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Priority evacuation: the Hyatt

Posted by Richard on September 4, 2005

Brainster and JunkyardBlog cover two different stories about buses in New Orleans, and I do the easy work of connecting them. First, Brainster:

Hmmmm, Sounds Like Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People

According to this story in the NY Post:

At one point Friday, the evacuation was interrupted briefly when school buses pulled up so some 700 guests and employees from the Hyatt Hotel could move to the head of the evacuation line – much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the Superdome since last Sunday.

"How does this work? They (are) clean, they are dry, they get out ahead of us?" exclaimed Howard Blue, 22, who tried to get in their line. The National Guard blocked him as other guardsmen helped the well-dressed guests with their luggage.

Oh, wait a minute. It’s New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin who doesn’t care about black people:

Mayor Ray Nagin has used the hotel as a base since it sits across the street from city hall, and there were reports the hotel was cleared with priority to make room for police, firefighters and other officials.

No comment necessary, really.

But I’ll do the intellectual heavy lifting here and note this: The Nagin administration had no trouble finding buses to evacuate the Hyatt on Friday. But before the storm hit, after President Bush called and persuaded the reluctant Governor and Mayor to order a mandatory evacuation, they somehow overlooked all these buses found by JunkyardBlog (multiple posts linked individually below):

School buses not used to evacuate N.O. 

The satellite photo above shows 255 school buses. A wider shot (here, but be warned — it’s over 2MB) shows that they’re just off the freeway less than 2 miles from the Superdome.

 

The second photo shows 146 NORTA (New Orleans Regional Transit Authority) buses at their Canal Street facility less than a mile from the Superdome.

They’re all sitting in water now, of course, but that didn’t happen until Tuesday, when the levees broke. JunkyardBlog has lots more info here and here and here and here.

Conservatively, these 400 buses could have transported 25,000 people out of the city in one trip. If evacuations had begun on Saturday, when Bush "pre-declared" the disaster area, these buses could have made three trips to Houston before the hurricane hit and more to nearer locations.

Hard to find that many drivers? Maybe, if you didn’t bother to plan to use these buses. But at a minimum, couldn’t a few of these buses have been turned over to corrections personnel, with orders to transport the jail inmates elsewhere, instead of just unlocking the doors and turning them loose to prey on the helpless people left behind?

And on Tuesday, when the levees broke, couldn’t volunteers have been found to drive as many buses as possible the short distance to the Superdome or the elevated portion of I-10 so they wouldn’t be lost to the floodwaters?

As JunkyardBlog notes, it’s not as if they didn’t have a plan, and it’s not as if these buses weren’t a vital component of that plan:

Here’s the southeast Louisiana evac plan supplement, most recently revised in 2000. Go to page 13, read paragraph 5. It states:

5. The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. 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.

Well, well. Can you say "smoking gun," Mr. Mayor? Mr. Ebbert? How about a smoking arsenal? I guess whether or not you decide to act is based on how you define "school and municipal buses" and "staging area." Or "hurricane." Or "mandatory," as in "mandatory evacuation."

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3 Responses to “Priority evacuation: the Hyatt”

  1. Perry de Havilland said

    Jesus wept! I asked a question about this on my blog and it seems you provided the answer.

  2. Otis said

    Incredible. Of course, it won’t stop the lefties and their “poor people who can’t afford cars got left behind” b*ll*cks.

  3. John said

    The Mayor should be commended for safely exacuating the New Orleans Police and Fire Dept to Las Vegas for their gambling junket (this A$$hole wanted FEMA to pay for the vacations!!!). Do you think this may piss off the NYPD and FDNY volunteers who are in NO??

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