September 05, 2005
How many can we take?

Governor Perry may have overpromised how many evacuees the state of Texas could handle.

The deluge of Louisiana hurricane evacuees has left questions about whether Texas officials had adequately planned to handle the thousands driven from their homes by a major disaster.

The capacity of facilities in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas to house evacuees was far below what Gov. Rick Perry had offered to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco last week. And by Sunday, Perry's office admitted that "unsuitable overflow conditions" may exist at some shelters and began organizing an airlift to other states.

The governor's aides on Sunday defended the state's emergency management system, saying planning has kept the inflow of people from turning into another disaster.

"If you're asking if there had ever been a plan to take a quarter of a million people from Louisiana in a week, no. Was there a plan to handle catastrophic events, absolutely," said Perry spokesman Robert Black.

Perry's aides said the governor had offered to take 75,000, but the number has swollen to 139,000 housed in 137 shelters across Texas, with another 100,000 people staying in hotels.

While the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans was massive, the fact Perry and his staff repeatedly underestimated how many people could be housed at facilities in Texas raised questions about how well the state had prepared for a hurricane here or a major terrorist attack that created thousands of evacuees.

The governor and his senior staff often seemed to be improvising the details of how to house the Louisiana exodus.


"To be candid, we hope it slows down," San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger said on Saturday. Perry's spokesman said questions about how many people the governor said could be housed in each city was nothing more than a "numbers game."

"I don't think it was ever in concrete that there had to be 25,000 in any particular area. That is where the bulk of them were going to go, in the three major metro areas," Black said.

I bow to no one in my disdain for Governor Goodhair, but I'm inclined to cut him some slack here. I believe there were models and projections which suggested that Texas could handle a certain influx, and the reality didn't match up. The intentions were good, the execution was a little sloppy, but overall I think they did the best they could. Now we need to move some of these folks to other states and to other facilities here.

The following is a comment from Ryan Goodland:

I've been at the Astrodome the past two days and have met a wonderful woman named Dorothy Broussard. She's eighty-seven years old, here by herself, and has lost everything. Dorothy has a terrific sense of humor and personality; she's given me a recipe for homemade wine (an orange, sugar, and a liter water bottle, "But you be careful! You're going to get drunk and get kicked out of school!") and she wears this knotted, dimestore-ugly black wig to cover her grey hair ("People helping out here keep passing me up because I look so young with this on!" she told me, giggling.) She's incredibly smart too; in her spare time before Hurricane Katrina she studied geneology at her local library and has tracked her family line back four generations (which, if my numbers are right, would stop at the Civil War).

Here's where I need help. She has a grandson named Bruce Summers who, the last time she heard from him, was living in or around San Diego. I've called 411 for information in San Diego and Los Angeles and checked the numbers for Bruce Summers off of Google Phone Directory in California, Oregon, and Washington state. If I can find him, I think Ms. Broussard will have a home. I'd keep searching, but I need to get some rest for the day at the Dome tommorrow.

This is where you enter. If you know anything about tracking people down on the internet, please start searching for Bruce Summers. The US Census, or a more comprehensive database of addresses and phone numbers if you know one, online might be helpful. I believe Google can cross-check addresses against phone numbers, so if you only have one you can find the other.

Her name is Dorothy Broussard. Her grandson is Bruce Summers.

So if you're sitting at home on your day off wondering what you could do to contribute to the humanitarian crisis we're facing in Texas right now, I cannot think of a better way to help your fellow citizens on a day that commemorates those who have given so much to our nation than helping re-unite an old woman with a family member.

A great city is that which has the greatest men and women. - Walt Whitman

If you have any success, please please call me at 832-656-0298. My name is Ryan Goodland.

If you can help, please do.

The following is a press release:

Drop-in Center for Homeless Youth Opens Doors in
Montrose Area

Contact: Sharon Cooper
Company: StandUp For Kids
Address: 3400 Montrose Blvd., Suite 818
Houston, Texas 77006
Phone: 281-827-3208

Houston, TX- StandUp For Kids, a national all volunteer organization, opens a drop-in center for homeless and at-risk youth in Houston.

