Monetary donations broke records set by the tsunami and 9/11 relief efforts in the U.S. In a reversal of usual positions, the U.S. received international aid and assistance from numerous countries. The National Disaster Medical System had activated essentially all teams in the country, and pre-staged multiple Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs), Disaster Mortuary Assistance Teams (DMORTs), and Veterinary Medicine Response Teams (VMATs)in Houston and Atlanta the day prior to, and the day of, landfall. When the levees were reported to have broken, the DMATs were moved to Baton Rouge on Tuesday, August 30th, and as the needs were identified, teams were moved out that afternoon to the Super Dome, and that night to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. Three DMATs arrived around 0200 hours on Wednesday morning, Aug 31st, and set up a field hospital Base of Operations in Concourse D, and began offloading rescuees from helicopters, and providing all levels of medical care. Additional DMATs were deployed there as the volume and tempo of patient arrivals increased, as the hospitals in the City began to evacuate their patients. Over 3,000 patients were cared for, and as DOD Medevac assets began arriving, patients were handed over and moved out to over a dozen cities. This operation peaked during the weekend of September 3rd and 4th, and was completed by mid-week. Over 20,000 evacuees were also flown out by the civilian airfleet drafted into service, and 25 deaths occurred there, mostly elderly nursing home and hospice evacuees.
More than 10,000 Army and Air National Guardsmen and 7,200 active-duty troops were stationed in the Gulf Coast region to assist with hurricane relief operations with some remaining several weeks. The military relief effort, known as Joint Task Force Katrina, is being commanded by Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, commander of the US First Army. At President Bush's urging, the U.S. Senate quickly approved $10.5 billion in aid for victims September 1 2005. The U.S. House of Representatives voted and approved on the measure Friday, September 2 2005 without any debate. President Bush requested an additional $51.8 billion on September 7. Congress approved that funding package the next day.
On September 24, 2005, following the havoc caused by Hurricane Rita, the National Guard named Brig. Gen. Douglas Pritt of the 41st Brigade Combat Team, Oregon Army National Guard, head of Joint Task Force Rita (formally called JTF Ponchartrain) (, ). The fourteen hundred Oregonian soldiers and airmen, including the 1st Battalion of the 186th Infantry which is designated a quick response unit, were joined by engineers and military police from Louisiana, a Stryker Brigade from Pennsylvania, and an engineering battalion from Missouri. It is their mission to provide relief support for all of the areas in Texas and Louisiana effected by the two storms and to remove obstructions that might otherwise hinder help to those effected.
Governments of many countries have offered help to the U.S. for disaster relief, including the governments of Canada, France, Germany and Mexico, with Canada even offering to accept Katrina evacuees In addition to asking for federal funds, President Bush has enlisted the help of former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush to raise additional voluntary contributions, much as they did after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
Many had been critical of the slow response, with many people (particularly in New Orleans) left without water and food for three to five days after the storm. Among the first to express criticism of the management of the crisis had been The Pentagon, who complained only a day after Katrina hit that bureaucratic red tape from the Bush administration and the FEMA, (newly reorganized under the Homeland Security Department) had caused the delay of a scheduled and authorized military hospital ship from Norfolk, Virginia, among other related and prepared active military crisis response procedures.
The federal agencies said that they were there to "support" the state and local government agencies. The national guard claimed the same.
President Bush declared a state of emergency under the authority of the Stafford Act for the inland parishes of Louisiana.
Katrina became a Category 4 hurricane New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared a mandatory evacuation of the city, and opened the Superdome to those who couldn't leave the city. 550 National Guard troops were stationed inside the Superdome to screen refugees for weapons
At that point, it was known that the strength of the hurricane would almost certainly exceed the levees' design capacity, and therefore the possibility for major flooding was real. If the levees did fail, people throughout the city would find it very difficult to obtain food and water. If authorities had wanted to pre-position food, the Superdome would have been a logical place, as the population knew it was a designated central location. The Louisiana National Guard delivered enough food for 15,000 people for 3 days.
At 6:10 am local time, Katrina made landfall.
The Louisiana National Guard had called almost 3,500 of its members to state active duty as of 7 a.m. Army Lt. Col. Pete Schneider reported a successful evacuation from the city, crediting the Louisiana Guard's partners in neighboring states for carrying out "a coordinated effort" that incorporated lessons learned from past evacuations. Schneider said during an interview today with Fox News the state stood ready to house evacuees at the Superdome "for as long as it takes", reporting that although the massive structure's protective lining tore in the hurricane's Category 4 winds, the roof itself appears to be intact.
