Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

Hurricane Katrina

It’s been four years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, flooding 80% of the city, redistributing over 1 million people in the region and killing 1,836.

A few observations:

New Orleans is still underwater:
New_Orleans_Elevations

FEMA’s Michael Brown – surely 12 years of judging horse shows qualifies him to coordinate the largest disaster response in U.S. history

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was re-elected in 2006 despite his numerous failures (and he’d probably be re-elected again in 2010 but for the grace of term limits).  Here’s a few highlights:

Much of the city is below sea level, you’re surrounded on 3 sides by water, the most intense hurricane ever seen in the Gulf is bearing down on you, the Director of the National Hurricane Center calls you at home and says “get people out of New Orleans,” yet the mayor doesn’t want to issue an evacuation order because he’s afraid he’ll get sued?

18 hours before it hits, Nagin finally orders the mandatory evacuation.  Everyone should get out of New Orleans.  But what about the estimated 134,000 people without cars?  Well, there is an evacuation plan that calls for busing people out of town, but Nagin thought the Superdome was a better alternative, advising anyone with special needs to bring along food, water and a folding chair.

Great idea:
superdome

But what about the buses?  The official way out was to be the 550 municipal buses and 254 usable school buses.  They weren’t used:
buses

But these 150 buses were moved to higher ground:
150 more busses

In the aftermath, there’s widespread looting, overall anarchy, no cops to be found and as Nagin said “Now you got some knuckleheads out there, and they are taking advantage of this lawless — this situation where, you know, we can’t really control it, and they’re doing some awful, awful things.”  The response: start confiscating law abiding citizen’s guns.

 

And finally, there’s the estimated 20% of the population of New Orleans (that’s 63,000 people) who chose to ignore the strongest, most vividly worded warning from the Nation Weather Service:

...EXTREMELY DANGEROUS HURRICANE KATRINA CONTINUES TO APPROACH THE
   MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA...
...DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED...

MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS...PERHAPS LONGER. AT
LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL
FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL...LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY
DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.

THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL.
PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD
FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE
BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE...INCLUDING SOME
WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.

HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY...A
FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.

AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD...AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH
AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY
VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE
ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS...PETS...AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE
WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.

POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS...AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN
AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING
INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.
 

Timeline

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Microsoft + Yahoo vs. Google

Microsoft Yahoo Merger

Despite massive advertising and numerous contests, it unlikely that Microsoft’s Bing can buy enough users to threaten Google.  Bing’s beautiful pictures are a welcome relief from the barrage of ads found on it’s predecessor MSN.  In fact, the search results are formatted almost exactly like Google’s (though they both look better with Adblock).  Also, Bing does a great job with pictures and certain specific shopping searches–try this one for shopping flights.  The only problem with Bing is that you’re more likely to get results using Google.