Anticipating a surge in the number of homeless onto the streets of Houston in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, StandUp For Kids is opening the doors on the new Troy Vincent Andrews Outreach Center.

The center, located at 3400 Montrose Blvd. in Suite 818, serves as a safe environment for homeless youth to come for temporary relief from the harshness of the streets and to receive aid in leaving the streets. Volunteers working at the center assist the homeless youth with the network of support required to leave the street.

Homeless youth can receive food, clothing, and hygiene products at the drop in center. The center also provides mail service, phone service for reaching relatives and job hunting, educational and development workshops to assist homeless youth with the transition off the streets, one-on-one counseling, and assistance obtaining legal documentation such as birth certificates, social security cards, and Texas ID cards.

Volunteers at the center also provide referrals to various agencies to deal with whatever health and crisis issues the youth have.

The drop-in center hours are:

Friday 5:30 - 8:30pm
Saturday 3-8pm
Sunday 1-5pm
Monday 10am - 2pm

People interested in volunteering or donating can call the outreach center at 713-522-2211 or email

More information on StandUp For Kids can be found by visiting the website at

StandUp For Kids is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 1990 to help rescue homeless and at-risk youth. With national headquarters in San Diego, California, STANDUP FOR KIDS is run almost entirely by volunteers, and has established more than thirty outreach programs in fifteen states.

Reports from evacuee centers: Ted in Houston and Damon in Austin. Bob reports from Fort Bend, where that county's Basic Emergency Plan is, um, very very basic. Liberty reports from Galveston.

The national media is now covering Houston for its role in housing evacuees. Via Tory, this is one of the better pieces on Houston I can recall seeing.

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco has appointed former FEMA head James Lee Witt to oversee the recovery of New Orleans.

It's excerpted in the Chron today, but you really ought to read this open letter to the President from the editors of the New Orleans Times-Picayune in it entirity.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 05, 2005 to Hurricane Katrina | TrackBack

1)The influx of refugees into Texas was not an "overestimate" of what we could do.

Texas was the ***only state*** in the union prepared to handle anything on this scale. The state and federal government had every intention of bringing them here because the dome is being used as a processing center to further relocate the refugees.

For example, Perry on Sunday ordered the C-130 airlifts of refugees to shelters in other states to begin, and I believe this was a contingency already prepared for in the Texas emergency plan.

2) Concerning the Times-Picayune garbage, that's nothing more than a rotten corrupt NOLA newspaper taking sides with the rotten corrupt local and state politicians whose gross and criminal negligence created the human disaster in NOLA.

This group includes Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco, and I predict they will be criminally prosecuted along with several other state and NOLA officials for their monumental failures, which have lead to the deaths of thousands.

Posted by: ttyler5 on September 5, 2005 11:31 AM

Kuff, going back to the top of the story above, I see where you got the "overpromised" nonsense.

It was from the Chron Austin Bureau, another misinformed and misleading article by RG Ratcliffe.

I have tried to warn progressives that those people at the Chron bureau in Austin are not trustworthy and cannot be depended upon for straight news.

Ratcliffe's article is nonsense, if you will re-read it you will notice he begins by accusing Perry of overestimating the number of refugees we can take, and no sooner has he done that than he accuses the governor of underestimating it.

Posted by: ttyler5 on September 5, 2005 11:39 AM

Governor Blanco is to be commended for her appointment of Witt to coordinate the relief/recovery effort in New Orleans. If nothing else, it may add some credibility to the criticism of the manner in which the Bush Administration handled the situation. In a word, it has been abominable. Particularly the public comments by Condoleeza Rice. Who apparently knows little of what it is to be poor and black in this country. It had EVERYTHING to do with racism.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on September 5, 2005 2:11 PM

I give him credit--he tried and if he made a mistake, other states can step up to the plate. Texas has been amazing.