An estimated 7,500 National Guard troops from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi were on duty today, supporting civil authorities, distributing generators, providing medical care, and setting up shelters for displaced residents. As of 8 a.m., almost 3,800 Louisiana Army and Air Guard members were on duty to remove debris, provide security and shelter, distribute water, food and ice, and offer medical and law-enforcement support. The Louisiana Guard was coordinating with Florida, Georgia and Texas to secure two UH-60 Black Hawk and five CH-47 Chinook helicopters to support their operations. In Mississippi, more than 1,900 Guard troops were providing similar support, basing their operations at Camp Shelby. In Florida, more than 700 Florida Guard members were on active duty.
The number of National Guardsmen on duty in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida rose to almost 8,300. Joint Task Force Katrina is setting up at Camp Shelby, Miss., as the Defense Department's focal point to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency's relief efforts.
First report of relief supplies delivered to Superdome.
The guardsmen remain under their respective governors' control, which enables them to provide law-enforcement support in the affected regions -- something the Posse Comitatus Act prohibits active-duty forces from doing within the United States.
National Guardsmen accompanied by buses (475 in all) and supply trucks arrived at the Superdome. Media reports "few buses" there.
FEMA director Brown said that he had only earlier that day learned that the New Orleans Convention Center had contained thousands of people without food or water for 3-4 days. He said trucks were on the way and should be there "any time". At this point major news sources had been reporting on the situation for a few days.
Seven days after firm predictions of a Category 4 hurricane, a convoy of several dozen trucks and buses rolled into New Orleans carrying food, water, and other supplies. Some of these trucks were PLS manufactured by the Oshkosh Truck Corporation. These transports can carry more than 15 tons of cargo and can travel in 4 feet of water.
For comparison, when the Indian Ocean earthquake of 2004 tsunami struck the politically fractured city of Banda Aceh without warning, Indonesian officials not only knew about the situation on the ground, but delivered 175 tons of food only 2 days after the disaster
Since the hurricane passed through, the governors of Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana have collectively called to duty more than 10,000 guard troops.
The Coast Guard responded by moving as many helicopters as it could to the affected areas, calling in aircraft from as far away as Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 500 USCG reservists were called to duty, and many of the hundreds of small boats in the fleet were sent to help. Coast Guard helicopters flew around-the-clock rescue missions. The Coast Guard was saving lives before any other federal agency - despite the fact that almost half the local Coast Guard personnel lost their own homes in the hurricane. They rescued or evacuated more than 33,500 people, six times as many as they saved in all of 2004. According to an article in TIME, in the famously decimated St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans, Sheriff Jack Stephens says the Coast Guard was the only federal agency to provide any significant assistance for a full week after the storm. With 39,400 active-duty personnel, the Coast Guard is tiny- but very effective.
The United States Navy also began Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Several ships have been dispatched to the area :
The amphibious assault ships carry CH-53 Sea Stallion and SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters which are already being used in search and rescue operations. The Harry S. Truman is planned to be used as the command center for Naval operations in the area. The Navy has also arranged to send eight civilian 14-person Swift boat rescue teams to the disaster zone using C-5 Galaxy cargo planes.
Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré of the Army was appointed to run a temporary special command, known as Joint Task Force (JTF) Katrina, to coordinate all military responses to the effort, which will be based at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. FEMA has asked the Pentagon to have the U.S. Northern Command stand ready for assistance
The British Royal Navy has a Type 22 frigate heading in that direction; HMS Cumberland. Her two Westland Lynx helicopters will presumably be put to use alongside American ones. The Dutch Navy frigate Hr. MS. van Amstel arrived September 7.
The Mexican Navy sent the "Papaloapan" frigate. Arrived on September 8 to the Mississippi shores with 250 metric tons of food, medicines and supplies. Within the ship, two MI-17 helicopters, an ambulance, seven amphibious vehicles and eight 6-track all-terrain vehicles.
The United States Air Force responded by sending search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation, relief supplies as well as medical care to the affected areas. Out of the students training on the base around 400 volunteered to stay back and clean up the base. Thanks to their efforts the base was operational 6 months earlier than expected. The Air Force has rescued over 4,000 people to date. The Air Force has also evacuated more than 25,000 people in need of medical care from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. The Air Force's Medical Rapid Response Force is also operating a 25-bed hospital at the airport. Nine million packaged meals have been airlifted into the region.
