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Comparing Our Preparedness for Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Katrina

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See the other stories on this trending page for a review of progressive and conservative actions and ideas related to infrastructure investments and the emergency management systems of the federal government.

The annual hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico offers a revealing juxtaposition of conservative and progressive values and political philosophies. The conservative approach, epitomized by President George W. Bush’s approach to Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, and the progressive approach on display today under President Barack Obama as Tropical Storm Isaac bears down on New Orleans this week, could not be more different.

First, cast back to 2005. The destruction of vast swathes of New Orleans and the subsequent failure of the Bush administration to respond to the deep humanitarian crisis are now etched in our nation’s history. More telling, though, are the prior moves by Bush administration officials to defund the agencies responsible for emergency response and to appoint incompetent people with little regard for public service to positions of authority. Case in point: The hapless Federal Emergency Management Agency under its-then director, Michael Brown, immortalized by President Bush as “Brownie” while New Orleans drowned.

With Isaac still gathering strength out at sea and scheduled to hit the Gulf Coast late today or early Wednesday, President Obama on Monday declared a state of emergency for Louisiana, which makes federal support immediately available and ensures that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be ready to coordinate emergency response effort with state and local officials in the region. The president is keeping close contact with Federal Emergency Management Agency head Craig Fugate, officials at the National Hurricane Center, and Gulf Coast officials, including New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who noted that more than $10 billion in levee improvements have been made since Hurricane Katrina, much of it under the Obama administration.

Yet conservatives in so many ways still think the federal government has little interest in protecting New Orleans and other coastal cities from natural disasters. Since gaining control of the House of Representatives, the Republican leadership has drastically cut funding to storm monitoring agencies, including the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association, and have gone after the budget of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Even worse, the House Republican leadership wants to see dramatic reductions in disaster relief funding.

As the American people track Hurricane Isaac’s path, it would also behoove us to consider the path laid out for our nation by conservatives versus the road being offered by progressives.  It is time to decide which direction we want to go as a nation.

See the other stories on this trending page for a review of progressive and conservative actions and ideas related to infrastructure investments and the emergency management systems of the federal government.

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