Archive for the ‘Hurricane Katrina’ Category

I’m leading a Katrina forum on Sunday

Friday, August 24th, 2007

The second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is approaching, and on Sunday — two years to the day since my oft-quoted “New Orleans in peril” and “get the hell out” posts — I’ll be giving a talk, or hosting a forum, or whatever you want to call it, on the hurricane at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church at 10:05 AM, part of their weekly “Sunday forum” series. I was asked to do this by Edward Lollis, chairman of the church’s forum committee, who is a fan of my blog and wanted to do something for the storm’s anniversary. Anyway, here is what the church’s official newsletter has to say about Sunday’s event:

Forum at 10:05 AM— “Hurricane Katrina: What Went Right and What Went Wrong”: When Hurricane Katrina roared ashore two years ago today, its human toll would have been far less had Mayor Nagin and the Louisiana media heeded the warnings of Brendan Loy, a 23-year old law student in South Bend, Indiana. Immediately after the storm, Loy’s predictions were acclaimed by the New York Times and Washington Post, and his web log (blog) became one of the most frequently linked-to websites of all times. Loy recently graduated from the University of Notre Dame and moved to Knoxville. He will tell us how he scooped the nation in 2005 and how the mainstream media and government continue to fail the people of New Orleans.

I’ll try my best to live up to that billing. To be honest, I’m still working out exactly what I’m going to say. :) I suspect I’ll be somewhat heavy on the 2005 stuff and somewhat lighter on the “continue to fail” part, as I haven’t followed subsequent events in New Orleans as closely as I’d like. But I think I’ll still have some reasonably valuable things to say, if I don’t get totally bogged down in the minutiae and run out of time! Whatever I say, I’ll definitely have to issue my standard clarification/correction about the whole “predictions” thing — I didn’t “predict” it, I just sounded the alarm, as I always say. Anyway, the church is at 2931 Kingston Pike here in Knoxville, if anyone wants to come on down.

Was Katrina a 1-in-400-years storm for N.O.?

Friday, August 17th, 2007

[UPDATE: Meteorology Ph.D. student and weather blogger Charles Fenwick believes the Army Corps’ numbers are plausible. He knows a lot more about this stuff than I do, and his analysis makes sense.]

The New York Times has an article today declaring that New Orleans is still vulnerable to severe flooding from a hurricane — hardly a surprise, though the timing of the article is interesting, since that fact could become quite relevant in five or six days’ time if the computer models keep shifting Hurricane Dean’s track to the right.

But anyway, what is surprising, to me at least, is the fact that the Army Corps of Engineers has declared that Hurricane Katrina was “a 1-in-396 [years] storm.” That is to say, according to the Corps, residents of New Orleans can expect to go almost 400 years, on average, between storms as bad as Katrina — and even longer, one presumes, between storms that are worse.

I would really like to see the study on which this conclusion is based, and examine the rationale underpinning it, because on the face of it, this conclusion strikes me as peculiar, even bizarre. As I’ve pointed out numerous times, Hurricane Katrina could have been far worse than it actually was for New Orleans: the center passed 30-40 miles east of the city, sparing New Orleans a direct hit; a last-minute bout of dry-air entrainment severely weakened the portion of the eyewall that passed over the city; and, more broadly, the whole storm weakened just before landfall from a Category 5 to a Category 3 and, by the time it reached New Orleans’s latitude, a Category 2. How is that a 400-year storm? (Read more here, re: the NHC’s official report on Katrina.)

Admittedly, Katrina’s storm surge was historic, far worse than a typical Cat. 2 or 3 (worse even than a “typical” Cat. 5, if there is such a thing), because it had been so powerful the day before and was so geographically huge. But the worst of the surge hit Mississippi, not New Orleans. The dangerous right-front quadrant of the eyewall brought a wall of water 30+ feet high into Waveland and environs, while back over in New Orleans, the weakened left-front quadrant was delivering the city what amounted to a glancing blow. The worst damage to New Orleans, by far, was from seeping water slowly filling up the city after the storm; the storm itself wasn’t that bad, except insofar as it breached the deficient levees. I have always contended that, if the track had been slightly different and that massive surge had made a direct hit on southeastern Louisiana, funneling the wall of water up the rivers and canals toward the Big Easy and breaching the levees more quickly and completely, the death toll could have been in the tens of thousands because many, many people who sought refuge on their roofs (and were eventually rescued by helicopter) would have instead drowned in the much higher water levels during the height of the storm — which, in such a scenario, would have been far more deadly, with higher winds, more debris flying around, more wave action, etc.

In any event, the Army Corps’s conclusion makes no sense to me. If Katrina was a once-in-400-years event, that would seem to imply that hurricanes of Category 2 or greater intensity, which were Category 5 less than 24 hours before and are geographically very large, will only pass within 30-40 miles of New Orleans (on either side) every 400 years on average. That conclusion seems obviously wrong, doesn’t it? They do realize that New Orleans is on the Gulf Coast, right?

As I said, though, I’d really like to see the rationale underlying the Corps’s conclusion, because maybe I’m missing something. Perhaps their conclusion is well-founded, for reasons I’m not grasping. As I try to repeat frequently, I’m not actually an expert on this stuff, so I could be wrong. But if I’m not wrong — if the Corps is engaging in some fuzzy math here, perhaps because it wants to pretend it’s gotten New Orleans better prepared than it really has — then I fear for the complacent attitude this sort of thing may cause. If New Orleans residents believe Katrina is as bad as it’s ever likely to get in their lifetimes, or their children’s or grandchildren’s lifetimes for that matter, the ones who stayed put and survived in 2005 will probably stay put again the next time a storm threatens, not realizing that Katrina was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what New Orleans could potentially face whenever a major hurricane finally decides to make a direct hit on the city.

P.S. Much more about the Corps and its blatant failures from Time magazine. (Hat tip: Patrick Cullen.) The article includes a quote from LSU hurricane researcher Ivor van Heerden, who certainly doesn’t sound as if he believes Katrina was a 1-in-400-years storm: “Katrina wasn’t even close to the Big One,” he says. “We better start getting ready.”

Katrina’s continuing aftermath

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

A pediatrician from Waveland, Mississippi has finally given up hope and left town. His farewell blog post is a stinging indictment of the failures of our current “leadership” and a gut-wrenching reality check for those who may think the Katrina recovery effort is coming along swimmingly. Read the whole thing. (Hat tip: Patrick Cullen.)

Mardi Blah

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Sixteen months after Hurricane Katrina, the AP says the French Quarter is in a funk:

“The money’s not the same. I remember when I made $1,200 a night,” said Elizabeth Johnson, a manager and dancer at a Bourbon Street strip club, frowning at another slow night. “I know girls who used to never let people touch them, and now they’re resorting to prostitution.”

Does this mean that going to Bourbon Street, ordering some drinks and getting a lap dance is now a patriotic duty? Ask not what your stripper can do for you…

Lookie what’s out on DVD today…

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Guess Brendan missed this one.

Just a law school blogging weather nerd…harumph.

Superdome rockin’ as Saints dominate

Monday, September 25th, 2006

It’s Saints 20, Falcons 3 at halftime. Everything has gone right for New Orleans so far: the game started with a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, the second touchdown came on a triple-reverse trick play, and in the final seconds the Saints hit a 51-yard field goal that looked like it would have been good from 60 yards. The fans are going crazy.

UPDATE: New Orleans 23, Atlanta 3, final. The Saints are 3-0.

P.S. Disturbing quote of the night, from the ESPN postgame show: “You are what you eat, and all these years, you’ve been eating Bill Parcells.”

Katrina’s surge, and the return of the Superdome

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Fellow weatherblogger Margie Kieper has posted the final installment in her excellent series on the devastation all along the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastlines from Hurricane Katrina’s massive storm surge. While the manmade disaster in New Orleans has gotten the lion’s share of the media attention, the “invisible coastline” is still picking up the pieces after a calamity that was “on the order of a 500-year storm,” surge-wise, according to a new study.

