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THE STORM [home page]
analysis
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The Lessons of Hurricane Katrina
While much is still being investigated nearly three months after Katrina lashed through the Gulf Coast, government officials and experts on preparedness and national security say they've already learned some lessons from the catastrophe. They say it's a wake-up call for other disasters ahead. Will we be ready?

Commenting here are: Warren Rudman, co-chair, National Security Commission; Tom Ridge, secretary, Department of Homeland Security (2002-2005); Michael Brown, FEMA director (2003-2005); Richard Clarke, National Security Council (1992-2003); Richard Falkenrath, Homeland Security adviser (2001-2005); and Leo Bosner, FEMA National Response and Coordination Center.

The Communications Breakdown
Four years after 9/11, why did a major city like New Orleans have a failure of virtually all communication systems in the Katrina disaster? What are the tasks facing government for building resilient and interoperable systems so that first responders can talk to each other the next time disaster strikes?

Commenting here are: Michael Brown, director of FEMA (2003-2005); Tom Ridge, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (2002-2005); Warren Rudman, co-chair of the National Security Commission (1999); Richard Clarke, National Security Council (1992-2003); and Richard Falkenrath, Homeland Security adviser (2001-2005). These excerpts are drawn from their full interviews with FRONTLINE.

What Went Wrong in New Orleans
Almost three months after Katrina, there are still questions about the breakdown in preparedness, coordination and leadership. A House and a Senate Select committee are both conducting investigations to get at what went wrong.

Here, offering some glimpses into the chaos on the ground in Louisiana in the immediate days following Katrina's landfall are government officials who were responsible for disaster preparedness and response: Michael Brown, FEMA director 2003-2005); Kathleen Blanco, governor of Louisiana; Ray Nagin, mayor of New Orleans; Walter Maestri, Jefferson Parish emergency manager; Leo Bosner, Watch Officer, FEMA National Response and Coordination Center; and James Lee Witt, FEMA director (1993-2001).

The FEMA Story
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has had a bumpy history almost since its inception. President Jimmy Carter created the agency in 1979 after state governors pressed for a better federal response in disasters. FEMA endured scandal and often became a parking lot for political appointees. In the Katrina catastrophe, critics say FEMA appeared dysfunctional and they point to several reasons, including FEMA's move into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003 and director Michael Brown's inexperience in disaster management.

Commenting here are: Jane Bullock, FEMA chief of staff (1993-2001); Tom Ridge, secretary, Department of Homeland Security (2002-2005); Richard Falkenrath, Homeland Security adviser (2001-2005); Michael Brown, FEMA director (2003-2005); and James Lee Witt, FEMA director (1993-2001).

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posted nov. 22, 2005

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