Learning from Katrina, Three Years Later

Three years later, Hurricane Katrina has had lasting effects on New Orleans. It's also taught America some lessons about how to react to natural disasters -- and how not to.

"What lessons have we learned? Actually, there are several."

"First, all homeland security is local."

"Today's homeland security debates all too often forget the basic fact that local first responders are the first line of homeland security."

"Second, we haven't defined the federalism tripwire."

"The feds have quietly debated whether they should have moved federal troops in to restore order, and a battle has quietly simmered within the Department of Homeland Security over when the feds ought to push state and local officials out of the way. We might eventually have to sort that out on the fly, in the middle of some future catastrophe, and it remains an uneasy, unanswered question."

"The New Orleans levee network was, in fact, a poorly inspected and uncoordinated collection of individual levees, pumps, locks, gates, and other structures. A failure anywhere meant big problems everywhere."

Full Story: Katrina Plus Three

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