UPDATE 2 (Wednesday, 11:50pm Central):
Long day spent cleaning up. Not done yet. Thankful that I have something to clean up.
If you want to know more about how DHS and FEMA respond to emergencies/disasters see:
National Response Plan - Base Plan
National Response Plan - Full Plan with Annexes
I think it's a good idea for us to be familiar with the National Response Plan. For example, it helps to know what a Joint Field Office is and what it does and where it is in the chain of command and who it consists of and what you can expect from it. And how a Joint Field Office is different from a Joint Task Force.
The Pentagon is standing up Joint Task Force Katrina. Its HQ is being established at Camp Shelby, Mississippi -- near Hattiesburg. JTF Katrina will be one of the largest military operations on this continent since the Civil War.
I spoke with relatives in Prentiss, Mississippi earlier today (cellphone to landline). They confirmed that Hattiesburg and Laurel are heavily damaged. They have no power in Prentiss and have not seen the images or video of the Gulf Coast -- many Mississippians haven't. My cousins who evacuated from Pascagoula had not heard any details. If you live on the coast, you expect there to be damage when a hurricane hits, but you don't expect there to be nothing left.
There are people in rural areas that are cutting their way out. There are others cutting their way in as friends and family mount their own search and rescue operations. It is slow-going. All the roads are blocked by dozens of downed oak and pecan trees and powerlines.
People outside Mississippi have much more information on Katrina's aftermath. If you have family/friends in Mississippi, they're waiting to hear from you. I have had no success calling out on landline (from Alabama). Calling out on cell to landline takes several tries, but you can probably get through. Cell to cell is better if the person with the other cell has been able to re-charge their batteries with a cigarette lighter adapter or a generator. Let them know that a massive rescue and recovery effort is underway. Tell 'em about JTF Katrina.
If you live in the South, you probably have a gun or two or a dozen. Keep one or two nearby and be vigilant. It's getting pretty hairy in some places. For those outside the South who do not understand, we are generous people, but we tend to shoot thieves/looters/burglars rather than "dialogue" with them. We don't give a fuck about root causes.
UPDATE 1 (Tuesday, 11:15pm Central):
Just a couple of thoughts before I catch up on sleep.
We need to give FEMA, the military, and state and local agencies time to plan -- because they're really still in the planning stages and will be for a couple more days. Some things can't wait for a plan and they will deal with those things as necessary.
There are so many things that need to be done for New Orleans, alone. It will be a major, months-long operation if the city is to be saved. It'll take a Red Adair-type to do it. Red Adair killed over 600 burning Kuwaiti oil wells in just 6 months. I remember thinking that it would take years to cap those wells. I wasn't thinking big enough.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast communities are destroyed. That is clear to anyone who has seen video footage, but the destruction goes well beyond the coast. Hattiesburg, Columbia, and McComb and all the little surrounding towns and communities have suffered extensive, and in many cases, catastrophic damage.
The death toll is going to rise. The misery is going to increase. The rest of the nation is just now waking up to the magnitude of this disaster. This is a national disaster. This is going to impact all sectors of our economy. It's going to impact our national security.
Now could we all please accept that it was a fucking hurricane that brought this destruction. If there's anyone out there who can't accept that, stay the fuck away from my neck of the woods because if you start that "Bush's fault" bullshit, we will hurt you. I mean it. We're not in the mood.
I had some power and puter problems. The power was restored much faster than the puter. Alabama Power & Light workers are the best in the nation. They are bringing power back in record time, plus they are preparing to send help to Mississippi.
We got hit hard here -- harder than Ivan. But that's about all I'm gonna say. It doesn't feel right to be talking about the damage here while just down the road there is Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport, Bay St Louis . . . yes, they're still there -- it's just that they are unrecogizable. I've never seen such destruction.
They were beautiful little places on the Gulf Coast. As a little boy I had dreamed of living in Gulfport or Biloxi. They'll recover, but it won't ever be the same. You can't replace 100-150 year old homes -- not with anything that has the same character.
And then there's New Orleans. As bad as it is, it could have been much worse for New Orleans. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of people could have been killed had Katrina hit them head-on or to their West. Apparently, some of the 100,000 stay-behinds weighed that risk against the opportunity to loot.
A word about looters: shotgun.
This is not even the peak of hurricane season. We have more to come.