The Fire Next Time

Knowing that the same people who are in charge of responding to the disaster in New Orleans are in charge of our Homeland Security fills me with a sense of dread. How can there possibly not be any planning in place for responding to disasters? I fully understand the scope of Hurricane Katrina as being the worst natural disaster to ever hit the US (and don't understand why people keep saying "one of"--it is). I get it that it's hard to get things together.

But do we seriously think that this level of devastation and destruction is worse than we would suffer if terrorists had set off a dirty bomb or blown the levees themselves? Do we really not have plans for worst case scenarios? It is disheartening to realize that, for all the talk about how things have changed, for all the reshuffling of boxes on the organizational charts, and for all the money that has been spent, we are completely unprepared for things to go badly wrong.

Yes, I know much of the responsibility for this rests on the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana. (I have never seen a public official behave as poorly following a disaster as Gov. Blanco) They failed their people miserably. But do we really not have a federal level backup plan in place already? I'm not talking about the response that's being put together now...I'm asking why it wasn't prepared ahead of time. The hurricane gave us a lot more advance warning than the terrorists will...

Nine days from now we will mark four years since 9/11. The sad reality is that, based on the evidence at hand, we are not much better (if any) prepared now than we were then.


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