Mayor Tommy Longo
August 28, 2005, Waveland was the fastest growing community in Mississippi.
On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina chose Waveland as ground zero, slamming her with 40 plus feet of tidal surge and battering us with hurricane force winds for more than 12 hours. The result changed lives forever. Ninety-five percent of residential structures were destroyed. One hundred percent of water sewer, gas... destroyed. All 13 City buildings were destroyed. Our three story Historic City Hall, built in 1850, was reduced to a slab.
In essence life ceased to exist as we knew it and our beautiful town was covered in a 15-foot debris field.
Yet during the height of the hurricane, leaders rose to the occasion. Heroes were born and miracles experienced. Twenty Police Officers lashed themselves on top of a tree, taking care of the exhausted and those who couldn’t swim.
We housed seniors and patients with heart conditions on the top of the wastewater plant... We rescued two seniors trapped in an elevator by chopping through a brick wall, saving them before floodwaters could claim them as victims.
Good evening folks, tonight marks the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Anderson reports live from NOLA, as residents prepare themselves for Hurricane Gustav. We'll track Gustav as NOLA and the nation remembers Hurricane Katrina three years later...
There's also a whirlwind in the political arena. Take a look at our evening buzz for a complete lineup of tonight's show... an in depth look at McCain's VP Pick, Alaska Governer Sarah Palin. Who is Sarah Palin? Our reporters will tell you what they learned tonight.
Let us know your thoughts.
We’ll start posting comments to this blog at 10p ET and stop at 11p ET.
Tonight, we have new details on John McCain's running mate. Have you heard of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin before today? When McCain announced his pick, he called her "the running mate who can best help me shake up Washington."
Our reporters have been digging deeper into Palin's past. We've got all the angles tonight on 360.
Here are the basics: Palin, 44, is a first-term governor. The surprise choice, described herself a bipartisan reformer and a fighter against corruption in her speech today in front of 15,000 supporters in Dayton, Ohio. "To have been chosen brings a great challenge that will demand the best that I have to give, and I promise nothing less," she said.
What do you think of McCain's pick? See what our reporters uncovered about Palin tonight on 360.
Tonight, we're also tracking Hurricane Gustav. Anderson will be reporting live from New Orleans, which could be right in the path of the storm. Today the city marked the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Anderson says the memories still burn along the Gulf coast. Three years later, is Nola ready for another hurricane?
Don't miss 360 starting at 10pm ET.
CNN political desk, senior assignment editor
For Governor Tim Pawlenty, Friday had to be a surreal morning. At the same time he could have been headed to an Ohio rally be named John McCain’s running mate, he instead was at the Minnesota State Fair talking about pigs and carnies.
Pawlenty hosted his weekly radio show from a white porch on the fairgrounds in St. Paul, just as the nation was learning of McCain’s choice. The radio booth for WCCO sits under the skyride, behind the Icee booth in the middle of the midway.
Wearing a blue and white striped golf shirt, a smiling Pawlenty was greeted by cheers as he walked through the crowd. The man who was among the finalists to be McCain’s vice presidential nominee took the mic as Elvis’ Burning Love played. “Hunk-a –hunk-a burning love”, he said as the show began.
The show would feature a swine judge for the fair judging he said, telling the audience to laughter, “you should know about the quality of pigs.” His second guest in the fair-themed show would describe the life of a carnie.
Pawlenty says he likes the weekly show to be free of politics, but politics could not be ignored this morning. The first question from the audience was how he slept the night before, and what is next for Minnesota since he wouldn’t be leaving.
Editor's Note: Dr. Gregory Henderson was in New Orleans 3 years ago today to start a new job. When the storm his, Dr. Henderson immediately went out to help the people left in the city. AC360 met Dr. Henderson at the New Orleans Convention Center, as one of the only doctors that stayed to help. He shares his experiences here:
Dr. Gregory Henderson, MD, PhD
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Preparing for the storm
The ship struck the iceberg on Saturday morning. My wife and I blearily awoke and flipped on the TV to see the first news that the massive Hurricane Katrina had quickly matured from a name on the map to a full blown catastrophe and she was coming right for us. I had one of my intrusive thoughts that if, for any reason, my family and I had to ride this storm out, the Ritz-Carlton building, being an old, large, predominately concrete structure on Canal Street would be as safe as any. I made a reservation at the hotel for the next day.
We listened to the radio reports for about half an hour before we decided that we needed to get everyone out quickly. I told them that I needed to stay behind to, at the very least, take some protective measures for the home, and I knew that I had a relatively safe place to check in, ride out the storm, and then join the medical team that I figured would be in place if it turned out to be a bad storm.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
At the Ritz-Carlton
There was an overhead announcement that anyone who needed medical care should report to the French Quarter bar. I supposed this meant that there were other doctors in the hotel ready to help out, so I went down to let them know that, even though I was a pathologist, I was willing to help in any way. I was extremely happy to discover that there had been an HIV conference at the hotel, and, as such, there were several infectious disease specialists present, a family practitioner, a pharmacist, a PA, and an Ob/Gyn.
The team had already been organizing a list of possible drugs and supplies that we would need. The problem was, that I had already looked outside and talked to the police and realized that looting had begun, and many people were armed. I knew we were not going to have the chance to selectively look through the pharmacy and get what we thought we needed. We needed to get in there quickly, get as much as we could, and get out quickly.
