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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 clich├ęs 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.)