Carl Quintanilla and I are preparing a story for the broadcast concerning Jefferson Parish, which adjoins New Orleans on the west. The Parish president, Aaron Broussard, made the painful decision the day before Katrina hit to shut down the pump houses in the parish, and evacuate the operators to safety. Those of us not from the New Orleans area are quickly learning how important the massive and complex system of pumps and canals are to survival and well being. We're all below or at sea level when we arrive here. If you don't pump out the water, you flood. It's just that simple.
Broussard told us today, "No parish president should have to make the decisions that I had to make during Katrina, where you choose between different values. In this instance, I chose life over property. That was a good decision."
Broussard also told us the head of the National Hurricane Center called his office and flatly said, "This is the big one, get your people out or they will die."
A Hobson's choice: flood the parish, or put your employees in mortal danger. Like so many things we've seen during the past seven weeks, a tough and unavoidable choice.