Some disaster recovery response to Katrina began before the storm, with Federal Emergency Management Agency preparations that ranged from logistical supply deployments to a mortuary team with refrigerated trucks. However, the federal government's overall lack of response has been widely criticized since the events occurred.
President George W. Bush asked Secretary Michael Chertoff of the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate the Federal response. Chertoff designated Michael Brown, head of the FEMA as the Principal Federal Official to lead the deployment and coordination of all federal response resources and forces in the Gulf Coast region.
FEMA deployed all 28 of its Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces with 11 going to Mississippi and 7 to Louisiana. The remaining 10 US&R Task Forces were deployed to Texas staging areas. FEMA also deployed 29 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT); 5 Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORT); 2 Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT); and 1 Mental Health Team to Louisiana and 10 DMATs, 5 DMORTS, and 1 Mental Health Team to Mississippi.
FEMA also partnered with the Department of Transportation to send 1700 trucks of water, ice, and ready-to-eat meals. The Department of Transportation was also sending 390 trucks carrying water, tarpaulins, and even mobile homes and forklifts. The United States Public Health Service was activated and sent dozens of officers to supervise medical response. Though the hurricane closed several airports for some time to come, the Federal Aviation Administration rushed to reopen one runway at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport so that relief flights could begin.
On Friday, September 2 2005, Reuters published an article stating that five Silver Fox UAVs (the same UAVs being used in Iraq and Afghanistan for intelligence gathering) equipped with thermal imaging technology is going to be used in the search and rescue missions in New Orleans. Pennsylvanian Republican Representative Curt Weldon stated that he was able to bypass government bureaucracy and obtain the UAVs from an unnamed private company. Weldon stated that the UAVs were being shipped to Baton Rouge and requested deployment of US military personnel who is capable of operating the UAVs and that they can be in operation within hours of arrival.
Several Carnival Cruise ships have been chartered by the American government to provide housing for those who require it. The Salt Lake Tribune reported on September 4, 2005 that the authorities had requested that aid workers not disclose the final destination of those making the transit because a few had caused a ruckus upon finding that they were heading to a location that they held in disfavor.
Local governments across the U.S. sent aid in the form of ambulances, search teams and disaster supplies. Shelters to house those displaced were established as far away as Utah. The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism contacted travelers having reservations at state parks to see if the travelers would voluntarily give up their reservations to persons fleeing Katrina, primarily in the southern part of the state where refugees had already taken shelter (at Lake Chicot State Park, just across the Louisiana state line, a 26 member family from New Orleans, including a grandmother on oxygen, occupied seven of the park's cabins). In any event, refugees at state parks would not be evicted for prior reservations, and those with reservations but no room would either get space at another state park or a gift certificate.
Arkansas Visitors Information Centers in Texarkana, El Dorado, Helena, and Lake Village directed refugees to shelters and hotels/motels with available space.
Governor Mike Huckabee issued a proclamation releasing $75,000 of state funds to assist shelters in 14 southern and delta counties in Arkansas. At least 850 members of the Arkansas National Guard have been activated and sent to Louisiana and Mississippi. Governor Huckabee also announced that the state Departments of Health and Human Services and Emergency Management as well as the Arkansas Pharmacists Association will provide free emergency prescriptions and access to dialysis machines.
Schools and colleges across the country enrolled students displaced by the storm despite uncertainty over where funding would come from. U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said on September 12 that 372,000 elementary and high school students had been displaced. Over 715 schools were closed with at least 36 heavy damaged or completely destroyed. About 100,000 college students were also displaced and at least 15 colleges were still closed at that time. Primary and secondary schools are required to educate any "homeless" students in their district and 25 states reported having taken in Katrina victims. FEMA declared that opening temporary schools and hiring mental health counselors would be reimbursable but the hiring of extra teachers and buying of books would not be.
1000 firefighters volunteered to be sent to the affected region, with their home towns picking up the tab to provide cover in their absence. FEMA had them handing out leaflets, while on 5 September the first assignment for a 50-strong team from Atlanta was "to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas."
The American Red Cross mobilized the largest relief effort in its 124-year history to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Local Chapters across the nation mobilised tens of thousands of volunteers for immediate deployment to the disaster region.
