BBC's Analysis of New Orleans Crisis Management Failures
Early in the morning of August 29, Hurricane Katrina made landfall near Buras, Louisiana as a Category 4 storm wielding 145-mph gales. The hurricane's eyewall skirted the eastern edge of New Orleans. Now, almost everyone sees the missed opportunity to evacuate all of New Orleans residents beforehand as a tragedy.
Total evacuation is a drastic measure because it usually leads to looting and accidental highway deaths in itself. Katrina was a large, Category 5 storm that had been slowly tracking right for the Gulf coast, however. Had total evacuation been ordered before Katrina struck, response to hungry, stranded, injured and feeble people throughout the city, including the Superdome would have been unnecessary.
Mr Bush has been blamed for failing to provide inspirational leadership, even though the president has no legal power to order an evacuation. Another criticism at Bush is why Michael Brown was appointed director of FEMA. Like Gov. Blanco, Mr. Brown may be over his head when it comes to crisis management.
When Hurricane Camille, a rare Category Five storm, hit Mississippi in 1969, barely missing New Orleans, the levees around the city were strengthened - but only enough to protect against a Category Three hurricane.
The BBC NEWS on Monday, 5 September 2005, analyzed the crises from a British perspective. You may wish to read for yourself. A few of their key points are:
+ Louisiana gambled that a Category Five hurricane would not strike New Orleans.
+ New Orleans had an inadequate evacuation plan.
+ Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco admits that President Bush had called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation on Aug 28th.
+ On Aug 27th, National Hurricane Director Max Mayfield had called Mayor Nagin telling him an evacuation was needed.
+ The Department of Homeland Security declared an incident of national significance Wednesday, Aug. 31st. The declaration allows the federal government a greater role in taking decisions. The declaration, never before made, would be unconstitutional without predication.
+ It took Governor Blanco until Thursday (Sept. 1st) to sign an order releasing school buses to move the evacuees. Two levees had completely failed by then.
+ After flooding in 1995, the existing levee system was improved. About 1/2 Billion dollars was spent over the next 10 years.