Speaking of Katrina… tonight on Monday Night Football — in a rare event combining two of this blog’s favorite topics (hurricanes and football) and raising the question, “Brendan, why didn’t you apply for a press pass to this game? If Al Jazeera can get one, surely the Irish Trojan could too!” — Reggie Bush and the New Orleans Saints host the Atlanta Falcons in the first game at the Superdome since the hurricane. The Saints are 2-0, although their wins have come against “the Browns and Packers, the Rice and Temple of the NFL.” The Falcons are also 2-0. The game is on ESPN at 8:30 PM.

Welcome to my blog!

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Once again: Welcome, HBO viewers! Viewers of tonight’s Spike Lee documentary who aren’t familiar with my blog — and thus don’t understand why the heck I, of all people, was in the movie — may want to read this post for a bit of background information.

P.S. To read my reactions to the movie, check out these posts:
Thoughts on Spike Lee’s movie so far
What Spike Lee didn’t tell us
Fair and balanced — not

One year ago…

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

One year ago this night, with Hurricane Katrina bearing down on Louisiana and Mississippi, I was blogging like crazy all night long, and getting 800 hits per hour (a rate which would peak at over 3,000 later in the day, leading to a unprecedented daily total of 31,139 — surpassed the following day by the record that still stands, 34,278). If interested, you can view my posts from that fateful night by going to Page 27 of my Katrina category and working backwards. [UPDATE: Or you can go to my August 29, 2005 page, scroll down to the bottom, and then work your way up. That’s much more efficient, actually.]

Particularly compelling, I think, is the 2:25 AM post “Schrodinger’s City,” quoting N.O. Pundit: “There is a Schrodinger’s Cat quality to watching the spinning red ball: does the New Orleans that I know even exist right now, hours before landfall? Surely the buildings are there right now and the people who remained are fine right now. But in a sense, some of those buildings have already fallen and some of those people have already met tragedy. Indeterminacy tonight, determinacy tomorrow.”

In point of fact, “determinacy” was slow to come, and it wasn’t until early Tuesday morning that we got any sense of how bad things were really going to get in the Crescent City. (And some folks still don’t have a good sense of how much worse things almost were, but that’s another issue, to be discussed a bit more after the jump.)

Anyway… if anyone came here expecting some sort of massive, wide-ranging, profound, overarching Katrina anniversary roundup, I’m afraid this post will disappoint. I simply haven’t had time — what with the demands of moving across the country, starting school, living life, and blogging about the current tropical threat — to really collect my thoughts about Hurricane Katrina and come up with some grand anniversary post. Besides, there’s no way I could match the excellent job Margie Kieper is doing with her series on the “Invisible Coastline.”

I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t link to this post by Paul at Wizbang, which was Instalanched yesterday evening (and which several readers have subsequently pointed me to). Paul posts, and extensively analyzes, a video of the main broken levee which he says proves the fascinating, mind-bending hypothesis that Katrina actually saved lives:

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Fair and balanced — not

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Well, I certainly appreciate Spike Lee’s balanced approach to Kanye West’s “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” comment. It was very even-handed and intellectually honest of him to include several intelligent rebuttals to Kanye’s comment, just like he included various rebuttals to the criticisms of Ray Nagin yesterday.

Oh, wait, you mean he didn’t do that? You mean the only commentary he included came from two “activists” who were more interested in stroking Kanye’s ego than providing any sort of critical analysis of his comment? You mean Spike deliberately left out all commentary from interviewees (like me) who criticized Kanye’s comments, and contended that the government’s failures came from incompetence, not malice? Oh.

After I expressed concerns about Spike’s intentions with the film, his producer Judith Aley assured me that Spike intended to include “a wide range of viewpoints.” Hmm.

I love the woman who said: “They aren’t doing anything for the Katrina victims. For the blacks, anyway.” Yeah, because FEMA has separate databases for white and black victims. Only the whites get hotel rooms!

