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Jefferson Parish re-entry

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Broussard is on 870 AM right now with info on re-entry timetable for Jefferson Parish.

Tier 1 and Tier 2 people with placards can enter at noon today. If you're Tier 2 and don't have a placard, you can get one at http://www.jumpstartjefferson.com.

At 5PM tonight, Broussard will announce the timetable for general population to re-enter. He suggests that right now, you pre-position yourself to be within a day's drive of the city.

Waiting on similar announcement from Nagin, obviously. I'm east of the city, so no real way to sneak in if the bridges are closed.

A classmate hero in New Orleans

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Robert Landsden was in my high school class in New Orleans, and is now a captain in the Navy. Another classmate just forwarded around some links to an article in the Times-Picayune describing his heroics after Katrina. He found himself sitting on a ship with a large cache of fuel and disobeyed orders in order to make sure this fuel got distributed to hospitals in Jefferson Parish to keep generators and emergency vehicles running. He even had to fight off FEMA latecomers who tried to go to the head of the line to commandeer fuel for themselves.

Page one here (scroll down to the bottom to see the picture of him yucking it up with Aaron Broussard), and page two here.

Give the guy and his crew some medals, why doncha. (But ask him how he got the T-P to list him as "age 38" when the rest of his classmates are 41 or so.)

Aaron Broussard makes Russert his bitch

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Update: Quicktime link here.

Russert appears surprised to learn that Broussard hasn't been sitting around reading blogs the past few weeks.

Gina ran downstairs to tell me about this interview this morning right after it happened. Link to the video is here. I haven't watched it yet (typical MSNBC, I don't have the right software on my Mac), but here's the transcript, picking up right at the point where Russert makes the mistake of sucker-punching Broussard with a clip of his breakdown from three weeks ago:

Mr. Broussard: I've never watched this. Why are they taking me here?

Mr. Russert: Mr. Broussard, obviously that was a very painful, emotional moment, but let me show you some of the...

Mr. Broussard: Sir, I've never looked at that. I've never heard that. I'm sorry. You take me to a sad place when you let me hear that.

Mr. Russert: Well, it was important, I think...

Mr. Broussard: Go ahead. Go ahead, sir. Go ahead, sir.

Mr. Russert: Thank you very much.

Mr. Broussard: Go ahead.

Mr. Russert: All right, sir. Thank you very much. Take your time. But it's important I think...

Mr. Broussard: Go ahead.

Mr. Russert: ...that our viewers see that again because MSNBC and other blog organizations have looked into the facts behind your comments and these are the conclusions, and I'll read it for you and our viewers. It says: "An emotional moment and a misunderstanding. Since the broadcast of [Meet the Press] interview...a number of bloggers have questioned the validity of Broussard's story. Subsequent reporting identified the man whom Broussard was referring to...as Thomas Rodrigue, the Jefferson Parish emergency services director. ...Rodrigue acknowledged that his 92-year-old mother and more than 30 other people died in the St. Rita nursing home. They had not been evacuated and the flood waters overtook the residence. ... When told of the sequence of phone calls that Broussard described, Rodrigue said `No, no, that's not true. ...I contacted the nursing home two days before the storm [on Saturday, Aug. 27th] and again on [Sunday] the 28th. ...At the same time I talked to the nursing home I had also talked to the emergency manager...to encourage that nursing home to evacuate...' Rodrigue says he never made any calls after Monday, the day he figures his mother died... Officials believe the residents of St. Rita's died on Monday, the 29th, not on Friday, Sept. 2, as Broussard has suggested."

Your comments obviously...

Mr. Broussard: Sir, this...

Mr. Russert: Go ahead.

Mr. Broussard: Sir, this gentleman's mother died on that Friday before I came on the show. My own staff came up to me and said what had happened. I had no idea his mother was in the nursing home. It was related to me by my own staff, who had tears in their eyes, what had happened. That's what they told me. I went to that man, who I love very much and respect very much, and he had collapsed like a deck of cards. And I took him and put him in my hospital room with my prayer books and told him to sit there and cry out and pray away and give honor to his mother with his tears and his prayers.

