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New Orleans had many warnings: Just a year ago, Hurricane Ivan caused disaster plan review

World Net Daily | September 3 2005

A year ago, New Orleans reviewed its hurricane disaster plans after Hurricane Ivan gave the city a major scare forcing the evacuation of nearly 1 million people from the area.

What happened last September bears striking similarities to the problems encountered before Hurricane Katrina struck. The only difference was Ivan missed the city.

There were hours-long traffic jams. Those who had money fled, while the poor stayed. The warnings were the same: Forecasters predicted that a direct hit on the city would send torrents of water over the city's levees, creating a 20-foot-deep cesspool of human and industrial waste.

"They say evacuate, but they don't say how I'm supposed to do that," Latonya Hill, 57, told the Associated Press at the time. "If I can't walk it or get there on the bus, I don't go. I don't got a car. My daughter don't either."

Advocates for the poor were indignant in 2004 – just as they are complaining now.

"If the government asks people to evacuate, the government has some responsibility to provide an option for those people who can't evacuate and are at the whim of Mother Nature," said Joe Cook of the New Orleans ACLU.

With Ivan, city officials first said they would provide no shelter, then, just hours before the storm was set to hit land, they agreed that the state-owned Louisiana Superdome would open to those with special medical needs.

Mayor Ray Nagin's spokeswoman, Tanzie Jones, insisted that there was no reluctance at City Hall to open the Superdome, but said the evacuation was the top priority.

"Our main focus is to get the people out of the city," she said.

But again, in 2004, no city or school buses were used to take people to safety.

Callers to talk radio complained about the late decision to open up the dome, but the mayor said he would do nothing different.

And, indeed, he didn't do much different last weekend before Katrina struck.

Even the problems that occurred at the Superdome this week had a precedent – during a threat by Hurricane Georges in 1998. An estimated 14,000 poured into the stadium, but theft and vandalism were rampant.


During the threat by Ivan, only 1,100 fled to the Superdome and they were supervised by 300 National Guardsmen, who were able to avoid major crime problems.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Nagin both acknowledged after the Ivan near miss they needed a better evacuation plan.















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