Posted by: ArchPundit on September 5, 2005 4:23 PM

As a fairly recent Texan, I have to say that I'm quite proud of how this state has reacted. It was the municipal governments of this state that stepped up when FEMA and the Feds under Bush were just dithering away in what can only be called dereliction of duty.

How many large underutilized military bases are in this state? Dozens. They have barracks, commercial kitchens, showers, medical facilities, everything needed to house families in conditions that have to be superior to the floors of giant stadiums. Yet how fast did you see the Federal government stepping up to take a large influx of refugees?

As for how many Texas can absorb. I frankly think that's a multi-level question and the carrying capacity is likely to be factors such as schools rather than simply space. I expect that Texas could actually absorb hundreds of thousands on a short-term basis quite easily. It's the longer term that becomes more difficult when you start to look for apartments and more permanent housing and then jobs and schools for the kids. With respect to Houston, I expect that schools are probably the limiting factor and the biggest reason to disperse refugees more widely. It will not serve either the children of Houston nor the children of refugees if the schools are unable to function effectively due to a massive influx.

Posted by: Kent on September 5, 2005 8:25 PM

Charges of racism are empty-headed and politically-motivated rants, and in fact represent a form of racism masquerading as "moral virtue."

As it is becoming crystal clear, the failure to evacuate the poor of New Orleans prior to Katrina's landfall was a monumental and deadly failure on the part of Mayor Nagin and his administration and of Governor Blanco, and I fully expect they will be criminally prosecuted for their gross negligence.

Concerning the legal, constitutional and moral responsibilities of the local and state governments in such a disaster, everything --- including evacution prior to the storm, the provisioning of the shelters, the providing of security by police and national guard, and the immediate response to the hurricane's after math for *** 72 to 96 hours **** --- is the legal, constitutional and moral responsibility of the local and state authorities.

The US Special forces who re-opened the airport reached the airport within 36 hours of Katrina. The convoys of the federal relief effort carrying millions of tons of supplies reached New Orleans within the 72 hour period, well within the 72-96 hour window.

And in Louisiana and especially New Orleans, the failure of these local authorities to carry out their duties is just beyond all measure. They are guilty of CRIMINAL negligence on an unbelievable scale.

Posted by: ttyler5 on September 5, 2005 9:46 PM

Primary Responsibility
by Armando at
Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 12:49:55 CDT

From the Department of Homeland Security Website:

In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort. The new Department will also prioritize the important issue of citizen preparedness. Educating America's families on how best to prepare their homes for a disaster and tips for citizens on how to respond in a crisis will be given special attention at DHS.

Michael Chertoff had "primary responsibility" then on the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

New Orleans officials have clamored for more assistance from Washington. The New York Times reported that Col. Terry Ebbert, director of Homeland Security for New Orleans, said the disaster response has been "carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days. It's criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren't force-feeding us. It's like FEMA has never been to a hurricane."

The Primary Mission Is To Save Lives states The National Response Plan (NRP) which was accepted and implemented by Bush Administration in December 2004.

The NRP establishes policies, procedures, and mechanisms for proactive Federal response to catastrophic events. A catastrophic event is any natural or manmade incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions. A catastrophic event could result in sustained national impacts over a prolonged period of time; almost immediately exceeds resources normally available to State, local, tribal, and private-sector authorities in the impacted area; and significantly interrupts governmental operations and emergency services to such an extent that national security could be threatened. All catastrophic events are Incidents of National Significance.

Implementation of Proactive Federal Response Protocols

Protocols for proactive Federal response are most likely to be implemented for catastrophic events involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive weapons of mass destruction, or large magnitude earthquakes or other natural or technological disasters in or near heavily populated areas.

