Katrina: Lessons Learned
My lessons learned from watching the post Hurricane Katrina debacle unfold:
1. Communications: Assume they will fail and plan accordingly.
2. Provisions: There's just no way around this unpleasant task. [All this time since Sept. 11 and I still don't have a complete emergency kit prepared; for shame!] At a minimum, have a 3-4 days supply of food, water, and wet wipes packed and ready to go. And, if you're like me, you also have to figure out how to evacuate your pet [in my case, a 70 lbs dog; the one time I envy people who have small, frou-frou, dogs who fit in a handbag].
3. Leadership: Take for granted that officials won't be able to offer any help. [Quite frankly, after reading some of the accounts from New Orleans, I'd be inclined to avoid/ignore them altogether.] Not only that; go one step further. Assume you will have leadership responsibilities for a small group of people (family, friends, neighbors, etc.). Figure out in advance how you will lead these people to safety, and how you can best contribute to providing for the group's basic needs. Best to focus on, and leverage, your area of expertise. For example, if you are a medical professional, plan on having enough supplies to be able to start at least a few IVs, or have a few suture kits/clamp cords/inhalers, etc. handy.
Finally, a few concluding thoughts, after reading this (via Instapundit):
As New Orleans descended into chaos last week and Louisiana's governor asked for 40,000 soldiers, President Bush's senior advisers debated whether the president should speed the arrival of active-duty troops by seizing control of the hurricane relief mission from the governor.
The debate began after officials realized that Hurricane Katrina had exposed a critical flaw in the national disaster response plans created after the Sept. 11 attacks. According to the administration's senior domestic security officials, the plan failed to recognize that local police, fire and medical personnel might be incapacitated.
After the hurricane passed New Orleans and the levees broke, flooding the city, it became increasingly evident that disaster-response efforts were badly bogged down.
Justice Department lawyers, who were receiving harrowing reports from the area, considered whether active-duty military units could be brought into relief operations even if state authorities gave their consent - or even if they refused.
The issue of federalizing the response was one of several legal issues considered in a flurry of meetings at the Justice Department, the White House and other agencies, administration officials said.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales urged Justice Department lawyers to interpret the federal law creatively to help local authorities, those officials said. For example, federal prosecutors prepared to expand their enforcement of some criminal statutes like anti-carjacking laws that can be prosecuted by either state or federal authorities.
Politicians, at all levels, are frightfully incompetent and wasteful. Lawyers are a menace. Last, but not least, the current administration has yet to realize that certain departments, like the FDA, FEMA, and the Department of Homeland Security, are reality-based.
Four years after Sept. 11, it is daunting to realize how vulnerable we, as a nation, are.