Monday, September 05, 2005

Destroying context a factoid at a time

Factoid of the day: No plan ever made to help New Orleans' most vulnerable

This thread first started with the link posted above. Various political games are now beginning to be played using it as a tool to try to shift the blame for the holocaust unfolding on the gulf coast. It's important to be able to follow back to the original resources, the most important of which, in the political context, is unavailable thanks to a paywall.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune on July 24, 2005 published an often quoted, but unavailable article, with the following quotes:
"City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give the poorest of New Orleans' poor a historically blunt message: In the event of a major hurricane, you're on your own."

"In scripted appearances being recorded now, officials such as Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas drive home the word that the city does not have the resources to move out of harm's way an estimated 134,000 people without transportation."
I've done every concievable Google search, searched the archives, and done about everything I can to get a copy of the article in question via the usual channels. I've now written to the letters section of the paper to try to get the original article.

If this paper didn't have a paywall, and this information weren't hidden in a secret garden, it would be a simple matter to follow the links. Unfortunately, we're left with some dead pointers, and quotes without context, in other words, a Factoid.

Factiod - a wholly spurious "fact" invented to create or prolong public exposure or to manipulate public opinion.

I want to know the circumstances of this story, I want context... it's important to learn the painful lessons of Katrina, the price of ignoring them is too dear. We need all the context we can get in order to learn the correct lessons from this tragedy.

Welcome to the post factoid era. Sound bites will no longer be accepted.


Bryan said...

Hi Mike -

Some days ago I found this (; it's the State of Louisiana's hurricane evacuation and shelter plan.

One interesting part for me was section III, where it's clearly stated that the parish government is supposed to alert all citizens to the evacuation, including "Announce the location of staging areas for people who need transportation. Public transportation will concentrate on
moving people from the staging areas to safety in host parishes with priority given to people with special needs."

We've heard a lot about New Orleans' mayor, LA's governor, FEMA officials, and the President of the US. Oddly we haven't heard anything at all from the Orleans Parish President (Oliver M. Thomas) or its emergency preparedness director (Joseph Matthews).

The plan goes into other details as well, defining "Last Resort Refuges" people should go to once the evacuation routes are closed (during the worst of the hurricane I assume). It says these will probably have little or no food and water, and that rescue teams will be sent once the hurricane is over.

There's also a specific state shelter plan ( which for some reason Orleans Parish seems not to have signed. It's more specific about shelter and bussing operations, including specific language about bringing food to designated shelters.

These plans seem not to be mentioned in any news media I've been watching. I'm curious why. I'm also curious why they don't seem to have been followed.

Bryan said...


Sorry about the mangling of the links - blogger seems to cut them off with its margins; not much I can do about it.

Maybe this shorter link won't be cut off. Go to:

and click the 'plans' link at left.