[EDITOR’S NOTE: We recommend that our readers print out this incisive special report and read it in print. The author is an award-winning syndicated columnist, professor of journalism, and a former emergency management official. This article is an in-depth look at the Bush policies that created the atmosphere not only for an ineffective FEMA response during the Katrina catastrophe, but which may have contributed to additional property destruction and deaths than should have occurred.]
The Federal Response to Katrina
by Walter M. Brasch
In late afternoon, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2005, the National Weather Service began tracking a tropical depression in the Atlantic about 175 miles southeast of the Bahamas. Moving quickly, it turned west and crossed into southern Florida two days later as a Category 1 hurricane, bringing with it almost a foot of rain. Now known as Katrina, it entered the Gulf of Mexico, where it quickly picked up speed and intensity from the warmer water. By Saturday evening, it was a Category 3 hurricane, and there was no doubt it would inflict significant damage when it hit the Gulf Coast. By mid-morning, Sunday, Aug. 28, with winds of 175 miles per hour, about 250 miles from the Mississippi River, it became a Category 5 hurricane, the most intense on the Saffir-Simpson scale. In more than a century of recording hurricanes, Katrina was only the fourth with that much force to be so close to the American shore. No longer was it a question if it would hit the Gulf Coast, it was with how much intensity. The target was New Orleans.