Katrina, Two Years Later

Public Opinion Snapshot

Ruy Teixeira finds that the public thinks government efforts to rebuild and prevent the root cause of worsening storms are falling short.

It has been two years since Hurricane Katrina and the appallingly mishandled government response to that disaster. At the time, President Bush promised an all-out government effort to rebuild areas damaged by the hurricane, including the devastated city of New Orleans.

Today, the public is concluding that that government’s effort to rebuild has not been adequate and is not likely to succeed. And what’s more, the public believes that the government isn’t doing enough to combat global warming—the source of our increasingly severe storms.

An early August CNN poll found that 52 percent think the federal government has not done enough to rebuild areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina, compared to 33 percent who think federal government has done about the right amount, and 10 percent who think the government has done too much.

The same poll found that 55 percent of respondents do not believe the city of New Orleans will ever completely recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, compared to 44 percent who believe the city will eventually recover. A sad commentary.

These negative assessments are even more significant when you consider that Katrina-level hurricanes, as noted by a new report from the Center for American Progress titled “Forecast: Storm Warning,” are likely to become more, not less, common due to the effects of global warming.

If the federal government were vigorously combating global warming, we might be able to avoid some of the severe hurricanes in our future. But the public has little confidence that the Bush administration is moving effectively to slow down global warming either. In an early August Newsweek poll, only 21 percent said the Bush administration had done as much as it should to address climate change and reduce global warming, compared to 68 percent who thought the administration hadn’t done enough.

Hopefully it won’t take another Katrina-level disaster to wake this administration up and finally take global warming and its toxic effects seriously.

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow