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(Part one is here)
Let's have a hurricane exercise. We'll do a bit of role playing. Here's the situation:
A cat 2 hurricane is nearing the Gulf - it's possible that it might intensify and it's also possible that it might hit a city on the Gulf Coast Between Florida and Texas, or maybe Mexico (best chance seems to be west Florida through central Louisiana). You must decide now whether to evacuate several hundred miles of coast or not - preparations must begin and the evac itself must commence in no later than 24 hours or there will be little chance of success. The cost of total evacuation is immeasurable - but easily billions of dollars.
You are mayor of a city that might be hit - what do you do?
You are governor of the State that city is in - what do you do? There are also several other cities in your state that might be hit too. Among other considerations, should you have your neighboring governors - those whose coasts might not be threatened - activate their National Guard, just in case? This will also cost big bucks.
You are president of the United States. What would you do?
Now I'll even make this easy - we advance 24 hours, and the storm has in fact intensified to strong cat 4. The rest of the forecast is unchanged - it might hit your city - but landfall looks increasingly likely to be between Florida and Louisiana. But evac must begin now - or never. You make the call for the mayor, the governor, and the president.
Let's add a wrinkle: This is next year's storm - and last year your city was struck by a cat 3 resulting in widespread damage from winds and floods.
You can state your decision in the comments section - if you have what it takes to make the call.
We'll update tomorrow with the latest "forecast".
Update 20:30Z 13 Aug Mayor, Governor, President - here's the latest on that hurricane. It's now 24 hours out, too late to change plans, and the press is in the briefing room asking questions about your decision.
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMMWe'll update again tomorrow.
HURRICANE MARY ADVISORY
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
...MARY MOVING NORTHWESTWARD OVER THE SOUTHEASTERN GULF OF
A HURRICANE WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR THE LOWER FLORIDA KEYS
FROM THE SEVEN MILE BRIDGE WESTWARD TO THE DRY TORTUGAS. A HURRICANE
WARNING IS ALSO IN EFFECT FOR PORTIONS OF THE NORTHEASTERN GULF
COAST FROM THE STEINHATCHEE RIVER WESTWARD TO THE MOUTH OF THE
AT 11 AM EDT...1500Z...THE HURRICANE WATCH FOR THE FLORIDA KEYS EAST
OF SEVEN MILE BRIDGE HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED. HOWEVER...A TROPICAL
STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR THE FLORIDA KEYS EAST OF SEVEN
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING IS NOW IN EFFECT ALONG THE FLORIDA WEST
COAST FROM EAST OF THE STEINHATCHEE RIVER SOUTHWARD...AND ALONG THE
SOUTHEAST FLORIDA COAST FROM GOLDEN BEACH SOUTHWARD...INCLUDING THE
FLORIDA KEYS FROM SEVEN MILE BRIDGE EASTWARD. A TROPICAL STORM
WARNING IS ALSO IN EFFECT FOR THE SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA COAST WEST
OF THE MOUTH OF THE PEARL RIVER TO GRAND ISLE...INCLUDING
METROPOLITAN NEW ORLEANS AND LAKE PONCHARTRAIN.
A HURRICANE OR TROPICAL STORM WARNING MEANS THAT HURRICANE OR
TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS...RESPECTIVELY...ARE EXPECTED WITHIN THE
WARNING AREA WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS. PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE
AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE RUSHED TO COMPLETION IN THE HURRICANE
FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...INCLUDING POSSIBLE
INLAND WATCHES AND WARNINGS...PLEASE MONITOR PRODUCTS ISSUED
BY YOUR LOCAL WEATHER OFFICE.
AT 11 AM EDT...1500Z...THE CENTER OF HURRICANE MARY WAS LOCATED
NEAR LATITUDE 24.7 NORTH... LONGITUDE 83.8 WEST OR ABOUT 125
MILES...WEST OF KEY WEST FLORIDA. THIS IS ALSO ABOUT 355 MILES...
SOUTH-SOUTHEAST OF APALACHICOLA FLORIDA AND ABOUT 480 MILES
SOUTHEAST OF PASCAGOULA MISSISSIPPI.
MARY IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTHWEST NEAR 14 MPH...22 KM/HR... AND
THIS MOTION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TODAY WITH A GRADUAL TURN
TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHWEST TONIGHT AND SATURDAY.