In the first two weeks after the storm, the Red Cross had deployed 74,000 volunteers who provided shelter to 160,000 evacuees and more than 7.5 million hot meals. More than 250 Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) were sent to provide food and water to victims By September 11, 75,000 evacuees remained in 445 shelters in 19 states By that date, the Red Cross was calling for 40,000 new volunteers to relieve those who initially responded. Disaster response classes were training tens of thousands across the country.
The American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund collected donations from the public for the relief effort. By September 28, they had raised about one billion dollars in cash and pledges, surpassing the rate of donation for the Asian tsunami and September 11 attacks. This is ten times more money than the next largest amount collected by a charity, the Salvation Army. The Red Cross estimated that its response would cost some $2 billion of which $100 million was expected to be reimbursed by FEMA, while the rest would need to come from donations. Yahoo!, Google and later Amazon.com set up donation pages for the Red Cross.
As the Red Cross had raised the vast majority of donations and its response is limited to disaster aid and not to recovery, some charities suggested that the Red Cross share money with groups engaged in rebuilding efforts.
The president of the American Radio Relay League, Jim Haynie, sent a message to all amateur radio operators noting that the situation in New Orleans and other affected areas is "simply too dangerous and no one is being allowed in" Many media outlets say communications infrastructure is overloaded and destroyed in many places in the disaster area. During the storm, amateur operators gave weather reports to the National Hurricane Center in Florida using HF radio. Operators are also handling Health & Welfare messages for organizations such as the Salvation Army and Red Cross. Many amateur radio organizations are staging outside the affected area getting ready to deploy into the city and suburbs.
On September 1, the American Red Cross asked the ARRL to help provide radio and amateur support for its 35 kitchen and 250 shelters. By September 3, the ARRL had set up amateur radio operations at the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Headquarters in Montgomery Alabama.
The mission of Camp Hope is to house and facilitate volunteer relief efforts in St Bernard Parish and around the New Orlean's area. Those efforts include managing and participating in the removal of health and safety hazards from properties throughout St Bernard parish with the assistance of the local, state, federal, volunteer and non-governmental agencies.
Several websites were set up to help family members find out information about each other in the chaos. Some include the Red Cross, The Weather Channel, local newspapers, Craigslist, and others. Yahoo set up 100 Internet-linked computers at the Astrodome and developed a meta-search of evacuee registration websites. On September 11, despite having reunited several families, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children had a list of 1,600 children listed as missing by their parents, or who were seeking their families.
Problems were that many survivors had no internet access, let alone electrical power, let alone computers or even computer literacy. There were also many many sites so a searcher would have to go through several and sort through the many different search protocols and syntax. Another problem in theory is fraud, and another problem is that many sites only included last and first names which in a mass of several hundred thousand displaced persons obviously included many duplicates.
The New York Regional Alliance of Grantmakers provides a Donors' Guide to individuals and organizations looking for philanthropic options for Gulf Coast recovery.
In addition to the Red Cross, numerous charity and relief organizations stepped up their activities to aid hurricane victims. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief mobilized hundreds of units from across the US. Southern Baptist Disaster relief manned massive feeding units, shower and laundry facilities, assessment teams, Mud-Out, and chainsaw and debris removal teams across the affected area. The Catholic Charities activated a disaster response plan; areas outside of the disaster are providing refugee relief, and agencies located in or nearby are mobilizing to assist the needy. Operation Blessing began organizing to ship food and relief supplies into the affected areas, as it has done in disaster zones around the world before. America's Second Harvest, a food bank that operates in many communities, began coordinating efforts to ship food donations to coastal areas. The Salvation Army immediately turned its efforts to providing food and shelter where it could. Habitat for Humanity announced plans to check on all Habitat-built homes and their residents, and then turn to providing assistance to Habitat families, partners, and volunteers in need of help. The American Public School Endowments began collecting funds to rebuild schools in the affected area, and to aid schools suffering from an onslaught of refugees. Mercy Corps is accepting donations and sending a team of emergency relief experts to the Gulf region to offer financial and technical assistance for immediate and longer-term relief and recovery efforts.