And from the same woman: “If they wanted us in New Orleans, they wouldn’t have tried to drown us and kill us. I’m not going to go back so they can kill us off.” No rebuttal, no analysis. He just let that comment sit there. Nice.

I also love all the accusations of white people of being racist, followed by statements like “the culture of New Orleans comes from black people.” Because that’s not racist!

I will say, however, that the criticism of Barbara Bush was richly deserved.

What Spike Lee didn’t tell us

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

At the risk of beating a dead horse…

Last night, while watching Acts I and II of Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke, I asked, “What about the school buses? Why hasn’t Spike shown us the school buses?” There are two possible answers, one cynical and one less so. The less cynical answer is simply that Spike’s focus was the post-storm failures, not the pre-storm failures. The cynical answer — which is also a possible ulterior motive for the less cynical rationale — is that he wanted to shine the light on the federal government’s failures while minimizing the local government’s failures.

Whatever Spike’s motives, his failure to address crucial issues like the drowned buses or to adequately discuss the slowness of the evacuation — coupled with the unrebutted inflammatory comments by the likes of Harry Belafonte, and also Spike’s obsession with irrelevancies like Condi Rice’s shoe-buying habits — takes away a great deal of credibility from what could otherwise have been a truly excellent film. (And yes, I realize Acts III and IV haven’t aired yet, but given the stated topics of those acts, it seems highly unlikely they’ll cure the deficiencies of Acts I and II.)

Anyway, this article from last September (hat tip: Jeff Wendt) does an excellent job expanding on the importance of those drowned school buses:

According to the principle of subsidiarity, governmental agencies and leaders at the city, parish, and state agencies hold primary responsibility for implementing the evacuation process. The city of New Orleans apparently agrees, since in their “Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan� they vest the authority to authorize an evacuation with the Mayor and the implementation of such an action with the city’s Office of Emergency Preparedness. The state’s official hurricane evacuation plan even notes that the primary means of evacuation will be personal vehicles but that school and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles, and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating.

How many people would need to be evacuated? In a paper written over a year ago, University of New Orleans researcher Shirley Laska estimated that the city has approximately 120,000 residents who do not have their own transportation and would need to rely on the government. While this is an extremely large number, the Regional Transportation Authority and the local school system have roughly 560 busses in which they could use in an emergency. Assuming that each bus could carry sixty-six passengers, each trip could carry 37,554 residents to safety. Three round-trips would be required to move all 120,000 citizens.

Such a task would naturally be rather time-consuming and fraught with unforeseen difficulties. But it would have almost assuredly save many lives – if it had ever been attempted. Rather than follow their own operating procedures, though, the city allowed the busses to lie dormant and instead advised residents to seek shelter in the Superdome. Only after the storm did the people who had followed this advice discover that they were trapped in the stadium without food or emergency services.

Realizing that their plan was faulty, the city chose to shift the blame to the federal government. Terry Ebbert, the director of homeland security for New Orleans, criticized FEMA for not acting quickly enough to move the 30,000 people who were holed up in the shelter of “last resort.â€? New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin even had the audacity to criticize the feds for not moving quickly enough after the storm had subsided, “I need 500 buses, man…. This is a national disaster,â€? said Nagin. “Get every doggone Greyhound busline in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans.â€? In his rant Nagin never got around to explaining why he never got the 500 buses within the city to move out of New Orleans.

If Spike Lee had wanted to really add something valuable to the public discourse on Katrina, he could have asked probing questions that would have challenged Nagin on that point. Instead, he uncritically quoted Nagin’s rant and never once mentioned the school buses. (And don’t even get me started on the outageous, and completely unchallenged, claim that rapidly evacuating people out of the airport — which necessitated, for the sake of efficiency, a somewhat inprecise process of shipping them off wholesale to far-flung cities — is equivalent to “slavery.” Cripes.)