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 100 MPH...160 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. MARY IS A CATEGORY TWO HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON
SCALE. SOME GRADUAL STRENGTHENING IS POSSIBLE DURING THE NEXT 24
HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 35 MILES... 55 KM...
FROM THE CENTER...AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP
TO 175 MILES...280 KM.
THE ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 967 MB...28.56 INCHES.
MARY IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS OF 4 TO 8
INCHES ACROSS THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN FLORIDA PENINSULA...THE
FLORIDA KEYS...THE FLORIDA WEST COAST...THE FLORIDA PANHANDLE...
SOUTHERN ALABAMA...AND SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI.
STORM SURGE WILL GRADUALLY DECREASE ALONG THE LOWER FLORIDA KEYS
TODAY AND TONIGHT. A STORM SURGE OF 3 TO 5 FEET IS POSSIBLE ALONG
THE SOUTHWEST COAST OF FLORIDA TODAY AND TONIGHT. A STORM SURGE OF
8 TO 10 FEET IS POSSIBLE ALONG AND TO THE RIGHT OF WHERE THE CENTER
OF MARY CROSSES THE NORTHEASTERN GULF COAST ON SUNDAY.
ISOLATED TORNADOES WILL BE POSSIBLE OVER CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN
FLORIDA PENINSULA AND THE FLORIDA KEYS TODAY...AND ACROSS THE
FLORIDA PANHANDLE TONIGHT AND SUNDAY.
REPEATING THE 11 AM EDT POSITION...24.7 N... 83.8 W. MOVEMENT
TOWARD...NORTHWEST NEAR 14 MPH. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED
WINDS...100 MPH. MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE... 967 MB.
INTERMEDIATE ADVISORIES WILL BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL
HURRICANE CENTER AT 1 PM EDT AND 3 PM EDT FOLLOWED
BY THE NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY AT 5 PM EDT.
Update: Part III is here.
Nothing, Nothing, Nothing.
As Mayor - Evacuate
As Governor - Evacuate
As President - Nothing, leave it up to local authorities.
If the only forcasting I'm getting is at the level of "possible" and "might" and "maybe" (yet there is evidently some urgency in the voices of sources I'm getting this from) I would hope that in any of the three positions I would have the presense of mind to scramble my offices to get the better information that is surely available. If my office is a ruin of failed beaurocracy already, I hope I would personally think to reach out to nearby base commanders, academics, and even prominent Internet geeks to fill the information gap -- this would be a good time to spend social and political capital in a quick hurry.
If this is next year, rather than this year, I hope I would have had the forsight in the meanwhile to better prepare to fill this information gap -- is that an unfair answer?
Let's suppose we're at "24 hours later" and I'm looking at the forecasts I did, in fact, see on the net by (as I recall) friday evening. Well, this does begin to look rather serious and yet, indeed, legally problematic. The scariest models (which threaten the city in question rather directly) all agree -- but are all labeled "experimental". Meanwhile, I've got staff hollering at me about the uncertainties and certainly nots of my legal authority. I'll be lucky to get a clear legal menu with which to operate here until 24-36 hours from now. I may be pained to realize that this is the clear result of my own misplaced priorities in months and years prior but I'm here now so....
(This with hindsight of seeing what happened in NOLA. I wouldn't have thought of the following going into it. Absent the hindsight, I think I would have evacuated earlier as mayor or governer and tried to give heads up to local guard and bases about my plans --- but I would likely have been met with so much insubordination and resistence that my effort would likely have failed and the local/state government would have devolved more or less as it did but for different reasons. Of course, I'd never have been elected in the first place. But back to the hindsight....)