The police agreed. So with Ritz-Carlton security at the watch, the young pharmacist, the family practice doc, the police and I waded across Canal Street in thigh deep water to the Walgreen's.
Editor's Note: CNN's Jerry Simonson is a photojournalist based in Miami. He was in New Orleans when Katrina hit and was the one photographer who stayed for a two days and nights when CNN pulled everyone else out of the city. In that time he was able to capture the iconic images from the convention center we all remember. He shares his story with the blog:
The smell of burning buildings lofted down the street. The noise of helicopters roared overhead. Mothers, holding small children wandered by me. They had no where to go and nothing but the clothes on their backs. We would give them whatever water we had. They didn’t have to ask, their faces spoke for them, Groups of young men continued to roam the district, breaking glass, pushing in doors and looting. The threat of police stopping them didn’t exist and the glare of the world press did nothing to deter their criminal behavior. It was the typical scene you would expect in a third world country after a major natural disaster, the only difference was this was America, this was New Orleans.
Only four days earlier as I jumped a plane from Miami to New Orleans, my main thought was how quickly could I get into the Quarter. I had covered hurricanes for years and I knew that the window of opportunity to get some good Big Easy Cooking was closing as the storm moved close. I could taste the red beans and rice, jambalaya, and gumbo all covered with Tabasco. With a Category five coming I wanted one last meal.
I had already met Katrina once as she came ashore in South Florida. The eye came right over my home in Miami, leaving me with no power, and a mess of a yard. I didn’t even have time to throw the food out of my refrigerator before I was schedule for another meeting with this storm.
There was a whole slew of CNNer’s heading to all parts of the Gulf Region to cover the event. If you have to go somewhere to cover a hurricane New Orleans is a great city to get assigned too. Saturday night was going to be a gathering and I was looking forward to seeing my old friends.
Before the Party could get started there was business to take care of. I was traveling with producers Kim Segal and Rich Phillips. Being from the Miami Bureau we had covered many storms together. I had come to the conclusions they all pretty much were the same. You start them all by going to Home Depot and Wal-Mart to get supplies. We loaded up on flashlights, batteries, gas cans, Twinkies, and Dinty Moore Beef Stew, and all the things we thought we would need. Now that we had our provisions we went to check into the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel located right outside the French Quarter.
As the many photographers, producers, reporters, engineers and bookers arrived in the city a crowd grew at an establishment on Bourbon Street. The hurricanes were poured; I bought Mardi Gra beads, a good Cajun cowboy hat and listened as the talk of the storm dominated the conversations. I had heard the doomsday scenarios and talks about the “big one “ for years. It was a bit of Déjà vu for me. Just a year earlier I had been in New Orleans for hurricane Ivan. The city had braced for a major storm, but in the end it didn’t even rain. It always seemed that the storm to missed me, so I figured this time would be like the rest.
John P. Avlon
Author, Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics
The secretive selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as John McCain's vice president is a small masterpiece of tactical and strategic triangulation intended to drive a deeper wedge between Hilary and Obama supporters. With both parties now offering historic campaigns of change, Obama loses exclusive use of that emotional real estate, and Republicans may gain a new edge with swing voters by offering both change and more of the same.
The downside for Republicans is that Palin's selection will undermine their attacks on Barack Obama's youth and inexperience. Governor Palin was first elected governor in 2006 – and before that she was mayor of her home town in Alaska, Wasilla, with an operating budget of less than $6 million. But Democrats will have a difficult time attacking her without provoking accusations of sexism – Joe Biden's attack-dog instincts could backfire badly in the VP debate. That is a variation off the same problem Republicans had with Obama until they stumbled upon using humor with the Achilles heel of the "celebrity" argument.
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Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain reacts as a supporter grasps his hand a bit aggressively at the end of a campaign rally where he introduced his vice presidential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, in Dayton, Ohio., Friday.
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I should have done the fist bump.
Anthony W. Cannatella, Sr.
Deputy Chief of Operations (ret)
New Orleans Police Department
As I sit here reflecting back on a 41 year career as a New Orleans police officer and the many experiences I have had, my heart always stops on Katrina. Although I have been involved in every type of law enforcement experience imaginable, from shootouts to delivering babies, they all pale in comparison to Hurricane Katrina. On the night of August 28, 2005 as the commander of the Sixth Police District of the NOPD, I realized that my life as well as the 132 officers I commanded was about to change irrevocably.
I held a roll call for all of the officers that night and assigned half of the officers to patrol the roughly 5 square miles of the city until I ordered them off of the streets due to deteriorating conditions. As I stood before the officers I realized that the average age was 25 and that none of these officers were even born when the last major hurricane struck New Orleans, Betsy in 1965!
About a week after the hurricane, we did a story on 911 operators in Biloxi, Mississippi, who had to tell people calling for help there was nothing that could be done.
Listening to a recording of some of those conversations is something I'll never forget; one call in particular.
The calls had been recorded on an old reel to reel machine, Cheri Hovecamp the 911 supervisor went through some of the tapes with us. The operators were getting flooded with desperate callers asking to be saved.
"Go to the roof" they'd say, "give me your address and we'll come get you as soon as the storm dies down"