On a broader note, the above-linked article’s more general point, while not particularly relevant to Spike’s movie, is also very interesting, and dare I say it, compelling:

What is most distressing about the situation, though, is not that a mayor failed to lead but that the principle of subsidiarity was already in place and yet failed to be implemented. Mayor Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco deserve the primary blame for the fiasco in New Orleans. But the larger failure belongs to conservatives.

Principles such as subsidiarity, federalism, and limited government are often considered cornerstones of conservative political thought. But when it comes to their actual implementation they are merely given lip-service. While aspiring young politicos sing the praises of states-rights, they prefer to do so on Capital Hill or in D.C. think tanks rather than in the choirs of their state legislatures or local governments. The very idea that our most competent conservative statesmen should be working in their actual states rather than in Washington is considered ludicrous. After all, everyone knows that state and local governments are reserved for the also-rans and has-beens rather than for the able and ambitious. Any job in FEMA, for instance, is considered superior to working in the New Orleans’s Office of Emergency Preparedness.

But mayor’s offices, city councils, and state legislatures all join the “little platoons� that serve as our first line of defense when natural or man-made disasters strike. So why then are we not working to put our best and brightest into these offices? Why do push them to take jobs as Senatorial aides rather than as state senators? Why do we lead them to roles as assistants to assistant directors in the Department of Education rather than as leaders on county school boards? Why do we put our rhetoric behind the local and yet put our faith in the federal?

If we expect to be taken seriously, conservatives must start supporting the principles we claim we believe. One way that we could begin is by “subsidizing� subsidiarity, by using our resources to promote our intellectual and political leaders at the state and local levels of governance.

Spike Lee videos, anyone?

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

If anybody DVR’d or TiVo’d the Spike Lee movie, and has the ability to digitize the portion containing me, and e-mail it to me (tips [at] brendanloy.com), I would be much obliged.

I got a double-Instalanche, by the way, to my self-referential commentary on the film (below). During the course of the a single InstaPundit post, I am quoted as calling Ray Nagin an “incompetent idiot” and Harry Belafonte simply “an idiot,” and criticizing Spike Lee as politically motivated and lacking balance. Clearly, I hate black people! ;) On the other hand, I also criticized Bush, Brown and Chertoff, so maybe I’m just a misanthrope…

P.S. In the midst of the debate over possibly deleting my Wikipedia page, someone left this comment on my “Talk” page:

Why did I look for this page? The Spike Lee documentary. I wanted to know more about Brendan Loy and why he is important to Hurricane Katrina. I found my answer. … Don’t delete the page and lose this thread of history.

Hey, kids, I’m a “thread of history”! Woohoo! :)

Thoughts on Spike Lee’s movie so far

Monday, August 21st, 2006

 
[UPDATE, Aug. 22, 7:28 PM: More thoughts on the movie in a new post here.]
 
 
First of all, new readers may want to check out this post, which provides some background information for those unfamiliar with my blog and why the heck I was in Spike Lee’s movie.

The quote from “New Orleans in peril” is exactly what I expected. (Speaking of which: As I wrote earlier, yes, I was off by two orders of magnitude in my mention of a possible six-figure death toll — but only because we got very lucky at the last minute. Katrina could have been much worse. Tens of thousands, at least, could have died, with only a slight change in the track and/or intensity of the storm. More here.)

What came next was a little strange: I swear I said a lot more interesting, dramatic things during our hourlong interview that would have gotten across the same point that he was trying to make there. But, oh well. Although I might have picked a different quote, I had no problem with how I was portrayed, contrary to my initial fears that my words might be twisted. And it’s certainly very cool that Spike used me to “lead off” Act I of his movie. My only real complaint is that he cut off the “USC” from my sweatshirt! :)

