The Algiers Buses
There is some interesting chatter in the blogosphere about the Algiers bus barn immediately after the storm. Both the Wizbang blog and The Jawa Report have a lot of information – and a lot of questions and speculation (including some really silly ideas about whether the buses were used to evacuate Algiers residents. The answer is no). My guess is “someone” is that very same Fish and Wildlife, supported by the Orleans Parish Fire Department. This is truly just a guess, but here’s why I think it’s possible:
In short – the NOAA and Google satellite images, because they were taken at different times of the day, show more than flooded areas and houses. They also show the unflooded Algiers bus barn on Patterson. Early on Wednesday, all 60 or so buses are parked, high and dry. Unused. By that afternoon, they are in motion out of the lot, and several are staged in front of the Algiers ferry landing.
What’s going on here? Discussions (and I’m NOT defending Nagin here) are focused on the hundreds of flooded buses on the East Bank, and why Nagin didn’t start an evacuation from the Superdome with his own (Orleans Parish) undamaged resources. Heck of a question, actually. I’m guessing he totally forgot they were there – similar to the way he continued for the following entire week to lump undamaged Algiers into the rest of the Orleans Parish confusion.
However, on the Google images from Wednesday morning, it looks to me as if there is something already going on at the Ferry landing. Not only do at least two of those buses appear to be in motion, there appear to be about 50 cars in line to approach the landing.
As it happens, I not only remember those days, I logged and blogged as information came to me from Algiers. My archives and notes show a couple of possible explanations for what we’re seeing in these images.
On Tuesday (Aug 30), Eddie Compass said (on the radio) that the situation in the Superdome was actually pretty calm. At 8:30 pm, I wrote:
Apparently, the Police Chief has said that things are actually calm in the Superdome, contrary to stories hitting the world. (Gotta tell ya - it makes me nervous to contradict CNN...)As we all know, the media was reporting otherwise, and not long thereafter both Compass and Nagin were parroting the media’s version of events. Tuesday evening, though, things looked to be “in hand”.
By Wednesday morning, the Orleans Parish Fire Department had set up a base of operations at the firehouse on Opelousas on Algiers Point. Furthermore, someone was preparing to use the Algiers ferry landing area as some type of staging area. At 11:43 am, I posted,
It looks like some of the rescue operations are being staged now from the Algiers levee. I'm told there's 1/4 mile worth of Fish and Wildlife boats launching from there.
By Wednesday morning, some Algiers residents were proposing that, since they obviously weren’t going to be coming home in the immediate future, perhaps their houses could be used as either temporary homes for rescue personnel, or as shelters. That thought process prompted me to call Assistant Fire Chief Edwin Holmes at the Opelousas base of operations – and he sounded like a drowning man.
What he said was (this is not a quote, but from my memory and notes)
OMG… I have several hundred sweltering, dehydrated, dying people at the Canal St. ferry staging area and I don’t know where we are going to take them.
My guess is “someone” is that very same Fish and Wildlife, supported by the Orleans Parish Fire Department. This is truly just a guess, but here’s why I think it’s possible:
If you look closely at the Algiers ferry landing in this image, you’ll notice a fire truck there. I suspect the use of the school buses are Chief Holmes’ contribution to the solution. I have no idea who the drivers of those buses were, but I doubt they’re connected to the School Board. I also have no clue where those people were taken.
Some of the folks discussing these buses wondered whether they are what Mayor Nagin had in mind on Wednesday night, when he directed several thousand people across the CCC. I seriously doubt it. Not only do I not think he remembered they were there, they were already in use – to good purpose! On this image from NOAA, you'll find 5 buses driving away from the Point under police escort.
There were many other parts of the city and surrounding areas (Chalmette comes to mind!) that were in far worse shape than the folks in the CBD, particularly given the city officials’ apparent view of the situation as of Tuesday evening. Rescue operations were going full-tilt everywhere, and it looks to me as if those little Fish and Wildlife boats were bringing people to the Algiers levee fast and furious.
Sure would be nice to confirm this. I’d like to think somebody was in charge… somewhere… of something…