Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

 

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Hurricane Katrina 2005

 

In 2005, the thing that everyone always said would happened, happened.  Hurricane Katrina came onshore on Monday, August 29th, 2005.  Volunteers from my agency began preparing a response to this storm on Tuesday, the 30th, while the wind and rain was still falling in New Orleans.  At 5:45 a.m. the next morning, we deployed to the New Orleans area for search and rescue duties.

Initially, I was deployed as a boat captain in the initial search and rescue mission.  Later in the week, when FEMA and the military finally took over the search and rescue effort, I was redeployed to run a  GIS shop that we had set up at the FEMA Unified Command Center at the practice field of the New Orleans Saints in Kenner, LA.  We geocoded 911 calls, provided status maps, and kept statistics for the 18 Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams from all over the country, that were continuing the effort we had started.  We stayed put when hurricane Rita re-flooded parts of the city.  When the USAR operations were officially completed in New Orleans, I was redeployed again to be the Remote Sensing Coordinator for the Geospatial Intelligence Unit of the Joint Field Office of FEMA in Baton Rouge.  I finally finished up and went back to more or less normal duties at work on October 31st.

There is plenty of finger pointing going around at who did or didn't do what and when.  Plenty of blame to go around, but I take offence to the blanket statements I have seen in the press stating that there was no federal response during the initial time when it was most needed.  I'm federal, the people I work with are federal, the agency I work for is federal, and we all responded the next day.

From riding around in boats, helicopters, and trucks, I have seen the devastation from every angle imaginable.  The things I experienced are beyond anything words can describe, so I won't try, and there are more pictures of devastation than you can shake a stick at on the web, so there's no need for any more here. 

New Orleans was hurt bad.  Really bad.  But its getting better.  And there are people there who aren't going to let it die.  It won't ever be the same as it was, but it's going to come back stronger in some ways.  It was my home, and I'm glad I was in a position to help it while it was in need.

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This site was last updated 10/29/05