Anyway… one of my favorite moments in the documentary is how Mayor Nagin rhetorically hung himself (though he didn’t seem to realize it) with a truly amazing, absolutely damning statement that conclusively demonstrates his utter incompetence in the run-up to Katrina. He admitted (he seemed to think it was a defense, rather than an admission of guilt) that he didn’t ask his city attorney to “figure out” a way to order a mandatory evacuation until Saturday night, less than a day and a half before landfall. He’d never thought of this before?!? He’d never, during the first three-plus years of his mayorlty, assigned his lawyers to come up with set guidelines for mandatory hurricane evacuations? Did he not realize that he’s the mayor of New Orleans?!? If you read this article from 2002, or this blog post from 2004, it’s completely obvious that New Orleans needed to be prepared to order a mandatory evacuation — ideally 72 hours before landfall, not 24 hours before! — in the inevitable event that a major hurricane would someday bear down on the city. So, how on earth does anyone give Nagin a free pass on this? It’s completely inexcusable that his administration didn’t have a specific, lawyer-approved plan already in place for this very scenario, which had been anticipated and feared for years!

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Welcome, HBO viewers!

Monday, August 21st, 2006

Tonight, from what I understand, I’ll be making some sort of an appearance in “Act I” of Spike Lee’s made-for-TV documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, which airs on HBO at 9:00 PM Eastern and Pacific.

I met with Spike on January 27, he interviewed me for over an hour, and apparently I am the first interview featured in the film. (I haven’t seen it yet, but according to a commenter who says she watched its premiere in New Orleans last week, “a prophetic quote from your web log scrolls across the screen, setting the tone for the first act.” I’m not clear on whether my face or voice is actually featured. We shall see.)

I assume that some viewers of the movie will find their way to my website, so I wanted to post this message and say, Welcome to my blog! :) I also thought I’d try to briefly explain, for the uninitiated, why this humble blog became sufficiently prominent that Spike Lee felt it should be included in his movie about Hurricane Katrina.

First, though, I want to give some link-love to Margie Kieper, who is doing an excellent day-by-day rundown of the utter devastation all along the Gulf Coast (not just New Orleans). Definitely worth checking out.

Now then, about me. The Irish Trojan’s Blog covers a wide variety of topics — basically, anything and everything that interests me — from politics to sports to movies to astronomy, and much more. At various times, I’ve gotten a decent amount of attention for each of these areas, and others. But it was my coverage of Katrina last August that really earned me my 15 minutes of fame. How did it happen? Well, on Friday evening, August 26, 2005, two-and-a-half days before the storm’s landfall, my Katrina coverage was Instalanched. I seized the opportunity presented by the newfound audience, and kept blogging vigorously about the strengthening storm. This attracted an ever-growing audience, and more links from major blogs followed, and then more, and more. People started bookmarking me as a go-to source of Katrina-related info. The next thing I knew, I was the Internet’s #1 Katrina blog, with 30,000 unique hits a day (compared to the ~1,250 that I was getting prior to the storm). Before long, the mainstream media took notice — especially as my “get the hell out” pleas began to sound prescient in retrospect — and I wound up on the AP wire, in the New York Times, on MSNBC, in the Washington Post, and more. It was crazy. Ultimately, the whole thing got me nominated for Blogger of the Year — and, of course, it got me a free trip to New York for an interview with Spike Lee.

Having said all that, I want to reiterate one important point that I’ve made over and over again in various TV, newspaper, radio and movie interviews about my Katrina coverage: I didn’t “predict” the hurricane. I merely “sounded the alarm” at a time when publicly available information — computer models, National Hurricane Center forecasts, and years-old scientific doomsday scenarios — made it crystal-clear that New Orleans was in mortal danger, yet the MSM and the government seemed to be asleep at the switch. (Matt Drudge, for example, was still calling for a Florida landfall well into Saturday! And of course we all know about the idiotic statements by government officials.) As I told Tucker Carlson in September, “The real story here isn’t that I ‘called it.’ It’s that the local officials and federal officials, all up and down the chain, didn’t seem to be taking it as seriously as they should have. I don’t think I said anything extraordinary. What I was saying was pretty obvious: ‘This thing is headed towards New Orleans, if the forecast comes true, and we’ve always known that a storm headed towards New Orleans would be absolute disaster.’ And I, frankly, don’t quite understand why more people weren’t as alarmed as I was.”

