these evacuees from Hurricane Gustav in New Orleans at a gas station (where they had pulled over to fix a flat tire).
Despite their being exhausted from driving all day (and having lived in a shelter for the past few days), when I asked them if I could take a pic, they posed and flashed those glowing smiles.I took this pic of these evacuees from Hurricane Gustav in New Orleans at a gas... more
The United States has offered Cuba US$100,000 in emergency aid for the victims of Hurricane Gustav and is willing to send far more if a U.S.-approved disaster assessment team is allowed to tour the hardest-hit areas.
All aid would be provided through international relief organizations, with none going directly to the communist government, said Gregory Adams, a spokesman for the U.S. Interests Section in the Cuban capital.
The Cuban government has not commented on the offer from its traditional foe, which turned down a Cuban offer to send doctors to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina three years ago.
Gustav damaged 100,000 homes, so the initial U.S. offer works out to only about US$1 per home in need of repair.
Russian planes carried tents, floor tiles, pipes and food to Havana, and several Latin American countries have pledged to send aid. U.S. citizens, meanwhile, can make tax-deductible donations to Cuban victims through the Pan American Development Foundation, the disaster relief arm of the Organization of American States.
Democrat Barack Obama expressed sympathy for Gustav's victims in Cuba and urged U.S. President George W. Bush "to immediately suspend restrictions on family remittances, visits and humanitarian care packages from Cuban Americans for a minimum of 90 days." His Republican presidential campaign rival, John McCain, has called for easing restrictions only when the U.S. is "confident that the transition to a free and open democracy is being made."
Fidel Castro wrote this week that repairs could cost billions — on an island where the average state salary is only about US$20 per month. And Cuba's government is facing sky-high expectations from those who lost everything in the storm.
Work to rebuild homes is still days off, but trucks loaded with metal sheets for roofs and other flimsy construction materials have begun arriving.
Much of the recovery will fall to the military and brigades of students and young communists forced to work hard and fast for little or no wages.
The United States has offered Cuba US$100,000 in emergency aid for the victims of... more
Mere hours after Hurricane Gustav came ashore, the two women expressed sympathy and support for Louisianans bracing themselves for Gustav.
"America stands with you during this trying time," Cindy McCain, wife of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, said.
John McCain Sunday asked Republican party officials to curtail the activities at the convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, out of concern for the victims of the storms and asked delegates to "put aside our political hats and put on our American hats" and help those hurt by the storm.
McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis emphasized Monday that all political activity will be suspended for the time being.
"We hope to regain our schedule at some point," Davis said.Mere hours after Hurricane Gustav came ashore, the two women expressed sympathy and... more
CNN's live reporting is saying that some levees in New Orleans have been overtopped by water. And in a nearby county, some levees have actually broken.
The good news however is that the hurricaine has weakened to a Category 1 with 80-mph winds.
Also; (CNN) -- "Entergy, the largest provider of electric power in Louisiana, said that more than 700,000 homes and businesses were without power in the region, including at least 114,000 in New Orleans. Repair crews may not get out until Wednesday because of high winds, spokesman Phil Allison said."
CNN's live reporting is saying that some levees in New Orleans have been... more
While CNN and the cable networks turn hurricane coverage into a pathetic reality show, Louisianans are disgusted. This page has a link to four live-streaming New Orleans TV news feeds giving actual news coverage of Gustav.
While CNN and the cable networks turn hurricane coverage into a pathetic reality show,... more
If anyone was thinking about the political repercussions of Hurricane Gustav — not that anyone at the Republican National Convention would admit to doing that — the bad news was that the GOP lost at least one night of national television programming.
The good news was that the decision to curtail Monday's activities was a chance to show candidate John McCain looking as though he was already in the Oval Office.
"It's time to take our Republican hats off and put our American hats on," McCain told reporters here Sunday by video hook-up from St. Louis. He had just visited Mississippi and toured preparations for the coming storm. He assessed the coordination among government agencies as "excellent" and discussed the search-and-rescue operations.
He even managed to distance himself from the Bush administration's mishandling of Hurricane Katrina three years ago. "I have every expectation that we will not see the mistakes of Katrina repeated," he said sternly.
Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, brushed off a question about the political impact of the convention changes. "We don't have the luxury (of thinking about) the politics of this situation," he said. Instead, the campaign helped a dozen Louisiana delegates get home to evacuate their families and urged the corporate interests planning lavish parties here to turn them into fundraising operations to help Gulf Coast charities.
