My Photo
Location: Virginia, United States

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Terror Lessons from Katrina

The similarities between Hurricane Katrina and the global war on terrorism are not readily apparent to the average American. While most of the news coverage about the disaster in the southeast has been about the number dead and the millions or billions of dollars in damage, no member of the media or the government, for that matter, has discussed the real story to come out of the hurricane. The real story is the total lack of preparation by the local, state, and federal governments to deal with an emergency situation which required the evacuation of a major metropolitan area.

In order to be fair, let us conduct a closer examination of the facts leading to the disaster. On Wednesday, August 24, the National Hurricane Center with little warning renamed Tropical Depression 12 to Tropical Storm Katrina and started warning Florida residents of the possibility the storm could turn into a category one hurricane by the time it hit shore the next day. By Thursday evening east coast time, Hurricane Katrina made land fall in the southern part of Florida as a category one hurricane and killed eleven people as it passed through the state on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. By early Friday, August 26, and maybe even before hand, the National Hurricane Center and most meteorologists started warning of the impending strength of the storm as it passed through the warm watered gulf. By the time the hurricane had passed half way through the Gulf of Mexico, it was already a strong category three hurricane and was still gaining in strength. On Sunday, August 28, just twenty-four hours before landfall, the first order to evacuate the city of New Orleans was declared. On Monday, August 29, Hurricane Katrina hits land in Louisiana at 6 am in the morning devastating the city of New Orleans and much of the Mississippi Delta area.

After recounting the events leading up to one of the most devastating natural disasters, the question is what this has to do with fighting terrorism? The answer is the readiness of the country to deal with another terrorist attack. While working on capital hill for the U.S. Senate, I was responsible for closely following the work of the 9-11 commission and reporting on its findings. One of the major complaints of the 9-11 commission was the lack of readiness and the inefficiency in implementation of emergency protocol by first responders and emergency personnel. However, the events of the last week have highlighted the inefficiency of the 9-11 commission in addressing the real problems we will have to face as a nation if another terrorist attack reaches American soil.

As presented above by the hurricane timeline, the local, state, and federal governments were given plenty of advanced warning about the impending destruction about to hit the Mississippi Delta area. However even with the advanced warning, the government was still incapable of evacuating the city of New Orleans in time to avoid massive loss of life. When the terrorists attack the United States again and it will happen again, as they did on September 11th, there will be no overt warning, no twenty-four hour notice that disaster is imminent. Instead the attack will come without warning and in the case of a chemical or biological attack where time is of the essence, the evacuation plan used in New Orleans which failed to safely remove 485,000 citizens will be cataclysmic in trying to evacuate millions from cities such as New York or Los Angeles. Sadly this is an issue the 9-11 commission failed to address during its investigation of the September 11th attacks which was suppose to insure disasters like this did not happen again due to failed government planning. In fairness to the commission though, the oversight in developing an appropriate evacuation plan is explainable as it would have taken away from the commission’s primary focus of blaming President Bush and the New York City Police and Fire Departments for September 11th. Nevertheless, the destruction by Hurricane Katrina has opened my eyes to a very upsetting truth. The truth is if terrorist attack the country with chemical or biological weapons in a major metropolitan area a mass evacuation will not be successful.

Knowing a mass evacuation will not be successful means the only available option for saving lives is to thwart the cause of the destruction before it hits. Unfortunately even with all our scientific advancements, we still cannot stop the wrath of Mother Nature. However as a nation through a well defined foreign policy, a chemical or biological attack by terrorists can be thwarted before it is carried out on the United States. By taking out terrorist nations and those rogue nations which would use weapons of mass destruction against us, we can insure the need for a mass evacuation plan will never be necessary. While the Bush administration has already come to this realization, the liberals in this country and around the world do not understand that the destruction of terrorism is the only solution to stopping the eventual need for a mass evacuation of a major U.S. city. The ability of conservatives to understand the solution and the possible repercussions of not implementing the solution is why conservatives understand a preemptive war like Iraq is necessary to defend America and why other wars against nations like Syria and Iran maybe necessary as well. Liberals, on the other hand, do not understand the preemptive policy and believe war is never a solution which is what leads us to disasters such as September 11th. Hopefully the havoc of Hurricane Katrina will now convince liberals of the necessity of preemptive strikes against terrorist nations and if so then maybe some bright spot can come from the tragedy unleashed against the people of the Mississippi Delta region; otherwise, I fear we will be having another investigatory commission looking into the failures surrounding a failed evacuation due to a terrorist attack.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Web Counters