New Orleans: Better Prepared This Time?
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.
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