House Republican leader John Boehner took a similar tack. Asked whether the roiled convention helped or hurt politically, he called the question "irrelevant" and added, "I'm a big believer in what is, is." He spoke at a luncheon with reporters hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.
Pressed by whether the chance to deliver the GOP message was a lost opportunity, he replied, "There's no knowable answer to that."
The hurricane upended plans by President Bush and Vice President Cheney to address the convention Monday night. Their appearances might have rallied conventioneers but also would have linked McCain to the current president, whose job approval rating in the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll was a dismal 29%.
The Republicans were forced to respond in some way to avoid having scenes of partisans celebrating paired with footage of hurricane destruction. Decisions about the next three days of the convention schedule would be made "on a day-by-day basis," Davis said.
Still, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said the decision to all but cancel Monday's programming was "audacious," with the possibility of a big payoff — or big problems. It was the latest in a week full of gambles, including McCain's pick of first-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.
"They're giving up a major opportunity," Lake said. "At the same time, they're playing for an audacious credentialing."
If anyone was thinking about the political repercussions of Hurricane Gustav —... more
It's mid-morning in Louisiana and the wind is pounding the rain into the windows of my hotel room in Metairie, just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans.
You can barely see out the windows, the wind is so strong. And just a few minutes ago, the branches of trees were barely moving. It's certainly a strong storm, but not nearly as powerful as folks feared.
So Gustav is arriving with a somewhat diminished bang, the first bands striking just before midnight. For much of the evening, the city, and region, had been bathed in the odd silence that usually precedes hurricanes. As the wind quickened, the street lights shook.
Now, the region is waiting. Gustav's eye is arriving by midday at Houma, a low-lying town on the central coast of Louisiana. The authorities don't seem to be concerned about Gustav itself, given how much it has diminished.
But the authorities are concerned about the surge of water Gustav will likely send into low-lying costal areas, where many residents apparently refused to leave. Water is already being reported surging in Louisiana's boot. The surge is also expected to send several feet of water into the west bank of New Orleans' suburbs. And the levees are still suspect.
There's also the political hazards of Gustav. At least one Democratic politician got himself into trouble trying to read divine intervention into the timing of Gustav's landfall. It was certainly remarkable, coming nearly three years after Hurricane Katrina, and on the eve of the Republican National Convention's scheduled opening.
And the arrival was heralded with a kind of grandeur: the city's mayor, C. Ray Nagin, pronounced Gustav "the storm of the century," a declaration that seems to have had remarkable success in a region that once stared down hurricanes with a beer. Nearly 1.9 million residents of Louisiana's lower tier fled.
Still, there's a chance this could have all been an expensive exercise, a chance for state and local authorities to prove they could actually coordinate a plan. The political accounting for that may take weeks to accumulate.
Don Jacks, a FEMA spokesman, last night said some 2,114 people had been moved from New Orleans by train alone in the days before the storm. The coordination began in earnest with people registering on a 311 telephone system reporting they had no tangible means of evacuating. They were directed to a meeting point in the city, and then brought to either the downtown New Orleans bus-train station, or airport.
There, residents were placed through the standard security measures with Transportation and Security Administration officials. Special care was made to keep families together, Jacks said. In the end, nearly 6,400 people left on some 2,054 flights. It's unclear whether people knew where, exactly, their planes were bound.
The most vivid reflection of Katrina's lessons is on the streets of New Orleans. Barely a soul walked the streets last night. Even Bourbon Street's pubs were shuttered. Network television satellite trucks were perched perfectly across Jackson Square. Nearby, photographers positioned themselves in front of a Cafe du Monde that lacked both chairs and the famous beignets.
Elsewhere in the city, New Orleans evacuees had put their cars on the "neutral ground," as the space between the lanes of streets is called here, hoping that might save their vehicles from flooding. Never mind that the patch of land is barely a half-foot above ground. Perhaps the liveliest discussion came on the radio airwaves, where several callers cast their decision to stay as a battle of man versus nature. Meanwhile, residents of the seemingly flood-resistant Uptown neighborhood, defied Gustav from their porches, comfortable above the police officers patrolling below.It's mid-morning in Louisiana and the wind is pounding the rain into the windows... more
John McCain may not be George Bush's twin on everything, but when it comes to hurricanes, the rivals turned friends are inextricably linked.
