Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Homeland Security Department was warned of devastation of Hurricane Katrina

The Seattle Times:

BATON ROUGE, La. — Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, said yesterday that officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security — including FEMA Director Mike Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff — listened in on electronic briefings given by his staff before Hurricane Katrina slammed Louisiana and Mississippi and were advised of the storm's potential deadly effects.

Mayfield said the strength of the storm and the potential disaster it could bring were made clear during the briefings and in formal advisories, which warned of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans and winds strong enough to blow out windows of high-rise buildings. He said the briefings included information on expected wind speed, storm surge, rainfall and the potential for tornadoes to accompany the storm as it came ashore.

"We were briefing them way before landfall," Mayfield said. "It's not like this was a surprise. ... I keep looking back to see if there was anything else we could have done, and I just don't know what it would be," he said.
Mayfield said his concern now is that another named storm could hit, as September is the most-active month of the annual hurricane season. "This is like the fourth inning in a nine-inning ballgame," he said.

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