Cyclone Road


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Eric and I saw some marginally severe storms yesterday, one of which wrapped up pretty nicely around Dumont. Storms exhibited some modest elevated rotation here and there, and the Dumont storm had crisp striations briefly. We also saw a very bright rainbow and two large flocks of wild turkeys.

We started from CDS, worked our way down to Paducah and Guthrie and over towards Jayton before heading home on 380 after dark.

I don't think we ever realized the instability values progged for the event, and our dryline storms were well south of the boundary and far from the best winds aloft and low level shear.

As I told a friend in an email a few minutes ago, at least I'm not driving back to Bloomington right now!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Headed for a stormchase after school today to around the CDS to Altus area where a outflow-reinforced cool front should settle under clearing skies and a strong midlevel jet streak this afternoon. We're looking at a marginal chance of brief spinups along the boundary where surface winds will back and low level shear is enhanced. I don't remember any September chases before in my life; this could be my first. A very nice setup so far out of either the spring or fall seasons.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I was very surprised--even stunned--to see President Bush admit today some level of responsibility for the federal portion of all that went wrong in the Katrina response. That's what leadership is supposed to be about. It's unfortunate he didn't choose that same approach when selecting the nation's number one emergency manager. His sense of obligation to Americans comes a little late for those who might have fared better with a more coordinated response led by someone other than an Oklahoma lawyer who got fired from a horse club. Still, I will admit some measure of acknowledgement that Bush understands his position and where the buck stops.

Roger Edwards wrote an articulate and well-reasoned post about how blame is not being shared equally in this event. I concede his major points. The media isn't nearly as interested in what wrong with the city or state response, or why plans that should have been in place, memorized, and perfected more than thirty years ago seemed absent.

Monday, September 12, 2005

It's nice to see President Bush appoint a qualified individual as FEMA Director AFTER the biggest natural catastrophe in American history. This is what happens when we elect a man who is himself profoundly unqualified for his position. Of course most of the people who voted for him will feel no effects whatsoever, save the slightly elevated gas prices. The net result for them will be a few less lattes next month and maybe a shorter trip to Aspen. Party on, GOP!

Friday, September 09, 2005

I'm extremely happy to read that New Orleans business leaders are planning to reopen the French Quarter within 90 days, and even have plans for a scaled-down Mardi Gras in February 2006. When it was clear that the Quarter, Uptown, and the Garden District had survived, I felt sure that New Orleans would rise again. In fact, the city is only reduced to about its 1830 boundaries, and there's no reason to imagine it won't be a thriving tourist destination again.

The difference will be around the Quarter, especially north towards the lake and in the outlying areas that were built below sea level. Those areas will require an extensive decontamination process after which the city, state, and federal governments will have to face the questions of how to go about rebuilding. My hunch is that nobody will want to build below sea level again and that a large percentage of the New Orleans population will not have the means to wait for reconstruction. They'll find new jobs and new lives elsewhere, thus reducing the demand for a full and complete restoration of all parts of the city. It will be very strange, but New Orleans will go back in time by about 150 years, a small, European style harbor town surrounded by swamplands and wetlands.

Today the President removed Mike Brown from Baton Rouge. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff claimed that the agency had to remain responsive to other potential disasters; in other words, the biggest disaster in US history isn't important enough for somebody of Brown's skills and experience. After all, he was the President of the Arabian Horse Association with a staff of two or three (before he was fired). Also he was the roommate of one of Bush's old campaign managers. Considering the hard-partying ways of the Bush crew back in the day, we can assume that Mike Brown is skilled in functioning from day to day with very little sleep.

The bottom line is that Bush cronies took over FEMA, gutted it, and Americans died as a result. Thousands of Americans died who didn't have to.

FEMA could not have stopped the hurricane. FEMA could not have prevented the levee breaking or the flood of New Orleans. The vast majority of deaths from this catastrophe had nothing to do with the clearly inadequate and possibly fraudalant resume' of Horseman Brown. But if even a single one did--if even a single person died because FEMA smothered relief efforts in red tape, because they turned away first-responders, because they failed to coordinate with the US military for security, because they failed to use adequate mapping technology to find houses--then Brown ought to be fired, Chertoff ought to be fired, and Bush ought to stand before the American people and apologize for putting innocent people at risk in order to reward his fat, rich Republican pals.

Monday, September 05, 2005


"An open letter to the President

Dear Mr. President:

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we're going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It's accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city's multiple points of entry, our nation's bureaucrats spent days after last week's hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city's stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We're angry, Mr. President, and we'll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That's to the government's shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don't know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city's death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren't they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn't suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn't have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn't known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We've provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don't get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You're doing a heck of a job."

That's unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We're no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn't be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud."

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The ways to help victims of Katrina are growing now that thousands of displaced are settling into shelters around the nation.

If contributing cash is a challenge at this point, perhaps you have older bedding or mattresses, or other household items that you could live without. They
need these items now.

For example, The United Way in Denton County (TX) issued a radio plea for such material today. Evacuees are arriving in our county and they need mattresses, blankets, pillows, and other items. It should be relatively easy to hear from organizations in your area via local news broadcasts, radio, newspapers,
online local news sources, or even word of mouth. Here are some links:

United Way (see contacting local chapter link at top)

Red Cross (see links for donation and volunteering

And of particular note for me and possibly others, the Department of Veterans Affairs is asking for volunteers to assist with the sudden influx of patients from the New Orleans and Biloxi hospitals as well as other Gulf Coast area clinics. My mother was a long-time New Orleans VA employee and I remember the great satisfaction volunteers there gained from caring for our nation's heroes, even in ordinary times:

Veterans Administration Volunteer Program

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Among the great artists in New Orleans are some fine literary writers. A friend of mine who worked in a law office downtown once showed me Anne Rice's house, a haunting and elegant Victorian that left no question about why the novelist often set her gothic vampire tales in the Crescent City. Tonight we have contributions from two of the city's best storytellers, Rice herself, and Mark Childress:

Do You Know What It Means To Lose New Orleans? Anne Rice

What It Means To Miss New Orleans, Mark Childress

Thursday, September 01, 2005

It's outrageous to me that the Superdome and Convention Center in New Orleans, holding almost 40,000 survivors between them, are not secured by military forces this morning. A few thugs and bastards with guns have shut down the evacuation by firing at helicopters, and the last word was that 100 military police were on the way. 100??? That will be enough to secure maybe one side of the property, and more likely they will add to the chaos by presenting another vulnerable target. Drop 1000 Marines and we wouldn't have to talk about the "situation" at the Superdome anymore. Where the fuck is "shock and awe" right now?

It's obvious that we don't have the resources in the homeland to deal with this situation, and you don't have to be a genius to figure out why: our military is spread around the world, and now we can't secure Americans who are fending off disase, starvation, dehydration, and armed thugs.

The leaders in D.C. can lie to the cameras all day about the adequacy of troop levels for this disaster, but one look at the video from the Superdome makes it obvious that we have anything but an abundance of men and materiel.

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