Huh…? regarding Brian Williams and facts

I just don’t understand this. Twice now I have heard MSNBC, first Brian Williams on Countdown and then Dan Abrams, claim the evacuation of 950,000 in SoCal is greater than that of Hurricane Katrina.

At this point that just is not true. From theUS Department of Transportation: Federal Highway Administration:

For example, more than 1.2 million people in Louisiana were evacuated
before Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, and still more than 100,000 people
were evacuated from New Orleans in the week following the storm. 

Perhaps in the end what MSNBC now claims as fact will become true but it is not at this point.

UPDATE: FromMediabistro:

“The Largest Peacetime Movement of Americans Since The Civil War”

Walking between two burned-out houses, which were standing just yesterday, Brian Williams began NBC Nightly News with the sobering statistics of the California wildfires.

But from a September, 2005NYT’s article on the evacuation of as many as 2.5 million due to Hurricane Rita:

HOUSTON, Sept. 22 – Heeding days of dire warnings about Hurricane Rita,
as many as 2.5 million people jammed evacuation routes on Thursday,
creating colossal 100-mile-long traffic jams that left many people
stranded and out of gas as the huge storm bore down on theTexas coast.

(added) And regarding Hurricane Rita evacuation fromUS.INFO.STATE.GOV:

Nevertheless, authorities pointed out that they successfully conducted
one of the largest urban evacuations in U.S. history, moving between
2.5 and 3 million people out of the hurricane’s path in roughly 48

Am I missing something here???

UPDATE: Video and transcript atHuffPo of Williams on Countdown claiming a “Super Katrina.” From the transcript:

WILLIAMS: You know, the figure I’m using on “Nightly News” tonight –
the Associated Press, just before our first feed of the broadcast got
off the air issued that new figure – 950, 960 thousand evacuee”s. That
puts this in a “SuperKatrina” category well beyond Katrina – it also
makes this the largest single peacetime movement of Americans since the
civil war.


31 thoughts on “Huh…? regarding Brian Williams and facts

  1. Thank you–I was wondering the same. Williams even said “super-Katrina,” which I found disgusting, because his tone seemed to imply a superiority…which is really ugly…as if disasters become some sort of obscene competition.
    But I guess Williams was channeling his inner wingnut. If I remember right, he’s on record as saying he enjoys listening to Rush Lamebone.

  2. White people know how to respond to an emergency than black people. That will explain why george bush will have everything they need the very next day.

  3. but but but this is california! that’s like trying to herd cats and shit. and they can AFFORD to leave.
    and and and they are losing way more stuff! poor black people didn’t have as much to lose!
    (how do i make that dripping sarcasm?-teevee gnews are just happy they got awesome footage of tragedy)

  4. (following on pansy’s sarcasm to try to make a non-sarcastic point)
    I think one of the main differences between the evacuations in New Orleans and those now occuring in San Diego County is that the Katrina evacuation (or non-evacuation) in New Orleans was actually of the city of New Orleans, where it was quite possible for many residents to live their lives without owning a car. It was the evacuation of a large city.
    The evacuations in San Diego County are not evacuations of the city of San Diego. Rather, it is a bunch of evacuations of a bunch of smaller towns – Poway (population 50K), Escondido (pop 125K?), rural areas of Chula Vista, etc. These are towns and areas distinct and distant (20 to 50 miles) from the city of San Diego, and places where I would expect many fewer residents are able to live without owning a car.
    One of the problems in New Orleans was that the buses to get people out just never came. Nobody in Poway is waiting on a bus. They’re just getting in their car and going.
    – Robert, resident of Torrance CA (near the ocean, and 50 miles from any of the LA County fires – but currently in Wisconsin, visiting relatives)

  5. Brian Williams, et al may not realize that New Orleans is in this country. It is, after all, way down south. But, then San Diego isn’t exactly the Northern Territories either.
    I think Pansy really called it – this is a made for TV disaster, good film, good filming conditions (no rain in the way this time), and it has staying power – the fires just keep on burning, always making for more good film. And, of course we get airplanes dropping water to watch too. So, it just has to be the biggest, baddest, most disasterly disaster the country has ever had. (I could have mentioned that the San Diegans are very telegenic too.)