Guiding Principles for Proactive Federal Response
include the following:

■ The primary mission is to save lives; protect critical infrastructure, property, and the environment; contain the event; and preserve national security.
■ Standard procedures regarding requests for assistance may be expedited or, under extreme circumstances, suspended in the immediate aftermath of an event of catastrophic magnitude.
■ Identified Federal response resources will deploy and begin necessary operations as required to commence life-safety activities.
■ Notification and full coordination with States will occur, but the coordination process must not delay or impede the rapid deployment and use of critical resources. States are urged to notify and coordinate with local governments regarding a proactive Federal response.
■ State and local governments are encouraged to conduct collaborative planning with the Federal Government as a part of "steady-state" preparedness for catastrophic incidents.

Implementation Mechanisms for Proactive Federal Response to Catastrophic Events

The NRP Catastrophic Incident Supplement (described in the Catastrophic Incident Annex) addresses resource and procedural implications of catastrophic events to ensure the rapid and efficient delivery of resources and assets, including special teams, equipment, and supplies that provide critical lifesaving support and incident containment capabilities. These assets may be so specialized or costly that they are either not available or are in insufficient quantities in most localities.

The procedures outlined in the NRP Catastrophic Incident Supplement are based on the following:

■ The pre-identification of Federal assets and capabilities;
■ The strategic location of pre-identified assets for rapid deployment; and
■ The use of pre-scripted mission assignments for Stafford Act declarations, or individual agency authority and funding, to expedite deployment upon notification by DHS (in accordance with procedures established in the NRP Catastrophic Incident Supplement) of a potential catastrophic event.

Agencies responsible for these assets will keep DHS apprised, through the HSOC, of their ongoing status and location until the JFO is established. Upon arrival at the scene, Federal assets will coordinate with the Unified Command, the SFLEO, and the JFO (or its forward elements) when established. Demobilization processes, including full coordination with the JFO Coordination Group, are initiated either when the mission is completed or when it is determined the magnitude of the event does not warrant continued use of the asset.

If the primary mission is to save lives, then immediate action is required, not 5 days of delay.

Posted by: Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible on September 6, 2005 12:05 AM

As a final note, here its is:

From the City Of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan:
website of the City of New Orleans

" The safe evacuation of threatened populations when endangered by a major catastrophic event is one of the principle reasons for developing a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. The thorough identification of at-risk populations, transportation and sheltering resources, evacuation routes and potential bottlenecks and choke points, and the establishment of the management team that will coordinate not only the evacuation but which will monitor and direct the sheltering and return of affected populations, are the primary tasks of evacuation planning. Due to the geography of New Orleans and the varying scales of potential disasters and their resulting emergency evacuations, different plans are in place for small-scale evacuations and for citywide relocations of whole populations.

Authority to issue evacuations of elements of the population is vested in the Mayor. By Executive Order, the chief elected official, the Mayor of the City of New Orleans, has the authority to order the evacuation of residents threatened by an approaching hurricane. "

Posted by: ttyler5 on September 6, 2005 12:54 AM,0,6438977.story?page=1&coll=la-home-headli

This appeared in the LA Times on August 30th. According to the LA Times, FEMA was in the area with supplies and food and water PRIOR to Katrina even striking land. And yet for some mysterious reason, FEMA didn't seem able to get anything anywhere. Even after the National Guard arrived.

"Charges of racism are empty-headed and politically-motivated rants, and in fact represent a form of racism masquerading as "moral virtue.""

Excuse me? This is Barbara Bush:

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this --this is working very well for them."

She assumes they were underprivileged "anyway" simply because they are all mostly African-American. Talk about a racist comment.

Perry has done nothing more than pander and profit politically off the misery of others. As have most if not all of the politicians and the various political candidates in Texas and elsewhere. But to blame a governor and a mayor for the inaction of FEMA, over which they have no authority, is truly disgusting. Especially while proclaiming Rick Perry some sort of heralding angel. He's the only angel I've ever seen with horns and a tail.

