Learn from Katrina


Nicholas Stewart courier staff



 With a possible hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast states, all eyes are focusing on what could be a big news story. 

As of 7 p.m. on Sunday evening, tropical storm Isaac was ominously churning off the Florida coast, and is expected to make landfall Wednesday, Aug. 29 in the afternoon. 

Isaac may potentially strike near the city of New Orleans on the seven-year anniversary of the devastating hurricane Katrina, and news organizations are already beginning to compare the two. 

The Weather Channel, for example, stated that Isaac could rival hurricane Katrina, a statement echoed by an article published on Forbes.com that stated “Tropical Storm Isaac Should Rival Hurricane Katrina.” 

While these bold statements may be great for ratings, they are nothing more than fear mongering when the storm is this far out from landfall. Forecasters are still uncertain where Isaac may make landfall, and at what strength. 

By hyping up a storm that could rival one of the most catastrophic and costliest natural disasters in U.S. history is insane at this point. If this storm fails to compare to Katrina, those that evacuated may not believe the media reports when the next storm comes through that could pose a greater threat. Using strong wording to get people to take action is a great idea in the case of a real threat, but doing so when nothing is certain at the time is irresponsible. 

While the reporting of hurricanes can be an area of controversy, the other big problem with landfalling hurricanes is the people who shelter in place and do not leave when they are told to do so. Not only is it irresponsible for their own safety, but they are also putting first responders at risk, who would have to help them when things inevitably go wrong. 

Hurricanes produce a wide swath of damage, not just from the wind but also the storm surge and heavy rainfall. Staying in a disaster prone area can eventually lead to this type of devastation. It is because of this sad fact that evacuation and preperation are vitally important aspects of survival. 

Not all people can evacuate since they may not have the resources available. In this case, the government should make transportation available. The day after New Orleans flooded, thousands of people were stranded without a way out and really showed that evacuation orders were largely ignored in the poor neighborhoods where people could not get out. 

One of the most famous images from the Katrina aftermath is a parking lot full of school buses submerged underwater. These same school buses could have easily been used to shuttle people out of the city, or at least used to get people to shelters. This was an overall waste of resources that could have easily saved many lives. 

If the speculations surounding Isaac do come to fruition, hopefully the proper authorities and government agencies won‘t make the same mistakes twice. It would be a shame if the devastion caused by Hurricane Katrina did not serve as learning oppurtunity, but rather a terrible diaster.