The federal government must share some of the blame for not being properly prepared for the storm, says former Republican Governor Mike Foster. In a telephone interview, Foster told me, "The Feds cut us short. Louisiana supplies a lot of the nation's oil and gas and we get no consideration in return." He means federal help in shoring up the wetlands area, which serves as a buffer between Southern Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico has been eroding.
Foster says despite his pleas when he was governor (1996-2003), Washington refused to provide the money needed to fix the erosion problem. Still, he says, there is probably nothing that by itself would have prevented Katrina from severely damaging New Orleans and coastal Mississippi and Alabama.
The City of New Orleans knew it was vulnerable. As recently as last October, National Geographic magazine published an article titled "Gone with the Water." It reads like a biblical prophecy foretelling disaster. The scenario laid out by the magazine was fulfilled last week. (http://www3.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0410/feature5/index.html)
Investigations will - and should - be conducted. But government rarely indicts itself as an institution. The size and bureaucratic nature of government is the problem - not racism and insensitivity to the poor.
Too many who should have acted did not act because Louisiana officials, who saw the hurricane coming, apparently could not decide who was in charge. If the size of government is the main problem, then investigations that produce more layers of bureaucracy will compound, not solve the problem.
The ultimate culprit, though, is Mother Nature and no one has yet figured out a way to control her.
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