Fact Sheet: Hurricane Katrina’s Greatest Hits

Hurricane Katrina FLATLINEgov Fact Sheet

The costliest storm in American history, Hurricane Katrina formed as a tropical depression on August 23, 2005. It became Tropical Storm Katrrina on August 24. The Category 1 hurricane hit Florida – between Fort Lauderdale and Miami – on August 25. Once in the Gulf of Mexico, it strengthened to a Category 3 storm, eventually becoming a Category 5 hurricane on August 28. Katrina made landfall again on August 29, as a strong Category 3 hurricane, just southeast of New Orleans. The city’s levee system subsequently failed, flooding most of New Orleans.

More than one million people were displaced from their homes; over 1,800 died. The storm caused $108 billion in property damage; the total economic impact is estimated to be about $150 billion.

Below are statements of compassion and competence uttered by officials who oversaw this greatest of America’s natural disasters.


Date Quote Name
March 9, 2005 “Our Nation is prepared, as never before, to deal quickly and capably with the consequences of disasters and other domestic incidents.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

August 26, 2005 “Tie or not for tonight? Button-down blue shirt?”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

August 28, 2005 “FEMA is not going to hesitate at all in this storm. We are not going to sit back and make this a bureaucratic process. We are going to move fast, we are going to move quick, and we are going to do whatever it takes to help disaster victims.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

August 29, 2005 “If you’ll look at my lovely FEMA attire you’ll really vomit. I ama [sic] fashion god.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

August 29, 2005 “Can I quit now? Can I go home?”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

August 30, 2005 “Do you know of anyone who dog-sits? Bethany has backed out and Tamara is looking. If you know of any responsible kids, let me know. They can have the house to themselves Th-Su.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

August 30, 2005 “I don’t want to alarm everybody that, you know, New Orleans is filling up like a bowl. That’s just not happening.”
David Vitter (R-LA)

David Vitter
(R-LA)

August 31, 2005 “It’s totally wiped out. … It’s devastating; it’s got to be doubly devastating on the ground.”
George W. "Shrub" Bush (R-TX) Declares "Mission Accomplished!"

George W. “Shrub” Bush
(R-TX)

August 31, 2005 “It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that’s seven feet under sea level….It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed.”
Dennis Hastert (R-IL)

Dennis Hastert
(R-IL)

September 1, 2005 “Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

September 1, 2005 “We just learned of the convention center – we being the Federal government – today.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

September 1, 2005 “I’ve had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word ‘unrest’ means that people are beginning to riot or, you know, they’re banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I’ve had no reports of that.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

September 1, 2005 “I don’t make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

September 1, 2005 “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”
George W. "Shrub" Bush (R-TX) Declares "Mission Accomplished!"

George W. “Shrub” Bush
(R-TX)

September 1, 2005 “I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don’t have food and water.”
Michael Chertoff

Michael Chertoff

September 1, 2005 “Judge Roberts can, maybe, you know, be thankful that a tragedy has brought him some good.”
Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson

September 2, 2005 “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK) and George W. "Shrub" Bush (R-TX)

Michael “Brownie” Brown (R-OK) and George W. “Shrub” Bush (R-TX)

September 2, 2005 “We’ve got a lot of rebuilding to do … The good news is – and it’s hard for some to see it now – that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house – he’s lost his entire house – there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.”
George W. "Shrub" Bush (R-TX) Declares "Mission Accomplished!"

George W. “Shrub” Bush
(R-TX)

September 2, 2005 “I believe the town where I used to come – from Houston, Texas, to enjoy myself, occasionally too much – will be that very same town, that it will be a better place to come to.”
George W. "Shrub" Bush (R-TX) Declares "Mission Accomplished!"

George W. “Shrub” Bush
(R-TX)

September 3, 2005 “I just feel like I’m getting the [explicative] beat out of me, but hey, we’re working out [sic] butts off down here.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

September 3, 2005 “Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater.”
Michael Chertoff

Michael Chertoff

September 4, 2005 “Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, ‘New Orleans Dodged the Bullet.’ Because if you recall, the storm moved to the east and then continued on and appeared to pass with considerable damage but nothing worse.”
Michael Chertoff

Michael Chertoff

September 5, 2005 “What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) – this is working very well for them.”
Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush

September 5, 2005 “But I really didn’t hear that at all today. People came up to me all day long and said ‘God bless your son,’ people of different races and it was very, very moving and touching, and they felt like when he flew over that it made all the difference in their lives, so I just don’t hear that.”
Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush

September 5, 2005 “You know I talked to Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi yesterday because some people were saying, ‘Well, if you hadn’t sent your National Guard to Iraq, we here in Mississippi would be better off.’ He told me ‘I’ve been out in the field every single day, hour, for four days and no one, not one single mention of the word Iraq.’ Now where does that come from? Where does that story come from if the governor is not picking up one word about it? I don’t know. I can use my imagination.”
George H.W. Bush (R-TX)

George H.W. Bush
(R-TX)

September 5, 2005 “I can’t wait to join you in the joy of welcoming neighbors back into neighborhoods, and small businesses up and running, and cutting those ribbons that somebody is creating new jobs.”
George W. "Shrub" Bush (R-TX) Declares "Mission Accomplished!"

George W. “Shrub” Bush
(R-TX)

September 6, 2005 “Order a #2, tater tots, large diet cherry limeade.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

September 6, 2005 “Bureaucracy is not going to stand in the way of getting the job done for the people.”
George W. "Shrub" Bush (R-TX) Declares "Mission Accomplished!"

George W. “Shrub” Bush
(R-TX)

September 6, 2005 “I mean, you have people who don’t heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.”
Rick Sanitarium (R-PA)

Rick Sanitarium
(R-PA)

September 6, 2005 “This is the largest disaster in the history of the United States, over an area twice the size of Europe. People have to understand this is a big, big problem.”
Ted Stevens (R-AK)

Ted Stevens
(R-AK)

September 7, 2005 “I understand there are 10,000 people dead. It’s terrible. It’s tragic. But in a democracy of 300 million people, over years and years and years, these things happen.”
Jack Burkman

Jack Burkman

September 7, 2005 “What didn’t go right?”
George W. "Shrub" Bush (R-TX) Declares "Mission Accomplished!"

George W. “Shrub” Bush
(R-TX)

September 8, 2005 “I want us to start planning for dealing with pets … please get some sort of plan together to start handling the pets. Thanks.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

September 8, 2005 “I also want to encourage anybody who was affected by Hurricane Corina to make sure their children are in school.”
Laura Bush

Laura Bush

September 9, 2005 “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.”
Richard Baker (R-LA)

Richard Baker
(R-LA)

September 9, 2005 “I’m going to go home and walk my dog and hug my wife, and maybe get a good Mexican meal and a stiff margarita and a full night’s sleep.”
Michael "Brownie" Brown (R-OK)

Michael “Brownie” Brown
(R-OK)

September 10, 2005 “There are a lot of lessons we want to learn out of this process in terms of what works. I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise.”
Dick Cheney (R-WY)

Dick Cheney
(R-WY)

September 11, 2005 “Mayor Nagin and most mayors in this country have a hard time getting their people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out of the city in front of a hurricane.”
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Mary Landrieu
(D-LA)

September 20, 2005 “We’ll get the debris removed, get the water up and running and get the bridges rebuilt. But what you need to do is develop a blueprint for your own future. We look forward to hearing your vision so we can more better do our job.”
George W. "Shrub" Bush (R-TX) Declares "Mission Accomplished!"

George W. “Shrub” Bush
(R-TX)

January 16, 2006 “We ask black people: It’s time. It’s time for us to come together. It’s time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. And I don’t care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day … This city will be a majority African-American city. It’s the way God wants it to be. You can’t have New Orleans no other way; it wouldn’t be New Orleans.”
Ray Nagin (D-LA)

Ray Nagin
(D-LA)

March 20, 2006 “One of the interesting things about Katrina, as you well know, is many of the people displaced did not own their own homes, that they were renters.”
George W. "Shrub" Bush (R-TX) Declares "Mission Accomplished!"

George W. “Shrub” Bush
(R-TX)

2006 “When you look out of your hotel window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down, when you see bodies that you last saw in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and swore to yourself that you would never see in your country.”
Brian Williams

Brian Williams

2006 “My week, two weeks there was not helped by the fact that I accidentally ingested some of the floodwater. I became very sick with dysentery, our hotel was overrun with gangs, I was rescued in the stairwell of a five-star hotel in New Orleans by a young police officer. We are friends to this day. And uh, it just was uh, I look back at total agony.”
Brian Williams

Brian Williams