My city and state are caught with their pants down. My legal options are unclear. The forcast is grim the but the forcasters are covering their bets. It's time to activate the social connections that got me into office. It's time to call precinct loyalists and have them call church leaders and others and give the heads up that evacuation is almost certainly going to happen within hours. It's time to have a conference call with these folks and explain that we have shelters of last resort but that they are ill-supplied for the 3-5 days expected from a federal response. With any luck, I can get base commanders or some of their staff to participate in these calls. It's time for people in precincts to start knocking on doors and getting some buzz going. It's time to promise handsome overtime pay to bus drivers just for coming to the yard, gassing up, and being ready to roll. It's time to promise some new squad cars to the sherrifs, and overtime pay, for getting ready to manage the highway. Lower level staff can start calling around to local retailers and seeing what supplies we can lay in at last resort shelters in a big hurry -- not necessarilly to getting those rolling but to finding out where they are and how hard it will be to lay hands on them (day late and a buck short anyway, but better than nothing). It's also time make short-notice continuity-of-operations plans with local law enforcement, the guard, and staff --- the radio analog of a phone tree can be quickly assembled, if nothing else. When I'm served by a midnight injunction from a judge invoked by some local rich asshole -- it's time to stall him or enlighten him by getting him the phone with, say, the highest place coast guard guy I can find. Also time to make sure I have some loyal cops around the office along with a bullhorn or two.
After a few hours of that, if the forcasts are continuing from where they were -- it's time to go on tv (prior to getting legal clearance) and call for a voluntary evacuation: emphasizing the seriousness by pointing out all of the prior steps taken.
Hopefully I'll have impressed and made friends well enough with local guard and base commanders -- whose alarms are independently going off -- that a little creative lattitude may be taken to accelerate the mobilization process.
At these timescales, turning to neighboring states at this early stage for other than a brief heads up is premature -- we should be able to get through an initial period on our own, I hope.
If the above just isn't working out at the time the presidential staff suggests federalizing the guard: just say "yes".
From my comfortable *armchair*,
The cost of the National Guard is not a State cost. The Naional Guard is funded through the Federal Government.
If I was Governor I would activate the National Guard. This is a no brainer.
I'd hire Sandy Bergler to stuff all existing copies of the "Evacuation Plan" down his pants so I'll have plausible deniability when the Media shows up. Then blame it all on Bush.Posted by GunnNutt at September 13, 2005 02:10 AM
"The cost of the National Guard is not a State cost"
Actually, the "training costs" of the national guard is a federal cost(The one weekend a month, 2 weeks in the summer). If they are federalized, the federal government pays them, otherwise the state government pays.Posted by Soldier's Dad at September 13, 2005 02:12 AM
If I'm the mayor, I call for early mandatory evac, saying the Gov. told me to do it.
If I'm the Gov. I call for early mandatory evac. and say the Pres. told me to do it.
Then I plan with my cronies how we are going to shift all the blame for not having a working disaster plan blamed on the Prez.
I know that I will have all the help I need from the MSM and the liberal left.
I'm Covered !!
While I know it's impolite to answer a question with a question, it's too imponerable to say.
For instance, am I a Democrat Mayor? If so I do nothing extraordnary and lay blame on the POTUS if all goes wrong, and pat myself on the back for doing so.
If I am a Democrat governor I do as my mayorial friend.
If I'm a republican I bend over and kiss my own arse goodbye because there's nothing I could do right no matter what the circumstance.Posted by ZUMWALTSNAVY at September 13, 2005 11:38 AM
Note: Reading above comments should come with the obligatory " don't eat or drink anything while reading this "
Not me , I'd just panic and sit and figure out how to make the situation worse after it hits.
I'd make sure I didn't prepare anything making my city dependent on others. Then keep them out when they came to help.
After all I was just trying to comply with the POTUS's order to evacuate everyone. It's still Potus's fault.
See it's easy.Posted by MorningSun at September 13, 2005 12:08 PM
Cancel vacation and days off for all city employees. All drivers and mechanics report to transportation hubs. All national guard vehicles/equipment in city relocate to outside potential strike zone. Activate all local shelters. Distribute stocks of food and water. Force evac on all non critical patients in all hospitals. Consolidate remaining patients at pre-determined centralized hospital. Force evac all nursing homes. Contact all home care agencies for lists of all homebound patients in need of evac. Call in all civic and local religious leaders for assistance in evac of all members plus their non driving neighbors. Alert inland cities of influx of evacuees. Coordinate prestock of food/water at all evac centers in inland cities. Stage all city tow trucks and repair trucks on routes out of city. Activate reserve police officers/volunteer firemen. Await next forecast.Posted by Bullshark at September 13, 2005 06:14 PM
"I dont know. That is question for somebody else."
Hurricanes don't work like that. The US is too far removed from the equator for a tropical depression to form, turn into a hurricane, and make landfall within a 24 hour period.
