I've been getting a rather limited view about what has been going on in New Orleans because I haven't had internet access and only have CNN and Fox News, so I don't know what others are saying, but I have been disgusted by the criticism leveled against the federal government the last few days. I cannot understand why the level of government and society farthest removed from this disaster is taking most of the blame.
The city of New Orleans has always known that a disaster like this was possible, yet the levees were only designed to withstand a Category 3 hurricane. Even with that deficiency, there clearly was no plan in place to rescue what they knew could be up to 200,000 people stranded in a flooded city. Certainly federal aid would have been part of a plan, but a plan itself would have been nice. And that plan needed to include the possibility that help would have to be brought in from far away since Katrina was so devastating to around surrounding New Orleans.
I've also been very concerned about a lack of preparation on an individual and family level. People know this hurricane was coming and that flooding like this was very likely. A simple 72-hour kit would have made all the difference. Yes, many of these people didn't have much money before the hurricane, but a backpack filled with 3 days of food and water wouldn't have broken the bank for most of these people. Not having a few days worth of food was particularly shortsighted when a hurricane is bearing down!
It is also interesting to note the emergency preparedness people say you need 3 days of food and water in an emergency because you can reasonably expect it to take 3 days for help to get to you. That sounds about right in this disaster. It took weeks to get to some people in the tsunami. Rich nations are not protected from huge disasters. Great wealth cannot make trucks go faster.
I have been appalled at the crime going on in the city. The looting is awful, but rapes and murders? It's terrible to hear about people acting that way. I'm sure that everyone hopes those people don't end up being housed in their town.
In the end, we all have lessons to be learned. There's not a lot I can do about the government's level of preparation for a major disaster, but at least I can make sure my family is aware of specific risks in my town. We can get a 72-hour kit, if not more food and water stored. We can have a plan of what we will do and where we might go if we are separated. And we will heed warnings, both from the weather and the government.