Three years ago this week, Bush was in Arizona, celebrating McCain's 69th birthday, when Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast and nearly destroyed New Orleans. Now Gustav threatens to finish the job, just as McCain's Republican convention gets under way. But Republicans appear to have learned their lessons from 2005.
First Bush's appearance in the convention hall Monday, and then the entire Monday program, was canceled Sunday afternoon. Some legally required business will be conducted, but there won't be the kind of fire-breathing speeches that were expected to open the week.
McCain aides are taking the rest of the week one day at a time, depending on how hard the storm hits. Both the White House and the rest of the GOP are taking pains to show the kind of concern for the people in the storm's path that the Bush administration couldn't be bothered with the last time around.
The federal response to Katrina was a tipping point for many people around the country. Bush, and the Republican Party, saw their approval ratings slide with each day FEMA dithered in the face of the disaster.
The state and local governments (both controlled by Democrats at the time) didn't cover themselves with glory in 2005 either, but what voters from coast to coast remember is the "heckuva job" the Bush administration did. Federal officials seemed to be oblivious to the situation, and that is still hurting McCain now.
Even before Barack Obama arrived at Mile High Stadium to accept his party's nomination last week, the early five-day tracks had turned Gustav into a problematic metaphor for McCain. Having the unpopular Bush show up at the convention at all was going to be dicey anyway; having him speak literally at the moment another hurricane tore through New Orleans was inconceivable. (You might as well just cancel the election and have Obama take the oath of office now.)
Small wonder that the first change to the schedule in response to the storm was to scrub Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney from the speakers' roster. Even if the storm weren't forecast to be a monster, they might have felt called to supervise the response if it meant getting away from McCain's show for the night.
"It wouldn't be appropriate to have a festive occasion while a near-tragedy or a terrible challenge is presented in the form of a natural disaster," McCain told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. "So, we're monitoring it from day to day, and I'm saying a few prayers, too." He and his running mate, Sarah Palin -- whose appointment he announced on the anniversary of Katrina's landfall -- headed off to Jackson, Miss., for a photo op with Gov. Haley Barbour to show how concerned they were.
But McCain can hardly afford to let Gustav wash away his entire convention like just another underfunded Army Corps of Engineers levee. His "maverick" brand was damaged by his own efforts to unite his party behind him during the GOP primaries and by the Democrats' insistence that he represents an extra term for Bush.
It's also hard to go for Obama's jugular while people are losing their homes for the second time since the last election. If banners and bunting look out of place during a tragedy, so do political attacks. The new theme -- a call for national service -- still fits McCain's broad campaign message. GOP strategists believe McCain, and not Obama, has already dedicated his life to his country.
"I pledge that tomorrow night, and if necessary throughout our convention, we will act as Americans, not as Republicans," McCain told reporters in Jackson. "We have to change" the schedule, a McCain advisor said. Of course, for McCain, taking the high-minded approach of canceling partisan events carries some benefit (even if he didn't have much choice) -- it helps reinforce his narrative that he puts principles over politics. John McCain may not be George Bush's twin on everything, but when it comes to... more
Australia warns of high risk of terror attacks on US flights
Australia on Sunday warned of a "high risk" of terror attacks on domestic and international flights in and to the United States, urging citizens to be vigilant while in the country.
"We advise you to exercise caution and monitor developments that might affect your safety in the United States because of the risk of terrorism," the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a travel advisory.
The department urged travelers to monitor the media for information about possible new security threats.
"The United States Department of Homeland Security's Advisory System Threat Level is at Orange for all domestic and international flights, indicating a 'high' risk of terrorist attack," it said.
"It is at Yellow or 'elevated' for all other sectors, indicating a significant risk of terrorist attack."
The advisory also included warnings about extreme weather conditions as Hurricane Gustav bears down.
"There is severe weather, including hurricane conditions, affecting the southeast coastline of the United States," the advisory said.
"Australians in affected regions should adhere to all advice and evacuation requests enforced by local authorities."
New Orleans began mandatory evacuations as Gustav, hailed as "the mother of all storms", was set to plow into the US Gulf Coast on Monday packing winds of 150 miles (242 kilometers) per hour.
Australia warns of high risk of terror attacks on US flights
Australia on Sunday... more