Monday, August 28, 2006

When, not IF, a hurricane hits New Orleans again

The powers that be in New Orleans have new evacuation plans in place to get people out of town if there's a hurricane coming.

They sound very elaborate. FEMA and local and state officials plus transportation peeps are all involved. None of which bodes well for success.

There's no mention of installing a siren or some other warning device to let people know if and when the levees break. That would go a long way to helping people feel safer. In late May I talked to a cab driver who said he almost drowned because there was no warning and he woke up with water next to his bed. And he barely made it onto the roof of his house. 

A siren seems like a simple thing to do.

Lots of playing fields have lightning sirens to warn baseball, soccer, football, and lacrosse players and fans that a strike could be imminent. The siren sounds an all clear too.

A siren just to warn that the levees are being strained would come in handy. If the levees don't break, there could be an all clear.  At least a siren tells folks that things are getting dangerous. So they get out of town before the water starts climbing up the stairs to their houses.

Mayor Nagin made a disparaging comment about New York not re-building The Towers since 911. "Let's be fair," he said when some reporter challenged him about how much had been done in New Orleans since Katrina.

Here's the difference between New York and New Orleans:  New York was CLEANED UP very quickly. The buildings haven't been rebuilt yet, but the mess is long gone.

In case you haven't noticed, Mr. Mayor, New Orleans still has debris from destroyed houses all over the place. There were flooded and abandoned cars still sitting in highway underpasses when I was there in May. Once you get beyond the front porch -- the tourista spots -- the neighborhoods look like a tornado went through.

The Mayor was defensive because they haven't really started rebuilding the destroyed neighborhoods. But he ought to have his feet held to the fire. Because right now it isn't a matter of rebuilding the city.  It's a question of just getting the mess cleaned up from a yearago. And that still hasn't happened.

Not to mention the billions lost to fraud. Turns out FEMA didn't have a way to check identification. How about fingerprints so the prisoners who collected fraudulent paychecks could have been sorted out?

1 comment:

ber144 said...

I've not been to either since their respective disasters, but isn't the damage in New Orleans much larger in scale than NYC?  Not that I am a fan of Nagin, but I don't see how anyone can expect the city to handle this themselves.  Blame goes in all directions: Nagin, Balnco, Bush-none of them should have said a damn thing about Katrina this past week.  If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend Spike Lee's documentary "When the Levees Broke" that was on HBO recently.  I gotta get to New Orleans someday.