There simply is no such thing as a US hurricane with 24 hour notice. In the case of Katrina, the hurricane center was saying that conditions for strengthening were perfect, that there was almost no variation between forecast models, and that NOLA was in the middle of the cone. All of this by 08/26. Most of the variables that cause uncertainties such as jetstreams and developing highs were not present. NOLA had far more than the average amount of warning with far greater than average certainty that she would be hit by a very powerful hurricane. On the one hand, I sympathise with the people of NOLA. On the other hand, part of me thinks that you'd have to be one of the stupidest people on the planet to have a) stayed in the city b)stayed but not gone to a shelter c)work for the city and not make sure shelters were stocked with adequate supplies and personel d)expected helicopters to drop food or pluck you from a roof before fixing broken levees
My biggest problem with this whole thing about Katrina is that I think the federal government did the right thing. As I watched the situation unfold, their priority was fixing the levee. I think it was the right priority even if it didn't look good on TV. IMO, it was not the federal government's responsibility to provide evacuation, shelter management, or short term supplies. Their first job is to secure the area with national guards and neutralize ongoing physical threats to life such as collapsing buildings, bridges, or levees. It is the city and county's job to provide first response and immediate assistance.Posted by moron99 at September 13, 2005 11:51 PM
In your scenario it's August 13. Which means that the gulf is still warm. Mary will be a cat3/4/5 by the time she hits. The first thing I would do is call the meteorologist and find out better information. Is there wind sheer that might knock the top off Mary and keep her down to three? How wide is the variation between forecast models? Are we in the middle or edge of the probability cone?
Depending on these answers I would call all my directors and volunteer coordinators and have them make sure, at a minimum, that the shelters, emergency supplies, handicapped assistance, road clearing equipment, structural engineers, firemen, police, etc are all fully prepared and equipped. Depending upon the threat level, I would make sure that every individual was contacted and reminded of their responsibilities before/during/after.
Since the hurricane is still near the keys and my city is on the northern gulf, the strike is still three days away. I would not issue any evac orders, but I would make sure that local media was participating in hurricane awareness and preparedness. The change in path is usually significant over three days. Issuing false evac orders sets the people up for future failure. Even if there was unprecedented forecast agreement, such as with Katrina, I still would not issue evac orders three days in advance. I would however, order all city employees to assume that emergency evacuation was eminent and to prepare their stations. If there was tight forecast agreement I would announce school closings so that the people would know that it was a serious threat. I would also contact county, state, and federal agencies and verify that our existing lines of communication and emergaency plans are valid. Then I'd go eat at my favorite restaraunt. Once I got home, I'd put gallon jugs of water and in the freezer and check the chainsaw blade.Posted by moron99 at September 14, 2005 12:30 AM
Scenario 1 & 2, as the Mayor, I would treat exactly the same:
"I'M THE MAYOR, GET THE HELL OUTTA MY WAY! FEET DON'T FAIL ME NOW!"
The Nagin Response.Posted by Indigo Red at September 14, 2005 01:19 AM
What you are describing is exactly what happened in my city just 2 months ago with Hurricane Dennis. Our wise Governor decided to err on the side of caution and called for the mandatory evacuation of the entire county and had the southbound lanes of the interestate reversed to northbound to accomodate the traffic. At the time, I thought the man had lost his mind. Nobody had ever called for a mandatory evacuation, but we were facing a Cat. 4 hurricane and we were dead in it's tracks. By the time Hurricane Dennis reached land, it had lost much of it's punch and did little damage. More than a few people were sore with the Governor for costing them time and money. But since Hurricane Katrina hit, our governor is beginning to look like a very wise man. I tell you what...I will never again ignore a mandatory evacuation order.Posted by stoicmom at September 14, 2005 02:34 AM
I think that the Fed Govt should bring charges against the LA Governor and the NO Mayor and see that they go to court before any Care Center owners. What they did in (not) carrying out their duties as elected officials is criminal.
Next I would ask the President to spend no tax money to rebuild the City of New Orleans. He can spend tax money to rebuild only the Federal Facilities which have been destroyed. Let the rest be rebuilt with insurance proceeds or not be rebuilt. The Federal Government should then get out of the Flood Insurance Business and not wait for NO to be destroyed again (or any other parts of the country).Posted by Texan at September 15, 2005 11:03 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(15) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)