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New Orleans: Better Prepared This Time?

POSTED: 08:00 AM ET, 08/29/2008 by The Editors

With Louisiana in a state of emergency and New Orleans' officials making preliminary evacuation plans, the approach of Hurricane Gustav toward the Gulf Coast feels ominously familiar.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which struck exactly three years ago today, reporters and other investigators revealed that government failures, from misspent dollars to poor engineering and planning, contributed to the devastation and the slow response in helping victims.

Just days after Katrina, the Post's Michael Grunwald reported that hundreds of millions of dollars of Army Corps' funding for Louisiana went to projects demanded by the state's congressional delegation but unrelated to keeping the low-lying city dry.

Within weeks, experts at Louisiana State University used modeling to conclude that design flaws likely led to the failure of three massive floodwalls, sending water flooding into the streets of New Orleans.

A detailed examination of the Department of Homeland Security and how it performed in its first real test -- Hurricane Katrina -- found an agency beset by bureaucratic warfare.

The Miami Herald's Debbie Cenziper, now an investigative reporter at The Post, reported after the storm that the federal government's weather-tracking system had failed forecasters in nearly half of the hurricanes that struck land since 1992. Shortly after publication of her series, Blind Eye, Congress and the White House approved more than $25 million to improve equipment.

In New Orleans, officials are now preparing for a possible evacuation. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was dispatched to the city yesterday as part of an intensifying federal effort to avoid the mistakes of Katrina.

By The Editors |  August 29, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
Previous: Letters Paint Picture Of 'Humble' Abramoff | Next: The Daily Read

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Let's see if the school buses can get out of the yard this time. Local and state government who have the primary responsibility was a total failure during Katrina. Florida has the best hurricane preparation plans of any state, but it still comes down to execution.

Posted by: lewis Messer | August 29, 2008 9:05 AM

I completely agree that the State and Local governments failed first in run up to Katrina, but the Federal government failed worse in the aftermath.

Posted by: Cyndi | August 29, 2008 9:08 AM

The Republican governor won't hide underneath his desk like Blanco when this storm hits. They will be prepared and will take responsibility. The race pimp in New Orleans is a failure who should have been prosecuted for his handling of Katrina. Typical media bias discourages the truth of the Katrina fiasco. The fault lies at the feet of the local democrat leadership. But calling Republican (the party of Lincoln) racists fits the template better. Kanye West is a reflection of the extreme ignorance that is thrust on the American people by the main stream media.

Posted by: Matt | August 29, 2008 9:13 AM

We evacuated for Katrina.
I left the family at a safe location in the midwest and returned on 9-2-05 my job allowed me into the hardest hit zones. The self induced chaos was beyond beleif. Hearse wrapped around trees in the projects. Entire neighborhood ravaged first by looting inbred scum then by flooding. City and Elected officials profiting and profiteering including a well known Congrressman who comandeered vital National Guard resources to check on his house (and the cash in the fridge).
Throughout the chaos, somew areas remaied relatively secure because the well armed residents of all color,wealth status, and God forbid even disparate political affiliation stood fast and stood ARMED.
Odd thing about that is the punk thug cretins that crossed their lines ended up floating away-at least the dogs ate well.
This time, I pray for those who remain. We left taking our business and small contribution to the tax base with us. Of course, most of Urban New Orleans population was then and is now a multi-generational baby spewing, tax consuming bunch of parasites. This time, evacuate them to Nancy Pelosi's and obama's backyard!
If Obama ascends to the throne, maybe he can reduce the Bush/Pelosi/Reid deficit by selling South Louisiana back to the French.

Posted by: O'Remus | August 29, 2008 10:06 AM

There is no reason why New Orleans should exist where it does. Simply enough, a city which is six to eight feet below sea level is destined to be forever unundated with water, no matter how many people whine about it or how much money is spent to built bigger and better walls to keep the water out, the fact remains that human engineering is no match for Nature and Nature will win when it wants too. It is time for our global society to realize this and stop building in areas which by definition are sensitive, or, if we do, stop whining about the effects when Nature wins the battle.

In geology 101 students learn this basic fact: If the area is a flood plain, don't build on it. Unless you like watching your structure be washed away periodically in a big storm. But, if you do, then don't complain about it.

But, until politicians, from the local up to the White House, grow a backbone and stop pandering to those who wish to take no self-responsibility and rely upon handouts for a situation which should not exist in the first place - until politicians and leaders demand that those selfish people change - nothing will change. Government will continue to spend huge amounts on band-aid repairs, an endless cycle.

This does not apply to just New Orleans, but, any sensitive area where people rebuild again and again.

Just imagine the potential to all of society if those huge sums were instead applied support actual research in alternatives, areas which would move us away from the destructive cycle of carbon use. Or if applied to actual actions, such as moving people to areas which are less sensitive and less prone to natural disasters.

Posted by: Bill | August 29, 2008 4:49 PM

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