The response of Texans themselves has been truly amazing on the other hand, but then we have always considered Louisianans more than just neighbors. They have always been sort of family, particularly if you've lived in East Texas. It almost makes up for the pandering by our politicians. Which most Louisianans have seen through already. Here and there. But most I suspect will stand behind their governor and their mayor. And point their fingers at Bush who cut the FEMA budget which initially contained funding for the levee system and whose nominee to head FEMA, Michael D. Brown, was responsible for ensuring that the supplies and food and water were sent into those communities affected by Katrina. Which they weren't.

No one is totally innocent in this. Some, however, are by the same token not guilty. The guilty ones are in Washington.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on September 6, 2005 2:48 AM

a story of Houston Firefighters who tried to volunteer... and the question...

Why FEMA turned away help

by Ducktape
Mon Sep 5th, 2005 at 09:55:38 CDT

For days after the disaster, help and volunteers of all sorts headed for New Orleans with relief supplies and expertise, only to be stopped and turned away by FEMA.

Last night, one of my friends joined our regular Sunday chat. He had just come home from New Orleans with his group of volunteer firefighters from Houston, after they had waited outside New Orleans for since Tuesday for FEMA to let them help in New Orleans, or use them somewhere else in the stricken region.

FEMA's "reason" -- they wouldn't let anyone in "until the National Guard has secured the city."

Bill is a member of a volunteer firefighter team in the Houston area. He and his team have a lot of experience helping after hurricanes. And they also have special expertise -- a lot of them work for a living on oil infrastructure and repairs. Bill is a professional logistics expert whose assignments have included getting a client's tsunami-flattened distribution facility back operating within a couple of weeks, and pre-invasion logistics work in Kuwait.

On Monday night, his group assembled their rescue equipment and tools, and packed them into their boats along with all the emergency supplies they could carry. By Tuesday morning, they were almost to New Orleans. "We were stopped at gunpoint by FEMA and told to turn back," he told me. When I asked, he clarified that they did not point the guns at them, but they were carrying and displaying their weapons.

FEMA told him that no one was allowed to enter the city to help "until it was secured by the National Guard." The Houston team asked if they could wait. The FEMA staff told them yes, but that they shouldn't expect anything to change.

So they set up camp in the parking area where they had been stopped, and they waited. By Thursday night, when they were still waiting in the same place, some of the team returned to Houston. The rest decided to wait longer. And still nothing changed, so the remaining team members returned to Houston on Saturday night.

Needless to say, Bill is livid about this. I asked him why they had not been sent to some of the other communities in the hurricane-stricken area where security was not as much of an issue.

"We asked," he told me, "but they said that our expertise was more needed in the New Orleans area." The fucking catch-22 -- they were needed in New Orleans, so they weren't allowed to go elsewhere, but they weren't allowed to go into New Orleans, so the upshot was that they did nothing except sit and wait, and then go home in frustration.

What had him frosted more than anything else is that they also have very specific expertise, as individual professionals as well as a firefighter team, in dealing with damage to oil infrastructure in the aftermath of a natural disaster. "We've been doing this more than 10 years," he told me. "We are not amateurs, and we have an enormous amount of experience with areas which have been hit by hurricanes."

"A lot of the damaged oil facilities aren't even in the city of New Orleans itself," he told me, "so they weren't in an area that you would think would have looters or security problems that were different from any hurricane we've worked in. We're used to arriving and immediately going to work."

They didn't just sit and wait -- they kept going back to the FEMA people who were holding them up and making suggestions about how and where they could be useful. But FEMA had no interest in listening, and the line never changed. "You can wait if you wish, but don't expect any change anytime soon. Or you can go home."

You know all that "help is on the way" BS that was spouted? A lot of it wasn't just "on the way" -- it was already there, but blocked from doing anything because of FEMA.

We've heard so much of this over this past week, of help and supplies arriving and not being allowed in, of the USS Bataan cruising off the city with helicopters, medical facilities, and supplies, but doing nothing because they hadn't been asked to help.

I thought my outrage meter was already off the dial, but I discovered it had new levels when I heard the first-hand account from a friend who had left work for a week to bring specific expertise to the disaster, and who was among the thousands of such people blocked by FEMA and their incompetent bureaucracy from doing anything at all.

