The "Hurricane Pam" Exercise
Here is FEMA's July 2004 press release summarizing the Hurricane Pam Exercise conducted that year. The scenario in Pam was a Category 3 Gulf Hurricane striking New Orleans and causing flooding over the levees, a high number of fatalities, tons of debris, and a housing crisis. The drill brought together more than 250 emergency officials from 50 government and volunteer organizations to plan how they would handle such a disaster. They employed computer models to judge how floodwaters would engulf much of the city. The 20-day exercise was left uncompleted, however, after the Bush administration cut the project's funding. A draft report was published in August 2004 on how a recovery effort would have been implemented (Note: This is a pdf file; Adobe Acrobat required). The 121-page report shows that key planning decisions were not yet made: the issue of medical care for hurricane victims wasn't finalized, communications were not addressed at all, and important transportation decisions were left "to be determined."
"Hurricane Katrina Document Analysis: The E-Mails of Michael Brown"
This report by Louisiana Congressman Charlie Melancon (D-LA) summarizes the requests that have been made by him and by Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), chairman of the House Select Committee investigating Hurricane Katrina, to gather communications and documents from the Department of Homeland Security. (As of late November 2005, they are still waiting for past due documents from officials, including DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - both of whom had been in communication with Michael Brown during Katrina, according to Brown's sworn testimony.)
To date, the congressmen have received about 1000 e-mail correspondance between Brown and others. This summary by Congressman Melancon's staff highlights some of Brown's e-mails that offer insight into his handling of the Katrina crisis. "Few of his e-mails demonstrated leadership or a command of the challenges facing his agency," writes Congressman Melancon. A small sampling of the e-mails are available from the congressman's Web site. (Note: This is a pdf file; Adobe Acrobat required)
Michael Brown's June 2005 Memo
This memo was written by then-FEMA Director Michael Brown to Michael Jackson, the number two official at the Department of Homeland Security, in response to the department's reorganizational plans and a downgraded role for FEMA. This document was leaked to FRONTLINE correspondent and producer Martin Smith.
Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina
Official site for the House committee that has been conducting hearings to find out what happened before and during the disaster. The site is an updating list of hearings, press releases, and testimony, including that of Michael Brown (Sept. 27, 2005) and Michael Chertoff (Oct. 19, 2005). It also links to the official requests for documents signed by Chairman Davis and Rep. Melancon.
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
This Senate Committee is conducting its own investigation into the response to and ongoing effects of Hurricane Katrina. The links page has PDFs of their document requests and exhibits (Opens a PDF) from the Oct. 20, 2005 hearing, including some of the e-mails sent from the Superdome by FEMA Regional Director Marty Bahamonde. (Note: This is a pdf file; Adobe Acrobat required) The hearings listing is updated with links to all the committee's hearings, including those for Katrina. Each hearing summary has testimony and video footage of the proceedings.
Even when the storm knocked out the paper's ability to go to press, and floodwaters forced the staff's evacuation from their offices, the Times-Picayune continued to cover Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath online with a news blog. This page is an index of that coverage, the crucial parts of which remain as free archives. The page is still updated daily with the paper's reports on recovery.
National Weather Service: Hurricane Katrina
This page from the New Orleans/Baton Rouge, LA Forecast Office links to photos, satellite images, and emergency and damage information for Hurricane Katrina.