Remembering Katrina

August 30, 2013 

It’s been eight years since Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast of the United States.

For many reasons, I stop and think about that every year at this time.

As a weather buff, all of Mother Nature’s handiwork fascinates me in one way or another.

Unfortunately, Katrina intrigued us all for all the wrong reasons.

Nearly 2,000 souls were lost to drowning, heat, suffocation and other unimaginable ways.

Our government’s response was woeful from the start.

And in the aftermath of it all, we were supposed to ask ourselves, as a country, some pivotal questions – namely what did we learn and how can we be better prepared?

When you discuss potentials for catastrophes in our country, a few things immediately stick out – terrorism in a major city and devastating weather events.

Eight years ago today, some of those worst fears became our reality.

As Katrina brewed and spun in the Gulf, residents were warned, many times, to leave. While no one could have fathomed the magnitude of not only the storm, but the levee breaches and subsequent flooding, weather experts and politicians were sounding the alarm bells for days ahead of Katrina.

Those warnings don’t excuse us of our obligations to help those less fortunate than us. And I am not going to turn the Katrina response into a political football blame game, either. We know what went wrong in New Orleans, on the coast and in Washington, D.C.

We were not equipped to handle a storm like this.

Many residents in a city that is already under sea level had lived through Hurricane Betsy, stuck it out in their homes and moved on.

Perhaps complacency was our biggest enemy in the days before and after that awful Katrina hit.

For hours and days, we were glued to the television set as the National Guard, Air Force and Coast Guard went roof to roof to save people that had nothing left but an axe to break out of their house with and the shirts on their back.

Those were the real heroes in this entire mess.

I wonder each year how we would handle such a national crisis today. What we learned from Katrina, the correct response to such misery, how the politicians would spin the event and how, in the end, humanity would win out, just as it did in the weeks, months and years after the hurricane in August of 2005.

People left New Orleans, scattered all over our great country. Some never returned.

Many also arrived in the Big Easy to help rebuild and reunite.

Remembering Katrina is appropriate any time of the year, of course.

Now, as we prepare to, perhaps, engage in another conflict overseas, my hope is that we leave enough resources here at home as we enter another hurricane season.

John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail jbeaudoin@lsjournal.com.

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