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16 September 2005

This is an evolving timeline of of events leading up to and following Hurricane Katrina's landfall on the Gulf Coast of the US in August 2005. Focus is on government actions and political decisions.
If you have additions or corrections to this Hurricane Katrina Timeline, please send e-mail to uspolitics@aboutguide.com. Include the word 'timeline' in the subject and please provide substantiating links to news or government reports which confirm details.
The timeline is divided into these parts:

Landfall: Monday 29 August

Monday 29 August 2005
    3 AM CDT: 40+ Foot Waves
    NOAA's buoy, about 50 miles off the Mississippi mouth, records 40 foot waves. Two hours later, the waves are 46 feet; two hours later, 47 feet.

    3 AM CDT: Canal Breached
    According to a National Guard Bureau timeline, the 17th Street Canal floodwall is breached about 3 AM, long before Katrina makes landfall. The Army Corps of Engineers says that a civilian notified them of the breach at 5 AM. Sometime in the morning, it bursts. Corps officials believe a barge crashed through the Industrial Canal floodwall sometime Monday morning, accelerating flooding that began before dawn.

    4.00 AM CDT: Katrina is "Strong" Cat4
    NOAA reports that the center of the storm is 90 miles south-southeast of New Orleans and 120 miles south-southwest of Biloxi. Maximum sustained winds are 150 mph, making Katrina a "strong" Category Four hurricane; hurricane force winds extend outward 105 miles from the center of the storm.

    6.10 AM CDT: Katrina Makes Landfall
    Katrina makes landfall as a strong Category 4 storm, south of Buras, LA along the Mississippi delta. The eye crossed the coastline a second time along the Mississippi- Louisiana border. The most dangerous part of the storm, the eastern eyewall, hit the Mississippi coastline where Hurricane Camille struck in 1969. The report states that "some levees in the greater New Orleans area could be overtopped."

    8.00 AM CDT: Nagin on NBC "Today Show"
    New Orleans Mayor Nagin tells the nation that he has unconfirmed reports of levees being breached and that the city is flooding.

    9.00 AM CDT: Rising Waters
    There is 6 to 8 feet of water in the Lower 9th Ward.

    Mid-Morning: FEMA Chief Briefs Bush
    At 10.43 AM CDT, Scott McClellan advises the press than FEMA Chief Mike Brown has briefed the President on Katrina via video conference.

    10.00 AM CDT: Katrina Makes Third Landfall
    Katrina makes her final landfall near the Louisiana-Mississippi state line with 125 mph wind; she is downgraded to a Category 3.

    11.00 AM CDT: I-10 Breached
    Water covers Interstate 10 near the high-rise over the Industrial Canal.

    11.00 AM CDT - approximately: FEMA Chief Proposes Aid Within 48 Hours
    Michael Brown, FEMA director, proposes sending 1,000 Homeland Security workers into the region within 48 hours and 2,000 within seven days. His memo to Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertof describes Katrina as a "near catastrophic event." FEMA spokesman Russ Knocke said the 48 hours was needed to train employees.
      Later Brown will say FEMA itself has only 2,600 employees nationwide, and normally relies on state workers, the National Guard, private contractors and other federal agencies during disaster relief operations. (FactCheck)

    11:06 AM CDT: President "Participates in Conversation About Medicare"
    President Bush attends the Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort and Country Club in El Mirage, AZ to talk about Medicare. He said this about Katrina:
      I know my fellow citizens here in Arizona and across the country are saying our prayers for those affected by the -- Hurricane Katrina. Our Gulf Coast is getting hit and hit hard. I want the folks there on the Gulf Coast to know that the federal government is prepared to help you when the storm passes. I want to thank the governors of the affected regions for mobilizing assets prior to the arrival of the storm to help citizens avoid this devastating storm.

    Late Morning: 17th Street Canal Levee Breached
    A large section of the 17th Street Canal levee gives way, sending water from Lake Pontchartrain into Mid-City, Carrollton, Gentilly, City Park and neighborhoods farther south and east.

    1.00 PM CDT: Nagin News Conference
    Mayor reports unconfirmed report of levee breach.

    2.00 PM CDT: Breach Confirmed
    Officials publicly confirm the 17th Street Canal breach.

    3.00 - 6.00 PM CDT: Breach Report Moves Up the Chain
    The Commander of the New Orleans district of the Army Corps of Engineers confirms levee breach and reports it to Vicksburg, MS headquarters.

    4.00 PM CDT: I-10 Under 15 Feet of Water
    The I-10 dip under the railroad overpass is under 15 feet of water, south and east of the canal.

    4.40 PM CDT: Now It's Medicare
    President Bush talks about Medicare in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. About Katrina:
      "It's a storm now that is moving through, and now it's the time for governments to help people get their feet on the ground. . . . For those of you who are concerned about whether or not we're prepared to help, don't be. We are. We're in place. We've got equipment in place, supplies in place. And once the -- once we're able to assess the damage, we'll be able to move in and help those good folks in the affected areas."

    8.00 PM CDT: Blanco Asks for Help
    Governor Blanco spoke to President Bush, who was in San Diego where he was scheduled to give a speech on the war in Iraq the following day. "Mr. President, we need your help. We need everything you've got." According to Newsweek, "There are a number of steps Bush could have taken, short of a full-scale federal takeover, like ordering the military to take over the pitiful and (by now) largely broken emergency communications system throughout the region. But the president ... went to bed."

    10.00 PM CDT: Katrina Downgraded to Tropical Storm

    Government Actions:
    • Coast Guard Jayhawk rescue helicopters from the East Coast arrive just behind the storm, not waiting to implement a disaster response plan. (Boston Globe)
    • President Bush declares a major disaster in Alabama, Lousiana and Mississippi
    • In Biloxi, FEMA Chief Brown tells Mississippi Governor Barbour not to worry, that FEMA had hurricane experience in Florida; Barbour says: "I don't think you've seen anything like this. We're talking nuclear devastation." More than 1.3 million homes and businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are without electricity.
    • FEMA urges first-responders from other states not to respond without being "requested and lawfully dispatched." (FEMA)

    NGO and Private Actions
    • Red Cross Mobilizes
      In a press release, the Red Cross announces that it is "launching the largest mobilization of resources in its history for a single natural disaster."
Hurricane Katrina Timeline
 More of this Feature
•  Before Landfall
•  The First Week
•  Ongoing Aftermath
 Related Resources
• Should We Rebuild New Orleans?
• Top Cities Hit by Hurricanes
• Katrina News Archive
 From Other Guides
• Hurricane Factoids (Miami)
• Stupid Quotes About Katrina (Political Humor)
•  New Orleans Guide

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