Now, everything that was told to me about the preface of that was told to me by my own employees. Do you think I would interrogate a man whose mother just died and said, "Tommy, I want to know everything about why your mother just died"? The staff, his own staff, told me those words. Sir, that woman is the epitome of abandonment. She was left in that nursing home. She died in that nursing home. Tommy will tell you that he tried to rescue her and could not get her rescued. Tommy could tell you that he sent messages there through the EOC and through, I think, the sheriff's department, "Tell Mama everything's going to be OK. Tell Mama we're coming to get her."

Listen, sir, somebody wants to nitpick a man's tragic loss of a mother because she was abandoned in a nursing home? Are you kidding? What kind of sick mind, what kind of black-hearted people want to nitpick a man's mother's death? They just buried Eva last week. I was there at the wake. Are you kidding me? That wasn't a box of Cheerios they buried last week. That was a man's mother whose story, if it is entirely broadcast, will be the epitome of abandonment. It will be the saddest tale you ever heard, a man who was responsible for safekeeping of a half a million people, mother's died in the next parish because she was abandoned there and he can't get to her and he tried to get to her through EOC. He tried to get through the sheriff's office. He tries every way he can to get there. Somebody wants to debate those things? My God, what sick-minded person wants to do that?

What kind of agenda is going on here? Mother Nature doesn't have a political party. Mother Nature can vote a person dead and Mother Nature can vote a community out of existence. But Mother Nature is not playing any political games here. Somebody better wake up. You want to come and live in this community and see the tragedy we're living in? Are you sitting there having your coffee, you're in a place where toilets flush and lights go on and everything's a dream and you pick up your paper and you want to battle ideology and political chess games? Man, get out of my face. Whoever wants to do that, get out of my face.

Mr. Russert: Mr. Broussard, the people who are questioning your comments are saying that you accused the federal government and the bureaucracy of murder, specifically calling on the secretary of Homeland Security and using this as an example to denounce the federal government. And what they're saying is, in fact, it was the local government that did not evacuate Eva Rodrigue on Friday or on Saturday. And they're making that, in fact...

Mr. Broussard: Sir...

Mr. Russert: Let me just finish. I'll give you a chance to respond.

Mr. Broussard: Yes.

Mr. Russert: And, in fact, the owners of the nursing home, Salvador and Mable Mangano, have been indicted with 34 counts of negligent homicide by the Louisiana state attorney general. So it was the owners of the nursing home and the local government that are responsible for the lack of evacuation and not the federal government. Is that fair?

Mr. Broussard: Sir, with everything I said on Meet the Press, the last punctuation of my statements were the story that I was going to tell in about maybe two sentences. It just got emotional for me, sir. Talk about the context of everything I said. Were we abandoned by the federal government? Absolutely we were. Were there more people that abandoned us? Make the list. The list can go on for miles. That's for history to document. That's what Congress does best, burn witches. Let Congress do their hearings. Let them find the witches. Let them burn them. The media burns witches better than anybody. Let the media go find the witches and burn them. But as I stood on the ground, sir, for day after day after day after day, nobody came here, sir. Nobody came. The federal government didn't come. The Red Cross didn't come. I'll give you a list of people that didn't come here, sir, and I was here.

So anybody that's saying, "Oh, they were all here," you know, they weren't living on my planet, there weren't living in my parish. They did not come. I can't make it any more clearer than that. Did inefficiencies, did bureaucracy commit murder here? Absolutely, it did. And Congress and the media will flush it out and find it out and those people will be held accountable. You've already given an example. These people in the nursing home in St. Bernard, they're getting indicted. Good. They ought to be indicted. They ought to get good old-fashioned Western justice. They ought to be taken out and administered to like they did in the old West.