Other nonprofit non-governmental organizations that are helping like the ASPCA are listed on Network for Good's website. Jehovah's Witnesses are responding by giving much food, water, clothing, and financial aid to victims. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also responding to the devastation. While emergency services and rescue personnel work on relief operations in New Orleans, they are at high risk of disease. The Family International has mobilized Christian Counsellors to provide spiritual healing, comfort and encouragement to the evacuees throughout Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi and have launched Katrina Relief Home to share the needs of the victims of this disaster. The Scientology Volunteer Ministers headed by a medical doctor went to New Orleans with enough tetanus shots to inoculate 100 police, National Guard and other rescue workers at risk due to the unsanitary conditions
The KatrinaHelp wiki is a grassroots effort collating all refugee records from a variety of sites (including Craigslist, et al) in PFIF format; they offer an elegant search interface to their database.
The first Pfif spinoff is SFIF (Shelter Finder Interface format), a clone of Pfif where elements and attributes have been adapted to model shelter entities developed by Shelterfinder an interactive database where a list of active shelters is maintained by volunteers
Awake In America, a non-profit organization based in Philadelphia, launched "Operation Restore CPAP" to get equipment to treat sleep apnea in victims of Hurricane Katrina who had been previously diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Hands On USA, now Hands On Gulf Coast, was on the ground in Gulfport and Biloxi a week after the storm. Founded in Thailand after the 2004 Tsunami, Hands On has evolved from immediate relief services, to recovery operations such as gutting houses and taking trees off houses, to community empowerment and redevelopment. They are based out of the Beauvoir Methodist Church in Biloxi, MS, although they also have satellite locations in New Orleans and Bay St. Louis.
The Common Ground Collective is a local, community-run organization offering assistance, mutual aid and support to New Orleans communities that have been historically neglected and underserved. Common Ground's efforts include acting as a hub for medical and health providers, aid workers, community organizers, legal representatives as well as people with a variety of skills. The Common Ground collective also has been part of organizing the "Road Trip for Relief", a grassroots effort to bus 300 volunteers into New Orleans.
Emergency Communities is a non-profit organization that employs compassion and creativity to provide community-based disaster relief. Since Katrina, they have operated four relief sites, served over 300,000 meals and 25,000 residents of the Gulf. They are a United Way Partner Agency and currently run operations in Buras, LA and the Ninth Ward.
The Welcome Home Kitchen is serving three meals a day to over 700 people, as well as providing free medical care, a distribution center of clothing and supplies, a community bulletin board and an information table. The Welcome Home Kitchen is facilitated by The Rainbow Family of Living Light as well as volunteers.
World Shelters Task Force One operated in Hancock County, MS from September 15, 2005 until October 26, 2005 and deployed 80 shelter structures for relief efforts and housing. Remaining supplies and equipment went on to be used by Burners Without Borders, with support from The Buckminster Fuller Institute
Initially, the United States had been reluctant to accept donations and aid from foreign countries. However, this policy was reversed, and as the reports of damage grew more grim, the United States has now started to accept the foreign aid. Countries and organizations that offered to send aid mentioned by the State Department included Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, the European Union, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, International Energy Agency, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, NATO, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Organization of American States, Oman, OPEC, Pakistan, Paraguay, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, United Kingdom, the United Nations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Venezuela and the World Health Organization. Other countries not on this list have also offered aid, but the State Department mentioned that they had not been asked. Later, the US State Department said all offers were being examined. Donations include Kuwait donating 500 million dollars, Canada sending frigate and frigate ), a coast guard light icebreaker (CCGS Sir William Alexander), and two H-3 Sea King helicopters to the area (2 additional helicopters will be sent to Boston to replace US Coast Guard helicopters going to Louisiana) and Singapore sending three CH-47 Chinook helicopters and thirty-eight RSAF personnel from a training detachment based in Grand Prairie, Texas
Notable offers from international organizations include the United Nations, which was ready to send supply high-energy biscuits, generators, planes, tents along with experienced staff members; and Paris-based International Energy Agency agreeing to make 60 million barrels oil available to help the United States weather the economic problems caused by Hurricane Katrina.
The National Hockey League, along with the National Hockey League Players Association, have donated $1 million. An auction of game worn jerseys, from the 2005-06 NHL season opening night, will also be held. The National Football League donated $1 million, as did the New York Yankees baseball organization. A Concert for Hurricane Relief, an hour-long, music and celebrity driven broadcast was aired on September 2, 2005 by NBC. Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast, an hour long simulcast benefit concert aired on September 9, 2005 worldwide. A four and a half-hour long benefit concert titled ReAct Now: Music & Relief was broadcast by MTV, VH1 and CMT on September 10, 2005. Céline Dion, the Canadian singer, also donated $1 million.