In the aftermath of disasters, whether natural or man-made, there is an opportunity for reflection and a chance to learn.
Sadly, two years after Hurrican Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the media focus seems to be on learning the wrong lessons.
To the national media, Hurricane Katrina is all about President Bush and his failings.
One of the significant lessons from Katrina is that when disaster strikes, we should not rely on the federal government to come to our rescue. It is too big, too bureaucratic, and too far away.
Local leadership matters. As a friend recently pointed out to me, and as the citizens of New Orleans learned, sometimes your life can depend on the competency of your mayor. With local elections for mayor and city council approaching in many of our communities, you might want to take the time to learn about your candidates … and vote.


  1. Len,
    As important as checking out local leadership is holding local leadership accountable for its planning processes. Most people in this city or county have no idea what plans exist or don’t exist regarding disasters. Would it surprise you that after Katrina the Maricopa County Emergency Planning department admitted that it didn’t have a plan? By the way, the department has been in business since 1902 – I wonder what they have been doing for all these years on your and my dime? I pointed out to local and state leadership that at my job you get fired if you don’t do your job. When I pointed out to the governor that this was the case she cancelled her trip to Chile to address that lack of planning in the state. I have gone to disaster planning meetings in this county and I have been the only person attending who wasn’t there because it was ‘their job’ to attend. The citizens really don’t make it their business to check out the three ring binders which are produced by these people to see if they actually make sense. (Local and state politicians are usually absent as well – they ‘trust’ that the various departments are doing their job – well as I noted, they haven’t been doing their job – and prior to 2006 there was no disaster plan for Maricopa County and I found out there wasn’t one because I asked to see it.) I also have attended ‘table top exercises’ for various disaster scenarios. It should absolutely scare you, Len, if you knew the lack of planning and the huge gaps in knowledge that is out there. As much as we see flag-waving for local fire and police departments, they are the ‘blue canaries’ when it comes to hazardous materials spills – and they know it and admit it. I would encourage you and others to learn more about local planning efforts. The next meeting for the Maricopa County Local Emergency Planning Committee is on October 3, 2007 at 6:00 PM in Mesa.

  2. After 9/11, I spent some time checking into what the preparedness and evacuation plans were for my city? It was a skeleton plan, and relied heavily upon the presumption that every family would “shelter in place” for a minimum of 3 days. The Red Cross and FEMA websites have thorough lists of what it takes to shelter in place. It was rather costly to accumulate all the items on the list, but our family completed our 3-day emergency stockpile over the course of several years. With 30+ days of over 110 degree weather, I shudder to think what we’ll do if our power is significantly disrupted. I hope our local leaders have more than a skeleton plan by now.

  3. Carol, would it surprise you to know that ‘shelter in place’ is still the mantra of local emergency planning officals. What this means is that they have NO evacuation plans for the Valley of the Sun. Do you remember the traffic jams out of Corpus Cristi and New Orleans – created by only using one side of the freeway? (They did finally turn the inbound lanes into outbound lanes but it was about 2 days late and many dollars short.)
    You are wise Carol to have your own plan because those highly paid planners don’t have a plan.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>