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Four years later, New Orleans is still a shadow of its former self. The Ninth Ward and other areas remain sparsely populated if at all. Many residents continue to live somewhere else as they were bused out of the area. I applaud Rachel Maddow for talking about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans.

Former Secretary Tom Ridge does take some responsibility for the horrific government response and for this he is to be commended. On the other hand, he does fall back onto some of the clichés that we’ve heard over the last four years. No one could’ve anticipated… state and local officials bear some responsibility and blame… while it is clear that Louisiana is a dysfunctional state and New Orleans functions only slightly better, the leadership had to come from the federal government. They had to coordinate the response.

It is a lie to say that no one could have anticipated the breach of the levees. Two years earlier, more than 250 emergency preparedness officials for more than 50 federal, state and local agencies worked on a tabletop exercise called Hurricane Pam. Pam was specifically developed to flood New Orleans. It was a slow moving category three hurricane. The lack of leadership from a federal level can be clearly seen in this tabletop exercise. Two years after the conclusion of the exercise, the final report was incomplete because the federal government had not filled in key sections.

I do not want to belabor the point, but Hurricane Katrina should be remembered. We need to look back and learn from our mistakes. The lesson is not that we cannot trust the federal government. Instead, the lesson is that we have to put competent people in the federal government. We need to look forward and be prepared for the next disaster. We also need to look backward and help those on the Gulf Coast truly recover and heal a wound that is over four years old. What is the Obama administration doing about this? (I know that the president has a lot on his plate but this, like so many other things that are on his agenda, is critical.)

0 Responses

  1. Thank you, Errington for fighting to keep this issue alive. Anderson Cooper implored us at a speech in 2006 to not let the Amer. people forget Katrina. I was a tourist stuck in the Superdome during Katrina and his inspiration helped push me to complete my 2008 book, “Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina” in which I talk about human behavior at its best and worst, the racism I observed, as well as lessons we can all learn from Katrina.

    Am back in NOLA right now visiting this most soulful city and have pledged 25% of all of my book profits to local non-profit orgs. Peace to all of you.

    Paul Harris

  2. Here is a novel idea, how about not living below sea level?
    Here in S. FL we have had the barn doors knocked off our ass more than once. Know what? we get up, go out and pick up, clean up, rebuild and get ready for the next one. It’s tough I know, but if you are going to adhere to the entitlement mentality that the government is somehow utterly responsible for resolving all of your issues, then you must prepare yourself for a long future of dissapointment. I would’nt wish a hurricane on anyone, well maybe usama bin laden, but no one in America. I have been through a few and they are scary beyond all reason, but a lot of the damage to NOLA was caused by the levees failing. Come on man the place is below sea level. That is just begging for a spanking.
    Ultimately the responsibilities for your community should lie within your state and your community, not the federal government.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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