September 4, 2005

"We have to prepare the country for what may be some very, very difficult pictures."

Said Michael Chertoff just now on "Meet the Press," referring to the sight of dead bodies to be revealed upon what he called the "de-watering" of New Orleans.

Russert is giving Chertoff a good grilling, by the way, asking him if he will resign, if "heads will roll," and how could Bush have said no one anticipated the breach of the levees. Chertoff's strategy is to emphasize what they are trying to do now and how hard it is.

MORE: Chertoff clarifies about what was a surprise about the levees breaking. It was that the storm had already passed without breaking them. The break came after everyone had concluded they'd "dodged a bullet."

UPDATE: The transcript.


PatCA said...

And where is Nagin? He is answering any questions these days?

Or is Moriel, former mayor whose cronies are now under indictment for corruption, the point man for the Democrats? I turned it off as Russert pitched softballs about "racism" today.

I'm becoming obsessed with this. I need to go do something else today!

Elizabeth said...

What a relief! It's all the Democrats' fault!

Seriously, I am tired, tired, tired of all the back and forth partisanship.

There are many people with things to answer for. It's in our interest to see that they do, on the city, state, and national levels. I will resist any efforts on both sides of the aisle to paint this as a partisan failure.

I'm bracing for the news of the deaths, but I'm coming to some peace. It's unavoidable now. But I am reminded that my city has withstood other devastating floods, along with a series of yellow fever epidemics that decimated the population and in which, as here, the underclass suffered more than any. Canal Street was dug out by poor Irish immigrants who dropped dead as they worked.

I have received a call today confirming that my house is standing, with no obvious damage, and that my neighborhood did not flood, nor was it looted.

The local forum I'm keeping up with ( is full of messages crying for help, but also messages of emerging glimmers of hope. There are neighborhoods where the worst has passed, people have either returned or managed to survive on their own, and are coming together. Ann, I think you'll see some better, more heroic stories coming out in the near future.

PatCA said...

"What a relief! It's all the Democrats' fault!"

If you're referring to me, you know that's not at all what I meant.

"There are many people with things to answer for." That's what I meant.

Jacques Cuze said...

That's more nonsense about the levee breaking. I have never been in a flood. My flood knowledge is limited to watching the news the past several years.

Watching the news the past several years there has been one story after another of the floods reaching peak height in the DAYS AFTER the storm has passed.

More dishonesty. Ms. Law Professor, Ms. Official of the Court, aren't you bound to speak up in defense of the truth?

John Thacker said...

I don't think it's accurate that no one could have expected the levee being breached later. Certainly meterologists and others predicted it. I do think it's accurate that officials up and down were taken by surprise, as too many people (including civilians as well) relaxed after the storm passed over, thinking that New Orleans had been spared the worst.

A total direct hit, and the discussion would have focused solely on the evacuation, because everyone would have died much more quickly. The slower but still quite quick deaths by the levee breaking later are in a way much more heartbreaking.

Ann Althouse said...

Quxxo: I will delete any future posts of yours that are like that one. I regard you as a troll. Raise your standards. I will not let you degrade the comments. You seem to have one idea: call people liars. You're just spamming it now. Cut it out.

Stiles said...

That is a bit more plausible line. In the immediate few hours after landfall there was a sense in the reports that New Orleans had dodged a bullet. I'm sure there were many engineers who were waiting to see what hydrostatic pressure would do to the levee in terms of saturation and possible subsequent failure, but I'm not sure that threat was commonly understood. And I want to make clear that I have no idea if saturation and internal erosion were the causes of the levee breaches.

PatCA said...

Arthel Neville was on TV and reported various things--she has family there--and one was that an eyewitness say two empty barges bang up agains the levee and that's what broke it, not the storm itself.

As she said, FWIW. We've lots more info to collect.

Jack said...

The levees failing after the storm had passed should NOT have been a surprise.

The surprise was that the levees survived DURING the storm.

The scenario played out was almost identical to one in an article in Scientific American in October of 2001 (linked to in my blog).

It is disingenuous to claim surprise at the levees breaking, at best revealing incompetence being hidden in the spin by the officials supposedly surprised.

The danger, and the ultimate outcome, of the impact of a hurricane such as Katrina have not been a secret for years. Even as early as the mid 80s the danger was recognized, and the danger has been widely publicized since then, including in the local New Orleans newspaper.

This is a failure upon all levels, local, state, and federal, and is not a partisan issue. The failure concerns BOTH parties, and the ultimate responsibility lies with us; we, the people, who put these officials in place who chose priorities other than those that would have minimized this disaster.

iocaste said...

The levees broke Monday morning after the papers came on. Chertoff got on Meet The Press and said that he was surprised to read ON TUESDAY that the levees had broken.

The head of DHS gets his information about a natural disaster 24 hours late from the media reports? Do you seriously believe that?

Elizabeth said...

Not for a minute do I believe that. And if it is true, then he's incompetent at homeland security. I would hope he'll return to being a prosecutor toute de suite. That might be an excellent contribution toward making America more secure.

Troy said...

I thought the levee that broke was the one that was most recently "shored up"? If that's true, Blanco and Nagin are almost directly to blame for failing to plan and for poor leadership post-flood and that failure to respond resulted in the deaths of thousands. It ain't about D or R -- it's about responding. Even if the levee broke and it was a federal problem -- since when should anyone stake their life on federal planning when there's a choice? California and the U.S. tell me buildings and highways are retro-fitted and they have plans. Figh! Those plans are out when the earth shakes at 9.5 for 3 minutes -- hence my shotguns, water, clothes, etc.

Chum said...

Wow. Walmart better than FEMA. This clip is incredible.

Elizabeth said...

Well, Troy, we have some views in common. I evacuated, I too own a gun, but I will need help a little help from FEMA and some grace from my creditors to get back on my feet. That's community. I've provided it for others in times of need, and I think that's exactly the point of government. I won't enter into that philosophical debate, however.

I'm preparing emotionally for the death toll. I expect I'll know some people who didn't make it. I'm steeling myself for that. But I'm a New Orleanian, and I understand the sheer joy of life that underpins the acceptance of poverty and hard times as well, the "farewell to flesh" of Carnival. And I just got some excellent news: in the Quarter, the drag queens who stayed are having Southern Decadence, right now, as planned. So to the fundies who opined that Katrina was God's wrath on the faggots and queens and dykes of New Orleans, and the straight people who tolerate them, I say, "It didn't work!"

madcat said...

Thanks for that, Elizabeth. I think that's the first post thing I've read online since Katrina hit that actually brought a big smile to my face :)
Best wishes to you and all your loved ones...

Elizabeth said...

Thanks, madcat. It's the first smile I've had, too!