  6. Robert I understand your point. The 1.2 million cited above for Katrina though would be from South Louisiana which is quite a big area as well. It also doesn’t even include those from South MS who evacuated.
    It just seems Williams is incorrect.
    What’s most important is the people of Southern California. One lesson from Katrina was the press did get some things wrong…it didn’t help folks. It likely won’t help the people affected by these fires should it occur again.

  7. Robert–
    I hope any friends or relatives you might have in SoCal get through this ok, and good to hear your property is presumably safe.
    One thing about the NOLA evacuations–considering the lack of public transit and the geographical limitations, it was pretty remarkable that you had as many people getting out as did…in 2004, a similar evacuation that fortunately turned out to be a false alarm was quite the nightmare for those who did leave –some 10 hours for the roughly 80 mile drive to Baton Rouge–in 2005 it was closer to 4-5 hours.
    As for buses, well…people can talk all they want, but the logistical nightmare would’ve been…a nightmare. People don’t realize how many non-evacuees were basically old, or sick, or both, plus surface streets aren’t exactly easy to navigate in the city (oh, and a fair number of non-old and/or non-sick people who stayed were caring for old and/or sick people…welcome to 21st century health care)…anyway, it would’ve been all but impossible to get everyone out.
    That said, the nightmare wouldn’t have been nearly as ugly had the federal government simply taken the same steps they did to mitigate the disasters in Florida in 2004…but I guess the lack of an election (and 27 electoral votes) really made all the difference in Team Bush’s eyes.

  8. You know, know one should have to play the ‘my disaster is bigger than yours game – and I don’t think any of us except the press are.
    And the small, evil, nasty part of me that is waiting in vain for the chorus of people declaiming on how SoCal shouldn’t be rebuilt and how people should have known better than to live there make me ashamed of myself.

  9. Given this is a huge disaster, the first really since Katrina I can understand comparisons to Katrina. I would just like to see them be fact based. And If it becomes of the nature of which lb0313 writes I can’t see that as being helpful to anyone.
    The national media has really moved in there now and this will be a bigger “story” tomorrow. As it should be really. And given that even though heroic firefighters are giving their absolute all (and man I don’t know how they keep going) the fires just keep burning on. So this “story” will go on as well. Strange things can happen given that IMO.

  10. I just watched Brian Williams on with Olbermann, and a couple ways that the comparison to Katrina break down (with the first being something of a re-iteration of what I wrote before):
    The people evacuating Katrina were moving away from the big city, with its big city infrastructure. They had to get all the way to Houston, etc., before the needs of that large number of people could begin to be met. Today, people are going INTO the city of San Diego (and traveling all of 25 to 50 miles to do it), where the big city infrastructure can easily absorb them. Of course that is going to go better than what happened with Katrina.
    The vast, vast majority of those evacuating today will be returning to homes that will have suffered no damage whatsoever (maybe a little smoke smell). The majority (?) of people evacuated from New Orleans lost their homes.
    (I had a third but it escapes me now.)
    The hyperbole of the network/CNN/MSNBC anchors yesterday and today has repeatedly had me reaching for the remote, as I thought to myself “Jeez, give me some local news, somebody who knows what the hell they’re talking about when it comes to brush fires and Santa Ana winds!” Alas, I’m stuck with bad anchors…but good air quality! 🙂

  11. And even if the air quality wasn’t so good in Wisc., you could always kick back, relax, and have a…geez, how to choose? Capital Lager, Berghoff Dark Lager, Point, Leinenkugel Weiss, shoot, even a Huber…or whatever the Angelic or Great Dane has on tap…
    Ah, great beer…but oh my god cold winters.