Yes, there's a lot of people that they're going to find that are going to be villains in this situation, but they're also going to find for the most part that the Peter Principle was squared. The Peter Principle is you promote somebody to the level of incompetency, but when you promote somebody to the level of incompetency in a life or death department, then those people should be ousted. Those people should be strung up. Those people should be burned at the stake. And I'm sure Congress and the press is going to do that.

Mr. Russert: At the local, state and federal level.

Mr. Broussard: Sir, at every level. Are you kidding? This is a jigsaw puzzle. This is a mosaic. The blame will be shared by everybody. The heroic deeds will be magnified as individual stories of heroics come out from different people and agencies that did eventually come here. Sir, this is chaos. It's organized chaos at best. There are plenty of heroes that have to be uncovered. There are plenty of villains that have to be uncovered. Let the process go on. Let it happen. I don't have time to do it, sir. I didn't even watch my own broadcast that you played to me in my ear. It pained me to hear that again because Tommy Rodrigue is a friend of mine. He works for me. I was at his mother's wake.

When somebody wants to nit-pick these details, I don't know what sick minds creates this black-hearted agenda, but it's sick. I mean, let us recover. Let us rebuild. If somebody wants me to debate them on national TV, hey, buddy, be my guest. Make my day. Put me at a podium when I got a full night's sleep and you will not like matching me against anybody that you want. That person is going to be in trouble. If this station or anybody else or any other station wants to do that, you just give me a full night's sleep, sir. I haven't had one in about 30 days. But you wind me up with a full night's sleep, I'll debate every detail of everything you want, sir.

Mr. Russert: Aaron Broussard, the president of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, we thank you for coming on and correcting the record and putting it in context. And we wish you well and to all your people in the recovery. And we hope to talk to you again.

Interactive flood data map

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This link here takes you to a webapp that gives you flood depth information just by clicking on a map of New Orleans. It uses Google maps combined with satellite and LIDAR data to give an average flood depth within a 100x100 foot region around the point where you click.

http://mapper.cctechnol.com/floodmap.php

This is really cool, since it gives you a real number instead of just fuzzy satellite photos.

I spot-checked it with my brother's eyewitness report of the water depth at his house in Old Metairie and it was pretty close to accurate.

Metairie family update

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My brothers Mark and Bill went into Metairie yesterday to survey the damage and salvage what they could from Mark's house. I had a very brief talk with Mark yesterday (brief because he was breathing hard from working) and a longer talk with my sister-in-law Anne today.

Miracle of miracles, I reached Anne on her 504 cell phone. Shitty connection, but enough to talk.

The report is they got 3-4 feet of water in the house, but it dropped a couple of inches while they were there. Mark believes the house will have to be condemned. They met a neighbor who had a flat boat so they were able to ferry a fair amount of stuff from the house to the U-haul truck on the highway without having to carry it blocks and blocks through the water. They salvaged clothes and toys from upstairs, most of the pictures from the walls, and the wedding silver from upstairs. The wedding china got wet, it was downstairs in a sideboard, but they packed it up and will think about the right way to clean it later.

Anne thought that maybe once the power comes on and the AC comes on, they can get in there and do more work, and I pointed out to her that the AC units have been sitting underwater for a week so they're, uh, not high-functioning machines anymore.

My nephews had two rough days at their new school in Houston, lots of tears, so today they're taking a sick day. They slept really really late. All parents know this, but for those of you who don't: when a 7 year old and an 8 year old boy both want to sleep past 10:00AM, you know they're hurting.

Mark and Bill are back in Baton Rouge now, but I haven't talked to them yet. Dialing a 225 number gets you the "Due to the hurricane, all circuits are busy" message 99 times out of a hundred. Mark told me Bill fell into the water, so I'm worried about him getting sick, but other than that, everybody is safe again.

"Body-bag time"

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My very first post on Katrina was at 7am on last Sunday morning, when I first saw that the storm was still on track to hit New Orleans and was now a category 5 hurricane.