Posted by: Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible on September 6, 2005 10:16 AM

Baby Snooks, I think you need to step away from the Howard Dean/DNC Kool-Aid for a moment.

As for the comments of Mrs. Bush, she says they were underprivileged because they mostly WERE. Most of the people with the means to evacuate on their own, did so. I don't think this is disputable.

Also, as for your demonization of Governor Perry, I hardly see how it's warranted here. If you vilify him over his response to this, then there's just no pleasing some people.

Posted by: Tim on September 6, 2005 10:27 AM

I think her commment speaks for itself. There were lots of people in New Orleans who are not "underprivileged" who simply didn't own cars. Perhaps they should have just hailed a cab? Beyond that, does she really think being stuck in a stadium with thousands of others is "working very well for them?" It smacks of the same type of attitude her son took. They don't matter.

Governor Perry doesn't need to me to demonize him. He does that quite well all by himself.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on September 6, 2005 2:46 PM,0,685581.story?track=hpmostemailedlink

A week later, FEMA now says nothing was in place? What is worse is that the LA Times didn't call them on this. But then our media seems to tremble in their boots when it comes to the Bush Administration. Whose approach to truth seems to be denying last week's lie by telling another one.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on September 6, 2005 2:51 PM

Baby Snooks, Look, under no circumstances, under no stretch of the imagination or of the law, did Homeland Security, FEMA and the President have primary responsibility for Louisiana and New Orleans BEFORE the hurricane hit, and that is what we are talking about, the Mayor and the other local officials DID NOT do what they were supposed to do BEFORE THE STORM, which included staging a total emergency evacuation of the City of New Orleans beginning AT LEAST 72 hours before the storm struck, as is planned and called for in Mayor Nagins own frigging New Orleans Comprehensive Enmergency Plan.

The Governor was no where in this, and the Mayor of New Orleans was too worried about upsetting the tourist business!!

That's the bottom line on why there were over 100,000 people trapped in New Orleans WHEN the hurricane hit! There are people there who would not have left, no matter what, but there were tens of thousands who had no way to get out and needed to be evacuated by PUBLIC ACTION BEFORE the storm hit and this Mayor and Governor did NOTHING.

Yet, THEY have the nerve to politicize this and point fingers at others.

Posted by: ttyler5 on September 6, 2005 10:17 PM

Ah yes. Just as we can count on ttyler to explain how it is the fault of teachers that public schools are underfunded and poorly-performing, we can likewise count on him to tell us how it is the fault of the Mayor of NO and the Gov. of LA that President Bush appointed a non-qualified crony as head of FEMA and cut funds for levee maintenance.

For some folks, the buck never even reaches the boss' desk, much less stops there.

Posted by: Locutor on September 7, 2005 11:15 AM

They act fast when they want to be fast...

Bush crony catastrophe contracts bonanza-these guys are always one step ahead of you.

September 07, 2005 -- 02:27 AM EDT

THESE GUYS ARE always one step ahead of you.
Back on Monday I told you how the Bush crony catastrophe contracts bonanza would be so big it might even tempt Bush fixer Joe Allbaugh to bring his influence-peddling racket back stateside.
Well, as TPM Reader JV points out, that ship's already sailed.

This article from the September 1st edition of the Post noted that Allbaugh was already in Louisiana "helping coordinate the private-sector response to the storm."

Now, if you figure that an article that appeared on the September 1st was probably reported out on Wednesdy August 31st, perhaps this is one of those cases that show how the public sector just can't match the pace of the private sector, seeing as Allbaugh seems to have beaten most of the folks from FEMA, the agency he ran before handing it off to Michael Brown, into the disaster area.

I also must confess that I'd been so focused on Allbaugh's Iraq operation, that I had lost track of what he was up to on the domestic rain-making activities....

Posted by: Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible on September 7, 2005 7:17 PM