  12. So, the SoCal fires are the first disaster since Katrina, eh?
    Hurricane Rita was what, chopped liver?
    Wildfires that killed a score of people in 2005-2006 were nothing?
    Oh, right. Those happened in Texas, and because you believe the lie that that Connecticut Yankee squatting in the White House really is a Texan, you can spit on us all.
    I am so sick of this “my disaster is bigger and badder than yours.”
    I hope all the people in California are able to find safe, sheltered places, and return home — not to a pile of ash on which they still owe the mortgage.

  13. Scout,
    I grew up in Appleton, went to UW, was living in Milwaukee for the 1982 Brewer season, etc. (been in CA since ’83 though, so I may have lost some of my accent 🙂
    But thanks for the welcome!

  14. The Other Sarah… I stand corrected …in my defense I think I tend to lump Hurricanes Katrina and Rita together in my mind. I guess I was getting at the first big media attention to a disaster as well. Sorry if my commented offended though…I certainly did not mean for it to do so. I do not think that way about the people of Texas.

  15. The Other Sarah…well I hope not. 🙂
    People are people all the world over. Can’t judge based on stereotypes.
    And I know many good people in Texas.

  16. oh you have to cut Brian Williams a break.
    He was probably counting the NOLA evacuees as 3/5 of a person.
    That’s “the math” that he got from Karl Rove, and I guess it stuck.

  17. Oh, mdhatter (and Grouchy Marxist later), you freakin’ nailed it with that one. 3/5 indeed. For god’s sake, don’t show Brian any of the brown people being evacuated!
    I’ve got friends and family in SD, and I’m worried sick about them, but I’d never, NEVER, suggest that this situation is any worse than NOLA’s experiences.
    Disasters are disasters, tragedies are tragedies. Fuck this whole scoreboard mentality.

  18. Peacetime? Not to be picky, but what about the GWOT? Afganistan? Iraq? Did I miss something? I was out shopping.

  19. Pansy, have you ever seen such beautiful red skies in a disaster? Then there was the hulking DC10 dropping a never ending stream of beautiful red dust on the fire. Just outstanding pictorials. Human interest? You want human interest? How about the ballsy news reporter reporting in front of his burning house? Yes, without a doubt we Californians know how to do a disaster. All of those years of experience in Hollywood weren’t wasted.

  20. Okay I’m confused about this:
    “it also makes this the largest single peacetime movement of Americans since the civil war.”
    That seems to be implying that there was a larger peacetime movement of Americans in the civil war wouldn’t it? And wouldn’t that also imply that the civil war is considered “peacetime.” And SuperKatrina just sounds like a bad Fox show.

  21. Having lived in San Diego for a decade, with family still living there [they had to move around a bit, but are back home] I hate to break it to these people, but moving a million people around in San Diego county is known as the morning commute, except that it wasn’t as concentrated as to time and, based on family reports, wasn’t as bad as a Friday night.
    Moving a thousand people in the back country, from the little towns and ranches who have livestock trailers is a feat, but moving more than a million people in and out of the city is a daily occurrence.
    If the city itself had to be evacuated, there would definitely be a problem, because then you would be dealing with thousands of people who depend on mass transit and there simply isn’t enough available to do it.

  22. I find it easy to predict that for the first few days, TV news is going to run melodramatic stories of the saintly firmen and how well government has done in what is obviously the biggest and baddest disaster to befall the earth. People are happy to be waiting in police lines, etc. After all, we have to reassure the sheep (uh people?) that the government has it all under control.
    Give it a few days and the chinks in the armor will start appearing. Maybe this wasn’t as big as the comet which killed the dinosaurs. One official has already noted that things got worse than they would had they had more available airdrops early on. Why is the National Guard photographic cacti on the Mexican Border and chasing geckos in Iraq?

  23. Chip Prather at OC Fire Authority said on TV and was quoted in the LA paper that the state had prevented his firefighters from receiving air support, causing them not to be able to fight the fire effectively in the Irvine area and putting his people at unneccessary risk. He was not a happy camper.
    My other prediction is that if Bush really does go out there he won’t get the hail-fellow-well-met he craves.

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