That post had a link to an NPR story from last year about the possible consequences of such a storm, a story that has proven to be all too accurate.

Those of you who aren't locals are fairly familiar with Walter Maestri now. He was the first Jefferson Parish official I heard crying on the radio a few days ago (Aaron Broussard yesterday was the second). Refresh your memory with what he told NPR last year, and keep this in mind whenever you hear a federal official say that the Katrina disaster was unexpected.

And just across the Mississippi River, Walter Maestri is struggling to help New Orleans prepare. Maestri is the czar of public emergencies in Jefferson Parish (that's the county that sprawls across a third of the metropolitan area). He points to a map of the region on the wall of his command post. "A couple of days ago," explains Maestri, "We actually had an exercise where we brought a fictitious Category Five Hurricane into the metropolitan area."

The map is covered with arrows and swirls in erasable marker. They show how the fictitious hurricane crossed Key West and then smacked into New Orleans.

When the computer models showed Maestri what would happen next, he wrote big letters on the map, all in capitals.

"KYAGB—kiss your ass good bye," reads Maestri.

"Because," says Maestri, "anyone who was here when that storm came across was gone—it was body-bag time. We think 40,000 people could lose their lives in the metropolitan area."

And some scientists say that figure is conservative. People have known for centuries that New Orleans is a risky spot — the biggest river in North America wraps around it; and most of the land is below sea level. But researchers say they've been learning just how grave the problem is, only in the last few years. And they say the city and the nation aren't prepared to handle it.

It was their job to know. But FEMA, Chertoff, Brown, Bush...they didn't know. They didn't do their jobs. They just didn't.

Jeff Parish President breaks down on MSNBC

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Watch this now. Put down the remote and watch this now. The important part is at the end.

Aaron Broussard on MSNBC.

MR. BROUSSARD: I'm telling you most importantly I want to thank my public employees...

MR. RUSSERT: All right.

MR. BROUSSARD: ...that have worked 24/7. They're burned out, the doctors, the nurses. And I want to give you one last story and I'll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything. (Broussard starts crying) His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?" And he said, "Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday." And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night. (Broussard is crying)

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. President...

MR. BROUSSARD: Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.

This is the guy they call "The Dictator". This is a tough as nails old-school Louisiana politician that you do not fuck with. Crying like a baby on national TV.

This is how bad it is there. This is how badly the American government has failed the American people. FEMA is not just failing to act, they are deliberately and methodically sabotaging relief efforts. They turned back truckloads of water. They deliberately cut communication lines in Jefferson Parish.

Heads must roll. I mean literally. We should be pulling them from their cars.

Detailed NOAA satellite images of flooding

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Tonight my brother Mark and I were able to see the flooding at his house very close up. Detailed enough that we could tell that his car in his driveway was in water but the trunk and hood of the car were not covered. These are the best photos yet of the damage, very useful if you want to check on a specific neighborhood or property anywhere in the path of the hurricane:

http://ngs.woc.noaa.gov/katrina/KATRINA0000.HTM

Judging from the photos, he's expecting that there is probably water in the house, but only the ground floor and not very deep.

I was insanely busy today and thankfully nowhere near a TV or computer for the past nine hours. I'll post details in a little while, but I have a couple of informational posts I want to put out there.

WWL: Jefferson Parish WILL be open Monday morning

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Despite news reports to the contrary, even information on the Jefferson Parish website, residents WILL be able to get into Jefferson Parish on Monday morning at 6am. Apparently there is even confusion within the Jeff Parish EOC itself, but the word on WWL from Aaron "The Dictator" Broussard himself is that you can get in at 6am.

For the first three days, there will be armed guards at the border checking IDs. After Thursday, it will be more open. You can actually stay if you want, but they strongly recommend you just get in, get your stuff, and get back out again.

Also, you will not be able to get in via I-10. You will need to use back ways in such as Airline Highway.

Be patient. There will be big lines of people waiting to get in.

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