As long as fingerpointing is still in style ...

Because fingerpointing remains a popular activity in response to the multiple relief failures related to Hurricane Katrina, we thought it would be useful to review a few key events in a timeline of the disaster.

(The timeline was compiled by, where more details - and a messier picture of the organizational dysfunction - can be found.)

July 23, 2004 - Federal Emergency Management Agency's "Hurricane Pat" exercise exposes the potential dangers of a Category 3 hurricane to New Orleans' levees and the likelihood up to half its residents won't be able to evacuate.

Aug. 26, 2005 - Katrina strikes Florida as a Category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds. Eleven people die. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declares a state of emergency in Louisiana.

Aug. 27 - Blanco asks President Bush to declare a state of emergency. Bush does so, authorizing Homeland Security and FEMA "to coordinate all disaster relief efforts."

Aug. 28 - Katrina upgraded to "potentially catastrophic" Category 5 storm, with winds up to 175 mph. Mayor Ray Nagin orders mandatory evacuation of New Orleans at 9:30 a.m.

Aug. 29 - Katrina makes landfall as a Category 4 storm about 6 a.m. on the Louisiana coast. Storm surge causes almost immediate flooding. By late morning, the 17th Street Canal levee has given way.

About 11 a.m., FEMA Director Michael Brown sends a memo requesting an additional 1,000 rescue workers from Homeland Security "within 48 hours" and 2,000 more within seven days. He suggests they first go to Georgia or Florida for training. Blanco calls Bush: "Mr. President, we need your help. We need everything you've got."

Aug. 30 - As much as 80 percent of New Orleans is under water. Looting is reported.

Aug. 31 - Bush flies over New Orleans en route to Washington, D.C.

Sept. 1 - Red Cross asks permission to enter the city. Louisiana officials deny the request. Thirty-thousand National Guard troops from around the country start making their way toward the Gulf Coast.

Sept. 2 - Bush says of FEMA's director, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Sept. 9 - Brown is removed from his role directing Katrina relief efforts.

Sept. 12 - Brown resigns as director of FEMA.

Sept. 15 - Bush says in a speech from New Orleans, "the system, at every level of government, was not well coordinated and was overwhelmed in the first few days."

Sept. 26 - FEMA confirms Brown will remain on the payroll for about a month as a consultant. His annual salary is $145,600.


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