Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
Story Archives: Hopefully not again
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|Hopefully not again|
It's only natural that Louisianians get a bit nervous anytime a tropical storm starts swirling in the Gulf of Mexico. It's especially nerve racking when one of them evolves into a hurricane like Isaac did Tuesday morning, ahead of its expected landfall south of New Orleans.
It was seven years ago – Aug. 29, 2005, to be exact – that Hurricane Katrina skated past the Big Easy and roared ashore along the Mississippi coastline, sending a storm surge into New Orleans where the levees proved too weak to withstand the onslaught that only a Category 3 hurricane can deliver. Tens of thousands of people opted to ride out the storm in a city that was built in a bowl, below sea level. Homes and businesses were flooded. Lives were lost.
On a political front, Gov. Kathleen Blanco's career in politics was ruined because of her perceived mishandling of the crisis before the storm arrived and in its aftermath. It was so bad that she chose not to seek re-election in 2007. President George W. Bush was accused of dragging his feet in reacting to Katrina because New Orleans is a majority-minority community. An asinine accusation but it got legs thanks to members of the national media and some of their underlings here at home.
Yet, it seems some Louisianians forgot the lessons we learned from Katrina. When Isaac became stationary early Wednesday morning, sending a storm surge over the 12-foot levees in some areas of Plaquemines Parish, officials there hurried about trying to rescue residents who ignored warnings days ago to head north.
That raises a question. Did they forget what Katrina did to the greater New Orleans area, including Plaquemines?
Still, Katrina taught us that preparation is a must when a tropical storm or hurricane takes aim at Louisiana. When authorities tell us it's time to evacuate, pay attention to them.
We saw evidence of that when hurricanes Gustav and Ike rocked Louisiana in 2008. Residents didn't hesitate when word went out that the storms could be dangerous. Thousands of our friends and neighbors from south of Interstate 10 took refuge in north Louisiana and points elsewhere.
Determined not to repeat Blanco's performance during Katrina, Gov. Bobby Jindal was everywhere when Gustav and Ike struck, holding daily news conferences to keep residents abreast of the state and local responses to the storms. If he wasn't talking to the media, he was on the ground personally riding herd over thousands of first responders. Jindal was in charge, and he let us know it.
Recognizing the need for more and better-equipped hurricane evacuation shelters in north Louisiana, the state appropriated millions of dollars in recent years to assist communities in meeting the demand. There's an example of that in West Monroe where Mayor Dave Norris and Sen. Mike Walsworth set aside their differences to expand the West Ouachita Senior Center and remodel the city's sports complex to accommodate evacuees during a crisis. Walsworth secured the state funding for the projects; Norris put it to good use.
Though Gustav and Ike didn't claim as many lives or deliver the psychological blow that Katrina left behind, they were dangerous and damaging hurricanes nonetheless. They served as reminders, too, that those of us who live in Gulf Coast states should always keep tabs on the weather, especially when Mother Nature flexes her muscles.
Isaac is reminding us once again.
It's still hard to believe, though, that seven years has come and gone since Katrina altered the landscape in Louisiana, economically, politically and otherwise. It seems so long ago to some degree, but at the same time, it's as if it was just yesterday that we were shocked into reality as New Orleans flooded amid an atmosphere of lawlessness.
It's been seven years, too, that LSU was forced to cancel the opener for the 2005 college football season because the campus was tied up sheltering evacuees and providing health care for the ill. Ironically, LSU was scheduled to entertain North Texas the first Saturday of September in 2005, the same opponent the Tigers are scheduled to play Saturday night in Death Valley.
Hopefully, we won't witness history repeat itself.