(a veteran of Hugo and multiple other Hurricanes in the Virgin Islands) writes in:
One thing you will notice about New Orleans is that many of the structures are intact, they are simply underwater. I saw a report early on during the storm that at H-hour plus 1 or 2 they had already determined that the 'advanced' levie and pump system around the city had already failed. Perhaps they should learn to test their generators more often?
Compare the damages in New Orleans to the pictures out of MS, where everything has 'traditional' windstorm damage (blow apart), with only small localized flooding in some areas.
I agree with the comments made about investing billions to rebuild a city that sits 7-ft below sealevel on a 'normal' day. The storms are not going to get smaller/weaker due to impact of global warming making the ocean temps warmer each season. How many billions do you want to 'sink' (pun intended) into it when you know it could be underwater again by next season? People will think those are harsh words, but you cannot ignore the truth of the matter.
I think there will be some interesting fallout from this one:
1) Most people don't have flood insurance. If you lived in New Orleans and got flooded, your windstorm insurance won't cover your damage. There could very well be a shake-up of the insurance laws/rules once people start to find out that they are not covered. With such large damages, I expect the feds to gloss over the rules and simply pay for everything tho otherwise there will be riots.
2) People will start to take hurricanes more seriously on the mainland. Up until now they have been treated as annoyances that take place now and then.
3) People will (hopefully) start to listen to evacuation orders. The people that decided to declare a mandatory evacuation of the city are heros. There would be tons more floating bodies if they had not made that call. (see also #4)
4) Pre-Evacuation routes/plans/assistance will be worked out to help people that cannot make it out on their own (financial or medical reasons etc).
5) We are screwed if a storm hits us (in the Virgin Islands) as no one will care ;) Then again, with so much hype in the news about hurricanes, it may help our cause and provide publicity to our plight. (We have been demolished several times in the past 20years, I am talking about 95-98% of structures GONE each time a storm comes in). We don't have the easy escape to neighboring states when we get whacked. (e.g. road/rail/air transports/electricity and water grids etc)
6) People should be taught more about survival and the skills needed to stay alive instead of depending on help to arrive and have handouts ready at h-hour plus one.
Reading the news reports of people complaining about be on a bridge in 96 degree weather in New Orleans etc. I couldn't help but to wonder why they would not be UNDER the bridge to be in the shade. Healthy people can last several days without food. Water is needed by day 2 or 3. Collect some of the storm debris to make a shelter and fire to boil collected rain water (using debris to make a water collection 'roof').
This also ties into #4. If there were zero people in the city, there would be far fewer problems. The people that DID leave as told are probably being treated worse than the ones that stayed. (e.g. not being treated as refugees, but as evacuees) There could be some strange fallout from the federal assistance afterwards (I expect blanket coverage in order to keep the red-tape low)
7) People have been trying to criticize everything and everyone for not responding soon enough.
Everything I see tells me that the local officials were not prepared for a flood situation. It really has nothing to do with a hurricane IMO. The same thing could have happened had a terrorist blown up the levies. (that could actually be much worse, as the city would be fully populated with no warning)
8) People have been angry about not getting Army troops in to do police work. They don't know that it is normally forbidden by law (see the Posse Comitatus Act" from 1858)