I certainly wasn’t the only person who was alarmed, however. I owe a great deal of credit to Dr. Jeff Masters and Charles Fenwick, both of whom (unlike me) are meteorologists, and both of whom had excellent Katrina coverage from the get-go. Indeed, it was this post by Masters and this post by Fenwick that inspired my now-famous post declaring that “we could be 3-4 days away from an unprecedented cataclysm that could kill as many as 100,000 people in New Orleans.” (And yes, I was off by two orders of magnitude on the death-toll prediction — but only because we got very lucky at the last possible minute. Katrina could have been much worse. Tens of thousands, at least, could have died, with only a slight change in the track and/or intensity of the storm. More here.)

Anyway, I’ve gotten most of the praise, but Masters and Fenwick were most definitely “sounding the alarm” as well. Various other weatherbloggers (see list at right) were also very much on the ball, as was the National Hurricane Center, whose forecasts were downright excellent. The point is, in no way should the attention that I’ve received be seen as detracting from all of those folks’ amazing efforts. If I provided anything unique in my coverage of Katrina, it was that I served as a central clearinghouse of information where people could read the latest from the weatherbloggers, the meteorologists and the mainstream media, as well as see for themselves the latest data from the computer models, satellite maps, tidal gauges and so forth, all in one place. Bryan Woods of The Storm Track told the Washington Post in October: “Brendan really acts as a distribution point for disseminating information. He is like the middle man between the weather experts and the public.” I think that’s pretty accurate.

One final point, since I’m not sure whether this will make it into the movie or not: Ray Nagin is an incompetent idiot. Here’s a detailed explanation of why. Two days before landfall, I predicted that he would be “the mayor who fiddled while New Orleans drowned,” and I was right. Yes, there were massive failures at all levels of government — local, state and federal — but the single person who bears the most blame, in my view, is Mayor Nagin, for failing to make even a halfway-serious effort at implementing the city’s evacuation plan, even though it was 100% clear by the Saturday morning before landfall that if there was ever a time to do it, now is the time. Spike, I gather, intends to focus on Condi Rice’s shoe-buying tendencies in tonight’s movie, and while that might score political points, it’s not the Secretary of State’s job to protect American citizens from hurricanes. It is, however, the mayor of New Orleans’s job to protect his city’s residents by putting long-held evacuation plans into effect when a mortal threat to the city’s survival is less than 48 hours away, and he failed utterly to do so. In my opinion, it’s an absolute travesty that he was re-elected.

Anyway… thanks for stopping by my blog. Please have a look around, and if you like what you see, come back and see us again, y’all hear? :)

UPDATE: More thoughts on the movie in a new post above.

I’m a movie star! :)

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

 
[UPDATE, 8/22/06: For the latest, up-to-date commentary on Spike Lee’s film — which I was indeed in — please visit my homepage or my Katrina category.]
 
 
I mentioned earlier that I had no idea whether I’m actually in Spike Lee’s documentary about Hurricane Katrina, which debuted yesterday at New Orleans Arena and airs on HBO next Monday and Tuesday. Spike interviewed me for over an hour for the film, but I wondered whether I had actually made the cut.

Well, it seems I have my answer, thanks to commenter Donna:

I attended the premiere of Spike Lee’s joint last night. I am pleased to tell you that you are the very first interview of Act I. A prophetic quote from your web log scrolls across the screen, setting the tone for the first act. Thank you for your concern last year.

Woohoo!

As I mentioned here, Spike had me read five of my blog posts aloud: New Orleans in peril, Humbled by Katrina, Evacuate, The mayor of New Orleans is an idiot, and NHC urges N.O. mayor to issue mandatory evacuation. Based on what Donna said, I’m guessing the first one, “New Orleans in peril,” is the one featured in the movie, though that’s just a guess.

Now, the question is… who has HBO, and wants to invite me over Monday night?

P.S. Please forgive the self-centeredness of this post (and, in particular, its title). Objectively, I realize there are much more important things to discuss about this movie than my being in it. But this is my blog, and I’ve never been in a movie before, so I hope y’all can indulge me. :)