Strong opinions, weakly held

The saddest picture from New Orleans

Here’s a picture of swamped school buses in New Orleans. It sure seems to me like officials could have loaded up these school buses with people and evacuated them before the storm, saving a lot of lives and suffering.


  1. a small green ball

    September 2, 2005 at 7:28 pm

    A guy from South Louisiana here. In order to evacuate those who remained in New Orleans alone, it would have required thousands of busses, far more than the parish had in is motor pool.

  2. So that means it would’ve been pointless to evacuate any of them? And buses can’t make two or three trips?

    I see over 130 buses in that photo. It seems, from the photo, that there are more in the lot. So let’s say that New Orleans coul’ve only rounded up 150 buses.

    And it’s been a while since I’ve been on a school bus, but let’s say that each bus could’ve held an average of 50 people — men, women, and children included.

    150 x 50 = 7500 x 2 trips = 15,000

    15,000 is a lot better than zero.

    I’d also be willing to bet that there a lot more than 200 buses available in New Orleans. I know Charlotte, which is a city of similar size, has a great deal more, including city buses.

    The one thing guaranteed you can’t do is the thing you never try — and they never tried.


  3. And, as a minor side benefit, the owners of those vehicles wouldn’t have the enormous repair bills that they are now facing as well as the lost opportunity costs until they are repaired or replaced.

  4. a small green ball

    September 3, 2005 at 11:26 am

    There is no question that some of the people who have died would be safe now had they been evacuated by bus. But people are talking about this sound like script writers for a movie oversimplifying reality for narrative convenience. New Orleans had no plan for the destination of these busses. Nearly every city in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama is beyond capacity for refugees. Eastern Texas is running out of room. When the bus leaves New Orleans they need to know the destination. Right now one of the things that is slowing the post storm evacuation is finding a place that will accept additional evacuees. Maybe New Orleans will have an agreement in the future with the cities and towns in the region willing to accept busloads of evacuees, but they didn’t. Additionally security would have to be provided on the bus as well as at the destination. That would require using National Guard, Orleans Parish Civil Sheriff, New Orleans Police Department. Once the bus left New Orleans emergency law would have to be in place to allow the NOPD and OPCS officers to execute authority. The busses would have to insure that some method of paying for fuel is needed. Anyway this could go on.

  5. Part of the problem with busing people out beforehand was that you had the traffic, so I doubt you could make more than one trip by the time disaster was imminent. And yes, where were you going to put all these people? There is one guy that can really handle all this stuff, and it’s the President of the United States. All the bs about the Governor of Lousiana not asking for federal troops sounds pretty hollow in light of the fact Bush had to ask congress to approve his right to use force in Iraq. He could have asked the governor for the right to take over in Lousiana at any time and got things organized, and that’s what would be required. A federal power taking over, asserting control of sports stadiums, foodstuffs, etc. is really what was needed. Just think about World War II, lots of things were rationed, it’s not unprecedented to do these things in an emergency. New Orleans lack of preparadeness affected a lot of people, but this is not a city or even state-wide thing. The only thing that can deal with a situation this huge is the federal government, and has been shown, the people in control of the government right now don’t feel it’s their job to take care of people.

  6. I was fascinated to read yesterday that this was the first time that the mayor of New Orleans had ever ordered a mandatory evacuation. No wonder they were so bad at it. In most hurricane-prone areas, mandatory evacuation is a common practice and is handled in a much more competent manner.

  7. “New Orleans had no plan for the destination of these busses.”

    And that is part of the tragicomedy.

    I’ve known since I was 10 what was very likely to happen to NO when a major hurricane hit.

    Sounds like there should’ve been a plan, considering it is, by far, the most vulnerable city in the United States, and perhaps the world, to a hurricane.

    Just sayin’.

  8. Oh, and another thing, even if the buses had no destination, I’m guessing anywhere would’ve been better than NO, n’est pas?

    I’m not willing to make excuses for something that should’ve been planned years — years — in advance.

    Shit, they do it better in Cuba, and they have 1/20 the money we do, or less.

  9. “This includes identifying the city’s present population, its projected population, identification of at-risk populations (those living outside levee protection or in storm-surge areas, floodplains, mobile homes, etc.), in order to understand the evacuation requirements. It includes identifying the transportation network, especially the carrying-capacity of proposed evacuation routes and existing or potential traffic bottlenecks or blockages, caused either by traffic congestion or natural occurrences such as rising waters. Identification of sheltering resources and the establishment of shelters and the training of shelter staff is important, as is the provision for food and other necessities to the sheltered. This preparation function is the responsibility of the Office of Emergency Preparedness.

    Conduct of an actual evacuation will be the responsibility of the Mayor of New Orleans in coordination with the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and the OEP Shelter Coordinator. “ http://www.cityofno.com/SystemModules/PrintPage.aspx?portal=46&tabid=26

    “Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Nagin both acknowledged the need to improve traffic flow and said state police should consider reversing highway lanes earlier. They also promised meetings with governments in neighboring localities and state transportation officials to improve evacuation plans.

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